Chemist Sought in London Probe Arrested

Magdy el-Nashar, an Egyptian chemist sought for his role in the London bombings, has been captured.

Chemist Sought in London Probe Arrested (AP)

Police in Egypt have arrested an Egyptian biochemist sought in the probe of the London bombings, an official said Friday. Meanwhile, authorities investigated a possible link between al-Qaida and the suicide team that carried out attacks. Magdy el-Nashar, 33, was taken into custody upon his arrival in Cairo from abroad, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement of the information had not yet been made. El-Nashar, who studied at North Carolina State University and taught at Leeds University in Britain, was being interrogated by Egyptian authorities, the official said.

The official could not specify the date of the arrest or where el-Nashar was arriving from, but said it could be as long as a week ago. Metropolitan Police in London said a man has been arrested in Cairo, but they would not confirm his name or characterize him as a suspect.

British and FBI officials were looking for el-Nashar, who recently had been teaching chemistry at Leeds University, north of London. The Times of London said el-Nashar was thought to have rented one of the homes police searched in Leeds in a series of raids Tuesday. Neighbors reported el-Nashar recently left Britain, saying he had a visa problem, the newspaper said.

Leeds University said el-Nashar arrived in October 2000 to do biochemical research, sponsored by the National Research Center in Cairo, Egypt. It said he earned a doctorate on May 6.

FBI agents in Raleigh, N.C., had joined the search for el-Nashar. North Carolina State spokesman Keith Nichols said a person named el-Nashar studied at the university as a graduate student in chemical engineering for a semester beginning in January 2000 until the spring.

“We’re aware of an arrest in Cairo, but we are not prepared to discuss who we may or may not wish to interview in connection with this investigation,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “This remains a fast-moving investigation with a number of lines of inquiry, some of which may have an international dimension.”

More on the grad student angle:

Egyptian Took Grad Courses in N. Carolina

An Egyptian biochemist arrested in Cairo in connection with the London subway and bus bombings taught at a British university after taking graduate courses in North Carolina. Magdy el-Nashar, 33, has denied any role in the attacks during questioning by Egyptian authorities, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

A government official said el-Nashar was detained in Cairo between July 7, when the bombings occurred, and Wednesday. U.S., British and Egyptian officials had been in contact concerning el-Nashar following the attacks, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was giving information not in the official ministry announcement.

The ministry said el-Nashar came to Egypt from London on vacation and intended to return to Britain to continue his studies.
“El-Nashar denied having any relation with the latest events in London. He pointed out (to questioners) that all his belongings remained in his apartment in Britain,” the ministry statement said. The head of the Cairo research center that sponsored el-Nashar’s studies said he arrived in the Egyptian capital two weeks ago.


The head of the research center said el-Nashar returned to Egypt two weeks ago, turned in his Ph.D. thesis to the center’s Chemistry Department and spent a week there with colleagues. A week ago, el-Nashar told colleagues at the center he was going on vacation for 45 days, the center’s president, Dr. Hany el-Nazer, told The Associated Press. FBI agents in Raleigh, N.C., had joined the search for el-Nashar, a former graduate student at North Carolina State University.

University spokesman Keith Nichols said a person named el-Nashar studied at North Carolina State as a graduate student in chemical engineering for a semester beginning in January 2000. Nichols said the school has gathered records in anticipation of being contacted by the FBI.

Previously: London Bombing Mastermind Identified

Rusty Shackleford has more here and here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim Henley says:

    @#$(*#% Wolfpack.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Recall Al Qaeda head of operations Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the man who masterminded the 9/11 attacks, got his engineering degree in North Carolina, I believe NC A&M.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I think in the wake of the London bombings it’s clear that the AQ networks are not those comprised of losers and other miscreants recruited by terrorists that many think are the core of terrorist cells. I think it confirms Marc Sageman’s thesis that these networks are self-selecting and those are drawn to it by some kind of social interaction based on common interests and some kind of common discontent with society that allows them to become radicals. Sageman is right again about the high educational level of these terrorists, just like the 9/11 core team.

    Here’s a link to the book:

  4. McGehee says:

    Personally, I don’t care what the educational level or other achievement may be. A terrorist is a loser by definition.

  5. DC Loser says:

    You have to know where to look to find the next ones. If you’re looking for dropouts and losers you’ll miss them, just like how the 9/11 bunch and these were missed. Call them what you want but the guys paid to spot and get them before they do the bad things need to know.