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Two Doctors in British Plot Contacted U.S. Group

Mohammed Jamil Asha and his wife, Marwa (far right), a medical technician, were among those arrested in connection with the U.K. terror plot. With them are his mother and son.
Mohammed Jamil Asha and his wife, Marwa (far right), a medical technician, were among those arrested in connection with the U.K. terror plot. With them are his mother and son.

Two doctors arrested in connection with last week's failed car bombings in Britain took steps to apply for graduate, medical education in the United States, the FBI confirmed on Friday.

FBI spokeswoman Nancy O'Dowd confirmed that neurologist Mohammed Asha and another suspect contacted the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The organization certifies the qualifications of doctors trained outside the U.S. to work as medical residents in the U.S. hospitals.

O'Dowd said Asha, a Jordanian of Palestinian heritage, contacted the agency within the last year, but apparently did not take the test for foreign medical school graduates.


"He was applying, (but) we don't believe he took the test," she said.

O'Dowd said FBI agents visited the commission's office this week, but she did not identify the second suspect. The second suspect was not named in the Inquirer article.

Asha and his wife were arrested in Britain on Saturday night. In Jordan, security officials said Asha had no criminal record. Friends and family said they found it hard to believe either he or his wife was connected with terrorism.

As police continue to question the eight suspects — six Middle Easterners and two Indian nationals — Britain's intelligence agencies are focusing on the suspects' international links, a British intelligence official and a government official said on condition of anonymity.

The government official said they are investigating links to Iraq and other countries.


MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, said on its Web site that some Britons have joined the Iraqi insurgency and could return to mount attacks in the U.K. "British and foreign nationals linked to, or sympathetic with, al-Qaida are known to be present within the U.K. They are supporting the activities of terrorist groups in a range of ways," MI5 officials said on agency's Web site.

But the metropolitan police, who are leading the investigation into the failed bombing attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland, refused to confirm or deny the role the MI5 and MI6 are playing in the probe.

The eight suspects arrested in Saturday's airport attack and two failed car bombings a day earlier in London were all foreigners working for Britain's state health system, and investigators are trying to find out what brought them together.

In Australia, police on Friday seized computers from two hospitals as they explored connections between the British plotters and Muhammad Haneef, an Indian doctor arrested there.

"There are a number of people now being interviewed as part of this investigation; it doesn't mean that they're all suspects but it is quite a complex investigation and the links to the U.K. are

becoming more concrete," said Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.

Meanwhile, Muslim groups in Britain placed advertisements in British national newspapers in praise of the emergency services and declaring that terrorism is "not in our name."

The ads from the Muslims United coalition also quoted the Quran: "Whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind. And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind."

In Britain, police are still trying to determine if the failed bombings were the work of a small group of people within the country, or part of an international plot. Investigators are still searching the homes and offices of the eight suspects arrested in the case.

One of the suspects was arrested in Australia this week. Investigators there said they raided two hospitals in western Australia and seized computers and files. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said investigators are trying to gather information about a possible terror network.

"At this stage no one is charged, but it's a very complex and important investigation in support of the investigation in the U.K.," he said.

The Australian investigation is focused on a Perth man who had contact with Muhammed Haneef, an Indian doctor, who was arrested as he tried to board a plane to leave Australia. Police questioned four other men in connection with the case.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said police are making significant strides in the investigation.

"From what I know, we are getting to the bottom of this cell that has been responsible for what is happening," Brown said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television.

Brown said Britons should expect intensified security checks in the weeks ahead as the country's terrorism threat level remains at "severe," meaning further attacks are considered likely.

"Crowded places and airports, I think people will have to accept that the security will be more intense," Brown said. "We

have got to avoid the possibility - and it is very, very difficult - that people can use these crowded places for explosions."

A number of major, public events are under way now, or about to begin, including the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Tour de France in London and a Live Earth concert.

There are also several ceremonies on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of London train bombings that killed 52 people and wounded more than 700 on July 7, 2005.

From NPR and The Associated Press reports

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