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Al Qaida supporters' 'recruitment' probe sought

world Updated: Aug 01, 2009 23:10 IST
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British security may have been breached as a top counter-terrorism official on Saturday sought a probe into the recruitment of Al Qaida sympathisers into the intelligence service MI5.

Lawmaker Patrick Mercer, the chairman of the Home Affairs sub-committee on terrorism, claimed that Al Qaida sympathisers were recruited by MI5, the United Kingdom's counter-intelligence and security agency. He said six Muslim recruits were thrown out of the security service because of serious concerns about their pasts.

Last year the security services warned that Islamist extremists had infiltrated government and key public utilities to pass sensitive information to terrorists.

Mercer, a Conservative member of Parliament, underlined that he was worried that the security services might not have rooted out all Al Qaida sympathisers because of the urgency to build up knowledge about the Muslim community. The senior Tory MP said he will be writing to Home Secretary Alan Johnson seeking an investigation on the issue.

MI5 is facing questions over whether it recruited up to six Al Qaida sympathisers in the rush to find Islamic recruits in the wake of the worst terrorist attacks on mainland Britain, The Daily Telegraph reveled today.

It said the potential breach occurred as the security services struggled to fill an intelligence gap in the wake of the July 7 2005 bombings on London's transport network which killed 52 people.