Caught on CCTV: fear and panic as 'attackers tried to detonate bombs'

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The Independent Online

The alleged attempts by two would-be suicide bombers to detonate their rucksack bombs on a crowded underground train and on top of a double-decker bus, both in the middle of London, were shown on dramatic CCTV recordings to a hushed courtroom yesterday.

Although both detonators exploded, it appeared that the main "bombs" failed to ignite and CCTV films showed how the bombers fled as passengers panicked. Other photographs of the four failed bombs in the July 21 2005 attacks showed the rucksacks ripped apart by the detonators, leaving what is said to be the main charge of hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour on the floor, still "live" and packed with tacks, screws and washers as shrapnel.

The films were shown to jurors yesterday on the second day of the trial of six men accused of what the prosecution has called an "extremist Muslim plot", carrying out five suicide bombings on London's transport system in 2005, two weeks after the July 7 attacks.

The six accused men, Muktar Said Ibrahim, 28, of Stoke Newington, north London; Ramzi Mohammed, 25, of Delgarno Gardens, North Kensington, west London; Yassin Omar, 26, from New Southgate, north London; Hussain Osman, 28, of Stockwell, south London; Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; and Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham, north London, all deny charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life. Although accused alongside the others because of his alleged involvement with preparation, Mr Yahya had left London by the time of the attacks.

The CCTV films were among several shown to the court as Nigel Sweeney, QC, the counsel for the Crown, outlined the movements of each of the five men accused of the bombing attempts.

The Oval Bomb

One film showed Mr Ibrahim, Mr Mohammed and Mr Omar separately entering Stockwell Underground station in south London, each carrying what the Crown claimed was a rucksack bomb. The jury has already been told that long wires from the bombs were allegedly passed through slits in the rucksacks, connecting the bombs to a battery.

The next film showed Mr Mohammed boarding a Northern line train at Stockwell with a rucksack, turning his back towards a mother and her child before allegedly detonating the bomb just before Oval station. Passengers attempted to escape into adjacent carriages with only one man, a fireman named as Angus Campbell, staying to remonstrate with the alleged bomber; Mr Mohammed was shown dropping the rucksack to the floor of the carriage and pointing at it. Mr Sweeney said: "Mr Mohammed said not that it was a bomb, but rather, 'What's the matter, it is bread, it isn't me, it was that.'"

The train pulled into Oval station and the film showed Mr Mohammed running along the platform, chased by members of the public, and out of the station. He later discarded the distinctive green top he was wearing bearing the words, "New York" which the Crown claims is a reference to the September 11 attacks.

The Bus Bomb

Mr Ibrahim, the jury was told, took a Northern line train to Bank station, where he was captured on CCTV getting on to a No 26 bus, where he sat on the upper deck. At the junction of Hackney Road and Shoreditch High Street, just north of the City, he allegedly detonated the bomb. Although the film was silent, the film shows the reaction of passengers, who immediately left the bus, Mr Ibrahim among them before running away.

The Warren Street Bomb

From Stockwell, Mr Omar took a Victoria line train. As it was approaching Warren Street, he allegedly set off his bomb, the court was told. The detonator fired but the main charge did not. "Mr Omar was heard to shout out, in what appeared to be pain."

Mr Sweeney added that as he fled out of the station, one witness saw a hole in his T-shirt from which protruded two wires. Mr Sweeney said that station staff remembered the "terror and panic" of passengers as they fled the train.

Mr Omar then fled with burns and peeling skin on his face and hands from the explosive, the court heard. He approached two women in traditional Muslim dress and demanded they help him. "When one declined he said, 'What kind of Muslim are you not helping another Muslim?"' said Mr Sweeney.

The Shepherd's Bush Bomb

Mr Osman, it was alleged, went to Westbourne Park station and boarded a Hammersmith and City line train. In his rucksack he also had his Southbank Club card, with his address and photograph, an envelope with torn-up photographs of himself, religious correspondence and prayer times, perfume, a towel, headscarf and T-shirt. Witnesses are said to have noticed that he appeared to be talking to himself.

Between Latimer Road and Shepherd's Bush stations, the 16 passengers who were in Mr Osman's carriage heard a "loud bang".

"Passengers recall [Mr Osman] being thrown off his feet," Mr Sweeney said. Osman escaped by running along the track and through a house. Mr Sweeney said a print on the carpet matched that of a pair of boots found in woodland in Brighton.

The Abandoned Bomb

The fifth alleged plotter, Mr Asiedu, was seen on CCTV wandering around Little Wormwood Scrubs park in west London on the morning of the attacks, with what the Crown alleged was the bomb in a rucksack. He is seen shopping in a mini-supermarket and wandering along the pavement with the "bomb" in a bag on his shoulder while mothers with pushchairs walked past.

The bomb was later found in the north-west corner of the park near a rubbish bin, with the nine-volt Duracell battery and snap connector trigger lying 47 metres away, Mr Sweeney said. Mr Asiedu handed himself in to police in an attempt to claim he was "innocently involved". In interviews he "lied" about his activities, Mr Sweeney said.

The Aftermath

The jury also heard details of evidence found at Mr Omar's home in Curtis House, New Southgate, which the Crown alleged was the "bomb factory" for the plot and where Mr Asiedu, Mr Ibrahim and Mr Omar were said to have cleaned up after the alleged bombings.

It included red tubing with traces of detonator explosive, goggles, gloves, masking tape, a microwave with signs of chemical damage and pans used for strengthening hydrogen peroxide, said Mr Sweeney. There were also hundreds of empty hydrogen peroxide bottles with the fingerprints of Mr Asiedu, Mr Ibrahim and Mr Omar.

Boxes under one of the beds also had Mr Yahya's fingerprints on them, and officers found a camping list for the Cumbria training trip and a five-litre pyrex bottle in a cupboard. Mr Sweeney said the bottle was "an item more familiar to a laboratory than a flat".

Mr Osman was eventually arrested in Rome. In interviews with police, Mr Osman claimed Mr Ibrahim told him the bombs were not meant to explode and that they had only decided to carry out the plot the day before, Mr Sweeney said.

The trial is expected to last four months.

The 'suicide' note

The jury heard that one of the alleged attackers left a suicide note. Police also found suggestions there may have been martyr videos, because a camera tripod, a headband and banner bearing the words "Allah is the only God and Mohamed is his messenger," were found in Ramzi Mohammed's flat.

In the letter, Mr Mohammed, 25, begged Allah to "accept this action from me" and referred to the promise of martyrdom. Showing the message to the jury, Nigel Sweeney QC, for the prosecution, said: "What is that if it is not a suicide note?"

Part of the text reads:

"First of all I beg Allah to accept this action. From me and he to Allah to whom belongs the power. And majesty makes it a sincere One and that he admits me to the highest station in paradise, for verily he grants Martyrdom to whom ever he wills.

Secondly my family don't cry for But instead rejoice in happiness and love what I have done for the sake of Allah for he loves Those who fight in his xx sake.

I pray to Allah the mighty that he keep your heart sealed to this religion. My family practise your religion. And hold xxxxx tight to the rope of Allah and don't let go.

Pray your 5 daily prayers so that you maybe saved from hell and by the permition [sic] of Allah I may intercede for you

If he Allah to whom belongs the power and majesty.

My children, be good Muslims and obey your mother, pray your prayers and read Quran. Adam Look after your little brother Malik and We shall meet again in paradise God willing...

Ramzi Mahammed [sic]"