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Interpol: U.K. Not Sharing Terror Info

The head of Interpol said Monday that Britain's anti-terrorist efforts are "in the wrong century," pointing out that authorities in London had not shared any information from the investigation of three failed car bomb attacks and had not made good use of a passport database.

"We have received not one name, not one fingerprint, not one telephone number, not one address, nothing, from the UK, about the recent thwarted terrorist attacks," Ronald Noble, Interpol's secretary general, said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television.

"My view is that the U.K.'s anti-terrorist effort is in the wrong century," Noble said.

Detectives on three continents are working to piece together details of the failed attacks on two London nightspots and the airport in Glasgow, Scotland.

Police in Australia on Monday were granted more time to question an Indian doctor arrested in Brisbane in connection with the British attacks. And a senior Indian police official said investigators there have seized a computer hard drive belonging to the man suspected of ramming a Jeep into the Glasgow airport.

Two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered June 29 in central London. The next day, the Jeep Cherokee smashed in flames into the security barriers at Glasgow airport.

Eight people are in custody as suspects — seven in Britain and one in Australia. One has been charged: Bilal Abdullah, an Iraqi doctor who was identified as the passenger in the Jeep.

Most of the suspects worked for Britain's health service and come from countries in the Middle East and India.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said last week that authorities would work to expand a "watch list" of potential terrorists so that authorities in other countries could be warned of possible threats.

(AP Photo/Hans Punz)
Noble (seen at left) said Britain — like most countries — has so far failed to take advantage of Interpol's list of 7 million lost or stolen passports. However, he said Britain was now testing systems to access the database, and said he hoped that would be working within months.

Switzerland, he said, checks the database 300,000 times per month, and typically gets 100 hits on stolen or lost passports.

Britain now checks the database about 30 times a month, and the United States use it 80 times per month, he said.

Britain's Home Office said the Interpol databases were consulted by the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA).

"The U.K. works closely with the Interpol secretariat and with member states to provide police-to-police cooperation," a Home Office spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

"SOCA, as the U.K. arm of Interpol, consults Interpol databases and performs searches on behalf of U.K. law enforcement, in addition to which U.K. police forces have direct secure access to Interpol databases," the Home Office said.

In Australia, meanwhile, an Indian doctor will remain in custody for at least another 48 hours after a magistrate on Monday granted a request to extend his detention, said an Australian Federal Police spokesman on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Muhammad Haneef, 27, was detained on July 2 as he tried to board a one-way flight to India. He is being held under counterterrorism laws that allow authorities to detain him without charge for periods approved by a legal officer.

Haneef's lawyer, Peter Russo, said his client was being kept largely isolated and was anxious to be released.

"He is a very patient man ... obviously he has a lot of questions" about what is happening to him, Russo told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

Australian Attorney General Phillip Ruddock said suspicion about Haneef was heightened because he was rushing to leave Australia when he was arrested.

"His wife says it's because she gave birth to a child two weeks ago," Ruddock told Southern Cross Broadcasting. "That may be well the reason but certainly the appearance was that his intention (was) to leave with speed."

Ruddock also said police may want to speak again to six other foreign doctors who have been questioned and released without charge in connection with the investigation.