[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Why hoax story never rang true
By Chris Summers
BBC News

A confused Ramzi Mohammed confronted by Angus Campbell
A confused Ramzi Mohammed confronted by Angus Campbell
Four men have been convicted of a botched attempt to repeat the devastation of the 7 July attacks in London. During the trial the bombers claimed it had only ever been a hoax. Why was this idea never credible?

When they were arrested in the aftermath of the 21 July 2005 attacks the four bombers clearly had already worked out their defence.

It emerged soon after Hussain Osman was arrested in Rome eight days later.

His Italian lawyer, Antonietta Sonnessa, told journalists in the Italian capital: "It was a political protest to make people scared without hurting anyone."

George Carter-Stephenson QC
It's perhaps a crude plan, it's perhaps an insensitive plan, but for those who actually worked it out - Ibrahim and Omar - it was designed to achieve an end which they thought was proper and just
George Carter-Stephenson QC

Osman's confederates soon adopted the same story and by the time of the trial in January 2007 it had become the "party line" which was taken up by Muktar Ibrahim, Yassin Omar and Ramzi Mohammed.

Ibrahim's counsel, George Carter-Stephenson QC, said in his closing speech that his client had wanted to provoke "maximum debate" about the war in Iraq.

But, despite the best efforts of the defence lawyers, there was simply no way of explaining the holes in the hoax story.

The most glaring problem was the fact that none of the bombers had made any preparations for what would happen after their devices exploded.

Odd reaction

If, as they would have the jury believe, they were simply planning a scare to publicise their opposition to British government policy and the situation in Iraq why did they react so oddly afterwards?

Hussein Osman on a bus after his failed bombing
Hussein Osman: Aimless journey on bus, then to Brighton, finally Rome

Why did they appear to have no escape routes planned? Had they not planned to meet up afterwards? Why did all four clearly panic and run off without any thought about where they were going?

Why did they not wait until the train was pulling into a station before detonating the bombs? That would have enabled them to escape quickly. Instead they were forced to wait on board the train amid angry and terrified passengers.

Why was Omar forced to borrow a burka and travel to Birmingham in disguise?

Why did Osman feel the need to flee to Italy on a fake passport - after an apparently confused and aimless escape from the scene that took him around north London and on to Brighton.

Why did they not telephone the BBC, Reuters or the Press Association to claim responsibility for the attacks and give their reasons for the "stunt"?

The defendants were confused because they expected to die, and all panicked in different ways, so far from the sort of co-ordinated response you would expect if this was as they claim a co-ordinated demonstration
Max Hill, prosecuting

Most puzzling of all, perhaps, was the question of why Ibrahim and the others had gone to such great lengths to construct bombs containing virtually the same ingredients which had exploded with such devastating effect on 7 July 2005.

Mr Carter-Stephenson told the jury: "You have to make it look real if it's going to be anything like effective.

"It's perhaps a crude plan, it's perhaps an insensitive plan, but for those who actually worked it out - Ibrahim and Omar - it was designed to achieve an end which they thought was proper and just; an end to the suffering of fellow Muslims at the (hands) of UK and US troops."

Defence expert Professor Hans Michels said the devices were not capable of exploding. He said the detonators were viable, but not powerful enough to set off the main charge.

But junior prosecution counsel, Max Hill, said it was clear from the evidence that the bombers were "confused" because their devices had failed to explode properly.

Undermined

"The defendants were confused because they expected to die, and all panicked in different ways, so far from the sort of co-ordinated response you would expect if this was as they claim a co-ordinated demonstration," he said.

Ramzi Mohammed's suicide note
Suicide note: Torn up by Ramzi Mohammed, found by police

The hoax alibi was also undermined by Ibrahim's co-defendant, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu.

He claimed in court that Ibrahim had urged him to go along with the false defence and had said it did not matter about lying because it was not a proper "Islamic trial".

Mr Asiedu said: "I told Ibrahim that my legal team said if the hoax defence, it's not true, and I get in court and I swear on the oath and give false evidence, I will get caught out and be convicted straight away."

One of the most telling pieces of evidence was the testimony of firefighter Angus Campbell, who confronted Mohammed after the Oval bomb failed to go off.

The convictions show that the jury rejected the blatant, indeed ridiculous, lies told by these defendants in a futile attempt to escape justice
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke

Mr Campbell said he shouted to Mohammed: "What have you done, what have you done?"

Mr Hill asked: "Did you get a response from him?"

Mr Campbell hesitated and then said "Yes. 'This is wrong, this is wrong'."

Mohammed was confused. He had clearly expected to be blown to smithereens but instead he was involved in a shouting match with Mr Campbell as the train pulled into Oval station.

On Tuesday Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said: "The convictions show that the jury rejected the blatant, indeed ridiculous, lies told by these defendants in a futile attempt to escape justice."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The police investigation into the 21/7 attacks





FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific