Police mine for evidence in two failed bomb attempts

Sunday Telegraph:

Teams of forensic scientists are poring over two "gold mines" - the Mercedes cars filled with petrol, gas and nails which failed to explode in central London.

Last night, scores of specialists were taking the vehicles apart at secret locations, confident they will find crucial clues to the identity of the terrorists. Police expect to find DNA from the bombers and to secure evidence about where the bomb material came from.

The car bombs are of the kind used on a daily basis in Iraq but, unlike attacks there, the militants operating in London were not suicide bombers prepared to sacrifice themselves for their cause.

It is the first time that so-called vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices have been used in an attack in Britain since the IRA abandoned its terror campaign. The IRA, however, always tested its bombs before embarking on a mission. It appeared the London bombers had been unable to try theirs out, as both failed to explode.

The decision not to use suicide bombers is regarded as noteworthy because it makes the planning of operations far more complex. It may also suggest a shortage of volunteers prepared to die in al-Qaeda's pursuit of global holy war.

As the search for the bombers continued last night, some reports said it was centring on Birmingham, home to 140,000 Muslims.


The type of bombs used suggest that al-Qaeda militants have been unable to get hold of Semtex, the high explosive that was commonly used by the IRA. Had the car bombs detonated, however, they would have created a fireball the size of a large house and spread a shockwave for 400 yards.

Scotland Yard said it had hundreds of images of the two cars from CCTV cameras, and the fact that the bombs did not go off will provide "first-class information".

Security sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that mobile phones found in the cars were intended to be used to detonate the bombs. Each phone had been called twice but, due to technical failings, the devices had not exploded.

The phones should yield the numbers used to call them in attempts to detonate the bombs. Even if the perps throw away the phones they used, they can still be traced to their owners. It is very likely that the perps left hair samples and finger prints in the vehicles that were set to explode. No doubt other evidence will also be found in the methodical search.

Other reports have also indicated that Birmingham is a hot spot in this investigation.


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