British Inquiry Traces Terrorists to Africa

Michele Norris talks with Duncan Campbell, special correspondent for the London Guardian. Campbell says the police are not talking about linkage between the July 21 bombers and the July 7 bombers. What is emerging is a network of suspects from the Horn of Africa, Somalia and Eritrea.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Joining us from London now is Duncan Campbell. He's a special correspondent for the Guardian newspaper.

Duncan, thanks for being with us again.

Mr. DUNCAN CAMPBELL (Guardian): It's a pleasure.

NORRIS: Sounds like it was a very dramatic day there. Police sources are suggesting now that all four bombers are in custody. Officially, police are confirming only that two of the suspected bombers have been arrested. Is it clear that police may have cracked this case?

Mr. CAMPBELL: That's what they think, and they're in a, I have to say, quite celebratory mood today because they've been under the cosh a little bit over the last week because of the shooting of an innocent man. And now they do feel that they've not only caught the four people they were looking for, but they may have scooped in another one who is suspected to have been a fifth potential bomber on that day, the day that none of the bombs went off. So they've reckoned this is the best breakthrough that they've had since the 7th of July.

NORRIS: Well, what do we know about those suspects, as you say, the suspects they've scooped up?

Mr. CAMPBELL: Well, the three that they've got, one in Rome and two here, are the three that have been missing and whose pictures have been all over television and all over British newspapers for the last week. So they're very pleased to have caught them. One of them, Muktar Said Ibrahim, is somebody who's got criminal convictions for street robbery over the years, and he's thought to have been possibly converted to this very radical form of Islam in prison. With him was somebody called Ramsi Muhammad, who is thought to have been the person who was attempting to carry out a bombing on the Oval Tube, which is in South London. And the third man in Rome is Hussain Osman. And he was traced up through this rather bizarre route of him contacting his brother by mobile phone. What's interesting is how he got out of the country. And I think the police are a little perplexed that he was able to do it so easily even though they've caught him now.

NORRIS: Is it clear how these suspects might have known each other or how they might have become involved in this plot?

Mr. CAMPBELL: Well, the five people that have now been lifted, four of them are Somali and one Eritrean; they're all Horn of Africa people. They're all roughly the same age, and it's believed that they all attended the same North London mosque. And that would seem to be the closest links between them. Only one of them, as far as we know, has been to prison, where it's thought he became involved. The links with the suicide bombers, the ones who actually killed themselves on July the 7th, seem to be through the bombs because the police found five unexploded bombs on the 21st of July. They're now tracing them to some of the explosives that were left in the car in Luton--I know it's a complicated saga--left in this car by the suicide bombers who actually carried out their mission. And the bombs which didn't explode are very similar to the bombs left by those suicide bombers. And that's the link between the two at the moment.

NORRIS: Well, Duncan, speaking of bombs, there was a concern that the investigation was very much a race against time, that these suspects may have been planning another round of attacks. Any evidence of that, just quickly?

Mr. CAMPBELL: Not really. And the police said that they didn't find any explosives at any of the flats raided.

NORRIS: Thank you so much, Duncan.

Mr. CAMPBELL: It's a pleasure.

NORRIS: Duncan Campbell is a special correspondent for the Guardian newspaper in London.

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