bombs come to
It is coming – as according to the word of the Lord that He has spoken and had been declared on the website – All of
· 'Iraqi-style' device defused outside club
· Second explosive found nearby
· Massive hunt for culprits
Vikram Dodd and Richard Norton-Taylor
Saturday June 30, 2007
Police were last night desperately hunting a suspected al-Qaida inspired terrorist cell following the discovery of two "Iraqi style" car bombs designed to inflict mass murder, one outside a London nightclub and the second on a street nearby.
Only luck led to the disarming of the first device inside a metallic green Mercedes. Police said it was capable of causing severe casualties and was to have been detonated remotely, most likely by a mobile phone.
Counter-terrorism officials said the
device - made up of 60 litres of petrol, several
propane gas cylinders, nails and a detonation mechanism - was similar to those
used by al-Qaida in car bomb attacks in
The second device, containing similar
materials, was issued with a parking ticket in the early hours of the morning
before being towed to an underground car park at the Hyde Park end of
Officials were bracing themselves for possible further bombing attempts.
MI5 cancelled all leave for its
front-line staff and security was stepped up at "iconic targets",
with uniformed police patrols also increased. Security plans for weekend events
from Wimbledon to a Gay Pride march through central
The discovery of the devices and concern over other suspect cars led to gridlock in the capital, reminiscent of scenes that accompanied the July 7 attacks two years ago.
It was also a first test for Gordon Brown's new government, particularly the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, who was only appointed on Thursday.
The hunt for the terrorists was active on
several fronts last night. Forensic experts were combing the Mercedes found in
Haymarket, near Piccadilly in central
The second car, also a Mercedes, a blue
280E model, was parked in
A meeting of the government's emergency committee Cobra was held and Mr Brown was being kept in close touch with developments.
The security services and police have been trying to increase the intelligence they have about violent extremists, but yesterday's attempted attack in Piccadilly was "off the radar".
"There is no intelligence whatsoever that we were going to be attacked in this way," said the national counter-terrorism coordinator, deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke. He praised the courage of the bomb squad officers who made the device safe, adding: "It is obvious that if the device had detonated, there could have been significant injury or loss of life. We are doing absolutely everything we can in our power to keep the public safe. The threat from terrorism is real. It is here and enduring. Life must go on but we must all stay alert to the threat as we go on with our lives."
The attempted bombing bore strong similarities to two al-Qaida plots that have been stopped by police and British security services.
The type of target, a nightclub, was
similar to those chosen by five men jailed in April for an al-Qaida directed plot. One of their targets was
The tactic of packing cars with gas cylinders was similar to that considered by Dhiren Barot, who was convicted last November of a mass murder plot.
Senior police and
"You only have to read past cases of those convicted for terrorism to realise they have been plotting to blow up nightclubs and putting gas cylinder bombs in cars," said a source.
The device was discovered by chance just after 1am yesterday. An ambulance crew called to the Tiger Tiger club saw what they thought to be smoke coming from the car.
In fact it may well have been vapour from the gas cylinders. One
Another source said it would not be surprising if the plot involved other attacks with bombs carried in vehicles, saying that "al-Qaida has so many different modus operandi now".