London bomb suspect 'had come in contact with police three times'

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One of the six men accused of the alleged 21 July bomb plot came to the attention of police on three separate occasions in the year before the attacks - including attending a camping trip with five of the other suspected bombers which was secretly photographed by Scotland Yard surveillance officers, a court has heard.

A few months after being photographed on the Lake District trip in May 2004, Muktar Said Ibrahim, who is alleged to have tried to set off a suicide bomb on a No 26 London bus on 21 July 2005, was arrested outside Debenhams department store in Oxford Street for distributing "Islamic literature". In December 2004 he was also questioned for several hours by Special Branch at Heathrow when trying to board a flight to Islamabad in Pakistan, a jury at Woolwich Crown Court was told yesterday.

Mr Ibrahim, 28, of Stoke Newington, north London, is one of six men accused of what the prosecution describe as an "extremist Muslim plot" to carry out a series of suicide bombings on London's Tube trains and buses just two weeks after the July 7 attacks.

The others, who all deny murder and conspiracy to murder, are: Ramzi Mohammed, 25, of North Kensington; Yassin Omar, 26, of New Southgate; Hussain Osman, 28, of Stockwell; Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; and Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham. Four home-made devices, at Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd's Bush Tube stations and on the bus in Shoreditch all failed to explode; a fifth was dumped.

The third day of the trial heard evidence from two Metropolitan Police surveillance officers photographing the campsite at Baysbrown farm, near Langdale. The officers arrived on a Bank Holiday Monday morning and saw a group of about 23 men, including at least a couple of young boys, apparently packing up their campsite.

DC Mark Stevens said their tents appeared to have been set up "as much distance as they could be" from other campers. His colleague, DC Philip Marshall, said he also saw the men running up and down a hillside with rucksacks; he then saw the men "appear to form a semi-circle around one of the vehicles and engage in prayer"; he also saw what appeared to be fold-up digging implements.

The court was told that the photographs shown to the jury showed Mr Ibrahim near a car, Mr Mohammed in camouflage trousers, boots and a T-shirt joining a prayer line, Mr Omar in a white hooded top with the logo "Kenya", Mr Osman carrying a "staff" and Mr Yahya in the prayer line in a blue top. Later that year, in September, the jury heard, Mr Ibrahim was arrested in Oxford Street, when with two other men he set up a table for distributing Islamic literature.

In December, he was detained while leaving for Pakistan with two other men; he was carrying £2,000 in cash, hot and cold weather clothing, a first-aid kit and a sleeping bag.

Questioned by a Special Branch officer about his religion, he allegedly said he was a Sunni Muslim, but casual in his beliefs. DC Louis Chryssaphis said Mr Ibrahim claimed he was going to his travelling companion's wedding but was unable to name the bride or the circumstances of the "betrothal arrangements". He was released after several hours questioning.

The court also heard evidence from Steven Bentley, 26, a schoolfriend of Mr Yahya's who also got to know Mr Omar as a teenager; he later converted to Islam. He contacted police after Mr Omar's photograph appeared after the bombings.

He told the court that, when he had gone to university, he returned during holidays to find Mr Omar had become more involved with Islam, wearing Islamic dress and attending mosques, including Finsbury Park where he listened to Abu Hamza preaching.

Mr Bentley added: "He said about the Taliban establishing an Islamic state in Afghanistan. He believed an Islamic state would be a good thing, it seemed that he supported them." After 9/11, Mr Bentley said that Mr Omar had said he did not think it was committed by Osama Bin Laden: ''He said Abu Hamza said that it was not, that Abu Hamza knew Osama bin Laden."

The trial continues.