British Police Detain Six Suspects In Tel Aviv Bombing

July 7, 2008 - 8:13 PM

London (CNSNews.com) - British police moved over the weekend against an alleged terror cell suspected of plotting a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv last week that killed three people in addition to the bomber and injured nearly 60.

Six arrests were made around the country, police said, and the three men and three women were still in custody on Monday.

Two men and two women were arrested in the county of Derbyshire, central England, overnight on Friday, while a third woman was arrested in nearby Nottinghamshire. Another man was picked up in London early Saturday.

Police refused to give any further details about the suspects. Under the U.K.'s Terrorism Act, the suspects can be held for three days without charge and up to a week if a judge approves.

Israeli authorities say the attack was carried out by 21-year-old Asif Muhammad Hanif of London and 27-year-old Omar Khan Sharif of Derby, the county seat of Derbyshire.

Reports said that Sharif was spotted by neighbors near his Derby home just days before the attack.

The men allegedly planned a double attack outside a Tel Aviv bar last week. While Hanif's bomb exploded, Sharif's failed to detonate. He fled after a scuffle and is still at large.

The bombing is thought to be the first suicide attack by foreigners since the start of the current intifada in 2000.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that the men smuggled explosives from Jordan hidden in a copy of the Koran, then traveled to the Gaza Strip before carrying out the attack.

Mofaz said the two had been involved in a terror network in Europe that had connections to a Hamas cell in Gaza.

Both Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Reports have linked the pair to a radical British Muslim cleric, Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, who heads al-Muhajiroun, a group devoted to imposing Islamic law on Britain and the rest of the world.

The sheikh told CNSNews.com that while the pair may have attended some of his sermons, he did not know them personally.

"Perhaps he attended some of my talks, but as far as we know, he was not a member of al-Muhajiroun," Bakri said Thursday. "We don't recruit people to go and fight," he said. "We are only a think tank."

On Friday, British Chancellor (Treasury Secretary) Gordon Brown froze the alleged bombers' bank accounts.

"We have taken immediate action to ensure that no U.K/ funds belonging to those suspected of being responsible for this atrocity can be used to support terrorism," Brown said in a statement.

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