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NYPD admits mistake over London bombings

Financial Times | August 5, 2005

The New York Police Department yesterday admitted making a mistake in publishing information coming from the London police's terrorism investigation that suggested mobile phone alarms were used to detonate the July 7 bombs.

Scotland Yard detectives said they were close to identifying the precise explosive mix used by the bombers after almost a month of forensic analysis. But they played down the NYPD's comments on mobile phones, insisting such a conclusion was still "well ahead of where the investigation is at the moment".

London police have never suggested that mobile phone alarms were involved in the detonation of the explosive devices. If mobile phones had been used, it would lend weight to the theory that the bombers did not know they were being used as suicide bombers by a mastermind.

Prof Hans Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College London, said: "Suicide bombers do not need timers to set off their bombs, nor do they need alarm signals from mobile phones, as they are likely to set off their deadly weapons themselves once they are in their dreadful target scenario."

At a briefing for business leaders on Wednesday evening, Raymond Kelly, New York police commissioner, said the bombs were made from "hardware store" materials such as hydrogen peroxide hair bleach, citric acid and heat tablets used for cooking by the military.

He said the materials were used to make hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, a more volatile explosive than the triacetone triperoxide first believed to have been used. "In the flophouse where this was built in Leeds they had commercial grade refrigerators to keep the materials cool," Mr Kelly said.

Scotland Yard would confirm only that the explosives were home-made, indicating annoyance at the leak of information from the US.

The NYPD had said it was cleared by UK authorities to present the information but later admitted it should not have been released. However police in London said that was "not how things were understood".

It is the second time Scotland Yard has been infuriated by US leaks. Pictures of bomb-making material given to US law-enforcement agencies were leaked to a US broadcaster.

In London, as another massive police operation deployed more than 6,000 officers to key locations, a senior police officer warned yesterday the heavy security on the capital's transport network would have to continue for a "long, long time", in spite of the mounting costs that are putting a strain on police budgets.

Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police, said London would have to get used to a "different normality".

Armed police continue to patrolTube and rail stations.

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