UK police asking public for information on what bombers did during pre attack 'reconaissance' trip to London
September 20, 2005
Closed-circuit TV footage shows London bombers on practice run
Tuesday, September 20, 2005 http://www.canada.com/vancouver/theprovince/news/story.html?id=ed06d830-ec12-41e6-aaa5-95b4cc5e5f74&page=2
LONDON (AP) - Police released closed-circuit TV footage Tuesday showing three of the four July 7 suicide bombers on what detectives believe was a reconnaissance trip less than two weeks before they attacked London's mass-transit system.
Scotland Yard also said the bombers made their explosives from peroxide and carried them in coolers - its first confirmation of ingredients revealed by New York City detectives who observed the London investigation.
British investigators said they found two unexploded bombs made from peroxide-based HMTP, or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine peroxide, and encased in nails in a car the suspected attackers left at the Luton train station north of the capital.
They did not immediately specify how they knew the bombs that exploded aboard three London subways and a bus were made from peroxide-based explosives, which degrade at room temperature and must be kept cool until used.
The bombs had been "effectively made" and that whoever made them had "done some good research and had been well trained," said Peter Clarke, head of London's Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist branch.
Andy Oppenheimer, an explosives expert with Jane's Information Group, said HMTP was one of a group of explosives made from common, easily available items such as hydrogen peroxide, or hair bleach.
"It's another kind of explosive that could be made in somebody's premises," he said. "There are quite a lot of these peroxide-based explosives and they are quite popular with terrorist groups and in crime because they are relatively easy to obtain."
However, he added, "they are not easy to put together - they can be very unstable. People often blow themselves up in the process of making it."
He said peroxide-based bombs could be quite powerful, although not nearly as strong as plastic explosives.
Scotland Yard's first public confirmation of the bombs' ingredients came after the New York Police Department - in an Aug. 3 presentation to New York City business leaders and police officials from Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and other areas - said the bombs had been made from HMDT.
A department spokesman later acknowledged that London officials had not authorized the briefing, based on information from New York detectives who had gone to London to monitor the investigation.
At the briefing, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly warned the materials and methods used in the London attack were easily adaptable to New York.
"Initially it was thought that perhaps the materials were high-end military explosives that were smuggled, but it turns out not to be the case," Kelly said. "It's more like these terrorists went to a hardware store or some beauty supply store."
Also, a suspect in London's July 21 bombing attempts arrested in Rome told investigators the explosives he carried in a backpack were made from a mixture of flour and a liquid hair product. The failed attacks came two weeks after the July 7 bombings killed 52 people and the four attackers.
In the closed-circuit TV footage, images from June 28 show three of the suspected bombers entering the Luton train station north of the capital, arriving at London's King's Cross station and entering the Underground system. Detectives located the images after finding train tickets and receipts indicating the timing of the trip.
The trip followed the same route the suspects are believed to have taken on the day of the attack, police said.
The visit "might suggest the suspects were carrying out reconnaissance of potential targets on the London transport system and checking the time of the journey they intended to take on the day of the attack," London's Metropolitan Police said.
"Other cases here and abroad have suggested that terrorists do visit possible targets as part of their planning, checking layouts, timings and security before carrying out attacks," police said.
Police said they also had footage showing the three at the Baker Street subway station, close to one of the bombing sites.
The men - Mohammed Siddique Khan, Shahzad Tanweer and Germaine Lindsay - spent about three hours in London and may have split up during that time, police said. Investigators said they were still searching closed-circuit tapes for more information about what the suspects did in the city.
"We really need to know, did they meet anyone else? What else did they do during that time?" Clarke said in a television interview. "Those missing three hours could be vital."
The video did not show the fourth suspected bomber, Hasib Hussain, who allegedly blew up a double-decker bus. He may have intended to attack a Northern Line train but hit the bus instead because a mechanical problem had shut part of the line.