LONDON – Authorities in Zambia (search) on Wednesday said a terror suspect wanted in connection with the deadly July 7 London bombings will be deported to Britain. An Italian prosecutor said the extradition of a July 21 bombing suspect could take weeks.
The investigation into the London terror attacks (search) and the subsequent stepped-up security, meanwhile, have left the British capital's police force overstretched, a member of the force's watchdog said.
Haroon Rashid Aswat (search), a British man being held in Zambia and wanted for questioning over the attacks, will be deported, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said Wednesday.
Zambian authorities have said they've been questioning Aswat, 31, about 20 phone calls he allegedly made to some of the July 7 bombers on his South African cell phone.
British and American investigators have interrogated Aswat in Zambia, Mwanawasa said. He didn't give a date for the deportation.
Aswat is also implicated in a 1999 plot to establish a terrorist training camp in the United States and has told Zambian investigators he once was a bodyguard for Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden, Zambian officials have said.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office in London said she couldn't talk about the deportation of an individual. She did say that British consular officials in Zambia were seeking a meeting with an unnamed Briton detained in that country, and that Zambian authorities had agreed to the request.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police refused to comment on whether Aswat was being sought in connection with the July 7 attacks.
Meanwhile, Italian prosecutor Pietro Saviotti said that the extradition of Hamdi Issac (search), one of the suspected bombers in the failed July 21 attacks, would likely take weeks.
"The process for extradition is in course and at the same time we are carrying out careful checks to verify any possible crimes committed in our country," Saviotti told state radio RAI.
"I would not say we are talking about days, but about weeks" before Issac can be extradited, Saviotti said.
Issac was arrested Friday in Rome, shortly after his arrival from Britain, where he has lived for almost a decade. On Monday an Italian judge charged him with association with the aim of international terrorism.
"For the moment I see the needs of the judicial system in Britain, where the crimes committed are the most serious, as being dominant," Saviotti said. "If more specific criminal associations in Italy were to emerge we would deal with them at that point."
British police have arrested 37 people in connection with the unsuccessful July 21 bomb attacks, and on Wednesday were still holding 16 of them. They released one of the detainees Tuesday. Police say those still in custody include three of the failed bombers; the fourth is allegedly Issac.
Police say all four bombers who carried out the July 7 attacks died in the blasts that killed 52 other people on three subway trains and a bus. Officers are not holding any suspects in connection with those bombings.
Many officers in the Metropolitan Police have been working longer hours and more days as they investigate the attacks, said Richard Barnes, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority.
Thousands of officers from the force and the British Transport Police have been deployed at subway and train stations across London in recent weeks in a bid to avert more strikes.
Police have also had to deal with numerous security alerts, often caused by suspicious packages that prove to be harmless.
"The Met has risen, as it always does, remarkably well to the challenge, but you can't sustain people working 12 hours a day, six days a week, constantly," Barnes told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"There are some specialists who are working far more than that. ... The pressure is just enormous," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police had no immediate response to Barnes' comments.