U.K. Terrorism Suspects Considered Jobs in U.S. Some of the suspects in the recent attempted car bombings in Britain had made inquiries about working in the United States. The FBI confirmed that two of the men had contacted a clearing house for foreign doctors in Philadelphia.
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U.K. Terrorism Suspects Considered Jobs in U.S.

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U.K. Terrorism Suspects Considered Jobs in U.S.

U.K. Terrorism Suspects Considered Jobs in U.S.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Police in Britain have charged an Iraqi doctor in connection with the attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow.

There are also indications that some of the suspects held in the case might have been trying to expand to their activities to the United States and Australia.

NPR's Jackie Northam reports from London.

JACKIE NORTHAM: It was just an inquiry to the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. But the inquiry was made by two of the medical doctors who are now being held on suspicion for their role in the failed bombing attacks in Britain.

The ECFMG is a clearing host for foreign doctors wanting to work in the United States, says the organization's vice president for operations, Stephen Seeling.

Mr. STEPHEN SEELING (Vice President of Operations, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates): The ECFMG certification is a prerequisite for an international medical graduate to enter a graduate medical education in the U.S. It is not a guarantee. But without that, one could not proceed.

NORTHAM: And ultimately, become a doctor in the U.S. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the suspects applied to the ECFMG but doesn't believe the process went any further. Halfway around the world, a similar scenario was revealed today.

Dr. Geoff Dobb, state president of the Australian Medical Association, said two other suspects also applied to work as medics in Australia. Dobb said they, too, did not have much luck.

Dr. GEOFF DOBB (State President, Australian Medical Association): Certainly, the didn't meet the standards that we required. Hypothetically, if they had been better qualified could they have slipped through the professional checks that we have, and the answer to that is yes. But they didn't meet those standards.

NORTHAM: Australian police also raided two hospitals in the western part of the country, briefly detaining four men. They also detained another man who allegedly was in contact with one of the suspects from the British case.

Maha Azzam, an associate fellow with The Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, says these latest developments bear similarities to the September 11th attack. Azzam says even though it failed, the plot in Britain involved moving highly educated people into western countries.

Dr. MAHA AZZAM (Associate Fellow, Middle East Programme, The Royal Institute of International Affairs): I think what we're seeing now is that we can't really dismiss any particular group in terms of its support for terrorism.

What we have is, of course, a minority, a tiny, tiny minority. But the importance for, aside of what's happened, is the fact that they're saying we're here, we still pose a serious terrorist threat to the West.

NORTHAM: Here in Britain, police continued to scour the homes and offices of the suspects and people they came on contact with. The intelligence agencies are looking at links between the suspects and Iraq, India and other nations.

MI5, the country's domestic intelligence service, said on its Web site that some British residents have traveled to Iraq to join the insurgency and that it's possible they may return to the U.K. and continue their campaign of violence here.

Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has called for more international coordination to help thwart future attacks.

Prime Minister GORDON BROWN (Britain): I want to see a register of potential terrorists. I want also assert to be able to work more closely with foreign authorities to deal with this security menace. And I think you'll see over the next few months a more coordinated effort.

NORTHAM: Brown warned people to be vigilant in tourist areas and crowded places such as London. This weekend, the city will host the start of the Tour de France, the Wimbledon tennis finals and a Live Earth concert. There are also several ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the suicide bombings that killed 52 people two years ago.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, London.

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