Police Warn of New Attack on London
Arab News | July 15, 2005
By Mushtak Parker
British police have warned that a second terrorist attack on London is even more likely, following the uncovering of a massive explosives factory in a safe house in Leeds. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair gave the somber warning to Londoners yesterday and stressed that “there are lots more secret Al-Qaeda terrorist cells operating within the UK.”
Anti-terrorist branch officials estimate that there was a hard core of about 200 to 300 Al-Qaeda-trained Muslim radicals in Britain, all of whom are under the constant surveillance of the intelligence services.
However the four Brit bombers who exploded the four bombs in London on July 7 never appeared on the radar screen of the intelligence services. This is worrying government officials, the security services and community leaders.
Police yesterday cordoned off another premise in Beeston in Leeds — a shop which has been closed for some time. In fact, residents in the immediate vicinity have been evacuated and prior to that were asked by police to take clothings for three nights. Reports suggest that the shop has a substantial store of explosives, which may be unstable or primed, hence the evacuation as a safety measure.
On Wednesday evening, police raided another house in Northern Road, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, where it is believed the fourth bomber may have lived. Forensic experts have been combing the house, although police have confirmed that no explosives have been recovered and no arrests were made.
It is now believed that the fourth bomber is a Jamaican-born Briton. Police also confirmed that the death toll now stands at 53, as the painstaking task of identifying body parts as a result of the bomb blast on the Picadillay line at King’s Cross continues.
Reports from US intelligence sources quoted in London suggest that Britain was warned two months ago that Al-Qaeda was planning a “Madrid-style” attack on the London transport network. Captured Al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj Al-Libbi, who was arrested in Pakistan and who is now in the custody of the Americans, has apparently briefed US intelligence interrogators to this effect.
British Home Secretary Charles Clarke has stressed that the attacks in London “came out of the blue” and there were no warnings from the intelligence services.
Sir Ian also had a strong message for Britain’s 1.6 million Muslims.
“For the Muslim community,” he said in an interview with the London Evening Standard, “their worst nightmare has been fulfilled. We will be offering them the opportunity to closely work with us. The message must be that there is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist, but help us stop the slide into extremism. In my view the people who did this are equivalent of the people who shoot abortion doctors in southern American states in the name of Christ. It’s the same perversion of a religious position. We’ve got to help the community make that absolutely clear.”
Home Secretary Clarke has started an urgent review of anti-terror measures including an automatic ban on Muslim extremists who have been excluded from the US, from entering the UK.
The ban would prevent controversial personalities such as Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Professor Tariq Ramadan from entering the UK. In fact, Professor Ramadan is due in London this week for a conference.
Asylum seekers and those with permanent residence in the UK may also be subject to strict conditions including a ban on inciting or encouraging terrorism.
Clarke also announced a review of deportations, revealing that the government will be seeking a new agreement with North African countries which would allow the UK to send back foreign nationals who pose a security threat to the UK.
The new arrangements would seek guarantees that those nationals who are deported to countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, would not be tortured or face the death penalty in their countries of origin.
Londoners, in the meantime, have been paying tribute to the victims of the bombings. Yesterday evening Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, led a vigil under the theme “London United” in Trafalgar Square where a crowd of about 15,000 people gathered in a reflective tribute to the victims, highlighted by speeches by survivors; emergency services personnel; and a host of celebrities including Lord Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Bid Team.
Joined by others from Bali to Spain — both targets of previous Al-Qaeda attacks — Britain earlier came to a standstill at noon in silent tribute to the people killed.
From Buckingham Palace to Downing Street, to Tavistock Place and King’s Cross, Londoners came out in their thousands to show their solidarity and defiance against the terrorists.
For two minutes the wrold’s eyes were focused on London. In Kabul and Baghdad, British Embassy staff and other well-wishers observed the silence.
In Paris, President Chirac inspecting a Bastille Day parade similarly led his prime minister and thousands of Parisians into observing the two-minute silence.
Prince Charles stressed that “the way in which London has coped in the past week is a cause for real national pride. It is the duty of every true Muslim to condemn this behavior.”