Bombers verified; Blair decries ‘evil ideology’
LONDON – As the investigation into the worst attack in Britain since World War II fanned out to Pakistan, Egypt, Jamaica and the United States, Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed Saturday to confront the “evil ideology” of Islamic fanaticism that has inflicted despair on every community here, including Muslims.
Police have formally identified all four suicide bombers, Scotland Yard reported. Pathologists put names to body parts found in each of the explosions by analyzing DNA samples collected at their homes and from fingerprints left on a prepaid parking stub one of the men left on his dashboard.
Investigators also released the first photo showing the bombers together, a security camera image of the four entering the Luton train station north of London 90 minutes before the blasts tore apart three underground trains and a double-decker bus. On Saturday, the twisted wreckage of the red No. 30 bus, which had become an icon of the attack, was hauled away from Tavistock Square on a flatbed truck.
The death toll from the bombings rose to 55, as a badly wounded young architect succumbed nine days after being rescued from the blast scene on the Piccadilly Line near King’s Cross station. His missing girlfriend also was believed to have died in the deadliest of the four explosions.
Anti-terrorism investigators have tied all four transport blasts to young British Muslims who died in the attacks, three of them of Pakistani extraction and the fourth having a Jamaican background. But authorities have cast a wide net in their search for the masterminds, explosives experts and financiers.
In Pakistan, police arrested four men Saturday in connection with the bombings, including the head of an Islamic school visited earlier this year by Shahzad Tanweer, the 22-year-old from the northern English city of Leeds who police say bombed the eastbound Circle Line train near the Aldgate station.
Tanweer’s role in the Aldgate blast and the identity of bus bomber Hasib Hussain, 18, had been released earlier in the week. On Saturday, authorities confirmed the identities of the two other bombers, 30-year-old Mohamed Sidique Khan, who blew up the train near Edgware Road station, and Germaine Lindsay, a 19-year-old Briton born in Jamaica blamed for the Piccadilly Line explosion.
Investigators in Cairo, Egypt, continued their probe into the role of a 33-year-old Egyptian chemical engineer detained last week. Magdy el-Nashar rented the Leeds apartment where police raids turned up large quantities of explosives in a bathtub. The concoction blending triacetone peroxide, or TATP, with a variant of the military plastic explosive C4 matches the formula used in previous al-Qaeda-linked bombings, investigators say.
The jailed scientist who had lived and studied in Leeds for the past five years has insisted he knew nothing of the London plot and said he had flown to Cairo more than a week before the attacks for a six-week vacation, Egyptian Interior Ministry officials reported.
The Egyptian public prosecutor said he had received no requests for an arrest warrant from Egyptian state security and no extradition request from Scotland Yard. Nashar would not be extradited to Britain because there are still no official accusations against him, the prosecutor said in a statement.
Friends and neighbors in Leeds reported seeing Nashar with the most openly radical of the four bombers, the Jamaican-born Muslim convert Lindsay. Neighbors described Lindsay, who had a pregnant wife and 16-month-old son, as an anti-American radical.
Jamaican security officials huddled with British High Commission authorities in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, to discuss whether there were any residual ties between Lindsay and his Caribbean homeland. Radio Jamaica said Lindsay’s mother, Miriam, had taken him to Britain when he was 5 months old. ABC television reported that the FBI was investigating whether Lindsay had ties to unidentified people in New Jersey.
Blair, speaking to fellow Labor Party members, lambasted those who contend that militants strike in protest of social injustice. He said attacks like the July 7 bombings aren’t battles in a clash of civilizations but the barbaric acts of extremists seeking to impose a brutal and archaic regime on others.
The families of three of the bombers identified by police have issued statements expressing shock and torment over the reported involvement of their relatives. Lindsay’s wife, Samantha Lewthwaite, told the Sun newspaper Friday that she wouldn’t believe her husband was capable of such acts until police showed her the DNA evidence to prove it. But by Saturday afternoon, the 21-year-old had joined relatives of Hussain and Khan in insisting that Lindsay must have been brainwashed.