At least one of the suspects being quizzed over the alleged plot to set off car bombs in Britain was in recent contact with Al Qaeda in Iraq, senior security officials said yesterday.
Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command SO15 apparently has uncovered evidence that, in the months leading up to the attacks, one or more of the suspects communicated by telephone or e-mail with terrorist leaders in Iraq.
The development has fuelled a theory that the failed attacks in London and Glasgow were designed as a farewell to Tony Blair to punish him for his role in Iraq. Details of the Al Qaeda role in the three failed car bombings are expected to emerge over the next few days.
The development suggests that intelligence received by MI5 earlier this year about a possible Al-Qaeda attack to mark Blair’s departure was accurate. A report in April by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) warned that a senior Iraqi Al Qaeda commander had outlined details of a big attack on Britain.
The report said the commander “stressed the need to take care to ensure the attack was successful and on a large scale”. It was aimed “ideally” to take place before Blair stepped down. It said JTAC, which is based at MI5’s London headquarters, was “aware that AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] . . . networks are active in the UK”.