UK police accused of 'systematic' failings
09:44, July 11, 2007
|British police and security services were accused yesterday of "systematic" failings in connection with attempted suicide bombings in 2005 whose leader had several times crossed their radar.
Opposition politicians demanded a public inquiry, saying the failure to latch on to plot leader Muktah Said Ibrahim was more evidence that lax border controls were leaving Britain at risk.
Ibrahim and three other Muslims of African origin - Yassin Hassan Omar, Ramzi Mohammed and Hussein Osman - were found guilty on Monday of conspiracy to murder in connection with the failed attacks of July 21, 2005.
Yesterday, the jury at Woolwich Crown Court failed to reach verdicts against their two co-accused, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu and Adel Yahya, and prosecutors must now decide whether to hold another trial with a new jury.
The four convicted men had tried to set off homemade bombs on three underground trains and a bus to replicate the carnage of deadly suicide attacks in London two weeks earlier that killed 52 people. But their explosives failed to detonate properly.
At their trial, they claimed the bombings were a hoax designed as a protest against the war in Iraq.
"The convictions show that the jury rejected the blatant, indeed ridiculous lies told by these defendants in a futile attempt to escape justice," Peter Clarke, head of Britain's Counter Terrorism Command, said yesterday.
Asiedu, who admitted helping make the bombs and to dumping a fifth device in a park in north London, broke ranks with his co-defendants during the trial, saying the plot was genuine.
He said he had been scared and bullied into taking part by Ibrahim, the self-confessed bombmaker and the plot's mastermind.
Ethiopian-born Yahya, who was not one of the bombers and had left the country six weeks before the failed attacks, denied having any knowledge of the conspiracy.
During the trial, the court heard the would-be bombers had been under police surveillance in early 2004 while camping in a rural area of northern England.
Ibrahim was allowed to travel to Pakistan in December 2004 although he was on police bail and despite the fact he was carrying a large sum of cash, a military first aid kit and a booklet on how to deal with gunshot wounds.
It was on this trip that prosecutors say he was given training into how to make bombs. In 2004, the Eritrean-born Ibrahim applied successfully for a British passport, despite having a criminal record.
Conservative home affairs spokesman David Davis said the July 7 and 21 bombers "had slipped through our fingers".
"There are serious questions to ask. What we should see I'm afraid is an independent inquiry into our strategy and policy of counter-terrorism," he told Sky News.
He echoed strong criticism by Interpol chief Ronald Noble, who on Monday decried Britain's unwillingness to share information about militants and its failure to check passports of foreigners against a global database of stolen documents.
Source: China Daily/agencies