LUSAKA, Zambia – Zambia (search) deported on Sunday a Briton who has been questioned in connection with the July 7 London transit bombings (search) and is suspected of links to Al Qaeda (search), a senior Zambian official said.
Britain sent a plane to collect Haroon Rashid Aswat, who was detained in the Zambian capital on July 20, Home Affairs Secretary Peter Mumba said. Aswat boarded the plane at 3 a.m. EDT and departed soon after, he said. No further details were released.
Zambian authorities have questioned Aswat about 20 phone calls reportedly made on his South African cell phone to some of the bombers responsible for the July 7 attacks that killed 56 people in London, including the four bombers themselves.
A London police spokesman said he was not aware of any extradition proceedings against Aswat, a British citizen of Indian descent. It was not immediately clear whether he faces any charges in Britain and the police would not comment on that question.
British newspaper reports, citing security sources, have said that investigators do not believe he was linked to the London attacks.
British and American investigators have also interrogated Aswat, 31, according to Zambian officials.
Aswat has been implicated in a 1999 plot to establish a terrorist training camp in the western U.S. state of Oregon, hostage-taking in Yemen and funding terror training in Afghanistan. He was reportedly once an associate of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical Muslim preacher who is awaiting trial in Britain on charges of incitement to murder.
Aswat told Zambian investigators he used to be a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. British police have said the July 7 attacks in London bore Al Qaeda's hallmarks.
Zambian police said intelligence agents followed Aswat to Lusaka after he entered the country from Botswana on July 6 and arrested him at a house in Lusaka on charges of violating the country's immigration laws.
Before he was detained in Zambia, Aswat had been in Johannesburg, South Africa. Zambian officials also said Aswat made frequent trips to Mozambique and Botswana.
South African officials have declined to comment on media reports that Aswat was under surveillance in South Africa and that authorities there did not act on an American request to arrest him after British security forces asked them not to.