British investigators captured another seven suspects in a raid earlier today connected to the July 21 bombing attempts. Even though Britain and Italy feel that they have all four would-be bombers in custody, they continue to raid locations and make arrests, indicating that their earlier captures may have resulted in a wealth of new intelligence:
Police arrested seven people Sunday during a raid on an apartment in southern England, bringing to 21 the number in custody in the relentless hunt for accomplices in the failed July 21 transit bombings.
Investigators determined to prevent further attacks also were probing possible ties between two of the bombing suspects and Saudi Arabia, British newspapers reported. Police were searching for anyone who may have recruited and directed the attackers and built the explosives.
Police arrested the six men and one woman during a search of two buildings in Brighton, on the southern coast, said a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity because her department does not allow her to give her name. So far, 18 people have been arrested in Britain and three in Italy.
She said police believed there were more people at large who were involved in the July 21 attacks, in which four bombs partly exploded, and the deadly July 7 suicide bombings.
Police have discovered several connections between the bombings and Saudi Arabia, which seems certain to reignite the debate about the role the Saudis have in fomenting and promoting Wahhabist terrorism. One suspect called Saudi Arabia shortly before his arrest, and another spent a month there in 2003 receiving what he told his friends was “training”. That may or may not have happened before May 2003, when al-Qaeda first attacked the Saudis themselves and forced the desert kingdom to confront the Islamist terrorism it had harbored, either deliberately or through its own neglect.
Italian investigators also arrested two brothers of the bombing suspect it captured a few days ago, Osman Hussain. It turns out that Hussain gave the Brits a false name and passport when he emigrated to Italy. His real name is Hamdi Isaac and he comes from Ethiopia, not Somalia. He lied in order to get political asylum in Britain. His brothers Fati and Remzi had allegedly harbored him after the abortive bombing attempt, which is how his true identity apparently became known.
He has told Italian authorities that the July 21 bombers had no affiliation with al-Qaeda and did not intend on killing anyone. The entire stunt was designed as a protest about Britain’s involvement in Iraq, he now claims. That seems rather unlikely; why go to all the effort to fake a passport, claim asylum under the fake identity, and then pull a stunt like the July 21 bombing attempts for a mere political protest? Further, Isaac and his Italian attorney also claim that the bombing conspiracy came together at the last moment. That also seems unlikely, as the bomb technology reportedly matches what AQ uses and would have to have taken some time to develop independently of any terrorist support groups.
Isaac plans on fighting extradition to the nation for which he created a false identity to enter. He will need better arguments for that to succeed than his assertion that the failed July 21 attacks amounted to nothing but a benign statement of dissent.