LEEDS, England – Police pursued who they suspect is a mastermind behind London’s terror attacks, raiding a home Wednesday and widening their search to a new area. The top law enforcement official suggested the bombers were “foot soldiers.”
Wednesday night’s raid in Aylesbury, some 40 miles northwest of London and near the city of Oxford, resulted in no arrests but police were searching the house, Scotland Yard said.
As a show of defiance, London’s trademark black taxis and red double-decker buses were asked to pull to the side of the road and workers were urged to take to the streets at midday today for a moment of silence marking the week that has passed since the July 7 terrorist bombings killed at least 52 people.
Details emerged Wednesday about the lives of the four suspected bombers, one of whom was only 19 years old. Another had gone to Pakistan for two months this year to study religion. At least three of the suspects were Britons of Pakistani descent.
“These foot soldiers who have done this are only one element of an organization that is bringing about this kind of mayhem in our society,” Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the country’s top law enforcement official, told the British Broadcasting Corp. “We are looking very, very closely at the relationship between the people who may have committed the offenses and the wider network around them.”
Clarke said nations needed to defend their values “against those who would destroy it.”
“That means standing out against, in a very strong way, anybody who preaches the kind of fundamentalism, as I say, which can lead four young men to blow themselves and others up on the tube on a Thursday morning,” he said.
His comments went beyond the cautious statements of police, who said Tuesday that they were investigating the possibility that all four suspects died in explosions on a bus and three subway trains.
The Home Office said there was no evidence at this point to support a conclusion that the bombers intended to die.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said the government also would look urgently at how to strengthen the process for excluding from Britain those who incite hatred and make it easier to deport such people.