July 15, 2005

Police confident of al Qaeda link to London bombs

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Detectives are confident they can find
an al Qaeda link to the British bombers who killed 54 people in
western Europe's first suicide attack, London police chief Ian
Blair said on Friday.

Warning that another attack is "a strong possibility,"
Blair said the hunt is now on for the financiers and bomb
makers who supplied the young killers in London's deadliest
peacetime bomb attack.

Four British-born Muslims, the youngest only 18, blew
themselves up in separate attacks last Thursday on three
underground trains and a bus during the morning rush hour.

Three came from the northern city of Leeds, where police
have since discovered large quantities of explosives in
properties connected with the bombers.

Media reports that the explosives were similar to those
used in other al Qaeda-linked attacks were described by Blair
as "a reasonably fair picture."

Blair also said it was time for Muslim leaders in Britain
to stop being in denial about "lunatic fringe" extremists who
convert impressionable youngsters.

"What we expect to find at some stage is that there is a
clear al Qaeda link, a clear al Qaeda approach," Blair told BBC

Describing the four bombers who died in the blast as "foot
soldiers," Blair said "What we have got to find is who
encouraged them, who trained them, who is the chemist."

"Al Qaeda does not act like some classic Graham Greene
cell. It has very loose affiliations and we have got to find
the bankers, the chemists and the trainers, all the people who
are assisting in this."

He confirmed the investigation had spread around the world,
saying "There is a Pakistan connection and there are also
connections in other countries." He would not be more specific.

Blair called the bombings the greatest single act of mass
murder in modern English history.

The BBC, citing sources close to the investigation, said
the explosive used was the highly unstable TATP (triacetone
triperoxide), made from freely available ingredients.

It said the explosives, found in raids in the city of
Leeds, are thought to be similar to materials used by British
"shoe bomber" Richard Reid who tried to blow up a transatlantic
flight in 2001 with explosives concealed in his shoes.

It said police are hunting the mastermind behind the London
bombing and an Egyptian chemistry student who has fled his
Leeds home.

The BBC said a man with al Qaeda links on a watch list had
entered Britain two weeks ago and left a day before the

He was not put under surveillance because he was not
considered a high risk. "With this particular man there is
nothing at the moment that links him directly," Blair said.

When asked about the overall accuracy of the BBC report,
Blair said "It is a reasonably fair picture."


Blair felt it was vital that leaders of the 1.6 million
Muslims in Britain helped to root out extremism.

"The crucial issue now is can we engage with the community
in Britain so that they move from being fairly close to denial
about this into a situation in which they really engage with

"We need them to tell us who the preachers of hate really
are, who are the recruiters of the vulnerable, what changes of
pattern occurred in people's behavior.

Police admit they are puzzled about the last 81 minutes in
the life of Hasib Hussain, captured on grainy CCTV images on
the day of the bombings.

At 7:20 a.m. he was caught on film at Luton station, north
of London, wearing a casual jacket and jeans with a bomb in the
rucksack on his back. He was seen joking with the three other
bombers who then went on to target underground trains.

Police are still baffled about why he may have changed his
original target and instead blew up a bus.