Image: CCTV footage of London suspects
Metropolitan Police via Getty Images
In this handout image from closed-circuit TV footage released by the Metropolitan Police Saturday, the four suspected London bombers are pictured together entering Luton rail station on July 7, on their way to London. news services
updated 7/17/2005 5:29:53 PM ET 2005-07-17T21:29:53

Ten days after Islamic radicals carried out deadly attacks on the London transport system, Britain’s largest Sunni Muslim group on Sunday issued a binding religious edict, a fatwa, condemning the July 7 suicide bombings as the work of a “perverted ideology.”

The Sunni Council denounced the bombings as anti-Islamic and said the Quran, the Muslim holy book, forbade suicide attacks.

“Who has given anyone the right to kill others? It is a sin. Anyone who commits suicide will be sent to Hell,” said Mufti Muhammad Gul Rehman Qadri, the council chairman. “What happened in London can be seen as a sacrilege. It is a sin to take your life or the life of others.”

We equally condemn’
The council said Muslims should not use “atrocities being committed in Palestine and Iraq” to justify attacks such as those in London that killed 55 when suicide bombers struck in three Underground trains and a double-decker bus, the fatwa declared.

“We equally condemn those who may have been behind the masterminding of these acts, those who incited these youths in order to further their own perverted ideology,” Qadri said.

Six people were arrested in the northern city of Leeds for possible immigration violations, police said Sunday. A press release from Metropolitan Police corrected an earlier statement indicating the six were arrested under the British anti-terrorism act.

A police spokesman did not identify those held or say if the arrests were connected to the investigation in Leeds of the July 7 mass-transit terrorist bombings in London. Earlier, Police searched an Islamic bookstore in the city, hometown of three of the suspected bombers.

“At this stage, these arrests are not being linked to the incidents in London. However, we are working closely with officers from the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism branch as part of this inquiry,” another police spokeswoman said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

Britain rejects criticism on refugee policy
Earlier Sunday, Britain’s government rejected criticism that lax policies toward Muslim political refugees helped facilitate terrorist recruiters.

As the investigation continued into the attacks, a newspaper reported that Britain’s domestic secret service, MI5, had scrutinized one of the four suspected bombers in 2004 but did not regard him as a threat to national security or put him under surveillance.

MI5 began evaluating Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, during an inquiry focused on an alleged plot to explode a large truck bomb outside a London target believed to be a nightclub in the Soho neighborhood, The Sunday Times reported. The inquiry evaluated hundreds of potential suspects, the newspaper said.

Police declined to comment on the Times report, as did a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office.

Reports: Al-Qaida, Israel bombing links studied
Khan figures in two other weekend media reports. The Sunday Independent newspaper said police had established a link between the oldest of the bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, and al-Qaida.

The Independent reported that a Pakistani-American believed to have attended an al-Qaida “summit” in Pakistan last year and who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in the United States after his arrest shortly afterwards, had identified Khan from photographs.

Israeli security sources played down a report on Sunday that Khan is thought to have helped plan a pro-Palestinian suicide attack in Tel Aviv two years ago.

The Maariv daily newspaper said Khan traveled to the Jewish state in 2003 and that Israeli defense officials suspect he helped two fellow British Muslims carry out a suicide bombing at a beachfront bar that year that killed three people.

British police named Khan, 30, as a member of a cell that killed at least 55 people in the July 7 bombings in the capital.

Israel downplays connection
A senior Israeli security source said the Maariv report, which cited no evidence, was unsubstantiated. “This is not a concrete finding,” the source said.

Israeli officials are under orders from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not to draw links between the London attacks and Palestinian militants to avoid offending British sensibilities.

The bombings, which killed 55 people on three Underground trains and a double-decker bus, have prompted the government to propose new legislation outlawing “indirect incitement” of terrorism — including the praising of those who carry out attacks.

But Charles Falconer, the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, dismissed a suggestion that the government had been lax in its policies toward political refugees from Muslim countries, thereby helping to make Britain a fertile recruiting ground for Islamic terrorism.

Asylum policies
“In terms of asylum, our policy is: If you are in fear of persecution, you are entitled to come here,” the minister said Sunday on British Broadcasting Corp. television. “Obviously, if you then seek to attack the very state that you come to, that gives rise to different questions.

“But I don’t think we have been ultraliberal. ... What we have got to do now is unify all the forces in our society, in particular in the Muslim community, against those people who are fundamentally at odds with our values.”

Chilling photo released
Meantime, British police released a chilling photograph of the four bombers trudging into a train station on the morning they detonated their explosives.

As the investigation into the bombings continued in Pakistan and Egypt, Scotland Yard detectives published the picture in a bid to jog memories and garner more information from the public about the men’s movements on the morning of the attacks.

The photograph, taken from closed-circuit TV footage, shows the men walking into a railway station in Luton, just north of London, to take a train to the capital.

The four are dressed casually and look relaxed, their hands in their pockets. Each carries a backpack thought to contain the bombs which tore through London’s transport system during  rush hour on July 7, killing 55 people.

7:21 a.m.
The time code on the picture shows it was taken at 7:21 a.m., 89 minutes before three of the bombs went off in quick succession at three subway stations. The fourth blast tore apart a double-decker bus nearly an hour later. Three of the bombers were young British Muslims of Pakistani origin, while the fourth was a Jamaican-born Briton. Two of them were teenagers, one was just 22 and the other was 30.

Pakistani security forces have arrested six men in connection with the bombings — the most recent in the eastern city of Lahore, where authorities held two men on suspicion of having links with one of the bombers, Shahzad Tanweer.

Tanweer had visited Faisalabad and Lahore during two trips to Pakistan over the last two years. Pakistani intelligence sources say that in 2003 he met a man later arrested for bombing a church in the capital, Islamabad.

Biochemist questioned in Egypt
In Egypt, police have arrested a British-trained biochemist, Magdy Mahmoud Mustafa el-Nashar, and are questioning him about the attacks.

But Egyptian Interior Minister Habib el-Adli has said el-Nashar was not a member of al-Qaida and that Western and Arab media had drawn hasty conclusions about the arrested man.

An undated file photo shows Egyptian Magdy el-Nashar
AFP-Getty Images
Magdy el-Nashar

The 33-year-old Egyptian was a researcher at Leeds University in England, and police are carrying out extensive searches at his rented house in the city, which was home to three of the bombers.

Police say they have yet to establish beyond doubt that the bombers had intended to die in western Europe’s first suicide bombing, even if alternative theories seemed unlikely.

“We’ve never used the phrase 'suicide bombers’. We’ve always been aware that amongst the things we need to clarify is the notion these people intended to die as well as letting off a bomb,” a spokesman said on Saturday.

Some newspapers have suggested the bombers might have been duped into believing they had time to escape after planting the devices. The Sunday Telegraph said the men had bought return tickets from Luton to London and had even paid for a carpark ticket for the car they left at Luton station.

Police are looking for a support network of planners, bomb-makers and financiers behind the men. They expect to find clear links to al-Qaida, the militant Islamist network behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and other bombings from Indonesia to Iraq and from Africa to Spain.

The Associated Press and Reuters contribued to this report.


Discussion comments