Medical colleagues of a Jordanian doctor arrested in Britain in connection with a string of thwarted car bomb attacks today said the man was absorbed in his studies and career and had no ties to terrorism.
Mohammed Jamil Asha, 26, a Palestinian native who carries a Jordanian passport, was arrested for questioning on Saturday but has not been charged by authorities, Jordanian government officials have said.
British police have identified a Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha as one of several people arrested in connection with the failed bombings. He was arrested late on Saturday on the M6 in Cheshire.
Authorities in Britain also arrested Asha’s wife, Marwa, who was with him in the car at the time of their arrest, an official in Britain said today.
Her family in Jordan denied she had links to terrorism and was not an extremist.
“Marwa is a very educated person and she read many British novels to know England better, a country she liked so much,” her father, Yunis Da’na said in Jordan.
Jordanian security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Mohammed Asha had no previous criminal record in Jordan, a key US ally, which closely co-ordinates with Washington and other Western nations on the war on terror.
A top government official said yesterday that Jordan was pursuing Mohammed Asha’s case with British authorities through the Jordanian Embassy in London.
He said Jordan was told that the doctor was a “possible suspect”, who was not charged with any crime.
He said information about the physician’s involvement was “very sketchy".
Jordanian officials have not commented on the arrest of Asha’s wife.
Azmi Mahafzah, Mohammed Asha’s instructor at the University of Jordan medical school, said he knew Mohammed Asha during his studies and training from 1998 to 2004 and did not have the impression that he was religious.
“He interacted with others, both boys and girls. He has no prejudices. He is not a fanatic type of person,” he said.
“I wouldn’t believe that he would risk a very, very bright future in medicine for going into such things. He’s very smart,” Mahafzah said.
He said Mohammed Asha graduated with top honours from his medical class.
Another colleague of Asha’s in Amman, Aseel al-Omari, described herself as a “close friend” of the Jordanian doctor. She said she knew him for the past decade since they attended a school for gifted students.
The school, founded 14 years ago by Jordan’s Queen Noor to promote religious tolerance, is mixed – a rarity in this conservative Muslim society, which often separates the sexes.
“All I can say about his personality over this time is that he was an ambitious medical student looking for success in his career,” she said.
“He had liberal thinking. ... He was a good Muslim but never a terrorist or involved in such activities,” she said.
Family members urged authorities to provide them with information. Da’na said he has not been in contact with his daughter since her arrest and was concerned about his 11/2-year-old grandson.
“I’m so worried about Marwa, Mohammed and my grandson, Anas,” he said. “I’m desperate for information about them.”