The announcement on Friday of the arrest of an Egyptian scientist in connection with last week’s bombings in London has added a fresh international dimension to the inquiry into the attacks.
The UK police said on Friday night that the British domestic security service MI5 was liaising closely with Egyptian intelligence on the Magdy al-Nashar case, and that British anti-terrorist officers were on their way to Cairo.
“We are interested in questioning Mr Nashar, as part of the international dimension to this investigation into the London bombings,” said one UK policeman.
According to Egypt’s interior ministry, Mr Nashar denied having any involvement in the bombings and said he was on a six-week holiday and had “intended to return to Britain to complete his studies.”
UK police remain unsure about the precise nature of Mr Nashar’s alleged involvement in any terrorist attacks, and there were no indications on Friday in Egypt or the UK that he had any previous record of involvement with radical Islamic groups.
Mr Nashar, who some reports suggest was actually detained earlier this week, emerged on a police suspect list after he was linked to one of the houses in the Leeds area of Northern England used by three of the suicide bombers before they travelled to London to launch their attacks.
The 33 year old Egyptian obtained a Phd in chemistry from Leeds University earlier this year, and was understood to be seeking an academic post in the UK. Colleagues in Leeds said they had not seen him since early July.
The head of the Egyptian Research Council, which sponsored Mr Nashar’s research said he delivered his Phd thesis to the chemistry department the week before the London attacks and that he has spent time with colleagues there.
The arrest of Mr Nashar came as UK police sources confirmed that the London bombings involved a lethal home-made explosive which has been used by suicide bombers in the Middle East and by the terrorist network of al-Qaeda.
Early forensic investigations of the bombs raised the possibility military high explosive, possibly obtained in eastern Europe may have been used, but it emerged yesterday investigators had by Thursday morning concluded the explosive material used was TATP or triacetone triperoxide…