LONDON – British prosecutors said Sunday they would consider treason (search) charges against any Islamic extremists who express support for terrorism, as a Briton suspected of links to Al Qaeda (search) was deported from Zambia (search).
Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British citizen of Indian descent, had been detained in Lusaka (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 attacks that killed 56 people in London. He was deported Sunday, said Zambian Home Affairs Secretary Peter Mumba.
BBC television showed footage of a plane arriving at Northolt air base in west London. A police van, believed to be carrying Aswat, then drove from the base to Paddington Green police station.
A police spokesman declined to confirm that Aswat — from the same town in northern England as one of the bombing suspects — had been extradited or whether he faces charges in Britain. Aswat was also implicated in efforts in 1999 to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., according to Oregon prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Lord Goldmsith'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 Goldmsith'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 suicide 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.
On 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.
Two British newspapers reported Sunday on a possible Saudi connection to the attacks.
The Sunday Telegraph and The Observer, citing unidentified Saudi security officials, said two Al Qaeda operatives in the kingdom made calls, text messages and money transfers to Britain earlier this year. The newspaper said the two — Younis al-Hayari and Karim al-Majati — since had been killed in separate gun battles.
British police have not made any firm links between the bombers and foreign militants, although they are pursuing international links — to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Zambia — as they hunt for possible conspirators.
The Telegraph quoted Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador in London, as saying Saudi officials gave Britain information several months ago "of a heightened expectancy of attacks on London."
He said authorities were examining "some telephone conversations between some of these terrorist suspects and people in Saudi Arabia."
The prince told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Sunday it would be premature to say al-Majati and al-Hayari were connected to the London bombings.