LONDON - A judge on Wednesday sentenced four men to life
in prison for attempting to bomb London's transit system in July 2005, just two
weeks after suicide bombers killed 52 commuters in the city.
This is a Metropolitan Police handout
still from a video of Ramzi Mohammed at an alleged training camp in
Cumbria northern England in this May 2004 image. Three men were found
guilty Monday of plotting to bomb London's public transport system on July
21, 2005, two weeks after a coordinated suicide bombing attack on the
network killed 52 commuters. Ramzi Mohammed, 25, Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29;
and Yassin Omar, 26; were convicted of conspiracy to murder. The jury was
still deliberating on three co-defendants.[AP]
Judge Adrian Fulford said the men must spend at least 40 years in jail before
becoming eligible for parole. A jury on Monday found Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29;
Yassin Omar, 26; Ramzi Mohammed, 25; and Hussain Osman, 28, guilty of conspiracy
to murder in an al-Qaida-inspired plot to detonate explosives-filled knapsacks
on three subway trains and a bus.
Two other suspects, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 34, and Adel Yahya, 24, will be
retried after the jury failed to reach a verdict.
Prosecutors said the July 21 attacks were a deliberate mirror image of the
July 7 transit bombings, though the planning started long before. Fulford said
he had considered the possible links between the two groups of bombers - which
police suspect but could not prove - when he was deciding on the sentences.
Also Wednesday, prosecution lawyer Nigel Sweeney told a London court that
Asiedu and Yahya must be retried after a jury at their first trial failed to
reach a verdict.
Fulford had dismissed the jury on Tuesday after they said they could not
agree on a verdict for Asiedu and Yahya.
All six defendants denied the charges, saying the devices were duds and their
actions a protest against the Iraq war. But police and prosecutors said
scientific tests proved the bombs were all viable. They do not know why they did
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the Metropolitan Police
anti-terrorism chief, said the four convicted plotters "set out to replicate the
horrors that had been inflicted on Londoners on July 7, 2005."
"The convictions show that the jury rejected the blatant, indeed ridiculous,
lies told by these defendants in a futile attempt to escape justice," he said.
During the six-month trial, prosecutors said Asiedu lost his nerve and
abandoned his device in a London park. The device was shown to the jury as
evidence during the trial.
Yahya left Britain for Ethiopia several weeks before the attacks.
During the trial, Asiedu turned on the others and claimed Ibrahim, the gang's
self-proclaimed leader, had wanted the attacks "to be bigger and better" than
the July 7 bombs.
The four convicted men attempted to detonate explosives-laden backpacks on
three subway trains and a bus, as in the July 7, 2005, attacks. The devices -
made from a volatile mix of hydrogen peroxide and flour - failed to explode, and
no one was injured.
Unlike three of the four July 7 bombers, who were British-born, those in the
July 21 plot had come to Britain as youths from places like Eritrea, Ethiopia
and Somalia. Some had become British citizens, while others had refugee status.
Police believe the planning for the attack started after Ibrahim returned to
Britain from a trip to Pakistan in March 2005. He was in that country at the
same time as two of the July 7 bombers - Shezhad Tanweer and Mohammed Sidique
Khan - but officials do not know if they ever met.
The judge said he would consider the potential links between the two sets of
bombers while he was deciding on the sentences.
They believe the transit system was not the group's original target, but was
chosen following the successful attacks two weeks earlier. The original target
The failed attack sparked a huge police manhunt for the would-be suicide
bombers. Much of the prosecution's case was based on eyewitness testimony and
closed-circuit television footage from the targeted subway cars and bus.
Following the men's arrests, police acknowledged they had video evidence of
several of the suspects at a training camp in the northern English countryside
taken a year before the attacks but had failed to identify them.
Ibrahim also had been arrested and charged over a disturbance while he was
distributing extremist Islamic pamphlets, but was nonetheless allowed to travel
to Pakistan months before the failed attacks.