Along with the claim about bin Laden, we learn in this article that one of the plotters became a “religious fanatic.” Is the Times daring to suggest that Islamic religious fervor has anything to do with jihad violence? Is the “friend who attended the Medical College of Baghdad University with Dr Abdulla” some kind of Islamophobe?
By Deborah Haynes, Jeremy Page and Martin Fletcher for the TimesOnline (thanks to JE):
The London and Glasgow bomb plots were carried out with the approval of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, a top foreign intelligence source said last night.
“It was an established fact from Day 1 that al-Qaeda was behind this and it was planned by its followers in Great Britain with bin Laden’s blessing,” the source told The Times.
British security officials were more guarded, saying that it was too early to say whether the plot was masterminded by some foreign hand or hatched in Britain….
The Times also learnt yesterday that Bilal Abdulla, 27, the Iraqi doctor who allegedly helped to drive a Jeep into the front of Glasgow airport last Saturday, disappeared for a year during his medical training in Baghdad. He is thought to have visited Pakistan or Lebanon.
A friend who attended the Medical College of Baghdad University with Dr Abdulla told The Times that he was a religious fanatic, and that in 2001 or 2002 he mysteriously abandoned his studies for a year.
“There was some talk that he went outside Iraq to develop his religious culture. I heard that he went to Lebanon or Pakistan,” the friend said.
On his return Dr Abdulla adopted a much more intense demeanour and isolated himself from his former friends. “He became more radical, but not to the degree that he took part in actual actions or clashes. He kept silent and became more isolated. He prayed and he kept himself away from the rest of the group.”