London Police Out in Force; Suspect in Court
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
It has been four weeks to the day since 56 people were killed in bombings in London and two weeks since another four bombs partially detonated in the city's public transit system. So today London was on alert. Thousands of extra police were on duty around the city. A new tape from al-Qaeda surfaced containing new threats against London and the US. But as NPR's Rachel Martin reports, London went about its business.
RACHEL MARTIN reporting:
The sounds of London today were very much like the sounds you'd expect on a sunny summer afternoon. People were out shopping, tour buses jammed the street, and street musicians played for spare change.
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MARTIN: But there was an underlying current of anxiety here made real by the unprecedented number of police officers on the streets. According to officials, there are 6,000 police out in London today. Andy Trotter is the duty chief constable of the British Transport Police.
Mr. ANDY TROTTER (Chief Constable, British Transport Police): It's certainly a very big police operation today. It involves the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and city of London all working together to have high-visibility patrols both on the overground mainline stations and down on the Tube system itself.
MARTIN: Police presence was particularly heavy near subway stations like Piccadilly Circus. Today marked the first day the damaged Piccadilly line has been fully operational since the July 7th attacks. Andrew Sheridan(ph) commutes into London from Sheffield a few days out of the week. He says he was reassured by the heavy police presence today.
Mr. ANDREW SHERIDAN (London Subway Commuter): It was the first time I seen a police officer on each individual carriage. So, yeah, yeah, that's it. When you see all that extra security, it's fine.
MARTIN: Thirty-two-year-old Mark McLaren(ph) from north London took the Piccadilly line into work today for the first time in a month.
Mr. MARK McLAREN (London Subway Commuter): Today it was very scary 'cause it was the first time it had been open, the Piccadilly line. But, yeah, the increased security is necessary, so you just got to do it and get on with it, I guess.
MARTIN: British authorities are now holding 14 suspects in connection with the July 21st attacks, and the first suspect to be charged appeared in court today. Twenty-three-year-old Ismal Abdurahman from south London has been charged with withholding key information from police about the July 21st bombings. Police say he had information that could have helped them track down a suspected bomber being held in Italy. A British judge today remanded Abdurahman for seven days. His attorney says he will vigorously contest the charges.
Meanwhile, extradition proceedings are moving ahead for Hamdi Isaac, who fled London on a train to Italy a few days after the attacks. Police say Isaac is suspected of being directly involved in the attempted bombings of July 21st. Today a judge in Rome set a date for his extradition hearing, which will take place August 17th.
Police officers in London are working 14-hour shifts. Officer P.C. Michael, who is patrolling near Charing Cross today, says he and his colleagues are already doing as much as possible.
Officer P.C. MICHAEL (Metropolitan Police): We're working as hard as we can. It's a difficult time, and all we can do is keep vigilant and alert. That's all we can do. We've got a whole day to go yet--rest of the day. Fingers crossed.
MARTIN: The Metropolitan Police say security in London will remain at high levels through the weekend. Rachel Martin, NPR News, London.
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