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Terror Plot
2 Indian docs held in UK, Australia

London/Melbourne, July 3
Two Indian doctors have been held in Britain and Australia in connection with last week's failed terror attack in the UK as the hunt for conspirators intensified across the globe.

An unidentified 26-year-old Indian medico has been arrested in Liverpool in Britain in connection with the plot to target London and Glasgow, a media report here said today.

He is a post-graduate trainee doctor from Bangalore, Daily Telegraph said.

Another Indian doctor was detained in Brisbane, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said in Canberra.

The person detained in Australia has been identified as 27-year-old Mohammed Haneef who has studied in Rajiv Gandhi Institute in Bangalore, Australian media reported.

The person "taken into custody is an Indian national who came to Australia sponsored by the Queensland health department under a 457 visa," he told reporters without giving details about him.

"The man has been taken into custody and questioning is underway," he said, adding "There is a second person who is currently assisting the police with their inquiries and the identity of that second person arose from the discussion that occurred with the first person taken into custody." Haneef, registrar at Gold Coast Hospital, was held last night at Brisbane international airport when he was trying to leave the country on a one-way ticket, officials said.

“No charges have been filed yet (against Haneef),” Attorney general Philip Ruddock said.

Police in Bangalore said they were awaiting information about the detained person. The Indian High Commission in Australia has been informed about the detention. It is understood that the doctor was headed for India via the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on a one-way air ticket, but had not resigned from his job at the Gold Coast Hospital. Haneef had been employed at the hospital as a junior doctor on a temporary visa since last September after being recruited by the Queensland government from Liverpool, in north-west England, under a much-hyped overseas recruitment drive.

He had reached Australia on a '457 visa', a special scheme of the government that allows migrant workers to come to the country for temporary employment when vacancies cannot be filled locally.

Citing government records of Queensland state, ABC channel said Haneef was registered with the state health department as a temporary worker.

With the two being taken into custody, the number of people held in connection with the failed attacks has gone up to eight, six of them being doctors. — Agencies

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Suspects’ profession not a surprise
Kevin Sullivan and Craig Whitlock

London: The suspected terrorist cell that allegedly attempted three car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow last weekend was dominated by foreign-born physicians working in British hospitals, according to British officials and news reports.

As many as five of the eight people in police custody in the fast-moving investigation are either doctors or doctors in training, according to the suspects’ neighbors, colleagues and police sources quoted in news reports. One of two men who rammed a burning Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow Airport’s main terminal Saturday was identified as an Iraqi physician.

Many Britons expressed surprise at the notion of highly skilled medical professionals allegedly plotting what one analyst called “white-collar terrorism.” But terrorism experts said the suspects’ profession is not a surprise — many top al-Qaida operatives, they noted, have advanced education. British officials have said the bomb plot appears to be connected to al-Qaida, but they have not offered evidence to support that view.

Edwin Bakker, a Dutch researcher who has studied terror attack patterns, suggested that the arrests could lead British officials and leaders of other European countries to tighten their relatively loose visa policies for academics or other people with advanced degrees from the Middle East.

According to Britain’s General Medical Council, close to 90,000 doctors now working in Britain earned their medical qualifications in foreign countries. They include 1,985 from Iraq, 2,581 from Egypt, 565 from Syria, 488 from Iran and 184 from Jordan.

“This is a potential gap in the defense,” Bakker said. “If it happens that these people have a link to foreign groups and used their education to get to Europe, it will jeopardise the chances of other people outside Europe with good degrees to come here.”

Police said military bomb disposal experts conducted a controlled explosion Monday of a suspicious car parked at Royal Alexandra Hospital. Located two miles from the Glasgow Airport, the hospital is treating one of the airport attackers, who was badly burned. The hospital also was the workplace of one of the suspects.

One of the Glasgow Airport attackers was Bilal Abdulla, who worked as a doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Abdulla earned his medical degree in Baghdad in 2004 and began working in Britain in August 2006.

Mohammed Asha was arrested late Saturday with his wife after police cars forced their vehicle to a stop on a highway in central England.

Mohammed Shafiq, 28, spokesman for the Ramadhan Foundation, a leading Muslim youth organisation, said it was “absolutely baffling” that doctors – professionals with good jobs and income – would be involved in violent extremism. He said Muslim leaders have been most concerned about the radicalisation of disaffected and unemployed youth.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Suspicious package found at Heathrow airport

London: Terminal four at London’s Heathrow airport was being evacuated on Tuesday after a suspicious package was found, passengers said. “The tannoy is telling everyone to evacuate the terminal. They’re saying a suspect package has been found,” one passenger told Reuters. Officials at the airport could not confirm that the terminal was being evacuated but said a suspect bag had been found. “In response to a suspect bag in Terminal 4, secondary searches are now being carried out on departing passengers,” BAA, which manages the airport, said in a statement. “Contingency plans have now been activated,” it said. “We are working with the police to bring a swift resolution to the incident.” — Reuters

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