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THE WORLD

Two London Suspects Are East Africans

They and two others linked to the bombing plot remain fugitives. Blair rejects view that Britain's role in Iraq raised terrorism risk.

July 27, 2005|Sebastian Rotella | Times Staff Writer

"We are a peaceful family, having lived in this country since 1990," the family said. "We were shocked when we saw Muktar's photo in the national news.... He lives alone elsewhere. He is not a close family member. He has not visited here for many months. The family wish to express their shock regarding recent events and in no way condone any acts of terrorism."

Said either lived at or frequently visited an apartment in North London that police searched Tuesday, reportedly finding suspected bomb-making materials in the garage. His sometime roommate was Yasin Hassan Omar, 24. Omar was born in Somalia and arrived here in 1992 when he was 11, officials said. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in the country in May 2000, officials said.

Said and Hassan lived in public housing. Hassan received welfare payments, according to media reports, as have other accused militants including Abu Qatada, a cleric accused of being Al Qaeda's chief ideologue in Europe. One tabloid headline thundered Tuesday: "The Bombers on Benefits."

The revelations are likely to heat up a political debate about tightening Britain's immigration and welfare policies and getting tougher with Islamic militants.

The knapsack bombs that Said and Hassan allegedly tried to detonate last week did not blow up because the explosive material failed, the police commissioner said.

But Commissioner Blair added in the TV interview that the bombs had the capacity to cause as much damage as those used July 7.

"These were major attempts at murder," he said.

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