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21/7 bombers failed to kill dozens as 'mastermind' could not do maths

Daily Mail | July 9, 2007
Dennis Behreandt

The 21/7 bombers only failed to kill and maim dozens of Londoners because the bomb-making "mastermind" could not do basic mathematics it emerged today, as the four men were convicted by a jury.

The 21/7 plotters planned to cause "bigger and better" explosions on public transport than the bombers a fortnight earlier, who killed 52 people.

However, none of the rucksack devices exploded as ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim had a poor grasp of mathematics and wrongly calculated the ratio of ingredients needed to trigger the explosions.

Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, Hussain Osman, 28, and Ramzi Mohammed, 25, were today convicted at Woolwich Crown Court of attempted murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. Each faces life in prison.

They operated from a bomb factory in a north London flat where they assembled their devices using hydrogen peroxide distilled from hair bleach and chapati flour and used "Mother of Satan" as a detonator. They targeted a bus in Shoreditch High Street and Tube trains at Warren Street and Oval.

For the first time it can be revealed that London was saved only by Ibrahim's lack of basic arithmetic.

A scribbled note found at the bomb factory showed that Ibrahim, who had failed maths GCSE, had wrongly calculated the ratio of ingredients, rendering the bombs harmless. But for this, the devices, packed with nails and screws, would have devastated the transport network for the second time in two weeks.

The gang Ibrahim assembled were the first in Britain to originate from the Horn of Africa. Some had been influenced and radicalised by race hate clerics Abu Hamza and Abdullah al Faisal.

Ibrahim tried to detonate his bomb on the bus in Shoreditch. Omar was responsible for the Warren Street bomb, and Mohammed took his device to the Oval.

After the bombs failed to detonate, there was widespread panic, enabling the conspirators to escape.

Omar later caught a bus to Birmingham wearing a full length burka and was arrested standing fully clothed in a bath holding a rucksack, similar to the one which had contained his bomb.

The would-be bombs, confirmed by scientists as potentially lethal, were made up of hydrogen peroxide, distilled from 440 litres of hair bleach, mixed with chapati flour and high explosive TATP used as a detonator, known to the bombers as "the mother of Satan."

The gang spent £500 on buying the hydrogen peroxide. An anti-terrorist source said: "Sadly the fact is that terrorism these days is cheap."

The devices were broadly similar in style to the bombs used successfully on 7/7, reflecting the training given to Ibrahim in the terror camps in Pakistan.

Questions were raised today about the security services when it was revealed that Ibrahim had been intercepted at Heathrow seven months before July 2005 on his way to the Pakistan terror training camps.

His two companions were later blown up in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.

He was interviewed by Special Branch and claimed he was bound for a wedding even though he could not name the bride. He missed his plane to Islamabad but caught another the next morning.

Yet he had already been arrested for distributing religious leaflets in Oxford Street and was observed by surveillance officers at what appeared to be a training camp in the Lake District.

When he returned from Pakistan to Heathrow three months later he had only one aim in mind - jihad in Britain.

The bomb factory was located in Omar's council flat in New Southgate where Ibrahim had drawn up a strict rota for mixing the ingredients in massive quantities. Police later found a library of the most obscenely violent tapes showing beheading of Western hostages and the glorification of 9/11 and 7/7.

There were also Evening Standard front page cuttings from 7/7 headlined "Terror bombs explode across London" and from 21/7 headed "New tube and bus bombings."

The court heard Ibrahim was obsessed with making a "bigger and better" impact than 7/7 and had also booby-trapped the bomb factory to blow up the police and innocent people in the block of flats.

Jurors were also told Omar was a self-professed Taliban supporter and regularly listened to the preachings of radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza.
He was even seen on TV by his foster father Stephen Lamb at one of Hamza's gatherings.

Hundreds of empty bottles of liquid hydrogen peroxide - the crucial factor in the bombs - were found stuffed into bins outside his home, while an empty bag of chapatti flour, another key ingredient, was also found.

Ibrahim - described as the principal bomb-maker - not only decided what type of bombs would be used, he paid for the ingredients and dispatched his lieutenants to find out where to purchase the necessary goods.

His experience was considerable. He trained for jihad in Sudan in 2003 and on return to the UK boasted to a friend that he had been taught how to use rocket propelled grenades.

Before his failed bid to cause chaos in London, Ibrahim was already known to the police, with Scotland Yard stumbling across him three times in the 12 months before the attacks.

He was photographed by surveillance officers on a camping trip in the Lake District in May 2004 and arrested outside Debenhams in October of that year for distributing Islamic literature.

Two months later, he was stopped by Special Branch at Heathrow on his way to Pakistan.

Mohammed was so convinced he would die in the atrocity, he left a suicide letter, which urged his children "to be good Muslims, obey your mother".

Addressing his eldest boy directly, he said: "Look after your little brother and you shall see me in paradise again, God willing."

Turning to God, he wrote: "I beg Allah to accept this action from me... he promises martyrdom to whom he wishes. "What I have done (is) for the sake of Allah for he loves those who fight in his sake."

The jury was continuing to deliberate on Hussein Osman, 28, the alleged Shepherd's Bush bomber, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, who was accused of targeting White City Tube station but got cold feet and dumped his bomb on Little Wormwood Scrubs, and Adel Yahya, 24, who was accused of playing an important part in the planning but was out of the country on 21/7.

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