/ 6 July 2006

London bomber’s message from the grave

A videotaped message from the grave by one of the London suicide bombers was broadcast on British television on Thursday as the country braced for the painful first anniversary of the deadly July 7 attacks.

Shehzad Tanweer’s statement came as Britain prepared to remember the victims of the bombings, an atrocity that awoke the nation to the reality of home-grown Islamist suicide attacks.

Speaking in a northern English accent, Tanweer said: “What have you witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger.”

The video clip, broadcast on the BBC, also featured separate footage of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s number two in the al-Qaeda terror network.

Attacks will continue until forces were pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq and financial and military support to the United States and Israel stopped, Tanweer said in an apparent message to the British government.

The 22-year-old and three other British Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 innocent people and maimed about 700 more in attacks on three Underground trains and a double-decker bus.

Tanweer is seen in a red-and-white Muslim headscarf, jabbing his finger at the camera. The BBC said the tape was taken from the pan-Arab television news broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

His video statement is the second featuring one of the dead bombers after footage of Mohamed Sidique Khan appeared last September. Both men are known to have travelled to Pakistan.

Andy Hayman, the Assistant Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, said he thought the video’s release must have been deliberately timed to upset the victims’ families.

The relatives are to take part in a memorial event at London’s Regent’s Park on Friday, part of a series of commemorations to reflect on Britain’s worst terrorist onslaught.

UK is also set to pause for a national two-minute silence at midday local time.

The silence is to form a sharp contrast to the same day last year, when emergency service sirens filled the air amid chaos, carnage and confusion as the grim truth of what had taken place became clear.

“We are aware of the tape and this will form part of our investigation,” said Hayman, Scotland Yard’s head of specialist operations.

“We are sure that the overwhelming majority of all communities are united in condemning any attempt to justify last year’s terrorist attacks in London.”

He stressed: “It is important that people continue to go about their daily lives as normal; to do otherwise would mean the terrorist has won.”

Blair, the police and the security services are convinced that the threat of further attacks remains vivid.

Police chiefs said on Monday they were investigating 70 terrorist-related cases in Britain and abroad, noting that officers had stopped three and probably four attacks since the July 7 bombings.

The perpetrators are in many ways remarkable for being unremarkable. They seem integrated into the mainstream of British society and their extremist views are little-known.

Tanweer, Khan (30) and Hasib Hussain (18) were all Britons of Pakistani heritage from Leeds in northern England.

Germaine Lindsay (19) was born in Jamaica but came to Britain as an infant.

Though Khan and Tanweer were spotted on the security radar as then-unidentified men at meetings, they were considered peripheral and not as big a threat as others under suspicion.

Their deadly project, estimated to have cost in the region of £8 000, unleashed carnage on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus, the day after the British capital was awarded the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

The attacks caused painful questions to be asked about Britain’s relationship with its Muslim minority, about 1,65million strong (2,8% of the population) and mostly of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin.

A survey published on Tuesday in The Times newspaper found that more than one in 10 of Britain’s Muslims think the London bombers were martyrs.

At 8.50am local time Friday, when the first explosions took place at the morning rush-hour peak, London Mayor Ken Livingstone is to lay flowers at King’s Cross station, from where the four men fanned out with their deadly backpacks.

Memorial plaques are to be unveiled at the Underground stations and the leafy city square where the blasts took place. — AFP