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Terror suspect's jet bomb plot link

London Observer | July 8, 2007
Henry McDonald, Mark Townsend and Jamie Doward

A terror suspect involved in bomb attacks on London and Glasgow was a known associate of a senior al-Qaeda figure caught plotting to blow up passenger jets four years ago.
Kafeel Ahmed, an Indian doctor, knew one of the terror group's most high-profile bomb makers in Europe, according to senior security sources.

Ahmed, 27, who remains critically ill in hospital after the failed car bomb attack last weekend on Glasgow Airport, was involved with convicted terrorist Abbas Boutrab when he was planning to target airliners.

He met Boutrab in Belfast while studying for a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at Queen's University between 2001 and 2004. The disclosure will raise fresh questions over the extent of information held by MI5 on suspects involved in the attempted car bomb attacks on London and Glasgow.

Boutrab was arrested in Belfast during 2003 and convicted two years later for downloading information on how to blow up an airliner.

Security and sources within Ireland's Islamic community allege both men may have belonged to the same al-Qaeda unit which viewed Ireland as a 'quiet base'.

A senior detective in Belfast told The Observer: 'Boutrab headed up the cell that operated on the quiet both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. That cell included Kafeel Ahmed while he was a student at Queen's.'

During Boutrab's trial in 2005 an FBI agent said computer disks owned by the 29-year-old contained instructions for a device that could be easily smuggled aboard a plane and could cause a mid-air explosion.

This week the government will unveil its latest defence against a terror attack by announcing the 'operational' deployment of Typhoon jet fighters with a key responsibility to protect London from a 9/11-style attack. A defence source said the warplanes, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, would be detailed to intercept hijacked aircraft intent on emulating the 2001 New York attacks.

The new counter-terrorism minister, Sir Alan West, will tomorrow deliver an interim report to Gordon Brown on how to prevent terrorists working in the NHS entering Britain.

Seven of the suspects in the London and Glasgow bombings worked or had worked for the NHS.

In an interview in today's Sunday Telegraph, West warns Britain faces a 15-year battle to end the threat posed by Islamist terrorists.

Reports from America yesterday indicated that a number of those arrested in connection with the attempted attacks might also have planned to infiltrate America. A number had made inquiries about practising medicine there.

The disclosure that Ahmed had links with a senior al-Qaeda figure will prompt concern over how much was known about him after he graduated from Queen's in 2003. Algerian-born Boutrab was jailed for six years.

Iraqi Dr Bilal Abdullah, 27, was remanded in custody yesterday at City of Westminster magistrates' court charged in connection with the suspected car bomb plots in Glasgow and London.

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