July 14, 2005
British Police Seek Suspected Ringleader of Bomb Attacks
By ALAN COWELL
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LONDON, July 13 - British investigators have mounted a worldwide manhunt for
the suspected bomb maker in the London attacks, a man seen on a videotape
with four suspected bombers last Thursday morning at the Luton train
station, an American official said Wednesday.
The four suspected bombers are seen leaving for a London-bound train, but
the fifth man stays behind.
Investigators said the man is a British citizen, as were the four suspected
bombers. While he is not "Anglo," said the American official, he is not of
Pakistani descent. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as
not to upstage the British on a case the two countries are cooperating on,
added that British police investigators know the man's name but decided not
to release it or his image.
This fifth man is suspected of being the ringleader and possibly the bomb
maker, the official said, in the attacks last Thursday in the London
Underground and on a double-decker city bus that killed at least 52 people.
Investigators described him as a highly trained person.
On Wednesday, several American law enforcement officials identified one of
the suspected suicide bombers as a Jamaican-born British resident named
Lindsey Germaine. The other suspected bombers were of Pakistani descent and
lived in the gritty working-class neighborhoods of Leeds. [Page A13.]
Late Wednesday, the British police said officers had searched a home in
Aylesbury, 40 miles northwest of London and close to Luton, but would not
say whether anyone had been arrested.
The developments emerged as Charles Clarke, the British home secretary,
offered the first official indication that British officials believed the
four attackers were suicide bombers.
The attacks confronted Britons for the first time with a suicidal attack by
British-born terrorists, apparently drawn from the ranks of disaffected
Muslims and seeming to copycat attacks most Britons see only on their
television screens from Israel or Iraq.
According to police accounts, the four men, aged between 18 and 30, gathered
at King's Cross station at the heart of the London subway system and fanned
out from there, detonating explosives on three subway trains and, almost one
hour later, aboard a No. 30 bus.
One theory is that the men had aimed to strike at the four points of the
compass on subway lines but were foiled by delays on a northbound line. The
three Underground bombs exploded south, east and west of King's Cross.
"This is not an isolated criminal act we are dealing with," Prime Minister
Tony Blair told Parliament. "It is an extreme and evil ideology whose roots
lie in a perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of the religion of
Mr. Blair said his Labor Party planned to open negotiations with other
parties on new antiterror laws.
"We will look urgently at how we strengthen the procedures to exclude people
from entering the U.K. who may incite hatred or act contrary to the public
good, and at how we deport such people, if they come here, more easily," Mr.
Muslims and Christians alike have recoiled from the notion that the
suspected bombers had emerged from the ranks of Britain's 1.6 million
Muslims, who make up around 3 percent of the population.
"What we know now is appalling to contemplate," said Michael Howard, the
leader of the Conservative opposition. "It will take us a long time to come
to terms with the fact that these atrocities appear to have been committed
by those who were born and brought up in our midst."
Mohammed Sarwar, a Muslim Labor member of Parliament, said, "We are deeply
shocked that these are homegrown bombers, and the vast majority of the
Muslim community condemn these barbaric attacks."
Investigators said authorities were concerned that despite Tuesday's raids
on six homes in the Leeds area and the seizure of a car laden with
explosives at Luton, some of the high-grade explosives used in the attack
might still be unaccounted for. The police said Tuesday they had seized
explosives from one of the homes in Leeds, and on Wednesday night, erected
scaffolding and plastic sheeting around all six and refused to allow
hundreds of residents to return to nearby buildings.
The investigators, who spoke in return for anonymity because they are not
officially allowed to talk to reporters, said it was worrisome that the
London bombers had gained access to such powerful explosives, possibly
highly sophisticated plastic explosives from the Balkans.
Investigators were trying urgently to find out whether the bombers had
contact with Al Qaeda operatives, possibly in North Africa.
Since the bombings, the police have given the impression that the attackers
were what Mr. Clarke on Wednesday referred to as "foot soldiers," whose
anonymity made it easier for them to slip through the net of the security
But after a meeting of European Union interior ministers in Brussels,
Nicholas Sarkozy, the French ministry, said: "It seems that part of this
team had been subject to partial arrest" in the spring of 2004. Mr. Clarke
denied that any of the bombers had been arrested and released.
Mr. Sarkozy's aides scrambled later to say he had been referring to arrests
among the broader Islamic movement, not the London bombers.
Before the meeting, Mr. Clarke said European nations had to defend their
values of society "against those who would destroy it."
Without using the term "suicide bombing," he said: "That means standing out
against, in a very strong way, anybody who preaches the kind of
fundamentalism, as I say, that can lead four young men to blow themselves
and others up on the tube on a Thursday morning.
"We have got to root out those elements from within our community that want
to destroy it. That puts different burdens on all of us.
"We have to understand that these foot soldiers who have done this are only
one element of an organization that is bringing about this kind of mayhem in
"And we have to attack the people who are driving it, organizing it,
manipulating those people," he said.
Pakistan's interior minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sheparo, said Wednesday that
his country had given "information" to Britain about a possible attack
before the British elections in May, but did not elaborate.
With government ministers warning that more attackers may still be at large,
many Britons have shown themselves stoic, despite a rash of security scares
across the capital as police investigate apparently suspicious packages.
"I'd rather catch a bus than a tube now unless I'm in a desperate hurry,"
said David Ellis, 45, an office worker awaiting a subway train at St.
James's Park station. "Probably before long I will have forgotten about it.
It sounds dreadful, but you just get on with life."
In radio talk shows and in e-mail messages to television stations, Britons
seemed puzzled - and annoyed - about the causes of the attack. Some
expressed frustration with the government's close alliance with the United
States in its campaign against terrorism, which has led to two wars.
"We've got to look at the reasoning behind these things," said Saraj Qazi, a
25-year-old Muslim boutique owner in Luton, just north of London, where
police suspect the bombers gathered for their final brief journey into the
British capital on July 7.
"There's no denying it's payback for what's happened in Iraq and
Afghanistan," he said. "You've been bombing people for the last two to four
years, so you are going to get a backlash."
"England is a great country and we love it to bits but do we love this
government? No," Mr. Qazi said. "There were 24 Muslims killed in Iraq today;
there will be more tonight and more tomorrow."
The identification of the attackers as British-born Muslims has deepened the
anxieties of Muslim leaders that they will face a backlash. There have
already been incidents of mosques being attacked.
Mr. Blair, who met with Muslim legislators on Wednesday, promised immediate
discussions with Muslim leaders to "debate the right way forward."
But, referring to Islamic extremism, he said, "In the end this can only be
taken on and defeated by the community itself."
In Parliament, Shahid Malik, a Labor legislator from the same West Yorkshire
area that was home to the bombers, said condemnation of extremists was "not
enough and British Muslims must, and I believe, are prepared to, confront
the voices of evil head on."
The notion of more draconian anti-terror laws has raised concerns that
Britain will forfeit its long-standing commitment to tolerance and civil
rights in the name of a war on terror modeled on that of the United States.
But Mr. Clarke, the home secretary, argued that civil rights had to be
balanced against the needs of security.
"I argue that it is a fundamental civil liberty of people in Europe to be
able to go to work on their transport system in the morning without being
blown up or subjected to terrorist attack or to conduct their lives without
being at risk of serious and organized crime," he said. "The question of
civil liberties has to be treated in a proportionate way."
Reporting for this article was contributed by Hélène Fouquet in Brussels,
Douglas Jehl in Washington,
Sara Lyall in Luton, William K. Rashbaum in New York and Don Van Natta Jr.,
Pamela Kent and Stephen Grey in London.