Vanishing bombers and the mystery 'safe house'
London Times | July 26, 2005
By Dominic Kennedy, Adam Luck and Daniel McGrory
DETECTIVES leading Britain’s biggest manhunt made a desperate plea for public help last night as it emerged that there have been no sightings of the four suicide bombers since they fled five days ago.
Police named two of the men and released new pictures. Five people are being questioned but none is believed to figure strongly in the investigation.
None of the four main suspects has been seen since 1.05pm on Thursday, minutes after the bungled attacks. It emerged last night that the four attended Finsbury Park mosque, North London and that two received benefits to rent a council flat.
A Populus poll for The Times showed that 74 per cent of the public believe that terrorist bombings and scares are likely to be part of life in London in future. There is support for deporting foreign Muslims who encourage extremism while 70 per cent favour police powers to hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge.
Police know that three of the bombers assembled at Stockwell Underground station before 12.25pm last Thursday. Scotland Yard released a remarkable photograph of an unnamed suspect staring up as he stands on a Tube train waiting for his bomb to blow up.
The device made a harmless pop like a champagne cork before the train pulled into Oval station. At 12.35pm the man ran towards the exit, pursued by members of the public.
He ran towards the centre of Brixton, throwing away his top with the “New York” logo in Gosling Way, and was last seen in Tindall Street at 12.45pm. Hundreds of officers have been checking the bombers’ known addresses and questioning associates. Police believe that they are at a prearranged safe house in London and fear that they could be preparing more attacks.
Officers spent last night searching the flat at Curtis House, a 13-storey block on a council estate in Bounds Green, North London, used by two of the bombers.
Police believe that this is where the devices were assembled. They were packed in clear plastic 6.25-litre food canisters made in India, which are sold at only 100 outlets in Britain.
Scotland Yard named two of the suspects after previous appeals for help drew a disappointing response.
They are the bus bomber, Muktar Said-Ibrahim, 27, thought to be Eritrean and who also uses the name Muktar Mohammed-Said, and Yasin Hassan Omar, a Somali, the Warren Street bomber. Both are thought to be asylum-seekers.
Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999.
Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years.
Omar, received £88 a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say. Police are close to confirming the identity of the other two suspects and are trying to discover whether any of them attended any overseas training camps.
Officers were also understood last night to be interviewing Ibrahim’s father, who lives in Stanmore, North London.
Sammy Jones, a mother of two, said that she recognised the men from photographs shown to her by detectives. “The man who I now know is called Muktar used to have a big bushy beard but he then shaved that off,” she said.
Mrs Jones, 33, said that the group were seen carrying heavy cardboard boxes into Flat 58 on the ninth floor. Police are understood to have removed a fridge, possibly used to store the explosives.