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Terror jitters grip Britain

Heathrow reopened a busy international terminal yesterday after a security scare led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights and brought the jittery nation to the brink of hysteria.

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 00:43 July 4, 2007
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Police forensic officers remove a car from outside the Forth Street Mosque in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday after bomb disposal officers performed controlled explosions on a car in the parking area.
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Dubai: Heathrow reopened a busy international terminal yesterday after a security scare led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights and brought the jittery nation to the brink of hysteria.

Click here to see the details of arrests (pdf)

Thousands of passengers were evacuated from Terminal 4 after a suspect bag was found shortly before midday (1100 GMT), the airport's operator BAA was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.

Police also ordered the evacuation of the departure lounge so that all passengers could be searched a second time, Reuters reported. The terminal reopened shortly after 5pm.

Though arrival flights were not affected, British Airways said it had cut 108 flights after cancelling all its European departures for the day, as well as some long-haul flights.

Scottish police also carried out a controlled explosion of a car near a Glasgow mosque, while in London two underground stations were briefly closed after a suspect package was dealt with, AFP reported.

The wave of panic and alarm came days after two car bombs were found in central London on Friday and members of a suspected Al Qaida cell attacked an airport in Scotland on Saturday.

Britain's security threat level has been set at "critical" following the incidents and police were holding eight people yesterday, at least four of them foreign doctors. The manhunt for suspects has stretched as far as Australia.

The four doctors were identified as from Iraq, Jordan and India. One of the doctors from India, 27-year-old Mohammad Haneef, was arrested at Brisbane's international airport, the Australian attorney general said.

A spokeswoman for North Cheshire Hospitals told AFP that both Haneef and a doctor arrested in Liverpool had worked at the Halton Hospital near Liverpool. The other suspects in custody include a Jordanian surgeon named Mohammad Jamil Abdul Qader Asha, and his wife. The Glasgow attacker was identified as an Iraqi doctor named Bilal Abdullah.

Meanwhile, Muslim leaders in the UK praised the British government for its "calm and reassuring tone" in handling the crisis. However, in Scotland, attackers rammed a car into an Asian-owned shop in Glasgow and set it ablaze.

SUSPECT COUPLE
They studied in school set up to foster tolerance

A Jordanian doctor and his wife arrested by British police over a string of failed bombings first met at a school for gifted students set up to teach "tolerance and co-existence". But one friend told AFP that the doctor, Mohammad Jamil Abdul Qader Asha, became influenced by Islamists after he moved to Britain two years ago with his young bride.

Asha and his wife Marwa Daana, both 27, "became friends immediately," after they joined the Jubilee School in Amman in 1994 and tied the knot a decade later, his father Jamil said. Jubilee was founded in 1993 by Queen Noor "to give students from socially deprived conditions equal opportunities of access to education," according to an official.

British anti-terror officers arrested a man and a woman, believed to be Asha and his wife, on a motorway in northwest England on Saturday. Both are of Palestinian descent, their families hailing from Hebron.

The school in Amman provides four years of secondary education, and according to school records both Asha and his wife boasted "exceptional records, exemplary social conduct and excellent academic results".

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