Possible 'mastermind' of London bombings captured in Egypt

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See Suspected 'mastermind' of London bombings no longer a suspect, July 19, 2005
 

Friday, July 15, 2005

The alleged mastermind behind the London bombings was reported captured in Cairo, Egypt last week. Police believe that a U.S. trained chemist, Magdi Asdi el-Nashar, 33, helped build the bombs that killed over 50 people.

Mr. el-Nashar, who has a PhD from Leeds University, left England two weeks before the bombings. After the London bombings, British authorities initiated a worldwide manhunt that found him in Cairo. State security officials reported they have begun questioning el-Nashar with British agents in attendance.

Mr. el-Nashar arrived in Britain in October 2000 to study for his doctorate, which he was awarded in May. A university spokesperson said he was doing "environmentally friendly research involving chemically inactive substances."

The Egyptian interior ministry has said "[Mr] el-Nashar denied having any relation with the latest events in London. He pointed out that all his belongings remained in his apartment in Britain."

Friends of Mr. el-Nashar said he “was well-liked and showed no interest in politics.” His friend, Kadhem Al-Rawi, a doctor in Islamic Principles at the European Institute of Human Sciences in Wales said "He had a great personality. You would never ever expect this kind of action from him. Impossible." This is a recurring theme heard from many of the suspected bombers, families and friends. Many believed the suspects had little or no motive to carry out the attacks.

BBC security correspondent, Gordon Corera, said it was believed that Mr. el-Nashar handed over keys to a house in Leeds that was used by the bombers. British police are searching a house in Leeds linked to Mr. el-Nashar, although he is not yet formally named a suspect. He told questioners that he was on holiday in Egypt and left all his belongings in his apartment, but his plans were to return to Britain.

The alleged involvement in the attacks by Mr. el-Nashar is yet unclear. Police said they were hunting financiers, supporters and chemists who assembled the bomb used in the attacks.

Explosives

A man injured in the bus bombing in Tavistock Square died in hospital on Thursday, bringing the number of confirmed victims to 51. Three of the bombers have also been confirmed dead, with the fourth also thought to have died.

Sources have told the BBC that explosives found in one of the homes is from ingredients available from high-street chemists.

They were the same kind of explosive Richard Reid had in his shoes when he tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001.

Anti-terrorist agencies are worried other "educated amateurs" could try to make more of the explosive, as the risk of accidents in the manufacturing process is very high.

Al-Qaeda operative

A suspected al-Qaeda member may have entered Britain via a Channel port two weeks before the bombs, but was not kept under surveillance. The man apparently left Britain hours before the blasts.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair said there was nothing connecting the man to the plot, but added that investigators expected to find evidence linking al-Qaeda to the attacks. He said the bombers were only the "foot soldiers" of the operation and the mastermind was still being sought.

"What we've got to find is, who encouraged them, who trained them, and who's the chemist," he said.

He said police would also work with the Muslim community, which he said had been "close to denial" about extremist preachers, to defeat terrorism. "We will break this horror that has descended upon us," he said.

Suspects

The current suspects for carrying out the London bombings are:

  • Mohammad Sidique Khan: Aged 30, from Beeston, Leeds, recently moved to Dewsbury, married with baby. ID found at Edgware Road blast site.
  • Hasib Mir Hussain (confirmed): Aged 18, lived Holbeck, Leeds. Reported missing on day of bombings. Said to have turned very religious two years ago. ID found in No 30 bus.
  • Shehzad Tanweer (confirmed): Aged 22, born Bradford, lived Beeston, Leeds. Studied religion in Pakistan. Forensic evidence linking him to Aldgate blast.
  • Lindsey Germaine: Jamaican-born man who lived in Buckinghamshire.

Sources

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