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Swede suspected of links to London bombings

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11:45 CEST+02:00
A Swedish citizen is being hunted by the FBI in connection with the bombings in London on July 7th.

The 38 year old is thought to be linked to the suspected British al-Qaeda leader, Haroon Rashid Aswat, who is currently being interrogated after a swoop by Pakistani police 90 miles from Islamabad.

According to The Times, British police suspect that Aswat played a crucial role in the London attacks, which killed 52 people as well as the bombers themselves.

Mobile phone records have been found which detail his calls with the four suicide bombers and Aswat is believed to have come from the same town as one of them. He is thought to have visited all the bombers' home towns in the fortnight before the attacks and flew out of London hours before the atrocity.

But the interest of the Swedish press has focused on a Lebanese-born Swedish citizen who travelled to the US with Aswat in 1999.

American security services believe the man, who, according to The Times, described himself as "a hitman for Osama bin Laden", could be involved in the London attacks.

The two men apparently investigated the possibility of using a remote ranch in the Seattle area as a training camp. They allegedly received firearms training and some months later the Swede was still in Seattle, preaching to young Muslims.

In 2003 the 38 year old, by then based in Stockholm, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for possessing illegal weapons in his flat in the south of the city.

Thursday's Aftonbladet said that the Swede was also suspected of plotting a terrorist attack, but charges were never brought against him.

"The allegations against him were obviously very weak since he was never charged," said his then lawyer, Bengt Söderström, to the tabloid.

"I defended him then but I haven't had contact with him since," he added.

Säpo, the Swedish security police, refused to confirm the man's identity or that he was part of the London investigation.

"When it comes to operational questions we never confirm or deny reports. And here we're talking about one of the largest police investigations ever," Säpo spokesman Anders Thornberg told AFP, referring to the massive international efforts to track down those responsible for the July 7th blasts.

"We are doing our best to help our British colleagues," was all Thornberg would say.

The Local/AFP

Sources: The Times, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet

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