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Pakistan school massacre: British doctor investigated over Taliban siege links

Pakistan school massacre: British doctor investigated over Taliban siege links
As Britain’s Pakistani community mourns the massacre of 132 children in Tuesday’s school siege, a British doctor with links to the Taliban is being investigated by Pakistan’s intelligence service, suspected of involvement in the attack.

Former NHS surgeon Mirza Tariq Ali fled the UK last year. He is reported to have become a senior Pakistani Taliban commander after his attempts to join Islamic State in Syria were hindered.

Pakistani authorities are currently investigating whether Ali could have been the commander of the six gunmen who opened fire on the school in Pakistan, leaving a total of 141 dead and a further 125 injured.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistani officials believe that several factions of the local Pakistani Taliban orchestrated the siege from the border of neighboring Afghanistan.

Ali is reported to have had links with radical UK cleric Anjem Choudary while he was practicing medicine in the UK.

A local cameraman films in front of an army soldier at the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar, December 17, 2014.(Reuters / Fayaz Aziz)

The doctor, who now operates under the moniker Dr Abu Obaidah Al-Islamabadi, has been described as “someone of interest”to the inquiry into the mass shooting. He is known to have appeared in a recruitment video for the Taliban in November, where he urged Pakistanis to stop resisting sharia law.

Ali was arrested by UK police in 2013 and charged with violent disorder after attending a demonstration in central London, organized by Choudary, where he advocated jihad in Syria. He was due to stand trial in May, but fled the country.

He was arrested in Croatia and deported to Pakistan, where he is reported to have risen quickly through Taliban ranks.

READ MORE:‘Gunman was pumping bullets into bodies’: Eyewitnesses describe Pakistan school siege

Ali was, however, prosecuted in his absence, and has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for Islamic sectarian violence; the first ever successful conviction of its type in the UK.

The investigation into Ali comes as Glasgow authorities offered their condolences to siege victims by flying the Pakistan flag at half-mast from the City Chambers on Friday.

Two grand-nephews of Glasgow Southside Central SNP councilor Jahangir Hanif were killed in the massacre.

The events in Peshawar on Tuesday were truly shocking,” said councilor Sadie Docherty, Glasgow’s Lord Provost. “The number of children involved in the shooting is particularly distressing.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy, particularly Glasgow's Pakistani community who make such a significant contribution to our city,” she said.