'Fifth bomber' jailed over failed London plot

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The Independent Online

The fifth July 21 bomber Manfo Asiedu was jailed for 33 years at Kingston Crown Court today for his part in the failed plot to attack London's transport network.

Nigel Sweeney QC, prosecuting, had yesterday told the court Asiedu was a "prodigious liar" who played a key role in buying ingredients for the devices that failed to go off.

Before July 21 he knew that the would-be suicide bombers were extremists who were planning an attack and even helped make up the home-made bombs, the court was told.

He lived in a one-bedroom flat, turned into a bomb-making factory in New Southgate, north London, with some of the men now convicted in connection with the attack.

"Further he took part in a cover-up after the bombs failed to explode both for his benefit and the benefit of his conspirators," Mr Sweeney said.

Asiedu was charged under the names of Sumaila Abubakhari, also known as Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, as he used fake identities since coming to the UK in December 2003.

He changed his plea to guilty earlier this month at the last minute ahead of a retrial.

He was previously tried alongside five others accused of plotting the attack but the jury was deadlocked in his case.

Four of the men were jailed for life in July this year at Woolwich Crown Court after being convicted of conspiracy to murder.

Muktar Said Ibrahim, Ramzi Mohammed, Yassin Omar and Hussain Osman were told they would serve a minimum of 40 years in prison.

Adel Yahya, 25 of Tottenham, north London, was sentenced to six years and nine months imprisonment this month after admitting collecting information likely to be useful to terrorists in connection with the failed attacks.

Mr Sweeney said Asiedu carried out the vital task of buying the hydrogen peroxide but also "brought some significant talents to that role".

He told the court: "His experience as a painter and decorator would help with the false cover story that it was being purchased for painting and decorating. His appearance was unlikely to raise suspicion."

Mr Sweeney said Asiedu had falsely entered the UK, adopted a false identity to remain here and tried to take police in by sewing "an intricate web of lies to try and avoid his guilt".

He added: "He is plainly, or thinks he is, a consummate liar or deceiver."

Asiedu's device was found abandoned in a wooded area in Little Wormwood Scrubs, west London, two days after the July 21, 2005, attacks.

These took place on three Underground trains at Shepherd's Bush station, Oval station and Warren Street station and on a bus in Hackney Road.

The bombs failed to go off only because of mistakes made when calculating the ratios of the deadly ingredients.

Two weeks earlier, on July 7, a similar plot killed 52 innocent people on London's transport network.

Five days after the failed bomb bids, on July 26, Asiedu gave himself up at a police station.

Stephen Kamlish QC, defending, told the court that his client, a devout Muslim, had "fallen in with the wrong crowd" after arriving in Britain from Ghana seeking a better life.

He said the other July 21 plotters took him in and gave him somewhere to live but also exposed him to their extremist views while they were living in the 'cauldron' of the council flat.

He said: "They were portraying Islam in a way that he had not even thought of prior to meeting them.

"They were telling him that this was what all good young Muslim should do. Stupidly and criminally he gave in."

But Mr Kamlish insisted that Asiedu was "kept in the dark" about what the group was planning and did not attend training camps or sermons by hate preacher Abu Hamza like the others.

He said his client did not find out until the last minute that they were planning a suicide bomb attack on the transport system when they asked him to become involved.

Asiedu was shocked by the plan, said Mr Kamlish.

He added: "He went along with what he was asked to do until he got away from the others."

The court heard he then dismantled the bomb in a park by removing the battery and later difused another booby trapped device in the New Southgate flat where they were prepared.