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Failed bombers caught on TV

London, July 29: After a day of fast-moving developments, all four of the men wanted for the attempted bombings in London on July 21 may now be in custody. But police warned a fifth suicide bomber is probably still on the run.

It was more exciting and more dramatic than anything American television can throw at viewers when armed police today arrested two men from a block of flats in west London.

Scotland Yard head of anti-terrorist operations Peter Clarke said that two men were arrested on the Peabody Estate ' one identified himself as Ibrahim Muktar Said, and the other, this was a new name, as Ramsay Mohammed.

The events were captured live by a viewer on his video camera. A third man, wanted for the July 21 bombings, was arrested at another address, Tavistock Court.

Then there was a late-breaking development ' that the fourth man had been picked up in Rome. Italian interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu identified him as “Osman Hussain”, a Somali who had allegedly tried to explode a bomb at Shepherd’s Bush Underground station.

From Zambia came news that one of the masterminds, British-born Haroon Rashid Aswat, 30, from West Yorkshire, was in custody, with British officials seeking consular access to him. He was said to have made about 20 calls to two of the bombers. American intelligence has said that his father’s family (which has not seen Haroon for 10 years) originated in India.

Also arrested today were two women at Liverpool Street Underground station which had to be evacuated for a while. One of the women tried to run away when police asked to look inside her bag as she queued for a train to Stanstead Airport ' she was lucky not to have been shot in the head. She was only pinned down and handcuffed.

The war against terror in London is proving to be a godsend for TV companies able to provide live coverage. Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky News is doing well in the ratings, compared with BBC News 24.

Today Sky News was picking up so much of the action as it was unfolding second by second that Scotland Yard asked the network to switch off its running coverage.

The action was taking place in Notting Hill but this was not the area made famous by the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts film but on the Peabody Estate in Delgarno Gardens in north Kensington which houses a mix of nationalities, including many poor blacks. The police were trying to arrest a man they initially called “Mohammed” from Flat 14 in Block K on the Peabody Estate.

A woman, later identified as Lisa Davies, who seemed to have an Australian accent, kept talking to the Sky News anchors as the drama unfolded. Viewers saw a van drive past with men in balaclava helmets inside.

They got out and started slowly and methodically putting on body armour, then gas masks. They fetched more equipment from bags they took out from the boot of their vehicles.

Would viewers witness the first live kill on TV' Davies obligingly held out her mobile phone so that viewers could hear one of the police officers shout out to Mohammed that he should come out of his flat wearing nothing or only his underwear (standard practice when arresting potential suicide bombers).

If he obeyed police instructions, “you will be safe,” the police apparently said.

There were three or more explosions. Were they gun shots' Apparently not. They were gas canisters meant to quell “Mohammed”.

Would “Mohammed” blow himself up taking as many police officers with him as possible ' there must have been between 30 and 40, mostly with guns trained on him'

By this time, someone at Scotland Yard had got wise to this live coverage and advised/urged/requested/ordered Sky News to stop its cameras. Viewers were robbed of their view to a kill. Davies also fell silent.

In the end, “Mohammed” was not yet prepared to go to his maker and avail, as TV commentators kept pointing out, of “70 virgins in paradise”. It has to be said that Britain’s 1.6 Muslims are sickened by the behaviour of the bombers and the perceived humiliation of their religion.

“Mohammed”, in white overalls (this was to preserve forensic evidence), was seen being led away by two officers in blue overalls. They had their arms round his shoulders as though they were all chums now.

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