Gelen Owen and Nick Pisa / The London Daily Telegraph – 2005-08-01 09:24:35
LONDON (August 1, 2005) — A man arrested over the failed London bomb attacks has told police he watched videos of the Iraq war with fellow suspects.
Hussain Osman, accused of trying to detonate a bomb at Shepherds Bush, claimed he was shown footage of the conflict by Muktar Said Ibrahim, who was arrested in connection with the abortive attack on a Hackney bus.
The respected Italian newspaper Corriere della Serasaid Osman, who was arrested in Rome on Friday night after a joint operation by British and Italian anti-terrorist officers, told police: “Ibrahim showed us films and videos of the war in Iraq.”
The paper said Osman had indicated he and his friends were interested in politics rather than religion.
It said Osman told police he had met Ibrahim at a gym in the London suburb of Notting Hill, near the flats where Ibrahim was arrested on Friday.
Corriere della Sera also reported a possible link between Osman and Saudi Arabia, claiming he called a Saudi number shortly before his arrest.
Osman was tracked throughout his 1600km journey from London to Rome via Paris and Milan, Brescia and Bologna, using mobile phone technology.
Osman vanished immediately after the bomb he is alleged to have been carrying failed to detonate on July 21.
A few minutes later, he was captured on a TV camera boarding a bus to Wandsworth, in southwest London.
Where Osman went afterwards is unknown, but the next day police raided a south London flat where the mother of his Ethiopian girlfriend lives.
Osman was yesterday being held in a cell on the seventh floor of Rome’s high-security Regina Coeli prison, where guards said he had pasta and meatballs for lunch.
Yesterday, a preliminary extradition hearing took place in the prison. Sources said Osman intended to fight to remain in Italy.
A British police source said: “If he opposes extradition, it will draw out the process and it could be six to eight weeks before he is brought back to London.”
Osman’s court-appointed lawyer Antonietta Sonnessa said after the hearing: “This is a very delicate phase.”
Asked about the Corriere della Sera report, Ms Sonnessa said: “To say anything else would be counter-productive. He is not collaborating but has made declarations to investigators.”
Osman’s brother Ramzi was also being questioned for allegedly possessing false identity papers.
A friend of Osman’s girlfriend, Yeshiemebet Girma, has revealed he ordered her not to mix with Westerners.
Jammell Burrell, 25, who met Ms Girma at a women’s refuge six years ago when she was pregnant with Osman’s first child, said: “She lived for him. It was as if he controlled her.”
Last night, the four other men held over the alleged attacks – Ibrahim, Yasin Hassan Omar and brothers Ramzi and Wahbi Mohammed – were being held at a London police station.