Italy releases details of suspected London bomber

 

The London bomb suspect arrested in Rome was more likely part of a rag-tag group of amateurs than a broad Islamic militant network, Italian police said today.

Presenting preliminary results of their investigation, police said Issac Adus Hamdi - also known as Osman Hussein - did not fit the profile of a member of a large organised insurgent group.

They added that he fled to family and friends in Italy, instead of criminals, after the failed second wave of bombings in London on July 21st. He was arrested in Rome on Friday.

Issac Adus Hamdi - also known as Osman Hussein - who is being held in Italy on suspicion of involvement in the London bombings
Issac Adus Hamdi - also known as Osman Hussein - who is being held in Italy on suspicion of involvement in the London bombings

"Concerning Hamdi, we are presented with details that very likely appear more part of an impromptu group than a structured organisation that had broad terrorist projects," said Carlo De Stefano, head of Italy's anti-terrorism police forces.

A police spokesman said that Mr De Stefano was referring explicitly to an impromptu group in London.

Mr De Stefano told reporters that Hamdi was cooperating with authorities, but would not be drawn on details.

Two of his brothers have been arrested in Italy on lesser charges, including false documents.

Britain is set to lodge a formal request today for his extradition. "We will be seeking his return to the UK," a police spokeswoman said.

British police, who believe all four men they sought over the attempted bombings on three underground trains and a bus have been captured, want to question Hamdi as soon as possible.

The other three are in custody in London after an international manhunt for suspected Islamist militants culminated in a swoop on a housing estate in west London on Friday and the arrest in Rome.

 The preliminary findings follow a weekend of raids across the country on what Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu had called a "dense network" of contacts in Italy. Police said checks on Hamdi's contacts in Italy showed no involvement in organised criminal activity.

Police confirmed reports that Hamdi made a phone call to Saudi Arabia while he fled London, but said he may have just been looking for contacts in Italy. Signals from the cellphone helped police find where Hamdi was.

The July 21st attacks in London came two weeks after four young British Muslim men killed themselves and 52 other people with bombs, also on three underground trains and buses.

Italian police said that Hamdi was from Ethiopia, but lived in Italy from 1991 to 1996. He obtained fake Somali documents and obtained British citizenship using the false name "Osman Hussein".

His lawyer has repeatedly suggested that Hamdi will resist extradition and told British television over the weekend that Hamdi did not intend to kill anyone.

British detectives are today questioning a total of 18 people arrested as part of the probe into the July 21st attacks. More arrests are expected as police scour the country for anyone who may have helped the bombers.

Officers, who warn more terrorist cells could be at large, are out in force on London's streets amid media reports of a possible third attack. Police have said they will take race into account when deciding which people to stop and search, despite fears among some Muslims that this could anger members of their community.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain insisted the government wanted to avoid provoking any backlash from Asian communities who might start sympathising with those committing terrorist acts.

"We can't have that. At the same time we have to be clear we are dealing with an entirely new phenomenon of worldwide suicide terrorism and you can't take any chances with that," he told BBC radio.