London Tense Despite Blair's Speech
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
In Britain today, political leaders met to talk about ways to strengthen the country's anti-terrorism laws. The police and security service want more time to question suspects. Meanwhile, the investigation into London's bomb attacks is moving forward, and in the center of the city, shop owners say business is down and customers are staying away. NPR's Rachel Martin reports.
RACHEL MARTIN reporting:
Investigators spent the day scouring a north London apartment complex for evidence. They raided the apartment last night where at least one of the suspected bombers is believed to have lived. Tanya Wright lives on the floor below. She says she spotted 27-year-old Muktar Said-Ibrahim at the flat on Friday, the day after the second wave of bombings.
Ms. TANYA WRIGHT: As I come out on the ninth floor, I looked to my right and there's three men standing there looking at me. As soon as they've seen me, they just panicked, really. Look panicked, shut the door and gone straight in the house. And I just didn't think nothing of it and carried on walking.
MARTIN: Immigration officials today said Said-Ibrahim and another suspect, Yasin Hassan Omar, have been legal residents in the United Kingdom for more than 10 years. Said-Ibrahim's family today said he was not close to them, and they denounced all acts of terrorism. The family asked the public to contact authorities if they have any information about Said-Ibrahim.
The aftermath of the terror attacks dominated Prime Minister Tony Blair's monthly press conference. He rejected criticisms that linked the London bombings to British policy in Iraq.
Prime Minister TONY BLAIR (Great Britain): There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, Iraq, in London, in Egypt, anywhere, in the United States of America. There is no justification for it, period. And we will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil; not just the methods, but the ideas.
MARTIN: Earlier, Blair met with opposition leaders. He said there was a consensus that the country needs new anti-terror legislation. The police want the amount of time they're allowed to hold suspected terrorists extended from 14 days to three months. Opposition Conservative leaders agreed to an extension, but they say three months is too long. Another proposal would change the law so that phone tap evidence would be allowed in court. Blair says both proposals need further discussion.
The prime minister today also addressed people's anxieties about terrorism in London.
Prime Min. BLAIR: Obviously, these are difficult times, and London is being tested, but standing firm. The calm resolve of Londoners is remarked upon time and time again, and rightly.
MARTIN: But that resolve is being put under strain. There are no official figures measuring the economic impact of the terrorist attacks, but shopkeepers on Oxford Street, one of London's busiest shopping areas, say business has been cut in half since the bombings on July 7th. Seventy-two-year-old Lawrence Donsworth(ph) sells newspapers on a corner near Oxford's Circus Tube station. Holding a smoldering cigarette in one hand, he counts the leftover newspapers and calculates what he's sold today.
Mr. LAWRENCE DONSWORTH (Newspaper Vendor): One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, 31, since half past 10 and it's 20 to 3. That's bad. That's bloody bad.
MARTIN: In fact, it's less than half his usual afternoon sales.
But not everyone is staying home. Twenty-somethings Jemma Hendricks(ph) and Nied Lynch(ph) are spending their day off shopping.
Unidentified Woman #1: We're gonna go on to the avenue, to the y...
Unidentified Woman #2: She feels real safe with all the policemen around.
Unidentified Woman #1: Yeah, they're everywhere.
Unidentified Woman #2: You see them outside Tube stops and you see them just walking around.
Unidentified Woman #1: And there's more security at Tube stations right now.
Unidentified Woman #2: Yeah.
Unidentified Woman #1: 'Cause people are more vigilant as well themselves.
Unidentified Woman #2: Yeah.
MARTIN: Another shopper, Adam Ganji(ph) from north London, says he wants Londoners to move on.
Mr. ADAM GANJI (Shopper): I'm Muslim myself, and we believe if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. You can't stop fate, you know. You can get on a bus instead of a Tube, let's say, but if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen.
MARTIN: Police are under growing pressure to find the four suspected bombers who are still at large. Investigators say they have no evidence that the men have left the country, and believe they may be hiding in a safe house somewhere in London. Rachel Martin, NPR News, London.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.