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Police sought terror suspect before plot

Caroline Gammell

Police were hunting one of the alleged July 21 terrorists six months before he tried to detonate explosives on London’s transport network, a court heard yesterday.

Muktar Said Ibrahim, 29, was sent two letters by the police in February 2005 saying they were seeking his arrest for refusing to surrender bail.

The alleged bus bomber had been charged under the Public Order Act for threatening or abusive behaviour after a run-in with police in October 2004.

He and two others had been distributing Islamic material outside Debenhams on Oxford Street, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Ibrahim was due to appear before magistrates in December but did not turn up because he had flown to Pakistan, the jury was told.

In February, the Metropolitan police wrote him two letters, urging him to hand himself in.

The first, dated February 14 2005, said Ibrahim was being sought for arrest because he had not surrendered bail.

The letter added: “Come to us before we come to you.”

A second identical letter was sent on February 28. Both were addressed to his flat in Farleigh Road, Stoke Newington, north London. Ibrahim did not get back to the UK until March.

But junior prosecution counsel Max Hill told the jury that on his return from Pakistan Ibrahim spent most of his time at the house of co-defendant Yassin Omar.

The court heard the letters were found in the bins at Omar’s flat in Curtis House, New Southgate, north London – site of the alleged “bomb factory”.

Ibrahim and Omar, 26, are among six defendants accused of carrying out an extremist Muslim plot.

Mr Hill accused Ibrahim of intentionally staying away from Farleigh Road because “you knew the police were on to you.”

He said Ibrahim was in the midst of putting together his plot to detonate a number of rucksack devices across the capital.

“You did not return to Farleigh Road because to do so would be to run the risk that you would be arrested and not be able to carry out the plan you hatched.”

“No,” Ibrahim replied.

The defendant insisted he contacted the police once he received the letters to arrange a court date, but never heard back.

Mr Hill said: “On your return to the UK you settled on nothing less than a mission which would lead you and the others to martyrdom.”

“No, that’s not true at all,” he said.

“In order for you to carry out your mission you had to make sure that the authorities did not catch you at Farleigh Road,” said Mr Hill.

“No, that’s not true because I was claiming housing benefit,” the defendant replied.

The jury heard details of Ibrahim’s trip to Pakistan at the end of 2004.

Armed with £2,000, he flew to Islamabad with two other men on December 11, but all three were stopped en route by police at London’s Heathrow airport.

The jury has heard how Ibrahim told the officers they were going to a wedding and then on holiday and did not expect to be longer than 20 days.

When searched, one of his companions was found carrying £2,200 in cash, a military first aid kit in camouflage packaging and part of a first aid manual on how to treat ballistic injuries.

When asked about the contents, Ibrahim said: “This kind of stuff comes in handy when you are on holiday.”

Mr Hill replied: “Really? You are in need of a manual telling you how to treat ballistic injuries when you are going to get married?”

Before going, Ibrahim and the two men had a leaving party at the defendant’s flat in Farleigh Road.

The barrister said the gathering was “more to do with a jihadi sending off party.

“It was a collection of like-minded extremist individuals dressed in Muslim clothing, sporting long beards who came to wish you and your two companions well in your determined trip of jihad.”

“No,” Ibrahim insisted.

Mr Hill said Ibrahim was not going to Pakistan for a wedding or a holiday but wanted to stay and fight.

“Your intention was not to return (to this country) but to become a jihadi and die in the attempt.”

“That’s not true,” the defendant replied.

Ibrahim and Omar are accused alongside Hussain Osman, 28, of no fixed address, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, of North Kensington, west London, Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham, north London and Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address.

All six deny conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life.