LONDON – A suspected Islamic militant deported to Britain was arrested Sunday on a U.S. warrant accusing him of conspiring to organize a training camp in Oregon to prepare jihad fighters in Afghanistan, police said.
The arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat (search), a British citizen of Indian descent, comes as British prosecutors said they would consider treason charges against any Islamic extremists who express support for terrorism.
The U.S. warrant accuses Aswat of conspiring with others between October 1999 and April 2000 to set up a camp in Bly, Ore., aimed at training and equipping individuals to "fight jihad in Afghanistan," police said in a statement.
Aswat, 30, had been detained in Zambia (search) since July 20, where he was questioned about 20 phone calls reportedly made on his South African cell phone with some of the bombers responsible for the July 7 transit attacks in London that killed 52 people and the four bombers. British newspaper reports quoting intelligence sources there have in recent days played down the possibility Aswat masterminded the London bombings.
He was deported Sunday to Britain, said Zambian Home Affairs Secretary Peter Mumba.
Aswat is one of two associates of the Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri (search) who are referred to but not named or charged in a 2002 indictment issued by a federal grand jury in Seattle against a Muslim convert from the area, officials have said. The other is Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swede, who was convicted of weapons violations in Sweden in 2003.
Aswat and Kassir "inspected the proposed jihad training camp at the Bly property ... and they and others participated in firearms training and viewed a video recording on the subject of improvised poisons" in November and December 1999, the indictment said.
Under U.S. law, the United States has 60 days to secure an indictment against Aswat, now that he has been arrested on provisional warrant.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's office said the Crown Prosecution Service's head of anti-terrorism would meet with senior Metropolitan Police officers to discuss possible charges against three prominent clerics as part of a crackdown on those the government believes are inciting terrorism.
Clerics Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Izzaden and Abu Uzair, have appeared on British television in recent days and a spokeswoman for Lord Goldsmith's office said prosecutors and police would look at remarks made by the three and consider whether they could face charges of treason, incitement to treason, solicitation of murder, or incitement to withhold information known to be of use to police.
Mohammed has reportedly said since the July 7 attacks that he would not inform police if he knew Muslims were planning another attack and he supports insurgents who attack troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"No decision on charges has been made yet," the attorney general's office spokeswoman said, speaking anonymously because British civil servants are rarely allowed to be quoted by name.
The spokeswoman said prosecutors may also seek access to taped recordings made by an undercover Sunday Times reporter who reportedly recorded members of a radical group praising the bombers as "The Fantastic Four."
The newspaper's story said its reporter spent two months as a "recruit" of the group, the Savior Sect, and described the organization as inciting young British Muslims to become terrorists.
Also Sunday, British police charged two additional suspects in the failed July 21 attacks. Ibrahim Muktar Said, 27, who is accused of trying to detonate a bomb on a bus in east London, and Ramzi Mohammed, suspected of attempting the Oval underground train bombing, were arrested in raids in west London on July 29, police said.
All three July 21 bombing suspects in British police custody have now been charged. A fourth, known both as Osman Hussain and Hamdi Issac, was arrested in Rome and is being held there on international terrorism charges.
The three face charges of conspiracy to commit murder; attempted murder; making or possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury; and conspiracy to use explosives.