Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After Attacks, Foreign Doctors Face New Scrutiny in Britain

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After Attacks, Foreign Doctors Face New Scrutiny in Britain

Article excerpt

Britain is confronting a new dimension to its critical terror threat, security experts say, after it emerged that several people arrested in connection with the failed car-bomb attacks over the weekend were foreigners recruited into Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

Over the last three years, the NHS recruited more than 22,000 foreign doctors, including 900 from Iraq. Hitherto, those recruited have only been vetted for professional competence but not political affiliation.

"We'll expand the background checks that are being done where there are highly skilled migrant workers coming into this country," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown Wednesday, a week after he took office.

Security services say they have evidence of links between the two car bombs that failed to detonate in central London and the burning jeep driven into Scotland's Glasgow airport on Saturday afternoon. Six people reported to be doctors recruited from abroad are being questioned in London and one in Brisbane, Australia, while an eighth is in a Glasgow hospital.

One, Jordanian Mohammed Asha, was a neurology specialist who had worked in Britain for two years. A second, Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdulla, who was arrested on suspicion of driving the jeep into Glasgow airport, worked in a Glasgow hospital. A third, an Indian doctor identified as Mohammed Haneef, used to work at a British hospital but moved to Australia last year. He was detained by Australian authorities at Brisbane's airport Wednesday.

Security experts say the development was a new wrinkle for the British authorities, which for the past two years have largely been focusing on people with a similar profile to the July 7, 2005, bombers, all of whom were British.

"It means that the challenges for the security services are multidimensional," says MJ Gohel, a London-based terrorism expert. …

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