The four arrested fugitives from the botched July 21 London bomb attacks faced intense questioning as police were feted Saturday for seizing them. Still, police warned Brits to remain vigilant.
The four suspects are all in police custody
Dramatic raids in London and Rome left the alleged bombers in police custody as detectives were congratulated for rounding up the men on the run. Police sources told AFP that the three men in British custody, Yassin Hassan Omar, Muktar Said Ibrahim and Ramsi Mohammed, are being held at the country's highest-security police station, Paddington Green.
Machine gun-toting British police were seen by witnesses firing tear gas and apparently setting off stun grenades as they raided two apartments in west London Friday, arresting three men in all. Among these were at least one, and probably two of the four suspected bombers who went on the run when their explosives failed to detonate fully on three London subway trains and a double-decker bus.
A police sniper lines up his weapon as he takes up position in the Notting Hill district of London Friday
Police feared that while the bombers remained at large, they might have tried once more to repeat the July 7 carnage, when 56 people, including four British Muslim suicide bombers, were killed in a similar string of attacks.
Experts speculated on the methods police will use to try to uncover the shadowy network behind the suspected bombers. The terror suspects can look forward to a fortnight under the microscope in the Paddington Green basement.
"You're completely cut off. Mentally it's really tough. It could break anyone," 42-year-old John, an ex-soldier and one-time Paddington Green detainee, told the Daily Mirror newspaper. "When you arrive, you're locked in a 15 foot by 10 foot (three meter by 3.6 meter) cage like an animal."
Louise Christian, who represented former Guantanamo Bay detainees, said in The Independent newspaper that police will rely on the 'good cop, bad cop' routine to extract information.
Psychology expert David Canter said police had a big advantage over the would-be suicide bombers. It is unlikely the failed bombers were trained in how to handle such an interview, University of Liverpool professor Canter wrote in The Times. "It would rather undermine the commitment to kill yourself if your handlers ran a session on what to do if it failed."
Britain's newspapers hailed the police's swift captures in the biggest operation they have faced since the Second World War. The Times said the arrests would come as a relief to all in Britain and were "a tribute to a police force that has passed one of the most severe tests in its history."
"Got the bastards" said the front page of The Sun, Britain's biggest selling daily. Security forces "combined brilliantly to corner 21/7 bombing suspects like rats in a trap," the tabloid said.
"What a magnificent day for British justice," said the Daily Express in its editorial.
The Guardian compared the London bombers to the Irish Republican Army, which Thursday committed itself to peaceful means.
Italian press reports confession
British police officers cordon off the scene of a police raid in an apartment block in west London, Friday
Muktar Said Ibrahim and Ramsi Mohammed were both arrested Friday, while Somali-born Yasin Hassan Omar, had already been detained on Wednesday in Birmingham, central England.
Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu announced that Somali-born Briton, Osman Hussain, whom he called "the fourth attacker in London on July 21," had been arrested in Rome.
Hussain appeared at an extradition hearing on Saturday. Judges could take weeks to come to a decision on deporting him to Britain.
Hussain said he and his accomplices wanted their attack to spread fear in London, in an apparent confession reported by Italian newspapers Saturday. "We wanted to make an attack, but only as a demonstration," several newspapers quoted the 27-year-old as saying, without citing a source.
"The investigation … is still continuing. It is dynamic and wide-ranging. There will be more very visible police activity," anti-terrorist police chief Peter Clarke told reporters late Friday.
He also warned the country not to let down its guard. "We must not be complacent. The threat remains, and is very real," he said.
Three other men were arrested during separate raids in west London and Leicester, north of the capital. Police said two women were still in custody Saturday morning after being arrested Friday at London's Liverpool Street mainline railway terminus, on the eastern edge of the city center. A witness told AFP he saw two women wearing Islamic scarves pinned down by officers after they ran away when stopped for a routine check.
Detectives were continuing to search a building in the Old Kent Road area of south London early Saturday in connection with the July 21 attacks. Police sources told AFP the property in question was a previous address linked to one of the bombers.