Blair ‘shocked’ to learn of homegrown bombers

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Tony Blair, UK prime minister, on Wednesday promised to review anti-terror measures and called for a worldwide drive to tackle the “extreme and evil ideology” behind last week’s bomb attacks in London, which police believe were the work of suicide bombers.

Speaking to parliament, Mr Blair said that there was a “sense of profound shock and anxiety” in the UK following the revelation on Tuesday that at least two of the four suicide bombers identified by police were Muslims of ethnic Pakistani origin born in Britain.

Opposition party leaders joined Mr Blair in condemning any attacks on Britain’s 1.6m Muslim community, saying last week’s bombings - which killed at least 52 people - were the work of a small group of extremists.

Under measures announced by Mr Blair, the UK will urgently review border controls to prevent people entering the country “who may incite hatred or act contrary to the public good”. The government would also bring forward consultation on new counter-terrorism legislation planned to be introduced in the autumn.

The London attacks were not an isolated criminal act, the prime minister said, but rather the violent expression of “an extreme and evil ideology whose roots lie in a perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of the religion of Islam.”

He stressed “worldwide dimension” of the problem and the importance of international co-operation in countering the threat. As part of the package of measures unveiled on Wednesday, the UK will also talk to other other nations about mobilising the “moderate and true voice of Islam”.

In the UK itself officials will start discussions with the UK’s Muslim community about ways of tackling the threats posed by extremism, but Mr Blair added that “in the end, this can only be taken on and defeated by the community itself”.

His statement came as police hunted for the suspected network of people who provided logistical support for the attacks, which many believe carry the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda style operation. Security experts said that the first suicide bombers to hit western Europe were almost certainly not acting alone and would have probably received training and direction from a more senior Islamist militant.

“I just don’t believe this would have been four young men acting on their own,” said Paul Wilkinson, professor at St Andrews University and an expert on international terrorism. “ These bombings were so co-ordinated, so-well timed at causing mass casualties and disrupting public transport.”

The four suspects travelled to London on the day of the blasts and were seen on closed-circuit television carrying rucksacks at King’s Cross railway station shortly before 8am last Thursday. A police source said the men “looked relaxed...more like they were going on a hiking holiday than a suicide mission.”

The bombers were named as Shehzad Tanweer, 22 and Hasib Mir Hussain, 18, from Leeds, in northern England, and Mohammed Sadique Kahn, 30, a father-of-one of Pakistani origin who lived in nearby Dewsbury. UK media cited unnamed security sources as saying that the fourth man came from the same area.

Luton train station reopened on Wednesday morning after police removed a car suspected of being linked to last week’s attacks. Ten controlled explosions were carried out on material removed from the car before the vehicle was removed for forensic examination. Police are investigating the possibility that the bombers drove from Leeds to Luton before travelling together by train to London.

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