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July 28, 2005
Further Collapse Of AQ Bombing Cell

British investigators have now added nine more people to the list of those arrested after the botched bombings of July 21, where all four bombs failed to detonate properly and left a treasure trove of evidence for police. Police confirm that they have arrested 20 suspects, including one of the erstwhile bombers:

Anti-terrorist officers arrested nine men in raids early Thursday in connection with the botched July 21 attacks on London's transit system, bringing to 20 the number of people police have in custody, including one of the alleged bombers.

Scotland Yard police headquarters said the nine were arrested under the Terrorism Act at two properties in the neighborhood of Tooting, in south London.

The arrests follow a significant breakthrough on Wednesday, when authorities in the central England city of Birmingham arrested one of the four men suspected of carrying out the failed attacks Yasin Hassan Omar, 24. He was being held at a top-security police station in London.

The investigators have rolled up this cell with amazing speed, but they still have more work to do. They need to find the three other bombers, and obviously they have acquired some assistance in hiding out, meaning that more accomplices exist. By the time they capture everyone connected to the July 21 failure, they may well have broken a major part of the al-Qaeda network in Britain.

Police have identified two of these terrorists, one being Omar, and unlike the July 7 bombers, the two are not British-born Muslims. Omar came from Somalia, one of the first active suicide bombers from Africa rather than an Arabic nation, but that is no surprise; AQ has recruited heavily in that failed state. It may come as a shock to people in the Twin Cities here in Minnesota, where the Somali ex-pat community has grown to one of the largest in the United States. Not coincidentally, Minnesota has one of the highest rates of terror-related arrests in the country. Having a Somali go active in a suicide-bomb ring should give us a renewed boost of vigilance (not vigilantism) that something similar does not happen here.

The second suspect had already been in British hands once before. Muktar Mohammed Said, aka Muktar Said Ibrahim, emigrated to Britain in 1990 from Eritrea, just across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and bordering on the Sudan. After having been convicted in the mid-1990s for a series of gang-related muggings, Britain gave him early release from prison in 1998 -- where he had already converted to radical Islam. The UK gave him citizenship last year, certainly an odd action given his history, and one which Britain would do well not to repeat.

Perhaps in the next few days, British investigators will have the names of the other would-be bombers and their accomplices. In the meantime, the British people have to keep their eyes open for these terrorists before they can strike again.

Note: The Times of London published a disturbing photo of one of the unexploded nail bombs captured after the July 7 bombings; apparently the terrorists had twelve more of them, pointing to a much-larger scale of attack than they actually succeeded in delivering. Mike at Pajama Hadin has now received a request from Scotland Yard asking bloggers not to post the picture on their sites in order to keep the investigation running properly. It sounds as if they want to lock the barn door after the horse has bolted, but I pass it on nonetheless.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 28, 2005 5:48 AM

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