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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Failed London transport bombers jailed for life - radicalised by Abu Hamza Al Masri at Finsbury Park Mosque

Failed London transport bombers jailed for life - radicalised by Abu Hamza Al Masri at Finsbury Park Mosque

July 9, 2007

Police surveillance photograph shows Ramzi Mohammed and Yassin Hassan Omar, blunders that let 21/7 bombers go free
Police surveillance photograph shows Ramzi Mohammed and Yassin Hassan Omar training on a camping trip in Cumbria

July 10, 2007

Refugees who tried to wage war on London

Sean O'Neill

Four men who came to Britain as refugees from war-torn African nations and were turned by extremist clerics into suicide terrorists face spending the rest of their lives in jail after being convicted of the 21/7 bombing plot yesterday.

Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, and Hussein Osman, 28, were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to murder by detonating rucksack bombs on Tube trains at Oval, Warren Street and Shepherds Bush and on the top deck of a No 26 bus at Shoreditch.

Their suicide mission which, the court was told, failed only because of a single error by Ibrahim in making the hydrogen peroxide explosives came a fortnight after the 7/7 attacks that killed 52-passengers on the London transport network.

The six-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court heard that the 21/7 bombs were intended to be "bigger and better" than those that had exploded with devastating effect two weeks earlier.

As the guilty verdicts were read out, Ibrahim, the ringleader of the plot, closed his eyes and bent his head. Omar and Mohammed both stared straight ahead at the judge, while Osman briefly shut his eyes.

Two years ago they had created panic in London, forcing commuters to relive the horrors of 7/7. Yet Tube passengers had confronted their would-be murderers and chased them off the trains.

The 21/7 bombers had radically different profiles from the doctors and medical students arrested last week in connection with attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2051274.ece


Tracing the 21/7 bombers


From Africa, via Pakistan and Rome to Britain, Channel 4 News has traced the four men who conspired to murder on July 21 2005.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are demanding to know why the 21/7 plot's ringleader Mukhtar Said Ibrahim was allowed in and out of the country without more stringent checks.

Questions are also being raised about the role of the security services after it emerged that at least three the plotters had been under surveillance - and one was briefly arrested. Yet none of the intelligence suggested they were planning to set off suicide bombs in the heart of London.

When the police released CCTV images of four of the wanted would-be suicide bombers - it turned out they already had pictures of the men - surveillance photos taken a year before at a training camp in the Lake District.

But the men were not deemed to be a threat and they went on, undetected, to buy hundreds of litres of hydrogen peroxide and build homemade bombs.

Yet they had a history of extremism and some had been arrested or reported to the police because of their behaviour.

Muktar Said Ibrahim was the 'emir' - the leader of this terror cell. He tried to attack the country that had given him refuge as a teenager from Eritrea.

Ibrahim didn't stumble into this - he been trained for jihad in Sudan and, at the end of 2004, in Pakistan.

It was when he came back from that trip that he began plotting to build the homemade bombs

The jury was told Ibrahim wanted to make the 21/7 plot bigger and better than the destruction caused on July 7th.

It is known that Ibrahim was in Pakistan for training at the same time as the 7 July ringleader Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shezad Tanweer were there.

The date on the CCTV of Ibrahim's last purchase of hydrogen peroxide is telling - 5 July, and there is a startling similarity between both plots.

The hydrogen peroxide-based explosives that Ibrahim made for the 21 July attacks had only been seen once before in this country - on 7 July.

Long way from Ethiopia

For 28-year-old Hussein Osman, it was a long way from the dusty streets of Harar in Ethiopia to Shepherds Bush station.

But by the time he made that journey, Osman had lost his home town's message of peace and tolerance.

Unlike the 7/7 bombers who were second generation immigrants, the 21/7 bombers largely came to the UK claiming asylum as children from the war zones of the Horn of Africa.

But Osman falsely claimed asylum. He Illegally got permission to stay in the UK by saying he was from Somalia. Ibrahim got British citizenship in 2004 after arriving from Eritrea as a child refugee. He got this even though he had convictions for indecent assault and robbery.

Yassin Omar and Ramzi Mohammed, both from Somalia had been given indefinite leave to remain in Britain - Mohammad was given permission to stay just three months before he tried to bomb the tube.

Before Hussein Osman left Ethiopia, he was known as Hamdi Isaac. His father, left broken by his sons' involvement in the bomb plot, told Channel 4 News in his first ever interview that he had taught his son to know the difference between right and wrong.

'Hamdi was a very good boy. I brought up all my sons including Hamdi very well'
Hussein Osman's father

'Good boy'

Before Hussein Osman left Ethiopia, he was known as Hamdi Isaac. His father, left broken by his sons' involvement in the bomb plot, told Channel 4 News in his first ever interview that he had taught his son to know the difference between right and wrong.

He said: "Hamdi was a very good boy. I brought up all my sons including Hamdi very well. They were disciplined. I brought them up to the best of my abilities and resources. I made sure they were well-educated. And my children were very well behaved, just as I wanted."

