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Tube bomber prepares to strike

London Telegraph | July 26, 2005
By John Steele

It is the most mundane of scenes, one experienced by millions of passengers on the London Underground every day. A man with a rucksack stands near the double doors, apparently looking up at a Tube map. His fellow passengers pay him little attention.

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Moments later, this man, still unidentified by police, tried to turn the scene into one of terror by triggering a bomb which was intended to kill him and the other travellers in the picture. Mercifully, the detonation failed.

The would-be Oval bomber
CCTV footage of the would-be Oval bomber

Last night Scotland Yard released this CCTV image of the man, as well as the names of two other failed suicide bombers, as it intensified the hunt for four suspected Muslim fundamentalists who tried to repeat the carnage of July 7 in fresh attacks last Thursday on three Tube trains and a bus.

So far, none has been captured.

The suspected bus bomber was named as Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27, also known as Muktar Mohammed Said. The man who tried to detonate a bomb on a train near Warren Street station was named as Yasin Hassan Omar.

Even the nationality of the pair was uncertain last night and it is understood that immigration officials have been asked to check for them on their database.

The July 7 bombers were all British, three of them having Pakistani backgrounds.

Scotland Yard sources indicated that all four of the men from last week's attacks are believed to have tried to blow up their devices rather than leave them on trains. However, they all fled when the bombs failed.

Three started their missions at Stockwell station, south London, where, a day later, a Brazilian electrician was mistakenly shot dead by police. It was unclear last night, though, whether police would have been aware of the Stockwell link at the time of the shooting.

Details of the plastic food containers used to carry explosives in rucksacks or sports bags in the attacks - and in a fifth bag bomb dumped in west London - were also released last night. It also emerged that two men were arrested on Sunday and yesterday, bringing to five the total held since Friday. None, though, is thought to be a suspected bomber.

Police also raided a flat in north London linked to the man who tried to bomb the bus in Hackney. Four addresses have been searched since Friday, three in the south London area. By last night it was understood no explosives had been found.

Peter Clarke, a Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner and head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, said police still "needed urgently to trace" the men - who the public have been warned to approach.

Material and other information left in rucksacks used by the bombers, and from the searches of the properties, have led police to identities for at least two of the suspects.

Mr Clarke said that three of the men entered Stockwell station just before 12.25pm on Thursday.

The first, still unnamed, boarded a northbound train on the Northern line, "and shortly afterwards attempted to set off a bomb between Stockwell and Oval stations. The train stopped at Oval and he was then chased from the station by extraordinarily brave members of the public, who tried to detain him."

He escaped by running through the streets of Brixton, throwing away a top with the New York logo on it.

The second man who entered Stockwell - named as Muktar - was seen walking towards the platform, Mr Clarke said. "We know that at 12.53pm he got on a No 26 bus in the Bank area of the City. He was carrying a grey and black rucksack and sat on a seat towards the back of the bus with the bag next to him.

"He, too, tried to set off a bomb. He got off the bus in Hackney at about 1.05pm." Muktar, Mr Clarke said, was "associated with, and has recently visited" 58 Curtis House in Ladderswood Way, in the Southgate/Friern Barnet area of north London, which police have searched.

The third, who went through Stockwell with them, was named as Omar. "He tried to set off a bomb on a northbound Victoria Line train between Oxford Circus and Warren Street. Shortly afterwards he was seen without the rucksack in Warren Street station," Mr Clark said. The man escaped by vaulting a ticket barrier.

The fourth suspect entered Westbourne Park station at around 12.20pm, wearing a dark blue baseball cap and carrying a small rucksack. He got on a train towards Shepherd's Bush and tried to set off a bomb. "He then got off the train, probably by climbing through a window at the end of the carriage. He made his way along the track before climbing into back gardens and escaping."

Mr Clarke added that forensic examination of the four partially detonated devices had "revealed similarities" with another bomb that was found on Saturday in bushes at Little Wormwood Scrubs.

Police sources said they did not know yet whether the fifth device was dumped by one of the four or whether there was a fifth potential bomber.

They said there were "chemical similarities" between last week's explosive mix and the home-made explosive that killed 52 people, plus the four bombers, on July 7.

 


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