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UK terror plot: Jeep bomber also Indian

Kafeel Ahmed was closely related to arrested Bangalore doctors, but PM cautions against stereotyping. HT Correspondents report.
Hindustan Times | By Vijay Dutt/BR Srikanth/Saroj Nagi, London/bangalore/new Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2007 02:54 PM IST

British police on Thursday identified a third Indian among the eight people arrested so far in connection with the failed terror attacks in the United Kingdom.

The man who drove a flaming, gas cylinder-laden Jeep Cherokee into the terminal building of Glasgow airport last Saturday was identified as Kafeel Ahmed, apparently a brother of Dr Sabeel Ahmed, who was arrested in Liverpool earlier.

Kafeel, now being treated for burns in a Glasgow hospital is, like Sabeel and Dr Mohammed Haneef — detained in Brisbane, Australia — from Bangalore. It now appears that all three Indians arrested for plotting the attacks belong to the same extended family.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to his British counterpart Gordon Brown on Wednesday, and offered "all possible help" in the case. The external affairs ministry is in touch with the Australians, who are holding Haneef.

At an interaction with reporters in New Delhi on Thursday, Singh described terrorism as a "curse", and said India would cooperate with the world to deal with it. In the same breath, however, he emphasised that all Indians or Pakistanis should not be tarred with the same brush. "Terrorists are terrorists," he said. "It is necessary to see that whole communities are not targeted."

"It is wrong to label any community or country. We have to look for solutions," Singh said. "If a particular community is targeted, it will create a new set of grievances."

In Brisbane, Mohammed Haneef was permitted to meet a representative from the Indian consulate on Thursday, as a top counter-terrorism expert arrived from the United Kingdom to assist in his questioning.

Deputy High Commissioner confirmed the meeting to PTI but refused to disclose what was discussed. The 48 hour limit, under Australian law, for which Haneef can be held without charges being pressed against him, expires on Thursday night.

Details about Kafeel Ahmed, the third Indian named, remained scanty, since he is still in no condition to be questioned. But it has emerged that, contrary to earlier reports, he is not a doctor but an engineer, who graduated from an engineering college in Davanagere, Karnataka, before moving to Britain for higher studies at Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge.

Channel 4 News claimed that Sabeel Ahmed visited Kafeel in Cambridge in 2005 when Bilal Abdulla, the Iraqi doctor, believed to be the kingpin of the plan to bomb targets in Britain, and Mohammad Asha, the Jordanian neurosurgeon - both of whom are also in custody - lived there.

Police enquiry is focussing on Abdulla's alleged association with members of a radical Islamic group called the Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) in Cambridge.

In Bangalore, the parents of Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed locked themselves indoors all day on Thursday, refusing to meet the media. This was in stark contrast to their conduct on Wednesday when they freely posed before television cameras loudly defending Sabeel.

But even then they had been guarded about their other children, ducking questions on Kafeel Ahmed. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravikanthe Gowda who visited them in the evening too declined to reveal what was discussed.

Intelligence Bureau sources said the connections of the Ahmed brothers and Haneef with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), if any, were being probed. Top state and city police officials along with M Gokulchandran, Joint Director (IB) met to share information.

"Our people are on the job. We are making enquiries on our own. We have not yet received any official request from New Delhi or the authorities in Britain. We are on alert because these incidents could have some ramifications here," N Achuth Rao, Commissioner of city police, told Hindustan Times.

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