Howard urged to investigate terror link

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The Independent Online

Crime Correspondent

Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, was yesterday urged to investigate whether members of the terrorist group responsible for the latest bombing in Israel is using Britain as a base to organise its activities and raise funds.

Anti-terrorist officers and the security service have long been aware of groups of Islamic West Bank Palestinians based in London who carry out fund-raising. This is understood to include supporters of Hamas, the group which claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombs in Israel in the past two days.

Last year it emerged that Ramadan Shallah, the new head of Islamic Jihad, a Damascus branch of Hamas, spent three years doing a PhD in economics at Durham University. He left in 1990.

Greville Janner, the Labour MP, said yesterday that he is writing to Mr Howard asking him to investigate whether supporters of terrorists are abusing immigration laws to gain entry to Britain to use it as a base to organise their activities abroad.

Mr Janner, vice-chairman of the British-Israeli Parliamentary Group, said: "The latest outrage has simply heightened the concern that has been felt by a lot of MPs on both sides of the House for years." He said he would also be seeking assurances that Mr Howard was satisfied with the levels of co-operation with foreign intelligence services.

A Foreign Office spokesman played down reports of a Hamas cell in Britain. "We have seen no proof to support allegations that funds raised by Hamas in the UK are used directly in support of terrorist acts elsewhere," he said.

The Home Office said the Government was determined the UK should not be used as a base for any terrorists to raise funds or plan operations.