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Simultaneity of london blasts suggests timers { July 10 2005 }

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Simultaneity of London blasts suggests bombers used timers

By The Associated Press
Sunday, July 10, 2005

LONDON (AP) - The nearly simultaneous bombings of three London subway trains bolstered the theory that the explosions were detonated by timing devices rather than suicide bombers, police said Saturday, as they radically altered their original assessment that the blasts occurred over a 26-minute period.

They said the bombs were made of "high explosives," not homemade materials. Authorities would not specify, however, whether the ingredients were military grade, a detail that could indicate the plotters' level of sophistication, resources and international connections.

Authorities said a fresh analysis of data from eyewitnesses and the Underground system computer and electrical systems showed the three blasts occurred within 50 seconds of one another, at 8:50 a.m.

"It was bang, bang, bang, very close together," said Tim O'Toole, managing director of London Underground, who added that officials were "quite confident" of the new timeline.

Police said the confusion was caused by the volume of calls to several different emergency services, some of which reported incidents associated with the aftermath of the attacks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said authorities had not ruled out suicide bombers but now believed it was more likely the explosions were set off by timing devices.

Michael Oren, of the Shalem Center think tank in Jerusalem, agreed.

The use of timers "is not rocket science, but it still shows a level of sophistication which is beyond just sending somebody with an (explosive) belt," he said. "In Israel we've had coordinated (suicide) bombings but they've never been that close."

Paddick said no timing devices or other detonators had yet been discovered in the wreckage and are "going to be in probably millions of pieces," he said. Early analysis suggested that each bomb consisted of a "device in a bag, rather than something that was strapped to the individual."

At least 49 people have been confirmed dead so in the three subway bombings and one on a double-decker bus that was blown apart near Russell Square in central London.

Deep underground on the Picadilly subway line, recovery teams continued to pull bodies and evidence out of a mangled train. Work inside the hot, dusty and narrow tunnel was slow and difficult, said Deputy Chief Constable Andy Trotter of the British Transport Police.

Trotter said police still didn't know how many bodies were trapped in the wreckage between King's Cross and Russell Square stations. Recovery workers would still be removing the corpses through Saturday night, or perhaps longer, he said.

Investigators working at the site of the bus explosion, in which 13 people died, have taken away the vehicle's roof, which was blown off in the explosions, Paddick said. They will eventually take the remainder of the bus to another location to scrutinize it more closely, he added.

In the meantime, police are conducting a "fingertip examination" of the entire area to find even tiny fragments of material that might provide clues, he said. Police say their work in the square had been difficult because debris is strewn over a wide area.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said investigators still did not know who was behind the attacks, but said responsibility probably could be laid to a group like al-Qaida. He told British Broadcasting Corp. it was "reasonably obvious that it comes from that type of quarter."

Two groups invoking al-Qaida's name have claimed responsibility for the attacks. Police have said they're taking seriously a claim posted on the Internet shortly after the bombings by The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe, a group that also took responsibility for the Madrid commuter train bombings.

A second claim appeared on a Web site Saturday and was signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, but experts say the group has no proven record of attacks.

Police say the four bombs weighed about 10 pounds each and were small enough to be carried in backpacks.

Oren said they were likely made from military grade plastic explosives like C4, but not the more powerful Semtex. Plastic explosives are readily available on the black market in the Czech Republic and other central and eastern European countries or through the Russian mafia, analysts say.

An expert in terrorist finances said the London bombings probably only cost terrorists between $10,000 and $15,000.

"It's cheap," said Loretta Napoleoni, an expert in terrorism financing.

She said the attackers were likely homegrown -- British citizens or longtime residents, inspired by al-Qaida but without any direct connections to Osama bin Laden or his lieutenants.

"They do not have unlimited resources," she said. "They adjust the model to how much money they have. If they could have raised more money, they would have had more explosives."

They probably raised their funds locally, she said, avoiding the need to risk attracting authorities' attention with a bank transfer.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Blasts first thought to be half an hour apart { July 10 2005 }
Blasts in london parallel madrid bombings { July 8 2005 }
Bombers used military explosives { July 12 2005 }
Bombes were watched by british intelligence { May 11 2006 }
Bus hit by attack [jpg]
Military quality bombs used in london { July 13 2005 }
Simultaneity of london blasts suggests timers { July 10 2005 }
Timing devices discovered in london
Timing devices found in debris
Unexploded devices discovered in london

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