Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > 7 doctors held in UK bomb plot - bomb factory in Scotland - suspect car at mosque detonated -1 doc described as "model citizen"
7 doctors held in UK bomb plot - bomb factory in Scotland - suspect car at mosque detonated -1 doc described as "model citizen"
July 3, 2007
MIM: What better facade for terrorists then the medical profession following in the foot steps of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahari (who used the guise of doctor on a humanitarian mission and travelled and the auspices of the International Islamic Relief Organisation [IIR0] and continues to be both personal physician and second in command to Osama Bin Laden?
"[One must know about Ayman Al -Zawahiri]...if you want to know more about the state of Islamic terrorism today, it is important to be familiar with his name. Al-Zawahiri was the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group which he merged with Osama bin-Laden's al-Queda group to create the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders.
Today he is Osama bin Laden's second-in-command, serves as al Queda's ideological leader, and is the most likely to take over when bin Laden dies. Some, in fact, argue that bin Laden never would have been quite the terrorist leader without al-Zawahiri."
Born in 1953, al-Zawahiri's family was quite prominent and religiously conservative. He is remembered has having been a quiet and well-read student, but that may have changed in 1967, when Israel defeated the combined armies of several Arab nations. This was a watershed time for many Muslims in the Middle East, and al-Zawahiri was no different. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of just fourteen, and in 1979, he joined the even more radical Islamic Jihad.
After his release al-Zawahiri tried to return to medicine again, but the political climate was unwelcoming to a radical such as himself and he eventually fled to Afghanistan, which had by that point become a gathering point for Muslim radicals from all over the world. There he was able to put his medical skills to work by treating Arab fighters wounded in combat against the Soviet army. It was at this time that an interesting personal connection was made: al-Zawahiri met Dr. Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian Islamist who had once been an instructor for Osama bin Laden at the King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Zawahiri was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court in 1999 for his role in organizing a variety of deadly terrorist attacks, but in particular the massacre of fifty-eight tourists in Luxor in 1997. The U.S. State Department currently has a $5 million reward out for information leading to his arrest". http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/blfaq_islam_zawahiri.htm
Another recent example of "doctors of terror" is Abdulaziz Rantissi -The pediatician head of Hamas who was killed in a targetted Israeli raid. According to his obituary from a pro Hamas website:
"He trained as a doctor in Egypt, and later became a paediatrician working in Gaza. During his time in Egypt, Rantissi was influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood and he returned to Gaza a committed Islamist. Throughout the 1980s he was at the forefront of tax strikes and other low-key forms of protest. He spent several years in Israeli prisons, and was a founder member of Hamas in 1987.
A married man with six children, he declined to use safe houses. After the Yassin assassination, he remarked that everyone had to die sooner or later. "It's death, whether by killing or by cancer. Nothing will change. If by Apache [helicopter] or by cardiac arrest, I prefer Apache," he said."
It comes as an eighth person - also a foreign doctor who has worked in the UK - was arrested in Australia in connection with the attacks.
A second doctor who has also worked in the UK is being questioned by Australian police but has not been arrested.
In the UK's high state of alert following the failed attacks, police have carried out a series of controlled explosions on a car parked outside a Glasgow mosque.
Police have also carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect package at Hammersmith station in west London, although this is now not thought to be connected to the terror attacks.
In a development that will raise questions over the vetting procedures for medics from abroad, it has emerged that five of the seven suspects held by British police are young Middle Eastern men employed at British hospitals.
One is Mohammed Asha, a "brilliant" neurosurgeon from Jordan. Another being questioned over both the London and Glasgow attacks is Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi junior doctor who was a passenger in the car that rammed Glasgow airport.
The driver of the Jeep Cherokee -who suffered 90 per cent burns after setting himself on fire in the attack - is said to be a locum doctor working at the hospital where he is now being treated. Two of his colleagues at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, Renfrewshire, were also arrested yesterday and another junior doctor is understood to have been the man police arrested in Liverpool.
The men arrested yesterday, aged 25 and 28, lived in the block attached to the occupational health unit. Police said they were "not of Scottish origin" but refused to elaborate. The arrests were followed by a series of controlled explosions on a blue Vauxhall car in the hospital car park. Police were searching the building and grounds.
