THE SLOVAK Interior Ministry has said that it made a mistake when it confirmed that Khalid Ahmed was one of the attackers at the Glasgow airport, the Sme daily reported on July 7. The ministry apologized to Ahmed, a physician who studied medicine in Slovakia from 1995 to 2001, for identifying him as one of the suspects arrested in an attempted suicide bombing at Glasgow Airport in Scotland on July 4.
Khalid Ahmed contacted Sme and the TA3 news channel after his friend Emad Abo Ebeid, another physician, warned him about the reports being disseminated by Slovak media based on the statements made by the Interior Ministry.
"My friend phoned me yesterday and told me that he had heard and saw it in the news," Ahmed told Sme. "I had a look and saw that even my professor was talking about me. Terrorist attack is something that I am completely against."
The Interior Ministry said it wanted to explain the situation to Ahmed, but the physician told Sme that an apology is not enough and that he also will demand financial compensation from the ministry.
"We insist that all the statements we provided for the media were correct and fair," said Interior Ministry spokesman Erik Tomáš. "The only exemption is the first phone call that we had with TA3, when, in an effort to give quick response, we were not very careful and for which we apologize to Doctor Ahmed."
The Interior Ministry had responded to media inquires on July 3 by confirming for TA3 that one of the suspects arrested in an attempted suicide bombing at Glasgow Airport in Scotland studied medicine in the Slovak town of Martin.
According to the findings of the Office of the Border and Foreign Police of the Slovak Republic, Ahmed studied at the Jessenius Medical School of Comenius University in Martin from 1995 to 2001, Vladimíra Hrebeňáková of the Interior Ministry told the TASR newswire on July 4.
"He was a very good student, with excellent results in the final exams," Professor Albert Stránsky told TA3 on July 4.
But the next day, Slovak police disputed the allegations to some extent. According to British media, the bomber was born in 1980 but Slovak records do not agree.
"We can only confirm that a man with this name, but who was born in 1976, studied on Slovak territory, in Martin, in the years 1995-2001," Interior Ministry spokesman Tomáš told the TASR newswire on July 5. "He was a British citizen born in London, who had a student's residence permit. After 2001, he left Slovakia for Great Britain, and since then the Immigration Office has no records on him.
"Slovak police are ready to cooperate with British authorities and will take steps to confirm or disprove whether it is the same man," Tomáš said.
Two suicide bombers crashed a blazing car into the airport terminal in Glasgow on Saturday, June 30. According to British media, both attackers were foreign doctors and they were arrested in the aftermath of the airport attack.
Police also believe the men were behind two failed car bombing attempts in London a day earlier. They allege the men parked two cars packed with explosives in central London, then drove north to Scotland for six hours.
It is unclear whether the failed suicide attack on the Glasgow airport was a last-minute decision or whether it was planned as a follow-up to the failed London car bombs.
As of July 5, one of the suspects was in critical condition after suffering 90 percent burns in the Glasgow attack. According to the British press, he worked as a locum at Royal Alexandra Hospital, where he is now being treated. His chances of survival are said to be slim.
Police have arrested eight suspects in connection with the events in Glasgow and London - seven men and one woman. All suspects are doctors, medical students or healthcare employees from British hospitals. Two of them are of Indian origin, others come from the Middle East: Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
According to a report in a British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, some of the suspects had been tracked by the MI5, the British intelligence service, before the attempted attacks.
Reports say the arrested doctors probably got commands from abroad. As the British daily The Guardian wrote, with reference to sources from anti-terrorist security ranks, the whole plan was likely born outside Great Britain. Doctors were most probably in contact with as-yet unknown leader of the whole operation abroad.
US officials told CNN that some of the suspects were recruited by al-Qaeda while they were living in the Middle East.
9. Jul 2007 at 0:00 | Ľuba Lesná