`Pak-based militant may have worked for UK police`

A Pakistan-based British al Qaeda militant may have worked as a police community support officer in the UK.

Updated: Oct 10, 2010, 11:37 AM IST

London: A Pakistan-based British al Qaeda militant, who was part of a group plotting Mumbai-type attacks in Europe before his possible killing in a drone attack, may have worked as a police community support officer in the UK, raising fears that Osama bin Laden`s group may be trying to infiltrate the security system here.

Abdul Jabbar, said to be from the Manchester area, was part of a group of between 10 and 20 Islamist extremists linked to recent intelligence warnings about Mumbai-style attacks in Britain, France and Germany, `The Sunday Times` reported. The group is based at militant camps in the tribal areas of North Waziristan in Pakistan.

Community support officers - so-called `plastic policemen` - have fewer powers than ordinary officers, but they have access to police databases that could be invaluable to extremists planning an attack.

Security officials said Jabbar was "a rising star" of al Qaeda. But they have played down suggestions that any formal British branch of al Qaeda had been set up or that Jabbar was directly linked to any plan to attack European public places.

Three years ago it emerged that up to eight police officers and civilians were on a secret list of alleged radicals said to be working in the Metropolitan police and other forces. Some were thought to have attended training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the report, the list was drawn up amid fears that individuals linked to Islamic extremism were taking advantage of police attempts to increase staff from ethnic minorities.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester police declined to
comment on suggestions that a terror suspect had previously
worked there as a community support officer.

"Everything is being handled by the security service," he
said.

A counter-terrorism official said it was a policy of Mi5 -- Britain`s internal intelligence service -- never to confirm or deny such claims.

The Manchester link has emerged as part of an Mi5
investigation into a web of terrorists planning attacks in
Europe.

The network is believed to be led by al Qaeda commander
called Ilyas Kashmiri, a one-eyed Pakistani who has reportedly
boasted that he had sent cells to attack Britain and Germany.

Intelligence officials disclosed ten days ago that they
had received "credible but non-specific" information that
simultaneous commando attacks were planned in European cities.

Extremists were thought to be organising an assault
similar to the Mumbai attack in 2008 when 10 Pakistani
terrorists armed with machine guns and grenades killed 166
people.

In response, the CIA had stepped up its drone attacks on
suspected militants in remote camps in Waziristan.

Attention has focussed on Jabbar, the British militant
who is said to have been killed in a drone attack last month.
He is thought to have been an associate of Kashmiri.

According to the report, electronic eavesdroppers had
heard Jabbar, his brother and a group of eight German suspects
discuss plans to obtain guns and explosives in phone calls to
Britain and Germany.

Their "campfire chatter" was apparently intercepted by
GCHQ, the Government listening centre in Cheltenham.

Counter-terrorism officials said Jabbar, who is married
and in his late 30s, attended a meeting of militants in May at
which he spoke about setting up an "Islamic Army of Great
Britain".

Other sources claimed that Jabbar, who had been living
with his wife in Pakistan for at least a year, may have
previously attended a mosque in the Manchester area.

There is no indication whether he was the militant who
had worked there as a community support officer.

PTI