From the New Duranty Times:
LONDON – The police investigating the terrorist bombings here have begun a worldwide hunt for a former aide to one of Britain’s most militant Islamic clerics who they believe may have played a key role in the July 7 attacks, according to British, European and American intelligence and law enforcement officials.
The man, identified as Haroon Rashid Aswat, 31, originally from Dewsbury in north-central England, was a senior aide to Abu Hamza al-Masri, the blind, one-armed militant cleric who preached at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London until his arrest in April 2004. Mr. Masri, who urged young men to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, is now facing extradition to the United States to face terrorism-related charges.
Several intelligence and law enforcement officials said they believed that Mr. Aswat was also involved in a plan to set up a training camp for Al Qaeda in Oregon six years ago.
A theory now being pursued by Scotland Yard is that Mr. Aswat provided the four British bombers with support for the coordinated attacks in London’s public transportation system, killing 56 people and wounding 700, several senior intelligence and law enforcement officials said Wednesday night.
Those officials declined to say what specifically made them believe that Mr. Aswat was linked to the bombers, all of whom died in the attacks.
One official noted that Mr. Aswat was raised in Dewsbury, the same area where Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, one of the four bombers, lived. On Wednesday, Mr. Aswat’s family said he had not lived at the family’s home near Dewsbury for 10 years.
Mr. Aswat’s whereabouts are unknown, but several senior investigators said they were almost certain that he was not in Britain now.
Officials say he is of Pakistani descent, like three of the four bombers, but his family’s neighbors said the family was from Gujarat, India.
“Nobody’s tying him in or making him the mastermind yet,” a senior American official said. “There’s no real substantiation yet. But people are looking at some of his confederates and connections, and saying that it’s a possibility.”
An American official and two European officials said Mr. Aswat spent several weeks in Bly, Ore., in late 1999 and early 2000, trying to help several associates establish a Qaeda training camp there. Although he was not identified by name in court papers in the Oregon case, several American officials said he was an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment of James Ujaama, who pleaded guilty to aiding the Taliban. Mr. Ujaama, 39, is now the leading witness in the United States terrorism indictment of Mr. Masri, American officials said…
Several senior European and American officials said it was reported that Mr. Aswat died during an American bombing raid in Afghanistan in late 2001, but investigators now say that he is still alive…