4 in London Bomb Plot Get Life Terms

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, July 12, 2007

LONDON, July 11 -- Four men who tried to bomb the London public transit system on July 21, 2005, were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.

Judge Adrian Fulford said the bombing attempts, and nearly identical bombings two weeks earlier, were part of an "al-Qaeda-controlled sequence of events." He said the four July 21 attackers, all African-born Muslims who immigrated to Britain, had planned their assaults with a "fanatical, jihadist and extremely violent way of thinking."

Fulford said they "knew exactly what the result would be" if their bombs had exploded, because they acted after the July 7, 2005, transit system attacks in which four bombers killed themselves and 52 passengers and wounded more than 700 other people.

"The family and friends of the dead and the injured, the hundreds, indeed thousands, captured underground in terrifying circumstances -- the smoke, the screams of the wounded and the dying -- this each defendant knew," Fulford said, sentencing the four men in Woolwich Crown Court in London.

"It is clear that at least 50 people would have died, hundreds of people would have been wounded, thousands would have had their lives permanently damaged, disfigured or otherwise, whether they were Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, agnostic or atheist."

Fulford said that each of the four men would have to serve at least 40 years in prison before being eligible for parole. They are Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29; Ramzi Mohammed, 25; Yassin Omar, 26; and Hussain Osman, 28.

During the trial, jurors heard that the four men carried homemade bombs in backpacks onto three subway trains and a bus and set off the detonators, but the bombs failed to explode.

The men argued during the trial that the devices were not intended to kill, merely to scare people as a protest against the Iraq war, but Fulford said evidence at the trial proved that the bombs were "viable" and that the men intended to commit mass murder with their suicide attacks.

Two other defendants -- Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 34, and Adel Yahya, 24 -- face new trials after the jury failed to reach verdicts in their cases after a six-month trial.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was asked how Ibrahim, the group's ringleader, was granted British citizenship even though he had several criminal convictions on his record. Ibrahim sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl and had spent time in a juvenile offenders institution for two gang-related robberies.

Brown said Ibrahim would have been deported under current laws.

The government, Brown said, was "looking very carefully" at a visit Ibrahim made in late 2004 and early 2005 to Pakistan, where he received terrorist training. He was there at the same time as two of the bombers in the July 7 attack, Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. British authorities are unsure whether they met.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company