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"They are capable of killing again - we must find them" - London bomb suspect arrested by police 3 others still at large

July 27, 2005

'Bomb suspect' arrested by police
Bomb disposal officer in Birmingham Bomb disposal officers were called in to deal with a suspect device
A man arrested in Birmingham by anti-terror police could be one of the suspects in the failed 21 July attacks on London, security sources say.

The man was held after being shot with a Taser stun gun. The BBC has learnt he was wearing a rucksack at the time.

He is expected to be taken to London's high-security Paddington Green police station for questioning.

A further three men were arrested at a separate Birmingham address and are being held in the city.

In an unconnected development, two people were held in Grantham, Lincolnshire, on a train travelling to King's Cross, under the Terrorism Act 2000.

As police in London continued to hunt the men who tried to bomb three Tube trains and a bus, it emerged that the body of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, who was shot by officers at Stockwell Tube, is to be returned to Brazil for a funeral.

The man due to be taken to London was arrested in Heybarnes Road, in the Hay Mills area of Birmingham, at 0430 BST on Wednesday.

A suspect device found with him is being examined and a controlled explosion is planned.

His detention followed a joint operation between West Midlands Police and officers from the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch.

Map of Birmingham Arrests were made at two addresses in the east of Birmingham

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said there was "an enormous amount of optimism" at Scotland Yard following the arrest.

If the man is formally identified as one of the four suspected bombers, police will want to know where the other three men are, our correspondent said.

He would also be questioned about who planned last week's attacks and whether there was a link to the 7 July bombings, in which 56 people died, including four bombers.

Railway station

Although the suspect was shot with a stun gun, police say no firearms were used.

They are capable of killing again - we must find them
Sir Ian Blair - Met Commissioner
Tracks of the bomb suspects Q&A: Taser guns Have Your Say

Following Army advice on the suspect package, residents of about 100 neighbouring homes were evacuated.

A second address in Bankdale Road, in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, was raided a little later, and three men were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Forensic tests are taking place at both addresses in Birmingham.

The two men arrested on the King's Cross-bound train at 2300 BST on Tuesday were held at Grantham railway station, following information from two off-duty Met police officers.

'Flat out'

Meanwhile, a flat in north London linked to two of the 21 July suspects is being searched, and police say chemicals found there and in a garage may have been intended for use in explosives.

A resident living near the flat said she had seen one of the suspects outside her home on the day after the failed bombings.

The Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair said those behind last week's attempted bombings could carry out another attack.

Police forensic officers Police in London say they may have found chemicals for explosives

"They are capable of killing again," he told Channel Four News. "We must find them. We are flat out and we are getting a great deal of intelligence."

Police have linked Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, and Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27 - also known as Muktar Mohammed Said - to the flat in the 12-storey Curtis House, in Ladderswood Way, New Southgate.

A white VW Golf, seized in nearby East Finchley on Tuesday, may have been used by one of the suspects, security sources said.

Before Wednesday morning's arrests, five people had been held under anti-terror laws in connection with the inquiry.

None of them is thought to have been among the failed bombers.

TRACKS OF THE BOMB SUSPECTS All journeys started between 12:20 and 12:25. Times approx.

Man boards northbound Northern Line train at Stockwell and tries to set off bomb between Stockwell and Oval, where he leaves the train. He is chased out of the station at 1235 BST, but escapes towards Brixton.

Man, identified by police as Muktar Said Ibrahim - or Muktar Mohammed Said - also sets off from Stockwell. Boards Number 26 bus at 1253 at Bank. Police believe he was carrying bomb in a grey and black rucksack, and tried to detonate bomb while on board. Gets off in Hackney Road, near junction with Colombia Road, at 1306.

Man named as Yasin Hassan Omar, boards Tube train at Stockwell carrying a bomb in a purple rucksack, police say. Later tries to set off bomb on a northbound Victoria Line train between Oxford Circus and Warren Street, detectives say. Seen without rucksack at 1240 in Warren Street Station before running towards exit and vaulting over ticket barriers.

