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21/7 device 'set off by accident'

BBC | March 20, 2007

One of the alleged 21 July 2005 bombers detonated a device in his rucksack by accident, a court has heard.

Muktar Ibrahim told Woolwich Crown Court he did not intend to set off a device, made from hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour, on a London bus.

He was planning to go home after deciding against the mission to cause a fake explosion, he said.

Six defendants deny conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions across London's transport network.

Mr Ibrahim, 29, from Stoke Newington, north London, is the first of the six to appear in the witness box.

During his third day of giving evidence, he said he was supposed to detonate the device at Bank Tube station but passengers were waiting to get off the Tube and so "it made it hard" for him to open his rucksack.

"I thought I might get caught so I decided to call it off," he said.

Mr Ibrahim told the court he then decided to take a number 26 bus towards Hackney Wick.

He intended to change buses and return home, he said, but when he sat down at the back of the bus he noticed "a wire sticking out" and thought it "might be suspicious".

'Making devices'

"I put the rucksack between my legs and I was pushing the loose wire inside my rucksack and at the same time I was trying to locate the battery," he said.

"I wanted to disconnect the battery. Accidentally it touched the loose wire and it set off the detonator."

He told the court he was "surprised" when the detonator went off, but was not surprised by the way the device reacted.

Mr Ibrahim said that, the night before the alleged attacks, he met Yassin Omar, Ramzi Mohammed, Hussein Osman and Manfo Asiedu to make the five rucksack devices which failed to go off across London's transport network.

They each mixed their own hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour charges and then added nuts, screws and washers on the outside of the plastic containers "to give it that realistic look", he told the jury.

"We had a pair of gloves and we mixed it with our hands," he said. "It took about 20 minutes. It looked like mashed potato."

'Detonation problems'

While Mr Ibrahim was to go to Bank Tube station, Mr Omar was to go to Warren Street, Mr Mohammed to Oval, Mr Osman to Shepherds Bush and Mr Asiedu to White City.

However, Mr Ibrahim said that, on the morning of 21 July, he advised Mr Asiedu to dispose of his device after he had told him he did not want to go through with the plan because of his unconfirmed immigration status.

A device was found later in parkland in Little Wormwood Scrubs, the court heard earlier.

Mr Ibrahim added that when he later heard about Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes being shot dead on the London Underground, he thought it was Mr Osman.

He said he and Mr Mohammed feared for their lives and decided not to release a statement to the media about their hoax suicide mission as they had planned.

When asked whether he deliberately set out to murder people, Mr Ibrahim said that if he wanted to kill passengers, he "would have first made proper devices, not from plastic and paper".

He would also have had "better timing", such doing it at rush hour, and would have chosen a bus full of people, he said.

He earlier told the court that none of the devices could be fully detonated and that he planned to create a "fake explosive" in a demonstration against the Iraq war that would "cause panic" but not hurt anybody.

Mr Ibrahim is on trial with Mr Omar, 26, from New Southgate, north London; Mr Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; Mr Osman, 28, of no fixed address; Mr Mohammed, 25, of North Kensington, west London; and Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham, north London.

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