Bomb suspect: ‘No al Qaeda links’
Bombs ‘meant to draw attention to anger over war in Iraq’
ROME, Italy (CNN) — The failed July 21 bombings in London were not linked to the lethal attacks of July 7 or al Qaeda, a bombing suspect in Italian custody has told his interrogators, a source who was present during the interrogations told CNN Sunday.
Hussain Osman, who is also known as Hamdi Issac, said the four men who partially detonated backpack bombs before running from their targets on July 21 were not working with the July 7 bombers who killed themselves and 52 travelers on three London Underground trains and a bus, the source said.
Osman also claimed the July 21 group was not working for al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist organization behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States, last year’s Madrid train bombings and numerous atrocities worldwide.
Further, the source said, Osman told authorities the bombs were meant to draw attention to anger over the war in Iraq and not to kill anyone.
“I am against war,” the source quoted Osman as saying. “I’ve marched in peace rallies and nobody listened to me. I never thought of killing people.”
The Italian Interior Ministry declined to comment on the published statements, which first appeared in two Italian newspapers, La Repubblica and Corriere della Serra.
Osman was arrested in Rome on Friday after investigators traced his travels by monitoring cell phone activity from England to France to Italy. He left from London’s Waterloo train station on July 26, five days after the failed attacks, according to Italian authorities.
Osman, 27, is a naturalized British citizen from Ethiopia, according to the Italian Interior Ministry and his court-appointed defense attorney, Antonetta Sonnessa.
Scotland Yard has accused him of being the would-be bomber at the Shepherd’s Bush Underground station, the man seen in closed-circuit television images wearing a backpack at a nearby tube station before he boarded the train, and later, wearing a tank-top T-shirt as he fled on a bus.
Osman was arrested at his brother’s apartment in Rome. That brother, Ramzi Issac, was also arrested on charges of possessing false documents. He owns an Internet cafe and phone-calling center in Rome.
Late Saturday, Italian police arrested another of Osman’s brothers, Fati Issac, in the northern Italian province of Brescia, officials announced Sunday. Fati Issac was charged with destroying documents sought by investigators.
An Italian judge Sunday validated Osman’s arrest and detention under Britain’s extradition request, meaning that he must remain in jail until the court decides if the extradition can proceed.
But Osman’s court-appointed defense attorney, Antonetta Sonnessa, told CNN that Osman would refuse the extradition, which would throw the extradition into a lengthy appeal process and prevent any possible transfer to London for months.
Britain is seeking Osman’s rapid extradition under a newly available fast-track European arrest warrant. He is being held at the Regina Coeli prison in central Rome, and his interrogations are being videotaped. He speaks in “comprehensible” but not fluent Italian, according to Italian anti-terrorism officials.
The other three suspected bombers — Ibrahim Muktar Said, accused of an attempt to bomb a double-decker bus; Ramzi Mohammed, accused of attempting to bomb a train in the Oval Station in South London; and Yasin Hassan Omar, who has been accused of attempting to detonate a bomb in the Warren Street rail station — have been arrested.
Omar was the first July 21 suspect taken into custody, arrested on Wednesday in Birmingham, 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of London.
British police are also holding a fifth suspected July 21 bomber who was arrested in a raid Friday in the Notting Hill neighborhood, about a 1.5 kilometers (one mile) away from where Ibrahim and Mohammed were arrested.
On July 23, police recovered a fifth undetonated device, identical to the plastic container-held explosives used by the other men in custody, in a west London park called Little Wormwood Scrubs that is in the neighborhood of Friday’s arrests.
Scotland Yard would not comment on British media reports that the fifth man was Mohammed’s brother.
The four alleged bombers in British custody are being held at the high-security Paddington Green police station in London.
British police have arrested more than 35 people in connection with the July 21 bombing, including seven more Sunday. Eighteen are still in custody in Britain.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said no armed officers were present as police Sunday executed search warrants in Sussex, a county south of London. She gave no other details of the arrests.
The July 21 devices, like the July 7 ones, were homemade bombs believed to contain white peroxide-based explosive, a description consistent with the highly volatile TATP, which stands for triacetone triperoxide.
Britain is a seeking extradition of a suspected facilitator of the July 7 cell, Rashid Haroon Aswat, who was arrested in Zambia on July 20. Aswat entered the country from neighboring Zimbabawe on July 6, according to Zambian officials.
Aswat, 30, a British citizen of Indian descent from the Leeds area, is a suspected al Qaeda operative. He has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of plotting to organize a “jihad” terror training camp in the U.S.
Zambian officials were in discussions with U.S. and UK officials about which nation should take custody of Aswat. A spokesman for the British Foreign Ministry said Sunday the UK was seeking consular access to him in Zambia.
CNN’s Jennifer Eccleston and Hada Messia in Rome and Phil Hirschkorn in London contributed to this report.