A white BMW was blown up the day before and both vehicles are thought to belong to men who worked at the hospital. Two others are believed to have been living in staff accommodation, while two others, who are suspected of launching the attacks in London and Glasgow, were renting a semi-detached house in the village of Houston.
Sources confirmed that Abdulla qualified in Baghdad in 2004 and registered with the General Medical Council in August last year.
Sources said the man arrested in a vehicle near Lime Street Station in Liverpool, who had lived in the city, was also a junior doctor.
One of the Liverpool man's colleagues told a Muslim website yesterday that the suspect, who is 26, was a post-graduate trainee from Bangalore in India.
He said he believed it was a case of mistaken identity involving another associate from a hospital in the city, who went abroad a year ago.
He said the suspect, who began work at the hospital just under a year ago, may have been detained because he had mobile chip of the former associate and was using his internet account.
He was said to have been travelling home from Penny Lane Mosque late on Saturday night when he was arrested.
Medical sources said the men were probably recruited by the NHS or applied directly to the hospitals.
From 2006 foreign applicants had to have a visa allowing them to work in Britain - normally associated with working at a given hospital.
It is understood that the suspect in intensive care had been working as a locum at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
Police sources said last night they hoped they had the main figures in the suspected cell.
Officers are trying to ascertain the real identities of the men and believe one may be a British citizen. Another arrest was made at Stansted airport last night.
LONDON (AFP) - Police held up to six doctors in connection with the failed bombings in London and Glasgow after an Indian physician was detained Tuesday in Australia, officials and reports said.
A Jordanian neurosurgeon and an Iraqi doctor were also among the eight suspects now under questioning as the investigation spread around the world.
With Britain still on top alert for a new Al-Qaeda style attack, police carried out a controlled explosion on a car near a Glasgow mosque early Tuesday. A British security source told AFP that the group had a bomb factory in the Scottish city.
The source also said all of the people implicated in the plot so far were working in the British state health system and that all the suspects were from Middle East countries.
British newspapers said up to five of the suspects already held in Britain were doctors.
A 27-year-old Indian, detained in Australia, became the sixth doctor implicated in the plot.
Following a British police tip, the man was arrested at Brisbane airport as he tried to leave the country, Australian officials said.
The Indian had been working since September in the Gold Coast Hospital in eastern Queensland state. Australian police were also questioning a second doctor, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie told reporters. Both were recruited from the English city of Liverpool.
Beattie told reporters "the doctor was regarded by the hospital in many senses to be a model citizen."
The suspects in custody include a Jordanian surgeon named by officials in Amman as Mohammed Jamil Abdelkader Asha, and his wife. The Jordanian's offices in a British hospital were searched Monday.
British media identified one of the two Glasgow attackers as an Iraqi doctor named Bilal Abdulla.
Police refused to comment on BBC reports that all those arrested were from the Middle East.
They said however there are "ever clearer" links between the Glasgow attack and the failed bombings in London, adding that both investigations were now under the control of the London police's Counter-Terrorism Command.
The first arrests were made Saturday when police detained two men who drove a blazing Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas canisters into the doors of Glasgow airport's main terminal. One of them remains in critical condition in hospital with severe burns.
That attack came just a day after two Mercedes cars laden with gas canisters and nails were found abandoned in London's entertainment district.
Britain remains on the highest national security threat level, meaning another attack is feared to be imminent.
Anti-terrorist officers later arrested a 26-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, believed to be Asha and his wife, on a motorway in northwest England. They are now being questioned in London.
A fifth suspect, a 26-year-old man, was arrested in Liverpool on Saturday night. On Sunday, two other men, aged 25 and 28, were detained outside Glasgow.
Police were given permission Monday to detain five of the suspects so far arrested until Saturday under anti-terror laws.
"I'm very encouraged by the progress" made in the investigation, said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who made a defiant statement to lawmakers. "It is through our unity that the terrorists will eventually be defeated," she said.
Seeking to ease fears of a new Al-Qaeda-style campaign, the government called a new meeting of its so-called COBRA crisis cell, the fifth in four days.
The security source told AFP that the "bomb factory" which produced the explosive ingredients for both the London and Glasgow attacks was near the Scottish city.
Some commentators have cast doubt on how well-trained the London and Glasgow attackers were.
London's Evening Standard newspaper reported that the London bombings failed to explode because of a technical problem with mobile phones, left in the cars, that were supposed to detonate the gas canisters.
