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Militant: 'Those who cure you will kill you'

  • Story Highlights
  • Militant in Jordan told Anglican cleric: 'Those who cure you will kill you'
  • Warning now taken as reference to UK terror plot
  • Some of UK terror suspects recruited by al Qaeda in Iraq, sources say
  • Britain plots could be blueprint for attacks in U.S., officials say
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A British Anglican cleric working in Baghdad said a man he met in Jordan issued a disturbing threat that is now feared to be a dire portent in the aftermath of failed British bombing attacks.

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Images from Glasgow airport showed the vehicle ablaze next to the terminal building.

"Those who cure you will kill you," the man told Canon Andrew White, who spoke to CNN on Wednesday.

White said he spoke with the man in April in Amman, Jordan, at a meeting of Iraqi Sunni sheikhs attempting to foster peace in Iraq.

White -- who would not name the man at the behest of U.S., British and Iraqi authorities -- said the individual issued a litany of hostile statements about the United States and Britain and their role in Iraq.

Eight people are in custody as part of the wide-ranging investigation into failed car bombings in London and Glasgow. All have links to the medical profession.

Seven are doctors or medical students and the eighth is a laboratory technician. Two other doctors are being questioned about the case but are not in custody.

U.S. officials told CNN that some of the suspects were recruited by al Qaeda while they were living in the Middle East. One of the suspects is an Iraqi doctor and another is a neurosurgeon from Jordan.

Militants, the man told White at the meeting, were no longer just going to be targeting Iraq. They were planning actions that would target Britain and America.

The comments, White said, "began to make sense in the last couple of days."

White -- who was appalled by the man's rhetoric -- told the British Foreign Office about the general thrust of the remarks but didn't initially pass along the exact phrase.

"He said so many awful things to me that I didn't remember every line to tell them," he said.

White referred to the man as the "devil" and said he broke off the conversation.

"I knew he was one of the bad guys," White said. "I met with the devil that day and in the end I would not continue my conversation with him."

White described man as being "in his 40s, thin, very smartly dressed and very academic looking."

"It was amazing, really," White said. "They were meeting to talk about peace and he didn't say anything about peace."

The man who spoke to White, an Iraqi Sunni, had flown to Jordan from Syria and is regarded by authorities as closely linked to the al Qaeda network.

At least some of the suspects held over the attempted terrorist attacks on London and Glasgow were recruited by al Qaeda while they were living in the Middle East, U.S. officials say.

Six people were still being questioned on Wednesday at a London police station. A seventh man remains critically ill with severe burns in a Glasgow hospital and an eighth, Dr. Mohammed Haneef, 27, was being questioned in Brisbane, Australia.

Counterterrorism officials told CNN they believed the plots in Britain may be a blueprint for al Qaeda attacks on the United States. But, the officials say, the degree of what might be in the works and timing of any potential attack remain unknown.

"Some wonder why they just don't do vehicle bombs here. It would certainly cause panic and terror, and soft targets do exist here in abundance. But I continue to think they don't want to waste their shot here on something that isn't fairly spectacular," one counterterrorism official said.

"There's a strong conviction we are vulnerable here," another official said. "They are planning and trying to put something together, and given that these are people who play by no rules, are willing to die -- it doesn't matter how much we harden targets, they will still find some way to get through."

"The next attack here is likely to focus on some sort of infrastructure," a third counterterrorism official said.

The counterterrorism officials spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the story.

The officials note doctors' expertise in biology and chemistry and have access to radiological material such as medical isotopes, could be used in terrorist acts.

According to officials, there has been long-standing concern that Iraq is a breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists who have been testing tactics of urban warfare, which can then be used in Western nations.

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Terrorism analyst Marco Vicenzino, the director of the Global Strategy Project, says the world could be seeing a shift in jihadist tactics.

Confident after wounding the United States and its allies in Iraq, jihadists "are determined to take their combat experience directly to the superpower and its allies at home and around the world," Vicenzino said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Joe Sterling, Mohammed Tawfeeq, and Pierre Bairin contributed to this report.

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