Maher, a former member of the Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamic group, who described himself as a onetime friend of Bilal Abdullah, an Iraqi doctor who was in the Jeep with Dr. Ahmed and is also under arrest.
Mr. Maher said he had known Dr. Abdullah when both men were students in Cambridge, two years ago and believed the man he knew then was the same person in the airport attack.
There was no immediate corroboration of his association with Dr. Abdullah. But Mr. Maher described him as strongly opposed to the occupation of Iraq and to the rise of Shiite power in Iraq.
Doctors and law-enforcement officials struggled to explain what might have drawn these men into violence.
Theres no explanation at this stage why theyre doctors, other than that its a perfect cover, a police official said, on condition of anonymity. It seems at odds with their profession, which is to look after people.
Abhay Chopada, a colorectal surgeon who emigrated from India in 1994, said that the suspects should be thought of not as doctors, but as terrorists. Perhaps they had been radicalized by the Iraq war and brought their grievances with them to Britain, he said.
Prasad Rao, chairman of the British International Doctors Association, called the apparent link to terrorism beyond belief.
Even if I were to come across my enemy, my duty is to heal the sick, he said. How could I remotely plan to kill and maim innocent people? I have no words to describe this.
However, Sandy Bell, the director of homeland security at the Royal United Services Institute, a private policy research body, said that she found it plausible that doctors could become terrorists.
In the end, these people are attracted to the U.K., to the medical profession, because they are dedicated and bright, she said in an interview. That not only makes them attractive to any profession, but also to terrorist organiPage: 1 2 3 4 Related medicine news :1
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