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Rise 2007

NHS terror plot: police investigate global email network used by 'bombers'

04.07.07

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haneef

Dr Mohammed Haneef was arrested at Brisbane Airport as he tried to board a plane to Pakistan

Detectives investigating the NHS car bomb plot are today examining an international network of emails and phone records.

Police have seized computers from hospitals in Glasgow, Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool. They are examining a theory that suspects planned the attacks in cyberspace while working at NHS hospitals.

The development was revealed as Scotland Yard sent a senior counter-terrorism investigator to Australia where one of the suspects is being held.

Meanwhile the national terror threat level was tonight reduced from critical to severe for the first time since the attempted car bomb attacks.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced the reduction in a statement and said there was "no intelligence" to suggest another terrorist attack was imminent.

But Ms Smith underlined that the review did not mean the overall threat had disappeared and urged the public to remain vigilant.

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Dr Mohammed Haneef

Dr Mohammed Haneef's wife Firdous Arshiya with daughter Haniya Kulthum

Today Australia invoked emergency anti-terrorism powers for the first time to extend the detention of Dr Mohammed Haneef, a 27-year-old Indian national who was arrested in Brisbane but who until last year worked in Liverpool.

Sources said there was evidence that Dr Haneef was in telephone contact with at least one of the would-be bombers. There was also evidence that a "guiding handî" may still be at large outside Britain.

Dr Haneef was arrested shortly before he was due to board a flight to India with a one-way ticket. The manager of his apartment block in Brisbane, Steve Bosher, said he had left in such a hurry that his washing was still drying on the balcony - raising the possibility that he was tipped off about the failure of the car bomb plot by accomplices in Britain.

Today, his family insisted he was innocent and heading to India to see his newborn daughter when he was arrested. "He has been detained unnecessarily. He is innocent," Qurat-ul-ain, Haneef's mother.

Sumaiya, Haneef's sister, said: "He called us before leaving (Australia). We came to know about his detention through media," Sumaiya said.

Dr Mohammed Haneef's sisters crying

Distraught: Qurat-ul-ain, Dr Hannef's mother, is comforted by a relative after learning he was being held in connection with the London and Glasgow terror attacks

"He is a responsible citizen of the country and the Indian government should help us get him back," she said.

"His aim has been to be a good doctor."

The family hasn't been able to contact Haneef.

"He is all alone there. I am frantically trying to contact him in Melbourne through the Indian Embassy," Haneef's wife, Firdous, told The Times of India.

Ministers were today facing a security row after it emerged that at least four of the eight suspects being questioned had their details logged on MI5's databases before the attacks took place, and one was on a Home Office warning index.

Mohammed Ali : a suspect quizzed in Australia over Glasgow attack

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Whitehall officials denied any "cock-up" and said that the suspects had merely "crossed the radarî of the security service and were among thousands of peripheral contacts of extremists.

One of the suspects was known to MI5 as he had posted a comment in an internet chatroom condemning Danish cartoons portraying the prophet Mohammed.

Five doctors, two trainee doctors and a woman hospital laboratory technician are being questioned about the car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. All are foreign nationals and they include Dr Mohammed Asha and his wife Marwah who were arrested on the M6 in Cheshire on Saturday.

Anti-terrorist detectives are working on numerous leads thrown up by evidence - notably mobile phones - recovered from the car bombs left in Haymarket and Cockspur Street in London last Friday.

Police believe they have arrested the main players though they cannot rule out the possibility that others are still at large.

The security services believe al Qaeda sent one or two extremists to Britain with instructions to recruit a network of terrorists within the NHS. One of those being held, Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdulla, 27, had extremist links in Baghdad where he worked until a year ago.

haneef

Dr Mohammed Haneef was arrested at Brisbane Airport as he tried to board a plane to Pakistan

Dr Abdulla had been disciplined for spending too much time on the internet at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley outside Glasgow.

There were reports in the US that the doctor was recruited two years ago by Iraqi terror leaderAbu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in Iraq last year.

Dr Abdulla was one of two people in the blazing Jeep that crashed into the Glasgow airport terminal last Saturday.

The driver of the Jeep is another doctor, Khalid Ahmed, who suffered 90 per cent burns and is not expected to survive.

The two men are now believed to have left the two Mercedes car bombs in London. Police have established that they returned to Glasgow using trains and coaches.

Today it was also claimed that an al Qaeda leader in Iraq gave a warning about attacks in Britain weeks before last Friday.

Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest in Baghdad, said an unnamed al Qaeda leader told him: "Those who cure you will kill you.î He passed on the warning, though not the specific words, to the Foreign Office.

In Australia a second doctor taken in for questioning, Mohammed Asif Ali, was released today. When Dr Haneef decided to leave for India, he asked if he could park his car, along with his laptop computer, in the secure underground car park beneath Dr Ali's apartment block close to the hospital where they worked.


 

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