SHEPHERD'S BUSH: Man wearing dark blue baseball cap and carrying small rucksack enters Westbourne Park Tube station and gets a train travelling towards Shepherd's Bush on Hammersmith & City Line. Tries to set off bomb at 1225 before escaping, probably through window at the end of the carriage, and running along the tracks.
What we know - click here for more details,,22989-1710339,00.html

Anti-terrorist officers believe that a man arrested in Birmingham today is one of the would-be suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network last week.

As police investigations into last week's bungled bombings spread across the country, another man was detained under anti-terror legislation at Luton airport as he was about to catch a Ryanair flight to the southern French city of Nimes. It was not clear whether there was any connection with the London attacks.

But the Birmingham arrest appeared to be a significant breakthrough for police. A witness said that the man arrested in Heybarnes Road, Hay Mills, looked like Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, who has been named by Scotland Yard as the man who tried to explode a bomb on the Victoria Line Tube line last week.

The man was felled with a Taser stun gun after a scuffle with police officers who raided a house at 4.30am. The BBC reported that the man had been wearing a rucksack as he was arrested, although Scotland Yard could not confirm that report.

Police found a suspect package and more than 100 nearby homes were then evacuated on Army advice as the bomb squad moved in.

The suspect was taken to Paddington Green high security police station in Central London for questioning. Shortly after his arrest, three other men were held in a raid two miles away in Bankdale Road in the Washwood Heath area of Birmingham and are being held by local police.

The raids were carried out by 50 officers from the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch and West Midlands Police. No shots were fired.

Two other men travelling on a train from Newcastle to King's Cross were arrested last night after the train was stopped at Grantham in Lincolnshire. Police said that the arrests, under the Terrorism Act 2000, followed a tip-off from two off-duty Metropolitan Police officers on the train.

Andy Wilkinson, an electrician who lives in Heybarnes Road, Birmingham, said that he saw the suspect being led out in a white forensic suit with his hands bound by plastic ties. He said the suspect looked like Omar but could not confirm that it was him.

Mr Wilkinson, 41, said: "It was about 5.10am and all we could hear was a right racket - people trying to break a door down. I looked out of the window and the road was full of armed police and they had got the road closed off.

"After 10 or 15 minutes they brought a guy out. He looked like the darkest-skinned one in the photos of the four suspects released by the police - the one with the curly hair.

"They had him dressed in one of those white suits. He had plastic cuffs on the front and just after he came out, they brought a woman out and she looked Filipino."

Mr Wilkinson said the maisonette property that was raided had been rented for a long time. He said: "According to the old bloke who lives next door, they come and go and they are not there all the time. It's almost like it's a letter drop. You don't see them for three days at a time."

Bedfordshire Police said that a man was detained at Luton airport as he prepared to take a flight to Nimes. The flight was delayed for several hours while police checked the aircraft and sparked a major security alert at the airport.

Deputy Chief Constable Martin Stuart said: "I would like to reassure everybody that their safety is our priority and apologise for the delay to this flight, but it is important that all calls to the police are thoroughly investigated. Again, we apologise for the inconvenience this has caused."

Today's arrests in Birmingham are thought to be of major significance in the hunt for the bombers. Detectives fear they may still be in possession of explosives after reports that on the day after the failed July 21 attacks they returned to the tower block flat rented by Omar that they had used as a bomb factory in New Southgate, North London.

A resident there claimed she saw three men outside the ninth-floor flat on July 22. Tanya Wright said: "As I was walking towards the stairwell, there were three men stood outside the flat. They looked very suspicious, very worried. They panicked and jumped back into the flat and slammed the front door."

It is also understood that police have recovered a large amount of chemical compounds from a lock-up near the tower block which could have been used to make home-made explosives. Two other North London premises, in Finchley and Enfield, were raided by Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch this morning, although no arrests were made.

