UK Terror Suspect Worked in Aviation

BANGALORE, India --

Officials confirmed Tuesday that an Indian suspect in the failed car bombings in Britain had worked as an aeronautical engineer at a company contracted by the biggest names in aviation.

Kafeel Ahmed, 27, is in a Scottish hospital with burns suffered after allegedly crashing a Jeep Cherokee into the Glasgow airport a day after police found two unexploded car bombs in central London.

Ahmed worked in Bangalore as an aeronautical engineer for Infotech Enterprises, a large outsourcing firm, from December 2005 to August 2006, said the company spokesman K.S. Susindar.

Infotech works with some of the biggest companies in aviation, including Boeing and Airbus, among others - possibly giving Ahmed access to sensitive design information from the companies.

Susindar declined to comment on whether Ahmed had access to design secrets or what projects he worked on.

"He was a sincere employee and from what I can gather he gave no problems whatsoever," said Susindar.

The services Infotech offered its clients was not immediately clear, but most of the aviation work outsourced to Indian companies includes software support for cabin lighting, display of information in the cockpit, in-flight entertainment and communication.

In some cases, it could involve designing software for flight control systems, navigation and surveillance.

A spokeswoman for Boeing declined to comment. Calls to aircraft engine makers Pratt & Whitney were not immediately returned, nor were calls to Airbus.

Sabeel Ahmed, 26, Kafeel's brother, is being held in Liverpool as a suspect in the terror plot. Sabeel, who worked as a doctor, and Kafeel are among eight people held in the case.

A third Indian, Mohammad Haneef, is being held in Australia for questioning.

Australian police said they would likely ask for more time to detain Haneef without charge.

Haneef started his second week in custody on Tuesday, as criticism grew that Australia's new counterror laws had left him in indefinite legal limbo. Haneef's lawyer said he would likely challenge any further extension to his detention.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty said police would seek another extension is necessary.

"We asked for a period of time that we thought that was reasonable in terms of the amount of work that we envisaged needs to be done before we can be in a position to decide one way or the other about Dr. Haneef's fate," Keelty told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Tuesday.

An Australian federal police agent has gone to India to continue the investigation, said a spokeswoman for the Australian Federal Police, speaking on a condition of anonymity in line with agency policy.

She would not say where the officer went, but she said the officer would be working with Indian officials.

The case emerged June 29, when two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered in London's entertainment district. The next day, the flaming Jeep smashed into security barriers at the main terminal at Glasgow airport.

Only one of the eight people in custody as suspects has been charged: Bilal Abdullah, an Iraqi doctor identified as a passenger in the Jeep that Kafeel Ahmed is accused of driving.

An Indian newspaper, The Hindustan Times, said investigators in Bangalore were looking for anything that might link the Ahmed brothers to terror acts in India. It said there was evidence suggesting Abdullah had visited Bangalore to meet with the two.

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Associated Press writer Meraiah Foley contributed to this report from Sydney.


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