6 Doctors Among 8 Held In U.K. Bomb Plot

car bomb attack on Glasgow airport WPN

British police investigating three failed car bombings in London and Glasgow have searched 19 locations and arrested eight people, including six doctors, one of them arrested in Australia, reports CBS News.

CBS News confirms the eighth arrest was made Monday in Brisbane, Australia. The 27-year-old unidentified man is also a doctor who had been working in United Kingdom. Police are executing a number of search warrants across Queensland, including one at the hospital where the suspect worked, Australian authorities said. More arrests are expected.

Speaking in Canberra Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the doctor arrested is an Indian national. Howard at the same time revealed that a second doctor is being interviewed in relation to information given to counterterror authorities by the first.

Officials say both doctors worked at the Gold Coast Hospital in southeast Queensland and were both recruited from Liverpool.

The Indian doctor was arrested at the state capital Brisbane airport as he was about to leave the country Monday night. The second doctor was being interviewed by police Tuesday but has not been arrested.

Still another medical trail, reports CBS News foreign correspondent Mark Phillips, leads to Jordan, where Mohammad Asha - who was arrested Saturday in northern England - got his medical training.

British media reports named the second detained doctor as Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi who was believed to have been arrested at Glasgow airport. The only two people arrested at the airport were the ones driving the Jeep Cherokee that crashed through the entrance.

According to the British General Medical Council's register, a man named Bilal Talal Abdul Samad Abdulla was registered in 2004 and was trained in Baghdad.

A third doctor, believed to be from India, was arrested in Liverpool Monday and is suspected of involvement in the Glasgow attack and in the two failed car bombing attempts in London, adds Phillips.

Phillips reports that investigators have called the burned Jeep Cherokee recovered from the airport entrance, "a gold mine" of evidence.

Two other men were arrested Monday as suspects in the car bomb attack on the airport, British authorities said. Strathclyde police said two men, aged 25 and 28, had been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Meanwhile, U.S. security officials tell CBS News correspondent Bob Orr that they have found no U.S. connections to the U.K. terror incidents.

At this point, the FBI is not pursuing any domestic leads in this case, and government officials are referring all questions to British authorities, adds Orr.

Mohammed Asha seems a very unlikely terrorist, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar. And although he has not yet been charged, there are suggestions that he is central to the plot to blow up two massive car bombs in the heart of London last Friday, and that he may be closely linked to the two men who attacked Glasgow airport on Saturday.

Asha was arrested along with a 27-year-old woman, believed to be his wife, as they drove on a major highway in Cheshire, in northwest England, in a joint swoop by officers from London and Birmingham.

Interviewed by CBS News at his home in Amman, Jordan, Asha's father said his son attended The Jubilee School in Amman, an elite high school initially founded by Jordan's Queen Noor in 1984 for children who show great academic promise. He graduated with straight A's in 1998.

Asha graduated from Jordan University's medical program in the summer of 2004 — at the top of his class — and then moved to Birmingham with his family, where he continued his medical studies. He was most recently a resident neurosurgeon at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, in northern England.

CBS News confirms that in 2004 the current head of al Qaeda in Iraq was instructed by then-head Abu Musab al-Zaraqawi to recruit these people to move to the West and easily integrate until time came to strike.

CBS News has found a posting dated Feb. 20, 2006, by someone using the name Mohammed Asha, of Jordanian nationality, on an Islamic Internet chat forum. Referring to a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed published by European newspapers, the post reads: "We have had to put up with you in the West for a long time. But now, after you insulted our prophet, we shall not forgive you."

The posting was found on a forum that did not appear to represent or be a regular platform exclusively for extremist view points.

An earlier statement posted online, signed by a "group of intellectuals," expresses support for the resistance in the Palestinian territories and condemns some Palestinian officials for calling it "terrorism". The name of Mohammed Asha appears among the signatories. The statement, found on the website of the al-Shaab newspaper, is dated July 19, 2002.
  • James Klatell

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