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London bomber visited Israel - Israeli official
18 Jul 2005 15:25:37 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM, July 18 (Reuters) - One of the suspected bombers in the London attacks visited Israel in 2003, an Israeli government official said on Monday, bolstering a news report the British-born Muslim helped plan a Tel Aviv suicide bombing.

The official said Mohammad Sidique Khan, who police believe blew himself up on an underground train in London on July 7, arrived in Israel on Feb. 19, 2003, and left the next day. The official declined to speculate on reasons for the visit.

Israeli daily Maariv said on Sunday that Khan was suspected of helping plan a pro-Palestinian suicide bombing by two fellow Britons of Pakistani descent on April 30, 2003. Three Israelis were killed in the attack on Mike's Place bar in Tel Aviv.

But Israeli security sources played down the report, which cited no proof. "This is not a concrete finding," a source said on Sunday.

British police named Khan as a member of a cell that killed 55 people in the bombings in London.

Pakistani immigration officials told Reuters on Monday that Khan, 31, and two other cell members visited Karachi last year.

One of the suspects, Shehzad Tanweer, visited madrasas, or Muslim religious schools, in Pakistan, the sources said.

Israeli officials are under orders from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not to draw links between the London attacks and Palestinian militants.

After al Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Sharon was quick to draw parallels to Israel's own struggle against Islamic militants who have spearheaded a Palestinian uprising since 2000.

Hamas, an Islamic movement sworn to Israel's destruction, issued a joint claim of responsibility for Mike's Place bar along with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of the dominant Palestinian political faction Fatah.

Asaf Hanif, a Briton of Pakistani descent, blew himself up at the bar, but his comrade Omar Sharif fled after apparently failing to detonate his bomb. Sharif's body was found in the sea a week later. Investigators concluded he had drowned.

(Additional reporting by Faisal Aziz in Karachi)

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