More arrests made in British car-bomb attacks
British authorities work to break up terror cell with possible links to Al Qaeda.
Cairo — On Monday, the British police said they'd arrested two more men in connection with the failed car bombs in London and Glasgow, bringing the total number of suspects in custody to seven.
There was also evidence that the authorities were hot on the trail of the two men who tried to attack Glasgow's main airport on Saturday, following arrests made earlier in the week after the London attack.
Rental agent Daniel Gardiner, whose company leased a Glasgow-area home searched by police, said authorities contacted his firm just ahead of Saturday's airport attack, reports The Associated Press.
"A card was put through one of my colleague's door, asking if we would contact them," he said. The colleague found the note at 3:05 p.m, 10 minutes before the airport attack, Gardiner said. "A couple of hours later, they (police) came back to us with a name, and we were able to trace their
records," he said. "The police wanted to know why we had dialed a certain phone number. They had the phone records from the situation down in London."
Unlike the men who attacked London on July 7, 2005 who were mostly British citizens of Pakistani descent, there was growing evidence that the men alleged to be involved in the latest plot were Middle Eastern Muslims living and working in the Britain, Agence France-Presse reports.
One of the suspects arrested in Britain by police investigating three failed car bombings is a Jordanian doctor called Mohammed Jamil Abdelkader Asha, officials in Jordan said on Monday.
The New York Times reports that a second suspect is also a medical doctor, an ethnic Kurd from Iran (many Iranian Kurds are Sunni Muslims and opposed to the Iranian state), and says there is growing skepticism that the group has strong links to Al Qaeda.
The detainee arrested over the weekend in Staffordshire was a medical doctor of Iranian-Kurdish descent, according to two people with knowledge of the police inquiry.
One of those people, and a BBC report, identified him as Mohammed Asha, 26, and a newspaper, The Sun, said he worked at North Staffordshire hospital near the Midlands town of Newcastle-under-Lyme, where the police searched a house on Sunday.
The man was arrested along with a 27-year-old woman when the police pulled over a car in a dramatic operation on the M6 highway in northwest England late on Saturday.
Despite the British government's assertions of a link to Al Qaeda, it presented no evidence of connections to Al Qaeda operatives or those who derive inspiration from the group.
British intelligence agencies had warned the government last April that terrorist attacks might be initiated by Iranian Kurds to coincide with the end of Prime Minister Tony Blair's term of office, according to a person who saw the warning.
The Guardian newspaper reports that none of the first five men arrested in the probe was born in Britain, and said that police were targeting a cell of about eight people as involved in the attacks.
Police and the security services are still hunting for at least three members of an al-Qaida linked terrorist cell suspected of attempting to commit mass murder using car bombs in London and Glasgow. Counter-terrorism officers believe the cell has at least eight members, linked by a controlling "Mr Big".
The incidents were linked after a strong forensic connection was found between the Jeep rammed into the terminal at Glasgow airport and two Mercedes car bombs found in London. The Jeep was packed with petrol and gas canisters similar to those found in the London vehicles, which also contained nails. Counter-terrorist sources indicated that the link was much broader and that the individuals suspected of involvement in the London and Glasgow terrorist acts were connected.
The Independent carries an article by columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, saying "Sane, ordinary Muslims must stand up and be counted" and says such attacks hurt the cause of Muslims living in Britain. She also argues there are signs that more British Muslims are starting to take a stand.
As they wake up to news of the foiled car-bomb attack on Glasgow Airport, I know what millions of my compatriots - atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Christians - will be saying, their easy Sunday ruined by yet another alleged Islamicist plot: "What's wrong with these crazed Muslims?"
What these aggrieved Britons don't realise is that exactly the same conversations are taking place in most Muslim households too, with many more expletives flying.
On Saturday night, at a lavish Shia wedding in Hertfordshire, Muslim guests were livid.... "Send them packing to the Middle East or Pakistan," said a solicitor to much cheering at one table. "Time to say we love this country. For Muslims, no better country - that's why so many want to come over," added a businessman, who had come here penniless and turned his fortunes around within 10 years.
The BBC reports that Britain's Tories, who have opposed government calls to extend detention without charge of terrorist suspects to 90 days from the current 28 on civil liberties grounds, said they would consider the government's position in light of the latest attacks.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne told the BBC his party was open-minded, but added it was "not convinced". Mr Osborne told the BBC's Sunday AM that Conservative leader David Cameron had offered Mr Brown his full support and that a "cross-party approach" was needed, and that "particularly we need to look at some future point at new security laws".
He added: "In moments like this when we face a critical security threat of course all politicians whatever their party try to work together and make sure the country is safe and secure."
Writing on the Counterrorism blog , Lebanese-American Middle East author Walid Phares says that any debate over whether Al Qaeda was involved misses the more important point.
The ballet surrounding the media and official reporting went back and forth about the theory of Bin Laden responsibility in this affair, as if it would shape up the strategy to respond. Western, and in this case, British investigators must bypass the dead-ended guessing about al Qaeda's formal role and spend energies and time on the greater question of Jihadi penetration of British society. For Bin Laden and Zawahiri may or may not be the trigger factors in this specific operation; al Qaeda's central apparatus may or may not be in charge of the execution; and the perpetrators may or may not be professional terrorists.
The issue at hand remains the "factory" that produced these persons: Who indoctrinated them, how did they form a cell and how many potential Jihadi cells are there across the islands. Bin Laden or not is a secondary question. For after his passing, and if the reduction of Jihadism is not successful in Britain, there will still be attempts, even though not signed by the mother organization.
The Daily Telegraph offers a slideshow with images of the attack on the Glasgow airport.