July 6, 2007 / 6:24 AM / 12 years ago

Australia police probe more doctors on UK bombs

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian police holding an Indian doctor suspected of links with the plot to explode car bombs in London and Glasgow raided two hospitals on Friday and expanded their probe to at least five more doctors.

A general view of the Gold Coast Hospital in Southport, on the Gold Coast in Queensland June 3, 2007, where Mohamed Haneef, who has been detained at Brisbane airport in connection with a plan to detonate two car bombs in London and attack Scotland's Glasgow airport using a fuel-laden vehicle, worked as a registrar. Australian authorities have ramped up security across the country as British police travelled to Brisbane to help interrogate an Indian doctor detained over the plot to detonate car bombs in London and Scotland. REUTERS/Stringer

Four of the doctors, also from India, had been interviewed and released, while another Indian doctor was also under investigation, Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said.

“It is quite a complex investigation and the links to the UK are becoming more concrete,” Keelty told reporters.

“We’ve seized similar material to what we have seized in Queensland,” he said of the raids conducted on hospitals in Perth, capital of Western Australia, and in Kalgoorlie, the state’s outback mining centre.

Invoking anti-terrorism powers on Thursday, an Australian judge granted Australian police and a British counter-terrorism officer a further four days to question Mohamed Haneef, detained in Brisbane on Monday as he tried to leave the country.

Keelty said investigators were gathering information on Haneef, 27, before resuming 12 hours of formal questioning on Monday.

Police are combing more than 30,000 files on Haneef’s laptop computer and a mobile phone Sim card he left with one of the British bomb suspects.

“We are largely focusing on the high-tech material, computer files, and obviously they take some time to work through, particularly if they are in a foreign language,” Keelty said.

Permission to extend Haneef’s interrogation came as hospital authorities in Western Australia (WA) said two suspects in the suspected al Qaeda car bomb plot in Britain had applied to work as doctors in the state.

Brothers Sabeel Ahmed, 26, and Kafeel Ahmed, 27, had been rejected over reference concerns, said Dr Geoff Dobbs, WA president of the Australian Medical Association.

State Premier Alan Carpenter said the investigation appeared largely routine.

“There has been nothing found so far that would suggest any sinister connection between what happened in the United Kingdom and here in Perth. The operation is routine,” he said.

Keelty said no one had yet been charged, describing the investigation as difficult and complex, spanning the breadth of Australia and beyond.

Any prosecutions would occur in Britain, he said, meaning that if Haneef were charged he was likely to be extradited.

Haneef was detained at Brisbane airport on Monday night before boarding a flight. He told authorities he was going to visit his wife and new-born daughter in Bangalore.

He is being held at police headquarters in Brisbane and has been granted both legal and consular advice as Australian and British police prepare to resume questioning after the weekend.

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