Published July 14, 2005
LAHORE, Pakistan – Intelligence officials are looking into a tip that one of the suspects in the London bombings (search) may have visited Pakistan during the past year and spent time at an Islamic school, a senior intelligence official said Thursday.
Authorities also are looking into whether other suspects in last week's attacks on three Underground stations and a double-decker bus had been in Pakistan or were linked with militants here, said the intelligence official, who is involved in the case and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secretive nature of his job.
The comments came a day after Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao (search) revealed that Pakistan provided information that thwarted a terrorist strike in Britain before that country's May elections.
British media has identified Britons Shahzad Tanweer (search), 22, Hasib Hussain (search), 19, and Mohammed Sidique Khan (search), 30, as well as Jamaican-born Briton Lindsey Germaine (search), as the homicide bombers who set off the July 7 explosions that killed at least 53 people.
In Leeds, England, an uncle of Tanweer, Bashir Ahmed, said his nephew had gone to Pakistan for two months earlier this year to study religion, and that the family believed he was attending "some religious function" on the day of the bombings.
Intelligence officials are trying to verify whether Tanweer traveled to Pakistan and stayed at a religious school in the eastern city of Lahore, the official said.
After a four-to-five-day stay at the madrassa, Tanweer is believed to have traveled to Faisalabad, an industrial town in eastern Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, but the reasons for his trip were not clear.
The official had no other details.
Many Pakistanis have relatives in Britain, and ties between the nation and its former colonial ruler remain strong. Many dual citizens split time between the two countries. Others send back money every month to help support family members here.
Pakistani authorities have stressed that they are cooperating with Britain in the investigation.
Speaking at a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday, Sherpao said information Pakistan provided before the May elections in Britain led to several arrests in Britain, Pakistan and other countries. But he has steadfastly refused to give any specifics.
London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said Thursday that he was not familiar with any such case or plot.
"We do not understand that particular reference," he said.
However, Blair said British authorities were cooperating with Pakistan, among many other countries, as part of the current investigation into the July 7 bombings.
The English-language daily The News reported Thursday that a team of senior British officials likely will visit Pakistan next week to look into the suspects' links.
Asked to comment on the report, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani said only: "We have cooperated in the past and we would continue to extend our maximum cooperation to the British government."
Jilani said Pakistan has no information that any of the suspects in the bombings in Britain had traveled recently to Pakistan.
"No evidence has been provided to us with regard to the travel of any of the alleged attackers to Pakistan," he said.