Omar and another man Muktar Said-Ibrahim, 27, have been named as suspects over the July 21 attacks. It has emerged that Ibrahim was jailed at the age of 17 after being convicted for a number of violent muggings. He had arrived as a refugee with other asylum seekers from Eritrea in East Africa when he was 14. In November 2003 he applied to become a British citizen and he was given his British passport last September.

The Home Office was unable to comment on how he was able to obtain a British passport following his reported conviction and prison sentence.

Omar has also been in the UK for more than 10 years. He arrived from his native Somalia at the age of 12 and in May 2000 was granted indefinite leave to remain. Scotland Yard refused to confirm whether Omar or Ibrahim were arrested this morning.

Residents in Barkdale Road said that three young Somali men in their 20s had lived in the semi-detached house for about six months - although neighbours had no contact with them.

Joseph Tilt, 49, a neighbour of the raided property, claimed that he heard gunshots after being alerted to the police presence. He suggested that several volleys of shots were fired as police shouted for the residents of the house to open the door.

The father of six, who works as a children's carer, added: "We were in bed and we heard these big bangs. We looked out of the window and there was a flash and others started shouting.

"There were armed police along the road and the roads were already cordoned off. And they were shouting 'Open the door'."

Mr Tilt said he saw two of the three people being taken away in unmarked cars. He added: "I thought at first it must be something to do with drugs or something of that sort because that happens a lot around here."

Mr Tilt, and his near neighbour Angela Bolton, both described the people at the property as "Somalians" but said they did not have any contact with them. Three people - two men and a woman - lived in the property, Mr Tilt said, and had been living there for about five to six months.

Roger Godsiff, the Labour MP who represents Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath, said that he hoped today's arrests would not strain community relations.

"I hope wise counsels will prevail. It's an old 1930s council estate - primarily houses, very few flats. Many of them were bought by sitting tenants, a complete mixture - white families, Afro-Caribbean, long-established Irish community, Pakistanis, Kashmiris, Bengalis, Indians, Sikhs, Somalis," he said.

"Community relations in the area have always been very good and I hope very much indeed that anybody who seeks to exploit what has happened for their own personal or political gain will be very much put down by the community.

"I hope very much the community will work together to try and ensure that the good community relations continue."

He added: "The Muslim community have to stand up. They have to confront those people within their community who they know are contorting what the Koran stands for and are also seeking to spread information which quite frankly has got no reality whatsoever to the facts of life."

Ibrahim is thought to have turned to radical Islam while serving a five-year sentence for being part of a gang that carried out a series of muggings at knifepoint at Hertfordshire railway stations.

He qualified for early release in 1998 and is then alleged to have met Richard Reid, the jailed "shoe bomber", at two London mosques. Reid, who was also a petty criminal, tried to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic in 2001.

Passport checks have been re-imposed for everyone leaving the country in an attempt to prevent the four suspects from fleeing abroad. Controls were imposed after the first wave of bombings on July 7 and were back in place only four days after being lifted.

Armed police have also seized a car used by one of the bombers, which was found abandoned a few miles from the council flat that Ibrahim and Omar shared. Streets near the North Circular Road in East Finchley were sealed off as bomb disposal teams searched the white Volkswagen Golf.

Police told how Ibrahim was identified by his own parents. His family spoke of their shock at discovering their son's involvement in terrorism and condemned his actions. "We are a peaceful family, having lived in this country since 1990," a family statement said.

Police are still checking identifications of the other two men who took part in the attacks.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said that senior officers had come close to allowing officers to fire on terrorist suspects seven times since the July 7 bombings. They had been asked to assess the risk of a terrorist 250 times in the past 20 days.

The body of the Brazilian man shot dead by police will be flown back to his home country tonight. Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was gunned down at Stockwell Station on the
London Underground on Friday.

Plain-clothed police officers shot the electrician eight times.
Today, solicitors for Mr de Menezes said his body was being returned to Brazil for a family funeral. Relatives of the dead man will travel on the same flight.


