'21 July bombers planned London carnage'

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The Independent Online

Six men went on trial today accused of an "extremist Muslim plot" to carry out a series of murderous suicide bombings on London's public transport system exactly two weeks after the 7 July terror attacks.

Five of them armed themselves with devices made from a lethal chemical mixture which included chapatti flour. They were packed with makeshift shrapnel to increase the "carnage" they would cause on 21 July, the prosecutor Nigel Sweeney QC told the jury at Woolwich Crown Court.

When the bombs failed to explode, one fled London disguised as a Muslim woman in a burka.

Opening the case for the Crown, Mr Sweeney told the jury the plot was hatched before the July 7 attacks.

He said: "This case is concerned with an extremist Muslim plot, the ultimate objective of which was to carry out a number of murderous suicide bombings on the public transport system in London.

"The day eventually chosen was Thursday 21 July 2005, just 14 days after the carnage of 7 July."

The men all deny charges of conspiracy to murder and cause explosions likely to endanger life.

They are Muktar Said Ibrahim, 28, from Stoke Newington, north London; Ramzi Mohammed, 25, from North Kensington, west London; Yassin Omar, 26, from New Southgate, north London; Hussain Osman, 28, of no fixed address; Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; and Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham.

Mr Sweeney said the role of Ibrahim, Asiedu, Osman, Omar and Mohammed was ultimately "that of would-be suicide bombers".

Yahya took part "in some of the essential preparation done in furtherance of the conspiracy, albeit that he left the country nearly six weeks before 21 July and had not returned by that date".

The jury heard that Omar's one-bedroom flat at Curtis House in New Southgate was the conspirators' bomb factory.

Ibrahim, Asiedu, and Yahya were also closely associated with Curtis House.

Osman lived in south London, in Blair House, not far from Stockwell station, while Mohammed lived in west London, "not far from Little Wormwood Scrubs", said Mr Sweeney.

The jury was told that the bombs were made of a mixture of liquid hydrogen peroxide, acetone - similar to nail varnish remover - acid and chapatti flour, which would burn with the oxygen provided by the hydrogen peroxide.

They were to be detonated by several grams of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a substance which is "not made commercially - it is too dangerous for that".

Mr Sweeney said TATP would be inserted into a modified torch bulb to trigger the explosion and the bomb would be placed in a plastic container surrounded the shrapnel - a large quantity of screws, tacks, washers, or nuts.

"The purpose of shrapnel is, of course, to increase damage when the bomb explodes and thus to maximise the possibility of injuries - fatal or otherwise - to those who are in the vicinity," he said.

Mr Sweeney showed a replica to the jury and said that although six had been made, only five were deployed.

He said there could be "no doubt" that the design for the explosive devices was "functional".

Since the events of July 2005, scientists from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory in Kent had conducted a number of experiments in connection with the case.

The jury was played slow motion footage of some of the explosive tests, which showed the mixture exploding from within a metal tube and a plastic container.

The components for the bombs were bought from late April or early May 2005 with Asiedu, Yahya and Ibrahim all involved, Mr Sweeney said.

Hydrogen peroxide, which is used by hairdressers, was bought from three suppliers, with a total of 284 bottles purchased by the alleged conspirators.

The jury heard that "two rudimentary seven-day timetables" were found at Curtis House, which appeared to be a rota for the three men to oversee the operation to concentrate the hydrogen peroxide to the level required for the bombs.

On the reverse of one of the timetables police found calculations for the process.

The jury was told that a recipe for TATP was also found at Curtis House and traces of the substance were found on pieces of tubing and gloves linked to Omar.

Mr Sweeney said: "It follows from what I have been saying that the evidence in this case shows that the conspiracy had been in existence long before the events of July 7.

"It is our case that the events with which this case is concerned are plainly not some hastily arranged copycat, albeit, as we shall see, like 7/7, one of the bombs was deployed on a bus somewhat after the others."

All five met at Mohammed's flat in Delgarno Gardens in North Kensington the night before the alleged attack.

"It was certainly from that flat that they all set off the following day with their bombs," said Mr Sweeney.

"Late on the morning of Thursday July 21 2005, Ibrahim, Omar and Mohammed set out from Delgarno Gardens in Mohammed's Fiat Punto car with their bombs.

"They made their way to Stockwell, where the car was parked not far from the Tube station."

Mr Sweeney said a call was recorded from Mohammed's phone in the Vauxhall/Stockwell area to Osman's phone in Delgarno Gardens, where he was with Asiedu.

Mr Sweeney said: "This was no doubt to synchronise the times of those north and south of the river, because in the event the bombs in the system were detonated within a few minutes of each other."

While Ibrahim, Omar and Mohammed made their way south of the river, Osman made his way on foot north of the river.

Mr Sweeney said: "The period between 12.30pm and just after 1pm that Thursday afternoon, all four fired their bombs - three on Tube trains and one later on a bus.

"In each case, the TATP detonator fired but the main charge failed to explode."

Afterwards, Omar fled London wearing a burka. He was caught on CCTV at Golders Green coach station in London and at Birmingham coach station wearing the Muslim women's dress.

He was arrested at a house in Birmingham on July 27.

"He was found fully clothed, stood in a bath, wearing a rucksack on his back," Mr Sweeney said.

Muktar Ibrahim and Ramzi Mohammed were arrested at the flat in Delgarno Gardens two days later.

Hussain Osman, who had travelled to Brighton in the wake of the attempted attacks, returned to London and caught a train from Waterloo to Paris. He then travelled to Rome, where he was arrested on 29 July.

Manfo Asiedu was supposed to be the fifth bomber but he "lost his nerve at the last moment".

Instead, he dumped his bomb in a wooded area in Little Wormwood Scrubs, where it was found two days later.

Mr Sweeney told the court that, following his arrest in Rome, Osman claimed to police that the plot was not a serious attempt to kill commuters but "a deliberate hoax in order to make a political point".

Mr Sweeney said: "The prosecution case is that this was no hoax."

He added: "The failure of those bombs to explode owed nothing to the intention of these defendants, rather it was simply the good fortune of the travelling public that day that they were spared."