UK plotters chose targets to evoke Bush

Mark Trevelyan
Reuters

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Failed attempts to bomb London's transport network in 2005 targeted specific underground stations meant to conjure up associations with President George W. Bush and the United States, a court heard on Tuesday.

"Oval - Oval Office. White City - White House. Shepherd's Bush - George Bush," lawyer Stephen Kamlish said, referring to the stations' names in cross-examining Muktar Ibrahim, the man accused of masterminding the attempted July 21 suicide bombings.

Kamlish, who represents one of the defendants, said a fourth station, Bank, was also significant for "people like you who want to commit jihadi actions against the West", and a fifth, Warren Street was perhaps the closest the suspected plotters could get to "Wall Street".

Ibrahim denied the suggestion, saying he and his co-defendants had simply chosen to spread out before letting off what he says were fake devices intended only to scare, not kill.

"We all sort of made a choice where we're going to do our hoax. The idea was to spread out," he said.

The prosecution say Ibrahim and five others engineered a plot to bomb transport targets just two weeks after four suicide bombers blew themselves up on three trains and a bus, killing 52 and wounding hundreds on July 7 in London.

Kamlish put it to Ibrahim that he had intended not only to blow up the transport targets but also a tower block in which he had rigged up a booby trap device in a cupboard, something Ibrahim denies.

"It was to be your 9/11, wasn't it?" Kamlish asked.

"No, that's not true," Ibrahim replied.

Four of the six defendants set off home-made devices on underground trains near Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd's Bush stations, and on a bus from Bank. A fifth, according to one of the accused, was meant to go off at White City but the carrier, Manfu Asiedu, lost his nerve and dumped his bomb in a park.

Kamlish is the defense lawyer for Asiedu, who broke ranks with Ibrahim last week and disputed his account that the devices were never meant to explode. For his own protection, he is now being seated separately from the other defendants in the dock.

The prosecution says it was only a matter of luck the devices, made with hydrogen peroxide and flour, did not cause major death.

But Eritrean-born Ibrahim said: "It was never in my mind to make a real bomb. Never at all."

Referring repeatedly to the operation as a hoax or "demonstration", he said it was intended to cause disruption and put pressure on the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq.

The trial continues.

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