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POSSIBLE TERROR LINK: Police arrest man sought by Britain

27-08-2005

Bangkok, The Nation:

An Algerian man wanted by Britain in connection with last month’s deadly London bombings has been caught in Thailand, the Immigration Police commissioner said yesterday.

Lt-General Suwat Thamrong-srisakul said Atamnia Yachine, 33, was arrested on Wednesday in the Sukhumvit Soi Nana area on a charge of possessing 180 fake French and Spanish passports.

Yachine is believed to have been providing terrorists behind the London bombers with bogus travel documents, Suwat said.

Four bomb attacks rocked London on July 7, killing 52 and injuring more than 700 passengers on three crowded tube trains and a public bus.

An Immigration Police source said the bureau had planned to parade Yachine along with two suspected foreign paedophiles in front of the media on Wednesday but the British Embassy had asked them not to.

Police were tipped off to Yachine’s whereabouts when an unspecified number of people were intercepted with 452 false European passports at Bangkok International Airport earlier this month. Those suspects were believed to have purchased some bogus passports from Yachine, Suwat said.

Authorities traced calls from the mobile phone of one of the airport suspects and developed a lead that took them to the Algerian passport counterfeiter.

A senior police officer familiar with the case said authorities here were debating whether to detain the Algerian longer to dig out more leads from him or hand him over immediately to the British government.

Thailand has long been accused of being a magnet for transnational criminals to come and make all kinds of illicit deals and purchases.

Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah members have reportedly entered Thailand either to lie low or to map out attacks, such as the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people.

Finding himself in a similar situation as Yachine is Ethiopia-born Hamdi Issac, 27, a suspect in the failed July 21 London transport bombings.

Issac left London by train on July 26, travelling to Paris and Milan before he was arrested in Rome on July 29.

His lawyer, Antonietta Sonnessa, told reporters in Rome yesterday that she intended to appeal the court’s decision to extradite Issac on grounds that, in its extradition request, Britain had not included details on the nature of the explosive Issac had allegedly used.

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