Indian doctor in Australia charged over UK bomb plot

Australian federal police charged a 27-year-old Indian doctor on Saturday over his ”reckless” links with the alleged perpetrators of the attempted car-bomb attacks in the United Kingdom on June 29 and 30.

After being held for 12 days, Mohamed Haneef (27) appeared in a Brisbane court charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation. He was remanded in custody until Monday when his bail application will be heard.

Australian federal police Commissioner Mick Keelty said the police charge cited recklessness, rather than intention. ”The allegation being that he was reckless about some of the support he provided to that group, in particular, the provision of his [cellphone] SIM card for the use of the group.”

Haneef’s lawyer, Peter Russo, told Australian radio that Haneef was ”very upset” by news of the charges, which could lead to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

The Queensland-based doctor is one of six Indian doctors questioned in Australia over the suspected al-Qaeda-linked plot in Britain. The others have been released.

Lawyers for Haneef told the court the doctor was not a flight risk as his passport had been confiscated.

After two sessions lasting more than an hour each, the court adjourned the hearing until Monday.

Police chief Keelty said the charges came after 12 days of investigation, with almost 300 police officers and lawyers working on the case, and sifting through the electronic equivalent of 36 000 four-drawer filing cabinets of material.

”That is the quantity of material that has been seized in electronic form, from various locations,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Two car bombs primed to explode in London’s theatre and nightclub district were discovered early on June 29. The following day a vehicle was driven into the terminal building at Glasgow airport and burst into flames.

Opposing bail

Police opposed Haneef’s bail application, and Keelty said it remained to be seen whether British police had any evidence to support an extradition request.

Australian anti-terrorism laws allow police 24 hours of questioning of detained persons. They had only used 12 hours until Friday, and resumed questioning early on Saturday morning.

Haneef was detained at Brisbane airport on July 2 as he was about to board a flight to India.

All six suspects in Britain are medics from the Middle East or India. One, Iraqi-trained doctor Bilal Abdulla (27), was charged last week with conspiring to cause explosions.

Haneef is a second cousin to Kafeel Ahmed, one of the suspects now in a critical condition with burns from the Glasgow attack. Haneef last contacted his cousin via an internet chat in March/April 2007, said police documents cited by the Australian newspaper.

The documents said Haneef was not very close to his cousin, but stayed with him and other suspects when he visited Britain in 2004. When Haneef left Britain in 2006 to travel to Australia to work, he left his cellphone SIM card, which one of the suspects later used to access a cheaper telephone deal. — Reuters

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