The perpetrators called one of the mobiles twice and the other four times. Neither bomb detonated, and detectives used the calls logged to trace those responsible, the paper said.
Terror arrests : the list of suspects
By Richard Holt and Richard Alleyne
Mohammed Asha was a star student who chose to live and work in Britain because it treated people with "respect and dignity", according to his family.
Dr Asha, 26, one of five children, originally from Jordan, excelled at the Jubilee School, an elite institution in the country's capital, Amman, for children who show academic promise.
After gaining straight As in 1998, he won a scholarship to Jordan University's medical school, graduating in the summer of 2004. He was again top of his class.
However, instead of taking up a post in his native country, he moved to Britain to complete his training.
He arrived first in Birmingham University with his wife Marwa, 27, before switching to Shrewsbury Royal Hospital and the Princess Royal in Telford where, as a junior doctor, he trained under a number of consultants.
After one year of training he took up his current post as a senior house officer at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, specialising in neurology. By now Dr Asha and his wife had a son, Anas, and the couple moved to a three-bedroom home in Newcastle-under-Lyme, on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent.
According to his neighbours in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Dr Asha was always friendly and immaculately dressed.
Marwa Asha, 27, Dr Asha's wife, was arrested with her husband on the M6 motorway near Cheshire on Saturday.
Bilal Abdulla, the passenger of the Jeep driven into the Glasgow airport terminal on Saturday was an Iraqi doctor who moved to Britain last year.
He qualified as a doctor in Baghdad and started working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, four miles from the airport. He trained in the Iraqi capital from before the outset of war in 2003.
In April Dr Abdulla moved into a rented two-bedroom house in the village of Houston, five minutes from Glasgow airport. It was raided at about 4.30am on Sunday.
Neighbours have told how the occupants of the house had been seen driving a range of cars.
Ian Thompson, a Royal Marine, said: "I have seen a light coloured Mercedes in the drive, a silver Peugeot, as well as a silver Astra.
"They sometimes had visitors showing up at various times.
"Once an Asian man in his twenties arrived at the home in a Mercedes at 1am.
"They were not particularly friendly.
"One of the neighbours once knocked on their door to let them know that they had accidentally left their headlights on but they weren't interested in making conversation."
According to Britain's General Medical Council, Dr Abdulla is a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery - the standard qualifications for medics.
He qualified as a doctor in Baghdad in 2004 and is registered as a medical practitioner in Britain under his full name Bilal Talal Abdul Samad Abdulla. Sources at the Paisley hospital said last night that Abdulla, was "just under 30".
Abdulla was wearing a white T-shirt and casual combat trousers when he was detained by police.
The driver of the Jeep Cherokee which crashed into the terminal building of Glasgow airport on Saturday.
The man, who suffered 90 per cent burns after setting himself on fire in the attack - is said to be a locum doctor working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, where he is now being treated.
He has been operated on but doctors say his chances of survival are slim.
A man was arrested in a vehicle near Lime Street Station in Liverpool on Monday.
The man is believed to be a junior doctor who works in Liverpool.
Suspects 6 and 7
Two men aged 25 and 28 were arrested in the UK on Monday. Little is known about the men at this stage, other than that they are believed to be junior doctors who lived in a block attached to the occupational health unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.
Police said they were "not of Scottish origin" but refused to elaborate.
Dr Mohamed Haneef, an Indian doctor described as a "model citizen", was arrested in Australia.
Dr Haneef, 27, who trained at a hospital in Liverpool before moving to Australia, was arrested at Brisbane airport as he tried to board a flight with a one way ticket to India.
He qualified as a doctor in Bangalore, India, in 2002, came to Australia in September last year after answering an advertisement in the British Medical Journal.
Dr Haneef was sponsored by Queensland's health department and granted a working visa. He took up a position as a registrar at a hospital on the Gold Coast, a glitzy holiday resort south of Brisbane.
"[He] was regarded by the hospital as, in many senses, a model citizen - excellent references and so on," according to Peter Beattie, the premier of Queensland, adding that Dr Haneef had "some connections to the incidents in the UK".
He was reportedly arrested after British authorities intercepted a phone conversation with one of the suspects detained in the UK.
No charges have been filed yet. Under Australian law, terrorism suspects can be held without charge for 24 hours and for longer periods with court approval.
