London, July 30: Police are now confident that they have all four bombers from July 21 in custody, including one in Rome ' he is expected to be extradited under a new fast track procedure ' but under British law they will all have to be treated as “innocent”.
As happens in some other countries, they cannot be beaten up to extract a confession nor can they be “shot in an encounter while trying to escape”.
Today, police began the process of interrogating them. Under the Terrorism Act, they can be held for up to 14 days ' police have asked Blair to extend this period to three months ' before they have to be charged or released.
There are very strict rules on how they can be treated. They must be well fed, allowed eight hours sleep in every 24 and allowed lawyers as well as access to prayer rooms so they can offer namaz five times a day. Today’s Sun captured the more popular public mood in the country with its crude page one headline: “GOT THE BASTARDS.”
Many Muslims will feel that such headlines are encouraging a climate of hate against all Muslims.
Although Londoners are sighing with relief, police are advising against complacency. There remain several worrying questions.
Waterloo Station has been bristling with police, many of them armed ' as have most mainline stations. In fact, a special watch was kept on Waterloo because Waterloo International is connected with Paris and Brussels through the Eurostar service.
One of the alleged July 21 bombers, now identified as Hussain Osman, 27, who is of Ethiopian origin but is now a British national, cleverly worked out that it would be safest for him to slip out of Britain through the most watched station ' because police would not be expecting him to be so audacious.
He had been caught on CCTV as the man who had tried to detonate a bomb at Shepherd’s Bush station in west London.
On July 26, Osman caught the Eurostar to Paris. Then via Milan he landed up in Rome where his brother had a flat. But he made one mistake ' he called Rome on his mobile phone. Unfortunately for him, his brother’s phone was on the British police radar. This enabled Rome police to pick them both up. Osman’s extradition is being sought under UK’s 2003 Extradition Act, which came into force in Italy last Thursday. This is intended to speed up extradition between European countries by cutting through red tape.
Peter Clarke, deputy assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, said: “We will be seeking the return of the man to this country under the authority of that warrant.” A home office spokesman added: “We understand he will appear before an Italian judge in connection with the request shortly.”
Yesterday, two of the other bombers were picked up in a raid on the Peabody estate in north Kensington ' they were Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27, a naturalised Briton from Eritrea who is the alleged Hackney bus bomber, and Ramzi Mohammed, a Somali, who is accused of trying to blow up a train near Oval Tube station.
In another flat less than a mile away in Tavistock Crescent in west London, Ramzi’s bother, Wahbi Mohammed, 23, was arrested. It is being suggested he is the fifth bomber
whose rucksack, complete with a device, was found abandoned on waste ground near Wormwood Scrub prison in west London.
The first member of the gang to be arrested was Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, a Somali who was picked up in Birmingham on Wednesday. Police are continuing their raids in London and elsewhere ' two men were picked up in Leicester but later released.
Meanwhile, Muslims organisations feel under pressure to hit out against extremism.
Rafiq Hayat, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK, which is organising a three-day gathering of its members, said: “It’s time for all Muslims to say enough is enough. The bombs in London, Madrid, Istanbul, Iraq, Pakistan etc are the end result of a rise in fanaticism within the Muslim world for which Muslims must take responsibility by eradicating the extremists from their midst, who have spread violence and terror both inside and outside the faith.”
He urged Muslims: “You have to follow common sense ' if you know something, call the police, tell them what you have seen.”