Thursday, January 18, 2007

Police came across July 21 'bomber' three times, court hears

Scotland Yard anti-terror detectives crossed paths with one of the alleged July 21 suicide bombers three times in the months leading up to his failed attack on a London bus but never detained him for longer than a few hours, a court heard today.

Muktar Said Ibrahim was photographed by Metropolitan Police surveillance officers at a camping trip in the Lake District along with four of his alleged co-conspirators in May 2004, almost 15 months before their attempted suicide attacks, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

Photographs and footage of the five men at the alleged training camp were shown to the jury and later released by the police.

A few months later, in October that year, Mr Ibrahim was arrested outside Debenhams on London's busy Oxford Street for distributing inflammatory Islamic literature.

Then in December 2004, he was questioned by Special Branch officers at London's Heathrow Airport on his way to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, the court heard.

Revelations that Mr Ibrahim, 28, was under surveillance for months leading up to the alleged suicide attacks in London on July 21, 2005 in London were made on the third day in a trial of six men on charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life at Woolwich Crown Court.

The failed attacks took place exactly two weeks after the 7/7 attacks, in which four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters. In the event, all of the homemade bombs the conspirators used, made of a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour, failed to go off and the would-be suicide terrorists attempted to flee.

Three of the alleged bombers on July 21 tried to blow themselves up on the tube and one on a bus, the court heard. The fifth man failed to go through with the plan and dumped his explosives in west London, while a sixth had already left the country.


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