July 27, 2005

Birmingham and its links to militant Islam
By Sam Knight, Times Online
Westwood Heath and Hay Mills, where men were arrested in connection with the London bombings

Until this morning, Birmingham had been left largely untouched by the London bombings. The only role of its large and influential Muslim community had been to condemn the attacks on the capital, despite a history of extremism in the city.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, has led calls in the House of Commons for tougher action against extremist groups and has demanded that Britain's Muslim population expose those on the radical fringes of the religion

The mainstream Muslims need to speak out," Mr Mahmood told the House of Commons on July 20, as he described the dangers of groups such as al-Muhajiroun, which has held conferences and boasts of extensive recruitment in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

And on July 18, the Sunni Council, the largest British Sunni Muslim group met in Birmingham to issue a fatwa, a ruling on a point of Islamic law, declaring the London suicide bombings "haraam" or strictly forbidden.

Explaining the fatwa, Grand Mufti Muhammad Gul Rehman Qadri said: "Anyone who commits suicide will be sent to Hell... It is the explicit saying of the Holy Prophet who ordered his followers to seek peace and harmony wherever they should live, not to cause death and destruction or to live counter to the laws of that host country."

But over the last six years, radical Islamists from Birmingham's 150,000-strong Muslim community have been linked to a series of attacks in the Middle East.

In 1999, five men from Birmingham were arrested in Yemen in connection with the kidnapping of 16 tourists in the country. Four of the tourists were killed in a botched rescue attempt by the Yemeni army and Shahid Butt and Sarmad Ahmed, both from Birmingham, were sentenced to serve five years in prison in Aden.

Four years later, officers from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch were given a list of men and organisations in Birmingham and the West Midlands by Israeli security forces after Omar Khan Sharif, a 27-year-old from Derby, killed himself in Israel after failing to detonate his bomb in a Tel Aviv bar.

Mr Sharif's accomplice, Asif Mohammed Hanif, from Hounslow, in West London, became Britain's first confirmed suicide bomber when he killed himself and three people the same night in Tel Aviv in April 2003. Both men were thought to have been funded by organisations in the West Midlands.

Birmingham hosts annual conferences every year from the broad and mixed world of Britain's Muslim community.

Along with mainstream groups, radical and fringe sects hold large meetings in Birmingham, including Hizb Ur-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun, two groups condemned by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan in a speech last week in which he said "there is a lot to be done in England" to combat Islamic extremism.

"There is Hizb Ur-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun, who operate with full impunity in that area," said General Musharraf, referring to Britain as a whole. "They had the audacity of passing an edict against my life and yet they operate with impunity."

In 2003, a Hizb Ur-Tahrir conference entitled "British or Muslim?" attracted 10,000 people to Birmingham, prompting the Home Office to commission a study on the group and warn of the spread of fundamentalist doctrine in the region.

Hizb Ur-Tahrir, which calls for a worldwide Islamic caliphate, has been banned from British university campuses by the National Union of Students after holding controversial recruitment sessions.

The fringe group, founded in Jerusalem in 1953, separated into factions in the early 1990's, when Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of its London branch, broke away to form al-Muhajiroun, which espouses violent struggle in the name of Islam.

Al-Muhajiroun, which has boasted of recruiting British Muslims to fight in the Bosnian war and offering advice to others who seek a role in extremist Islam, was officially disbanded last year.

Moazzam Begg, a Briton from Birmingham, was among four men from the West Midlands picked up by American forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and taken to Guantanamo Bay. The other three were from Tipton, about 20 miles from Birmingham.

The quartet have always denied their involvement in fundamentalist Islam and were released this year after pressure from the British Government. Last week, Mr Begg condemned the recent attacks in London.

"If it's an Islamic group and they are doing it for reasons of the war in Iraq or Guantanamo Bay, I say this to them unequivocally not in my name. I completely condemn it from A to Z," he said.

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