Human resources student who sparked alert

The man whose capture in Pakistan sparked the arrests of 12 al-Qai'da suspects in Britain, and is alleged to have revealed plans for attacks in Britain and America, studied at London's City University last year, it has emerged. Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan completed a 10-week evening course in human resources management starting in January 2003, the university said. The course cost £145.

It is one of six visits Mr Khan allegedly made to Britain in the last few years. All the latest developments in the hunt for al-Qa'ida operatives appears to lead back to Mr Khan. He has been cited as the source of new information that led to Tom Ridge, the US Homeland Security Secretary's now infamous orange alert speech.

A Pakistani who graduated from Karachi university, Mr Khan is said to speak English with a British accent. But a British link would be nothing new. Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man sentenced to death in Pakistan for the kidnapping and murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, was born and educated in Britain. And he may not be the only militant whose upbringing made him able to flit effortlessly between Britain and Pakistan.

The details of Mr Khan's arrest, and his exact role in al-Qa'ida, remain murky. When asked by The Independent the Pakistani Interior Minister, Faisal Salim Hayyat, denied reports that he is a "computer expert". Pakistan maintains that the name Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan may be an alias. Most al-Qa'ida suspects have them, and Mr Khan has at least one other: Abu Talha.

Reports about his arrest differ. Most now agree he was captured in Lahore, but some early reports said it was Karachi. He is said to have been briefing that he was a vital link in al-Qa'ida's communication network; American intelligence sources have been briefing that he set up a system for sending coded messages.

Mr Khan is believed to have received training at an al-Qa'ida camp in Afghanistan but, again, accounts differ. Messages are said to have been sent to him by courier from al-Qa'ida leaders on the run in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. He then sent them on by e-mail. But this contradicts the widely held view among al-Qa'ida watchers that the core group had been decimated, with its leadership unable to direct operations.

Recent attacks were said to have been the work of allied groups whose militants were trained at al-Qa'ida camps in Afghanistan, but were no longer receiving instructions from them. If the accounts of Mr Khan sending out orders across the globe from a computer in Pakistan are true, then al-Qa'ida's core may be alive and well in Pakistan.

But, just as the US government has been accused of deliberately issuing an orange alert to undermine the presidential challenger John Kerry, it is worth remembering that the timing of vital arrests of al-Qa'ida suspects in Pakistan is just as convenient for President Pervez Musharraf.

President Musharraf has been feeling the heat since Pakistan received unflattering mentions in the 9/11 commission's report. And he has been under pressure from the White House to help President Bush by delivering either troops for Iraq, or more arrests. Just as news of the arrests was emerging, Pakistan announced it would not be sending troops to Iraq.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before