Suicide bombers identified - Al Qaeda link is confirmed
July 14, 2005
Authorities identify all 4 suicide bombers in London attacks: police chief 07:41 PM EDT Jul 14
This image released by London's Metropolitan police on Thursday shows Hasib Hussain, who police identified as the suspected suicide bomber who blew up a double-decker bus in London on July 7. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Police)
LONDON (AP) - Police believe they have identified all four suicide bombers who carried out the deadly attacks on London subway trains and a bus last week, the city's police chief said Thursday.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair told the Foreign Press Association that police believe "that we know who the four people carrying the bombs were . . . and we believe they are all dead."
"We are as certain as we can be that four people were killed and they were the four people carrying bombs," Blair said.
His comments were the first public confirmation from police that the July 7 attackers were suicide bombers. Bombs exploded on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, killing at least 53 people.
News reports have quoted police sources as saying three of the bombers were Britons of Pakistani descent, and a fourth was a British resident born in Jamaica. Blair declined to comment on that report, nor would he say how many suspects were being sought.
"We don't know if there is a fifth man, or a sixth man, a seventh man," he said, but added that police were trying to determine who organized the attack.
The Times of London, quoting unidentified police sources, said detectives were interested in locating Magdy el-Nashar, 33, an Egyptian-born academic who recently taught chemistry at Leeds University. The Times said he was believed to have rented one of the homes being searched in Leeds.
A spokesman at North Carolina State University said el-Nashar studied chemical engineering there, beginning in January 2000.
Saad Khan, the chemical engineering department's director of graduate programs, said he remembered that el-Nashar applied for admission while living in Egypt. But by the end of the spring semester, el-Nashar had changed direction and decided to pursue a doctorate at Leeds instead, Khan said.
In a statement Thursday, Leeds University said el-Nashar enrolled in October 2000 to do biochemical research, sponsored by the National Research Center in Cairo, Egypt. It said he earned a doctorate May 6.
"We understand he was seeking a post-doctorate position in the U.K.," the university said. "His visa was updated by the Home Office earlier this year. He has not been seen on the campus since the beginning of July."
Neighbours said el-Nashar recently left Britain, saying he had a visa problem, The Times reported.
News reports have identified three Britons of Pakistani descent as suspects in the attacks.
A U.S. government official confirmed that Shahzad Tanweer, Hasib Hussain and Mohammed Sidique Khan are believed to have been three of the bombers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because British investigators have not publicly released the identities.
News reports identified the fourth man as Jamaica-born Briton Lindsey Germaine.
The Daily Telegraph said police were trying to identify a man seen standing near the four suspects on the Luton railway station platform, where they apparently boarded a train for London on July 7.
The Evening Standard reported that police spotted a fifth man on closed-circuit TV showing the group at London's King's Cross station about 20 minutes before the explosions.
Late Wednesday, Scotland Yard said anti-terror police had raided a residence northwest of London.
Officers carried out a forensic examination, but police would not say why they targeted the house in a quiet residential street in Aylesbury, about 65 kilometres from London and 32 km from Luton - where a vehicle believed to be linked to the attacks was towed away Wednesday.
A British security official told The Associated Press on Thursday that Britain's intelligence and security services were co-operating closely with their Pakistani counterparts because of the suspects' links with the country.
A CCTV image released by Scotland Yard of Hasib Hussain at Luton station. Photograph: Metropolitan police
Net widens as al-Qaeda bomb link is confirmed Daniel McGrory and Michael Evans
THE British-born mastermind of the London attacks had direct links with al-Qaeda, police sources confirmed yesterday.
He is believed to be connected to a senior figure who took part in an al-Qaeda terror summit held in Pakistan 16 months ago where a list of future targets was reportedly finalised.
While the priority for the police is to trace any bombers who may still be at large, the intelligence agencies are trying to discover if al-Qaeda's leadership had any hand in orchestrating the attack on London.
In the first hours after the bombings the suspicion was that this was the work of a UK-based radical group. The bombers may have sympathised with Osama bin Laden's ideas, but the belief was that this operation had been planned and executed in Europe.
That view may now have to refined.
The mastermind, who is of Pakistani origin, is thought to have been trained in an alQaeda camp in Afghanistan and has been linked to previous terror operations.
The authorities were more interested last night in tracking down this alleged mastermind, rather than hold an inquest into how someone on MI5's watchlist was able to slip in and out of Britain without being spotted.
They also need to know whether this man has recruited another cell of would-be suicide bombers who are awaiting their orders in another part of Britain. Whatever legacy he has left behind him, the mastermind followed al-Qaeda's standard procedure of ensuring that he was out of Britain before the attacks.
He is understood to have flown out of a London airport on the eve of the bombing.
The organisers of the Madrid and Istanbul bombings are believed to be in Iraq, well beyond the reach of Western security services.
As they piece together how this man has spent the past weeks in Britain they are investigating how he first made contact with the men from West Yorkshire. The conjecture is that he could have met at least one of the Leeds recruits in Pakistan when they were on religious study in the past year.
Experts say that it is unlikely that the three men from Leeds would have known from the start that this was a suicide operation.
As the search for him intensifies, investigators are also tracing his alleged links to three major al-Qaeda figures. One of these is understood to be in US custody. The other two are still at large.
Intelligence is being re-examined from the summit held last year in a mountain village in the northwestern province of Waziristan.
A month after he took part in that summit, Mohammed Barbar, a New York computer executive, was arrested near his home in Queens. He admitted to being an "al-Qaeda sleeper". He had arrived at the summit carrying cash and supplies for jihadis fighting in Afghanistan.
Babar, 29, has betrayed a number of fellow sleepers during his interrogation and the information he passed on led to the arrest of 13 people in Britain. The US authorities have charged him with trying to buy materials to make bombs for use in attacks in the UK. Britain has asked the FBI to question Babar about any information he may have about the London operation. Another key suspect in American custody whom they want questioned is Abu Faraj al-Libbi, whom the Pakistanis handed over in last month. He was described as al-Qaeda's operational commander, so is expected to know what was discussed at the summit last year.
So far he has proved to be extremely unco-operative