Police dismiss Iraq link to British car bomb plot

LONDON Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:54pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - An Iraqi Sunni Muslim doctor who played the lead role in attempted car bombings in Britain last year was driven by hatred of coalition troops' actions in his homeland, but the plot was not inspired by al Qaeda in Iraq.

Instead, British police sources believe the failed car bombings in London, and the decision to carry out a failed suicide attack on Glasgow Airport a day later, were concocted solely by a small group of malcontents who had met while studying in Cambridge, England.

In the days after the series of botched attacks, there was much speculation that the plan was the first major effort by al Qaeda in Iraq to strike at Western targets outside the country.

But despite British detectives travelling to Baghdad, they uncovered no such link.

So even though the police pinpointed Iraqi Bilal Abdulla as the plot's central figure, they said there was nothing to link him directly with the Iraqi Sunni group blamed for most big bombings and suicide blasts in the country.

Although in a sense the British cell came under the broad al Qaeda "franchise," one senior source said: "I don't think there's any direct guidance or leadership coming from anyone."

While not inspired by al Qaeda in Iraq, British police said the June 2007 plotters were very different to previous planned attacks in Britain since September 2001, most of which had direct or indirect links to training camps in Pakistan.

The men involved, Abdulla, a doctor, and Indian engineer Kafeel Ahmed, were all highly intelligent, sophisticated individuals who used the Internet rather than foreign expertise to put their plot together.

"We haven't uncovered evidence there were others involved," the senior police source said.

"I don't think there is any suggestion that we can put them to meeting in a hut overseas. I think it's very much a homegrown thing."

The involvement of an Indian national had aroused suspicion that India might have provided the source of the plot, but this too was discounted by detectives.

Although Ahmed did have Internet contact with an Indian citizen to discuss practical elements involved in the bomb-making, British police said the help was technical and not terrorist in nature.

(Reporting by Michael Holden)

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