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British police charge man over failed attacks in London and Glasgow

Sunday, July 15, 2007

LONDON -- An Indian doctor arrested the same day his brother allegedly drove a Jeep into Glasgow's main airport was charged with a terrorism offense in Britain on Saturday. A distant cousin in Australia was also charged in the failed attacks in London and Glasgow.

Sabeel Ahmed, of Liverpool, became the third person to face charges in the alleged plot. He was charged with withholding information that could prevent an act of terrorism, police said in a statement. Ahmed appears in court in London on Monday.

In a sign of the heightened tension across the country, police said Saturday they had closed at least 11 Tesco supermarkets across Britain in a security alert.

Police in Hertfordshire, where Britain's largest supermarket has its headquarters, said the decision was "a precaution for public safety." Tesco said police were investigating a number of incidents, but declined to comment further.

Ahmed, 26, was arrested June 30 in Liverpool, and is the brother of Kafeel Ahmed, who is believed to have set himself ablaze after crashing into the airport and is in a Scottish hospital with critical burns.

Muhammad Haneef, 27, a distant cousin who once shared a house with the brothers in Britain, was charged Saturday in Brisbane, Australia, with supporting a terrorist group. Bilal Abdullah, a 27-year-old doctor, was charged last week by British police with conspiring to set off explosions.

Australian police charged Haneef with providing support to the bomb plot by giving his SIM card to Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed when he left Britain for Australia in July 2006. Haneef faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Haneef was arrested July 2 while trying to leave the eastern city of Brisbane for India on a one-way ticket. Prosecutor Clive Porritt said Haneef would have known about the Ahmed brothers' alleged links to terrorism.

"These are people who he lived with, may have worked with, and certainly associated with," Porritt told the Brisbane Magistrates Court during a daylong bail hearing.

But defense lawyer Stephen Keim said Haneef only left the SIM card with Sabeel Ahmed so his cousin could take advantage of a special deal on his mobile phone plan.

"For some reason, he should have been aware that something was going to happen when the rest of the world didn't," Keim said. "It is not suggested that he is anything other than a foolish dupe who should have been more suspicious."

Two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered on June 29 in central London. The next day, the flaming Jeep Cherokee, loaded with gas canisters and gasoline, smashed into security barriers at the main terminal at Glasgow airport.

Eight people were detained in the days after the incidents. One of the eight, the only woman, was freed by British police Thursday. Three remain in custody without charge.

Also on Saturday, a British judge gave police until at least July 21 to continue questioning a Jordanian doctor in connection with the failed car bomb attacks.

Dr. Mohammed Asha, 26, was detained on a northern England highway on June 30. His wife, Marwa Asha, was arrested on the same date and released Thursday without charge. Under British terrorism laws, police can hold him for a maximum of 28 days without charging him -- subject to regular court reviews.


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