4 given life sentences in London bomb plot

The Baltimore Sun

LONDON -- Four men convicted of conspiracy to murder were sentenced yesterday to life in prison for their part in failed suicide bombings on London's transit system in 2005. Each must serve a minimum of 40 years before being eligible for parole.

Woolwich Crown Court said two other defendants will be retried in the July 21, 2005, attempts. No date has been set.

During sentencing, Judge Adrian Fulford linked the botched attacks to London transit bombings two weeks earlier that killed 52 people.

"What happened on July 7 in 2005 is of considerable relevance to this sentencing," Fulford said. "I have no doubt that they were both part of an al-Qaida-inspired and controlled sequence of attacks."

The four defendants were confessed ringleader Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, Yassin Omar, 26, and Hussain Osman, 28.

Counterterrorism specialists dismissed defendants' claims that the bombings were a hoax to prompt the British government to reconsider its involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

"They knew what would happen," said Sue Hemming, head of counterterrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service. "While the implementation of their plan was incompetent, their aim was clear. They wanted to kill and maim on a massive scale."

Jurors were unable to reach a verdict Tuesday on Manfo Asiedu, 33, and Adel Yahya, 24, who allegedly played smaller roles in the conspiracy.

Asiedu admitted knowing that the bombs were real. However, he says he changed his mind and abandoned his unexploded bomb in a park.

Yahya had been visiting his native Ethiopia for six weeks at the time of the failed attacks. His attorney said Yahya knew nothing of the conspiracy before leaving the country.

Responding to criticism that the government is unable to secure Britain's borders, Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed yesterday to institute more stringent anti-terrorism measures, such as technologically advanced identity cards and stricter passport control. Brown did not offer any specifics.

"The home secretary plans to consult, and we are seeking an all-party consensus on new measures to ensure successful prosecutions against terrorist suspects," he told Parliament.

On Tuesday, Conservative leaders criticized security forces for granting a passport to Ibrahim, who built the faulty explosives.

During the trial, prosecutors showed that Ibrahim used the passport to go to Sudan in 2003 and Pakistan in 2004, at the same time as July 7 bombers Mohamed Sidique Khan and Shahzad Tanweer.

Ibrahim, who had a criminal record, attended services at Finsbury Park Mosque, where radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri preached.

Al-Masri, 49, is fighting extradition to the United States on charges of a global terror conspiracy. His lawyers contend that evidence was acquired through torture and should not be used against him.

Alicia Lozano writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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