INTERNATIONAL

Kafeel had links with major Al-Qaeda figure

Henry McDonald, Mark Townsend and Jamie Doward

Disclosure raises questions about surveillance



He was involved with terrorist Abbas Boutrab

Boutrab headed jet bomb plot squad



LONDON: Kafeel Ahmed was a known associate of a senior Al-Qaeda figure caught plotting to blow up passenger jets four years ago, it has been revealed. The Indian knew one of the terror group’s most high-profile bomb makers in Europe, according to senior security sources. He was involved with convicted terrorist Abbas Boutrab when he was planning to target airliners. He met Boutrab in Belfast while studying for a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at Queen’s University between 2001 and2004.

The disclosure will raise fresh questions over the extent of information held by MI5 (the British security intelligence agency) on suspects involved in the attempted car bomb attacks on London and Glasgow. Boutrab was arrested in Belfast during 2003 and convicted two years later for downloading information on how to blow up a passenger jet. Security and sources within Ireland’s Islamic community allege both men may have belonged to the same al-Qaeda unit which viewed Ireland as a “quiet base” from which to launch attacks in Britain. A senior detective in Belfast said: “Boutrab headed up the cell that operated on the quiet both in Northern Ireland and the Republic. That cell included Kafeel Ahmed while he was a student at Queen’s.” During Boutrab’s trial in 2005 an FBI agent said computer disks owned by the29-year-old contained instructions for a device that could be easily smuggled aboard a plane and could cause a mid-air explosion.

Special agent Donald Schtleben told the court that the bomb’s ingredients were to be hidden in containers of baby talcum powder and the device assembled in a plane’s toilets. The instructions warned the potential suicide bomber against working alone, citing the case of convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, who was caught in mid-air.

The disclosure that Ahmed had links with a convicted senior Al-Qaeda figure will prompt concern over how much was known about him after he graduated from Queen’s University in 2003. Algerian-born Boutrab was jailed for six years. Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007

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