CANBERRA A suspected al Qaeda plot to detonate car bombs in London and Scotland took on a new international dimension on Tuesday when Australia said an eighth suspect -- another doctor -- had been detained in Brisbane.
In other developments in the fast-moving investigation into the plot, the BBC said that police had carried out two controlled explosions at a mosque in Glasgow early on Tuesday. No other details were immediately available.
The seizure of the 27-year-old hospital registrar at Brisbane airport as he was trying to leave the country took to at least three the number of doctors who have been taken into custody.
All eight are linked to a plot to detonate two car bombs left in central London early on Friday and an attack on Glasgow airport in Scotland on Saturday using a fuel-laden Jeep Cherokee.
Of the doctors held, police sources named one as Bilal Abdulla, who qualified in Iraq in 2004, and another as Mohammed Asha, who qualified in Jordan the same year. Asha's wife was also arrested.
According to the Muslim News, a Web site that follows the British Muslim community, another of those seized in Britain was also a doctor. It quoted a colleague of the man as saying he had come to Britain from Bangalore in India.
Britain has seen a marked increase in terrorism-related attacks since the September 11 strikes on the United States and since it joined U.S. forces in invading Iraq in 2003.
But previous attacks, including one on London's transport system in July 2005 which killed 52 people, have tended to involve radicalised, British-born Muslims, not educated attackers from overseas, security experts say.
ANSWERED JOB AD
In Australia, Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie told reporters that the Gold Coast Hospital registrar had been recruited to Australia from Liverpool, England, in 2006 through an advertisement in the British Medical Journal.
One of the seven held in Britain was detained in Liverpool.
"We understand that the man that had been detained at the airport last night has some connections to the incidents in the UK," Beattie said, adding that staff at the south Brisbane hospital had described him as "a model citizen".
A second man who also worked at the hospital was being questioned, although he was not linked to the plot, Beattie said.
The nationalities of the two men were not disclosed, but Beattie said the man detained had trained as a doctor in India.
Australia, a close ally of the United States and Britain, has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil.
The police raid came hours after a government-backed researcher said up to 3,000 Muslim youths in Australia were in "ideological sleeper cells" and had been targeted by radical Islamic teachers.
British Police cordoned off a hospital in Paisley, a town just outside Glasgow, on Monday and carried out several controlled detonations.
The hospital, the Royal Alexandra, is where Abdulla worked, staff said, and where he is also believed to be being treated for severe burns after taking part in the attack on Glasgow airport, when his vehicle was turned into a fireball.
Fearing further attacks, police banned cars and other vehicles from directly approaching airports, and security measures were stepped up across the country. Authorities kept the threat level at "critical", the highest rating.
The series of foiled and actual attacks pose a test for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scot who replaced Tony Blair only last week and who has come under pressure from some quarters to change policy on Iraq and withdraw British troops.
Blair was known for an aggressive stance on security and a foreign policy that strongly supported the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. The bombers who struck London in 2005 said in videos they were punishing Britain for Blair's policies.
In Amman, Jordan, the father of Mohammed Asha described his son as a good Muslim, not a fanatic, and expressed incredulity that he could be involved in an al Qaeda-style bomb plot.
"I am sure Mohammed does not have any links of this nature because his history in Jordan and since he was a kid does not include any kind of activity of this nature," he said.