He told us he had taught his son to respect the laws of the country he was living in and not to turn to violence and his brother who lives in Rome, where Osman fled after the 21/7 attacks told Channel 4 News that he does not believe the image painted of his brother as a terrorist, as someone who wanted to blow up innocent people.

Like Osman who was a father, the four men who set out that morning to kill had much to live for. Yassin Omar, the Warren St bomber had just got married. Only four days before July 21 he'd gone to Finchley mosque and asked for a marriage ceremony to take place. By then he was well known as an extremist.

But should the authorities have found out what the four men were up to or, like the 7/7 bombers, were there missed opportunities to stop them getting this far?

As Mukhtar Said Ibrahim headed for jihad in Pakistan with the British passport he had been issued with just months before, he was stopped by the police at Heathrow. In his suitcase was 2,000 and a sleeping bag, in his friend's bag was a manual on treating mortar wounds and a military first aid kit.


Bombers on CCTV
Bombers on CCTV

Ibrahim said he was going to a wedding. Despite being unable to name the bride after questioning, special branch let him go on his way.

A police source told Channel 4 news that maybe he should have been picked up on his return from Pakistan but he hadn't committed any offence.

Yet anti-terror officers now admit they wish they had been told Ibrahim had returned to the country. But Heathrow wasn't the first time Ibrahim had come to the police's attention.

A few months before, he had been arrested outside Debenhams in Oxford Street after distributing Islamic literature, and charged with using threatening and abusive behaviour. He never appeared in court because he'd gone to Pakistan.

And that wasn't the first time he and four of the other bombers had come on the police radar.

On a bank holiday Monday in 2004 at Baysbrown farm, in the Lake District, special branch officers were watching. They covertly photographed around 20 Muslim men running up and down hills carrying rucksacks. Five of them would turn out to be the 21 July bombers. Two men who now face charges in other unconnected terror trials were also at the camp.

The police came here to watch someone else but should they have put all the men under surveillance? No, they say, because limited resources meant they couldn't follow every single person all the time and no one had committed a crime.

Even as the men were becoming radicalised, through their links to the preacher Abu Hamza - they had not gone unnoticed. They prayed at the Finsbury Park mosque where Hamza was the imam and a year before they started the bomb plot police surveillance teams photographed Muktar Said Ibrahim and Ramzi Mohammed listening to sermons there.

Inspired by Hamza, Hussein Osman had tried with other extremists to take over Stockwell mosque and two years before the bomb plot was reported to the police

When the men set out on July 21st - like the 7/7 bombers, their aim was to bring jihad to the streets of London. The difference was they were striking against their adopted country.

But alienated and radicalised here, they wanted martyrdom - if they'd had their way London would have been hit by two suicide attacks in two weeks.

Further links related to this article

Channel 4 News

All four were young refugees from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia who had sought safety in Britain where they received education, were given housing and claimed welfare benefits. But they turned for religious guidance to Abu Hamza al-Masri, the extremist Muslim cleric who preached hatred, intolerance and holy war at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London.

The bombers' public association with extremism raises difficult questions for the police and intelligence services.

Ibrahim, the plot's ringleader, had crossed the police and intelligence radar on several occasions in the 14 months before the bombings.

He was photographed by a covert police surveillance team at a jihad training camp in the Lake District in May 2004. Omar, Mohammed and Osman were also present. In August that year, police cameras captured Ibrahim during disturbances outside the Finsbury Park mosque. Despite having a lengthy criminal record for robbery and violence, he was granted a British passport in September 2004.

Three months later Special Branch officers interviewed him for four hours at Heathrow airport as he prepared to fly with two other men to Pakistan. The court heard that his travelling companions died fighting as insurgents in Iraq.

In February 2005 five months before the bombing attempts an arrest warrant was issued for Ibrahim when he failed to answer the assault charge. Police wrote to him twice saying: "Come to us before we come to you." He was not arrested, however, and Ibrahim returned from Pakistan in March 2005 and remained free to plan the 21/7 attacks.

Ibrahim, the jury was told, had been in Pakistan in 2004-05 at the same time as the 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. It was admitted two months ago that they had also been caught up in antiterrorist surveillance operations before they carried out their attacks.

Clifford Todd, of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory, told the court that the type of hydrogen peroxide explosive used on 7/7 and 21/7 had not been seen before in Britain.

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said yesterday: "This trial has revealed that the ringleader in the 21/7 plot was allowed to leave the country to train at a camp in Pakistan and return to plan and attempt the attack on 21/7.

"This was despite the fact that he was facing criminal charges for extremism. When will the Government answer our call to establish a dedicated UK border police force to secure our porous borders?"

A Scotland Yard spokesman defended Ibrahim's treatment, saying that he was on bail and not a wanted man when he left for Pakistan.

The jury in the case is still deliberating its verdicts against two other defendants, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu and Adel Yahya. Mr Asiedu, 33, abandoned a rucksack bomb in a park on 21/7 while Mr Yayha, who had allegedly purchased hydrogen peroxide, was abroad at the time of the attacks.

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