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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hydrogen Peroxide, Flour Used in Plot

LONDON -- Hydrogen peroxide and chapati flour were the easily available ingredients of a plot to kill London commuters, a prosecutor said Monday at the trial of six men accused of planning to bomb the transport system two weeks after suicide bombers killed 52 bus and subway passengers.

Prosecutors contend that the defendants were not copycats, but had been preparing their explosives well before the devastating attacks on July 7, 2005 -- the first suicide bombings in Western Europe.

The men have pleaded not guilty to charges of plotting to bomb London's transport network. No one was killed in the attempted bombings of three subway trains and a bus on July 21, 2005, because the devices failed to explode.

Prosecutor Nigel Sweeney, opening the government's case, said only luck had prevented carnage that day.

"We say that the failure of these bombs to explode owed nothing to the intentions of the defendants. It was simply the good fortune of the traveling public that this day they were spared," he said.

Muktar Said Ibrahim, 28; Ramzi Mohamed, 25; Yassin Omar, 26; Manfu Asiedu, 33; Adel Yahya, 24; and Hussain Osman, 28 -- all from London -- all deny charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

Sweeney said Osman had told police that the bombs were "a deliberate hoax in order to make a political point" and were not intended to kill. But Sweeney said forensic scientists had tested the mixture, and "in every experiment, this mixture has exploded."

"This case is concerned with an extremist Muslim plot, the ultimate objective of which was to carry out a number of murders and suicide bombings," Sweeney told jurors.

He said the defendants bought 284 bottles of hydrogen peroxide -- a chemical commonly used in bleaching and hair-coloring products -- totaling 442 liters from late April to early July 2005.

At a makeshift "bomb factory" in a north London apartment rented by Omar, they boiled the chemical to a concentration of 70 percent to make it a more potent explosive ingredient, Sweeney said. He said the bombs' main explosive charge was 70 percent liquid hydrogen peroxide and 30 percent chapati flour. Chapati is a type of Indian flat bread.

Sweeney said the detonators contained triacetone triperoxide, an explosive used by Palestinian suicide bombers and Richard Reid, who attempted to detonate a shoe bomb on a U.S.-bound aircraft. The explosives were packed in plastic tubs, with screws, bolts and other pieces of metal taped on the outside as shrapnel, he said, holding up a replica for the jury of nine women and three men.

Sweeney said physical evidence -- including store receipts for the peroxide, fingerprints, DNA and traces of chemicals on saucepans and bottles in the apartment -- connected the defendants to the bombs.

He said the suspects -- most of whom are from Ethiopia and Somalia -- were well-known to one another long before the attacks, and five had been photographed by police on a camping trip in the Lake District of northern England in May 2004.

Sweeney said a witness would also testify that the men had told of going camping in Scotland "to get fit for jihad."

He said police had found extremist Islamic literature in the men's apartments, and several had attended the Finsbury Park Mosque to hear speeches by now-jailed radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri.

The prosecutor said Ibrahim, one of the leaders of the plot, had undergone military training at a camp in Sudan in 2003 and also had traveled to Pakistan to train for jihad.

Asiedu was planned to be one of the bombers, but lost his nerve at the last minute and dumped his bomb in a park where it was found two days after the attacks, Sweeney said. Yahya was involved in the plot, he added, but had left Britain six weeks before the attempt.

Most of the suspects were arrested in Britain a few days after the failed bombings. Omar fled to Birmingham in central England dressed as a woman in a burqa, Sweeney said. He was arrested there a few days later.

Osman fled to Italy, and was detained in Rome a week after the attacks.

Eleven other people -- including Osman's wife and sister-in-law -- have been charged with assisting the accused or failing to disclose information. Their trials are due to take place later this year.