Five men jailed for aiding 21/7 bombers

Five men including the brothers of two of the failed July 21 London bombers were today jailed for a total of 56 years for helping them in the aftermath of the attacks.

The group was convicted of assisting the bombers in evading immediate detection by providing safe houses and passports as well as clothing and food as they hid from authorities.

Wahbi Mohammed, 25, from Stockwell was jailed for 17 years; Siraj Ali, 33, from Enfield was given 12 years; and Abdul Sherif, 30, from Stockwell was given 10 years.

The other two defendants Ismail Abdurahman, 25, from Lambeth was given 10 years; and Muhedin Ali, 29, from Ladbroke Grove was sentenced to seven years.

Between them they were convicted of 22 charges of failing to disclose information about terrorism and assisting an offender following a four-month trial at Kingston Crown Court.

Siraj Ali and Mohammed were also convicted of having prior knowledge of the plot to explode devices on the London transport network on July 21, 2005.

The court heard that all five defendants, who were originally from Africa, currently have status to remain in the UK but that position is now under review by the immigration authorities.

Judge Paul Worsley QC, sentencing, said none of them had shown any remorse and that they must serve lengthy prison sentences to protect the public.

He told them: "As this case has unfolded I have reflected that in the event of convictions, the sentences at the disposal of this court are woefully inadequate to reflect the enormity of what you were about in July 2005.

"You concealed your knowledge of the would-be bombers before 21/7 who, as you must have appreciated, were set to inflict even greater devastation than that of 7/7 which claimed the lives of 52 innocent members of the public.

"You then in different ways assisted the bombers to escape justice, leaving them free so that they would be able to regroup and strike again.

"Thereafter you failed to disclose information as to their identity and whereabouts which may well have secured their immediate apprehension and avoided the need for armed police to enter Stockwell tube station on the 22nd of July when an innocent Brazilian was shot dead."

July 21 bombers Muktar Said Ibrahim, Hussain Osman, Yassin Omar and Ramzi Mohammed were all jailed for life last year.

They tried to detonate the rucksack bombs packed with high explosives, hydrogen peroxide and chapati flour on tube trains at Shepherd's Bush, Warren Street and Oval stations and on a bus at Shoreditch High Street on July 21, 2005.

But each device failed to explode, sparing London a repeat of the 7/7 attacks just two weeks earlier.

The jury at Kingston Crown Court heard that all five defendants were originally from Africa but had been living in London for some years.

Max Hill, prosecuting, said they all lent active assistance to the bombers after the doomed attacks and failed to report what they knew to police.

Abdul Sherif, Osman's brother, was in contact with him in the run up to the failed attacks.

Mr Hill said Sherif was "euphoric" and in a "buoyant mood" after the July 7 bombings.

In the hours afterwards, he showed a pub landlord a text message saying "there will be more bloodshed in London".

Following his brother's failed attempt to detonate his device at Shepherd's Bush, Sherif played an integral part in arranging for Osman to travel to Italy to stay with other family members.

Two days later Osman fled the country on Eurostar from Waterloo using his brother's passport. He was eventually arrested in Rome.

The court heard that Wahbi Mohammed, the brother of would-be Oval Tube station bomber Ramzi Mohammed, was present as the final preparations were made on the morning of July 21.

He took away a video camera used to make their suicide videos from his brother's address in Dalgarno Gardens and also his suicide letter intended for his family.

After the attacks he assisted Ramzi by taking him food, a new mobile phone, sim card, charger and electricity as he remained in hiding with Ibrahim at Dalgarno Gardens.

The court heard Siraj Ali lived in a 10th floor flat in Curtis House, New Southgate, above where Warren Street bomber Yassin Omar lived.

A ripped-up list of bomb parts was found in his bin and on a desk was a notepad linked to Ibrahim containing an Arabic script titled "Steps to Martyrdom".

In the aftermath of the failed attacks there was a "clear-up exercise" at the "bomb factory" at Curtis House.

A caretaker noticed that the communal bins outside were "overflowing" by July 25. A huge number of items, including empty bottles of hydrogen peroxide, were discovered.

The jury heard that Osman had been staying with defendant Abdurahman at his home immediately before he fled the country on July 26 2005.

He said Abdurahman worked for a firm of solicitors as an administrative assistant and provided him with a safe house from July 23 to 26. He also acted as a "runner", retrieving a video camera and Sherif's passport for him.

The final defendant, Muhedin Ali, was a friend and associate of Osman and the Mohammed brothers.

He took possession of extremist cassette tapes belonging to Osman on the night before the attacks.

Ramzi Mohammed's suicide note was also found by police in an envelope in the hallway cupboard of his Ladbroke Grove home six months after 21/7.

Mr Hill told the jury all five men had taken "positive steps" to help the bombers hide or escape.

Speaking after the verdicts, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke labelled the men who knew of the plot before it happened as "despicable".

He said: "The bombers of July 21 2005 wanted to repeat the carnage of 7/7 by killing and maiming passengers on the London transport system.

"It was only through luck that they failed. Two of the men jailed today knew about these plans yet, despicably, failed to alert the authorities.

"Even after the attacks they helped the bombers evade capture despite an appeal for assistance from the public.

"It must be remembered that July 2005 was a tense and worrying time for the people of London.

"Would-be suicide bombers were on the run just two weeks after 52 people were murdered by terrorists and so the fear of further attacks was very real.

"By helping the bombers escape immediate capture they contributed to the public's fear of terrorism at that time."

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said: "This case demonstrates the breadth of the police investigation and shows that people who fail to disclose information or assist others to evade arrest will be prosecuted.

"We would urge anybody with knowledge or concerns about suspicious behaviour to report them to the authorities.

"I would like to thank the Police and Security Service once again for their tremendous work.

"Their dedication and commitment led to the swift apprehension and conviction of the perpetrators in this plot and subsequent investigations ensured that the individuals convicted today have been bought to justice.

"The investigation following the events of 21/7 relied on international cooperation and I want to thank all our partners for their assistance."

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