LONDON — Al Qaida employed light but advanced bombs detonated by
timers in last week's bloody strike on London's mass transit system.
Officials said the bombs were so powerful that none of the 49 known dead
had been identified over the weekend. They said the four bombs were detonated within 50
British officials said authorities have determined that the four bombs
that blew up in subways and a bus in London on July 7 were composed of less
than 4.5 kilograms of explosives each. They said the bombs were small enough
to fit in a knapsack and were detonated by timers rather than suicide
[On late Saturday, British authorities evacuated the downtown section of
Birmingham amid an alert of an impending insurgency attack, Middle East Newsline reported. The evacuation
took place amid a jazz festival attended by tens of thousands of people.]
"All we are saying is that it is high explosives," Scotland Yard Deputy
Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick told a news conference on Saturday.
"That would tend to suggest that it is not home-made explosive. Whether it
is military explosive, whether it is commercial explosive, whether it is
plastic explosive we do not want to say at this stage."
At least 49 people were killed and another 700 were injured in the
London bombings, but officials said they expected the casualty toll to rise.
On Saturday, a second Al Qaida group, entitled Abu Hafs Al Masri Brigade,
claimed responsibility for the attacks.
"It would appear now that all three bombs on the London Underground
system actually exploded within seconds of each other," Paddick said. "In
fact, the three bombs exploded almost simultaneously."
Officials said the bombs were placed on the floor of three subway cars.
The fourth bomb was placed either on the floor or on a seat of a
"Initially, the forensic investigation suggests that each device used
had less than 10 pounds of high explosives," Assistant Police Commissioner
Andy Hayman said.
Officials said the bombs were much smaller than those used in Islamic
insurgency attacks in Egypt, Iraq and Israel. Many of those attacks were
conducted by suicide operatives with bombs of 10 or more kilograms.
British authorities have sought to question Mohammed Garbazi, a cleric
sentenced by a Moroccan court to 20 years on charges of being linked to Al
Qaida suicide attacks in Casablanca in which 45 people were killed in 2003.
Garbazi was also suspected of being connected to the Madrid train bombings
in March 2004.
Officials said they could not rule out the prospect that cellular phones
were used to detonate the London bombings. Cell phones were used to explode
the bombs in Madrid.
"As far as the general threat assessment was concerned, we didn't have
prior knowledge of this attack," British Home Secretary Charles Clarke told
the Sky News network. "We obviously are looking very carefully at all our
intelligence to see if anything was missed, but in fact we don't believe
anything was missed. It just came out of the blue."
Officials said the investigation and search for bodies have been
hampered by the fear of a subway tunnel collapse. They said authorities hope
to acquire more information by viewing the closed-circuit television
cameras, or CCTV, installed throughout the London subway system.
"If they weren't suicide bombers, then they must have got on and off
these trains," Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of the British Transport
Police, said. "That means their pictures can be grabbed from CCTV cameras.
The Underground network is a CCTV-rich environment, and so this is going to
be an intense investigation to look at the images."