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Sources: Britain missed opportunity

U.S. wanted to arrest man believed to have ties to July 7 bombers

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A month before the July 7 attacks were carried out, British authorities balked at permitting U.S. authorities to arrest Haroon Rashid Aswat, sources familiar with the investigation said Thursday.

British authorities now suspect he lent support to the suicide bombers, whose attacks killed 52 morning commuters.

Aswat, a 30-year-old British-born citizen of Indian heritage, is in custody in Zambia, U.S. and Zambian officials told CNN.

FBI officials are also in Zambia, and their access to Aswat through the Zambians "is being handled at the highest levels," sources told CNN.

According to the sources, U.S. officials had located Aswat in South Africa and asked the government if they could take Aswat into custody. South Africa relayed the request to Britain, but authorities there refused because he was a British citizen, the sources said.

While the debate continued, Aswat slipped away.

U.S. authorities wanted to capture Aswat -- who is named in a U.S. arrest warrant and was then in South Africa -- and question him about a 1999 plot to establish a "jihad training camp" in Bly, Oregon.

Aswat was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case that convicted American citizen James Ujaama in 2003 for proposing to establish the terror training camp, officials familiar with the investigation said. (Full story)

Under a plea deal last year, Ujaama agreed to cooperate in terrorism probes.

The British government has been seeking consular access to "a British national" in Zambia since Saturday, according to the British Foreign Office.

CNN's Henry Schuster and Justine Redman contributed to this report.

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