Wednesday, July 11, 2007

21/7 bombers jailed for life

Four would-be suicide bombers have been sentenced to life imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court following their conviction on Monday. All had been found guilty in conspiring and attempting to carry out suicide attacks in London on the 21st July 2005. Speaking during the sentencing, Judge Justice Fulford QC said, “I have no doubt that they were both part of an al-Qaeda-inspired and controlled sequence of attacks”. The jury was unable to come to any agreement over two others who the prosecution said had been part of the plot. Manfo Kwaku Asiedu and Adel Yahya both face a retrial later this year. The 21/7 bombers, Muktar Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, and Hussain Osman, 28, will serve at least 40 years before being considered for parole [BBC].

Many of the newspapers published on Tuesday, led with the conviction of the would-be bombers. The Daily Mail concentrated on the fact that all four were in fact refugees receiving benefits. It ran with the headline, "To think we gave them sanctuary".
The Sun went a step further, asking why all four men should not be dropped back to the east African states they came from, “with or without a parachute”. Other newspapers reported on the blunders made by the men, specifically the bad mathematics that had led one of the four to mix the bomb ingredients incorrectly. "If the detonators had been slightly more powerful or the hydrogen peroxide slightly more concentrated, then each bomb would have exploded," Judge Fulford said.

Besides this conviction, Britain faces continued threats. Over the weekend al-Qaeda’s number 2, Ayman al Zawahiri issued further threats in a video message and an audio tape [BBC]. In a 20-minute recording, the al-Qaeda second-in-command said the group was preparing a "very precise response" to the knighthood of Salman Rushdie [BBC]. And today a senior Iranian cleric warned of further attacks aimed at the UK in response to the announcement that Salman Rushdie was to be given a knighthood. Grand Ayatollah Saanei told Sky News, “This is blasphemy and an insult to all the prophets in the world. Terrorists can use this as a pretext to attack Britain.” The decision to offer Rushdie a knighthood had already been condemned by Iran last month. Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the decision to praise the "apostate" showed Islamophobia among British officials [BBC]. Sir Salman's book The Satanic Verses sparked protests by Muslims around the world and led to Iran issuing a fatwa in 1989, ordering his execution.

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