Tapes Show London Bombers Scouting Route
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; 1:47 PM
LONDON, Sept. 20 -- Three of the four bombers who killed themselves and 52 other people in a July 7 attack on the London transit public system apparently scouted their route on a trip to London 10 days earlier, police said Tuesday.
Officials at Scotland Yard said the three men -- Mohammed Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Germaine Lindsay -- were spotted by officers reviewing thousands of hours of closed circuit surveillance tapes from train stations in London and the central English city of Luton.
Police released photos of the three men, wearing jeans and baseball caps and carrying backpacks, arriving at the Luton train station and the Kings Cross train and subway stations in London on June 28. They apparently were following the same route they took on July 7 when they mounted the deadliest attack on British soil since World War II; in addition to the deaths, 700 people were injured.
Hasib Hussain, who police believe detonated a bomb on a double-decker bus on July 7, was not seen in the surveillance photos released by police Tuesday.
Khan, Tanweer and Hussain were British citizens of Pakistani descent; Lindsay was a Jamaican-born resident of Britain. Police have said they believe all four were young Muslims who had become radicalized. Earlier this month, the Arab news network al-Jazeera aired a videotape of a man identifying himself as Khan saying that the bombings had been carried out in response to British policies in Iraq and the Middle East. "We are at war and I am a soldier," he said.
In a videotaped message aired on al-Jazeera Monday, Ayman Zawahiri, the number two official in the al Qaeda terror network, said al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks and had the "honor" of carrying them out. Earlier messages from Zawahiri had praised the attack but stopped short of claiming responsibility for al Qaeda.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he believes British foreign policy did not cause the attacks.
In a statement issued Tuesday, police said Khan, Tanweer and Lindsay spent about three hours in London on June 28. Their visit, the statement said, "might suggest the suspects were carrying out reconnaissance of potential targets on the London transport system and checking the time of the journey they intended to take on the day of the attack."
Police said "other cases here and abroad" suggest that terrorists sometimes visit their targets before an attack.
Police said they reviewed tapes from June 28 after finding train tickets and receipts during searches of addresses linked to some of the suspects.
The Scotland Yard statement offered the most extensive assessment in weeks of the status of the police investigation into the July 7 bombing. It said police have reviewed more than 80,000 surveillance tapes, taken statements from more than 3,000 witnesses and searched 15 locations. It said more than 1,000 pieces of evidence had been taken from a single apartment in the city of Leeds, where several of the presumed bombers lived. Police said the search of that apartment, where they believe the explosives used on July 7 were made, took longer than six weeks.
"The assessment and investigation of all the material recovered is a colossal undertaking," Assistant Police Commissioner Andy Hayman said.
Police have charged four men in a second attack, on July 21, in which no one was injured because bombs carried by the attackers failed to detonate. A fifth suspect is in custody in Rome and the British government is seeking his extradition. Police are still investigating possible links between the two attacks.