Car bombs are linked with Iraq’s Al-Qaeda

Times on Line 

AT least one of the suspects being quizzed over the alleged plot to set off car bombs in Britain was in recent contact with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, senior security officials said yesterday.

Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command SO15 is understood to have uncovered evidence that in the months leading up to the attacks one or more of the suspects communicated by telephone or e-mail with terrorist leaders in Iraq.

The development has fuelled a theory that the failed attacks in London and Glasgow were designed as a farewell to Tony Blair to punish him for his role in Iraq. Details of the Al-Qaeda role in the three failed car bombings are expected to emerge over the next few days.

The development suggests that intelligence received by MI5 earlier this year about a possible Al-Qaeda attack to mark Blair’s departure was accurate. A report in April by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) warned that a senior Iraqi Al-Qaeda commander had outlined details of a big attack on Britain.

The report said the commander “stressed the need to take care to ensure the attack was successful and on a large scale”. It was aimed “ideally” to take place before Blair stepped down. It said JTAC, which is based at MI5’s London headquarters, was “aware that AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq] . . . networks are active in the UK”.

The group is said to be led by a mysterious Egyptian known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri. He took over from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was killed during an American airstrike last year.

A man was charged in London yesterday with conspiracy to cause explosions and was remanded in custody until July 27. One of the alleged Glasgow airport bombers was fighting for his life in a burns unit. Kafeel Ahmed, an Indian-born engineer, was so badly burnt that his mobile telephone is said to have melted into his body.

Ahmed was allegedly radicalised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, the extremist group which the government tried to ban two years ago. Shiraz Maher, a former member, claimed that Ahmed came under the group’s influence in 2004 while he was doing research at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

A security source said a suicide note was found at the house near Glasgow where Ahmed had been staying since April.

Five other people are being held in Britain and one in Aus-tralia after the attacks. Officials say several of the suspects appeared as a linked group on a “long list” that MI5 had prepared months ago of “desirable” terrorist suspects living in the UK.

Several of them are known to have travelled in and out of Britain in the past year.

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