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Britain Bomb Investigation Broadens


British police have stepped up security operations throughout the country and have broadened the search to other nations in their attempt to unravel what they believe is a cell of Muslim extremists suspected of involvement in three attempted car bombings. At least eight suspects are now in custody, one arrested in Australia. British media have identified the second man believed to have driven an explosive laden jeep into Glasgow airport on Saturday. They say he is a doctor named Khalid Ahmed and is hospitalized with severe burns. VOA's Sonja Pace has this report from London.

As British police continue their investigation into the bomb plot, the list of suspects in custody is growing.

British media are calling it the "doctors' plot" because at least four of the suspects are physicians, and news reports indicate all of the suspects may have worked in some capacity in the medical field. The suspects are believed to be of non-British origin and include doctors from or trained in Jordan, Iraq and India.

Police made the first arrests Saturday, apprehending the two men who rammed their burning four-wheel drive vehicle into Glasgow airport in Scotland. One of them has been named as Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi physician. The other occupant of the car was taken to a local hospital with severe burns on his body.

That attack came just a day after two abandoned vehicles, laden with gas canisters, gasoline and nails were found in central London.

Another man, described as Jordanian surgeon Mohammed Asha, was arrested with his wife late Saturday.

A third doctor, Mohammed Haneef, 27, from India was detained at the airport in Brisbane, Australia late Monday as he tried to board a plane.

"The man has been taken into custody and questioning is under way," said Australian Prime Minister John Howard. "There is a second person who is currently assisting the police with their inquiries."

Police believe they are dealing with a terror cell either linked to or inspired by al-Qaida.

The main British Muslim umbrella organization has strongly condemned the attempted bombings. Speaking at a news conference in London, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, said no cause can justify such actions.

"Those who engage in such murderous actions and those that provide support for them are the enemies of all, Muslims and non-Muslims, and they stand against our shared valued in the UK," he said.

Security in Britain remains tight. A terminal at London's busy Heathrow airport was evacuated Tuesday as police checked out a suspicious package and all flights to and from Terminal Four were temporarily halted. In Glasgow, police carried out, what they term, "controlled explosions" on a car linked to the bomb plot investigation although they stress the car did not contain explosives.


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