4 found guilty of 2005 London bomb plot

By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS

London : As investigations continued into the recent attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, four people were Monday found guilty of hatching a failed copycat plot to set off explosions in London's transport network just two weeks after the 7/7 London bombings.

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As the Woolwich court pronounced verdicts after an over six-month-trial, the June 29- and 30-terror plot continued to resonate in Britain, with Ronald K. Noble, the head of Interpol, criticising the government for failing to check visitors against a database of stolen passports.

In the July 21, 2005 plot, explosive devices planted by the three in underground trains and a bus in London failed to detonate. The three – Muktar Said Ibrahim (29), Yassin Omar (26), Ramzi Mohammed (25) and Hussain Osman (28) – were found guilty of conspiracy to murder by unanimous verdicts.

Verdicts on two other defendants were still being considered.

The convicted men plotted to detonate hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour bombs, mirroring the attacks on July 7, 2005, when four suicide bombers set off bombs in three underground trains and a bus, killing 52 commuters.

The copycat plan, prosecutors said, failed at the last moment only because of problems with the homemade explosives, hot weather and sheer "good fortune".

The trial heard that Ibrahim – described as the ringleader of the July 21 plot – had spent two months in Pakistan at the same time as Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, two of the July 7 bombers.

Omar was arrested in Birmingham after travelling there disguised as a woman in a burqa.

Meanwhile, according to Interpol chief Noble, there is a "clear link between stolen passports and Al Qaeda-linked terrorist activity". He told the BBC: "The UK's anti-terrorist effort is in the wrong century."

Noble said that only 17 out of Interpol's 186 member countries systematically checked the passport numbers of incoming travellers against the database. "On the other hand, all countries systematically check our bags to see if we are carrying bottles of water or other liquids. These priorities seem misplaced."

He also warned that a British "watch list" had not been passed to Interpol. "Until this happens, any time another Interpol member country consults our database about any of the individuals on this watch list, Interpol will have to report that they are unknown, meaning that the UK might lose a significant investigative lead," he said.

The British home office, however, defended its actions and insisted border officials are aware of the list. It said that any name on the list which was also regarded as a threat by police forces or the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) would be passed on to border authorities.