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Would-be bomber was on benefits

IOL | July 26, 2005

One of the would-be suicide bombers who tried to blow up a London Tube train last Thursday had been given thousands of pounds in British taxpayers’ money.

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Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, was given £75 (€108.70) a week in housing benefit to pay for the one-bedroom flat where he has been the registered tenant since February 1999.

His housing benefit stopped in May.

The flat, on the ninth floor of a 12-storey tower block in New Southgate, north London, is believed to have been used as a bomb factory by the suicide team who unsuccessfully targeted the London transport network last Thursday.

Explosives experts were today examining material found inside.

Neighbours said another suspected bomber Muktar Said-Ibrahim, 27, had also been staying at the flat.

They described seeing men lugging boxes into the flat only a few weeks ago. The men said the boxes contained wallpaper stripper.

Police have spoken to Ibrahim’s father, who lives in north-west London, as they look into the backgrounds of the bombers, but he has not been arrested.

UK Home Office officials were today trying to establish the immigration status of Omar and Ibrahim, who are both thought to be of east African origin.

Today the cordon around their tower-block flat was widened and police were searching lock-up garages nearby.

As the hunt for the bombers continued, British Prime Minister Tony Blair met opposition leaders in Downing Street.

Conservative leader Michael Howard called for new anti-terror measures, including allowing electronic intercept evidence to be admissible in court.

But he voiced reservations about a police call to be allowed to hold terrorist suspects for up to three months without charge.

London was on alert and armed police were continuing with a shoot-to-kill policy which involves aiming to hit suspected suicide bombers in the head.

Detectives now fear there were five would-be suicide attackers on July 21.

Devices were found on a number 26 bus and on Tube trains at Warren Street, Shepherd’s Bush and Oval. The fifth bomb was dumped on open ground at Little Wormwood Scrubs, west London, suggesting that the final member of the suicide team may have lost his nerve.

All the devices were placed within the same type of plastic food storage containers, each six-and-a-quarter-litres in size with a white lid, which were then put in dark-coloured rucksacks.

Detectives are focusing on tracing the containers, which are sold by only around 100 outlets in the UK.

There have been no publicly confirmed sightings of the four bombers, who were captured on CCTV, since 1.05pm last Thursday when Ibrahim was seen getting off the 26 bus he had tried to blow up in Hackney Road, east London.

Detectives have no evidence they have left the country and believe they may all be hiding in a safe house in the city.

They believe the bombers could have links with the suicide cell which carried out four bombings on the London transport network on July 7, killing 52 innocent people.

Meanwhile. The family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian electrician mistakenly gunned down by police, are in discussions with lawyers and may sue Scotland Yard.

Mr de Menezes was shot eight times – seven in the head and once in the shoulder – by plainclothes officers who thought he could be a suicde bomber at Stockwell Underground station last Friday.

Mystery has surrounded why Mr de Menezes ran away when he was told to stop by the officers.

One theory being expolored is that, although he lived legally in the UK, a visa allowing him to work had run out and he believed he might be in trouble with the authorities.

The Metropolitan Police Federation is “fully supporting” the officers involved in the shooting. Mr Blair has publicly apologised to the family.

 


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