- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2007

From combined dispatches

LONDON — Four Muslim militants were convicted yesterday of plotting to bomb London’s public-transportation system on July 21, 2005 — an attack with deliberate echoes of suicide bombings that killed 52 commuters two weeks earlier.

The jury continued to deliberate the cases of two other defendants.

Inspired by al Qaeda, the six were accused of taking part in a plot to detonate explosives-laden backpacks on subway trains and a bus, as in the July 7, 2005, attacks. The bombs, made from a mix of hydrogen peroxide and acetone, failed to explode, and no one was injured.

Unlike the July 7 bombers, who were British-born Muslim radicals, those in the July 21 plot came to Britain as young men from places such as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia in the war-wracked Horn of Africa. Some became British citizens, while others had refugee status.

The verdicts in the six-month trial came a little more than a week after police uncovered a plot to detonate two car bombs in London’s entertainment district and two men rammed a flaming Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow Airport.

Yesterday’s verdict coincided with a scathing rebuke by the head of Interpol on Britain’s response to the latest terrorist attack.

Ronald Noble, head of the 186-nation police organization, said in an open letter on the Interpol Web site (www.inter pol.int): “The UK has not shared its terrorist watch list with Interpol.”

“The U.K.’s anti-terrorist effort is in the wrong century,” he said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told Parliament that all terrorism suspects identified by Interpol were placed on a British “warnings index.”

She did not reply to the charge that Britain was failing to pass on its counterterrorism information to Interpol, and a ministry spokesman said he had no further comment.

The jury unanimously found Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, and Ramzi Mohammed, 25, guilty of conspiracy to murder. Several hours later, the jury convicted Hussain Osman, 28.

Judge Adrian Fulford told the jury of nine women and three men that he would accept 10-2 majority verdicts on the other two defendants, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 34, and Adel Yahya, 24.

All six suspects denied the charges, arguing the devices were intentional duds and their action was a protest against the Iraq war. Police and prosecutors said scientific tests proved that the bombs were all viable, although it wasn’t clear why they did not work.

The group bought 117 gallons of hydrogen peroxide — an easily available chemical commonly used for bleaching and coloring hair. In Omar’s north London apartment, they boiled the chemical to a concentration of 70 percent to increase its explosive potential.

Omar, Mohammed and Osman tried to set off their bombs aboard subway trains, and Ibrahim’s bomb failed aboard a double-decker bus. Mr. Asiedu reportedly lost his nerve and abandoned his device in a park. Mr. Yahya had left Britain for Ethiopia several weeks before the attacks.

Mr. Asiedu testified against the others and said Ibrahim, the gang’s self-proclaimed leader, wanted the attacks “to be bigger and better” than the July 7 bombings.

Much of the prosecution’s case was based on witness testimony and closed-circuit television video from the targeted subway cars and bus.

In some of the most chilling footage, Mohammed attempts to set off his bomb with the backpack facing a mother and child.

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