A second, unnamed doctor at the hospital is also being questioned by Australian authorities because of information divulged by Dr Haneef. The second doctor was also recruited from Liverpool, although it was not clear where he had trained or what nationality he was.
Terror suspects all linked to NHS
Eight people arrested in connection with failed car bombings in Glasgow and London all have links with the National Health Service, the BBC has learned.
Seven are believed to be doctors or medical students, while one formerly worked as a laboratory technician.
Australian media have identified a man held in Brisbane as Dr Mohammed Haneef, 27, who formerly worked in Cheshire.
He was detained while trying to board a plane to India. A second doctor is also being interviewed in Australia.
Seven doctors or medical students have been arrested in England, Scotland and Australia in connection with the attacks. All worked in NHS hospitals.
Marwah Dana Asha, 27, who was arrested on the M6, is thought to have worked as a lab technician at an NHS hospital in Shrewsbury.
She was arrested with her husband, Dr Mohammed Asha, 26, who worked at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust.
Two men arrested in Scotland on Monday over the attack at Glasgow airport and one held at the scene of the airport attack have been handed over to the Metropolitan Police.
Six of the eight people arrested are now being held at London's Paddington Green police station.
Secondary searches are being carried out on passengers at Heathrow Terminal 4 in response to a suspect bag.
Controlled explosions have been carried out on a car at a Glasgow mosque and at a station in Hammersmith, west London.
British Transport Police said explosives experts performed a controlled explosion on three fire extinguishers left on a pavement outside Hammersmith Tube station, which serves the District and Piccadilly lines.
Three explosions were also carried out on the car in Glasgow as a precaution, but Strathclyde Police said there had been "absolutely no specific information" regarding a threat.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Australian police had acted on information from the UK authorities.
The man detained at Brisbane airport was an Indian national who had been trying to return to India with a one-way ticket, he added.
30 June Two men arrested at Glasgow airport after burning car driven into doors of main terminal
30 June A 26-year-old-man, Dr Mohammed Asha, and a 27-year-old woman arrested on the M6 near Sandbach, Cheshire
1 July A 26-year-old man arrested near Liverpool's Lime Street station
1 July A 28-year-old man and a 25-year-old man arrested in Paisley
2 July A 27-year-old male doctor is detained in Australia, and a second doctor is questioned
Australian authorities said police had executed search warrants at the Gold Coast Hospital in Southport, eastern Queensland - where the detained doctor worked as a registrar - and at other locations
They said the detained man and the doctor being interviewed by police had both been based in Liverpool before coming to work in Australia.
Dr Haneef is known to have previously worked at Halton Hospital in Runcorn, Cheshire.
Speaking at a Muslim Council of Britain press conference, Dr Muhammed Abdul Bari said those who sought to kill or maim innocent people were "enemies of all of Muslims and non-Muslims".
He reiterated the government's view that it was "unacceptable to hold any one faith group or any community as being somehow collectively responsible for the actions of the few".
Meanwhile, Iraqi Bilal Abdullah - a doctor arrested at Glasgow airport on Saturday - has been taken from Scotland to Paddington Green police station in London.
Another man detained at Glasgow airport along with Dr Abdullah suffered severe burns and remains in a critical condition under armed police guard at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley - where Dr Abdullah was employed as a locum.
Dr Asha, who was brought up in Jordan and worked as a junior doctor at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, was arrested on the M6 in Cheshire on Saturday night.
Two men, aged 28 and 25, were arrested on Sunday at residences of the Royal Alexandra Hospital and another man, aged 26, was arrested in Liverpool on Sunday.
Dr Abdullah is said to have qualified in Baghdad in 2004 and first registered as a doctor in the UK in 2006.
Detectives are trying to trace the movements of the green Jeep Cherokee - registration L808 RDT - loaded with gas cylinders, which crashed into the doors of Glasgow airport's main terminal and burst into flames on Saturday afternoon.
The attempted attack came a day after two Mercedes containing petrol, gas cylinders and nails were found outside a nightclub in London's Haymarket and in a nearby street.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said 19 locations had been searched by police investigating the attacks.
These included properties in Houston, near Glasgow; Merseyside and two addresses in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.
Police are also searching Dr Asha's office at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, in Stoke-on-Trent.
Police have urged anyone with information to phone the confidential Anti-Terrorism hotline number on 0800789321.
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