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BRITAIN Muslim leaders demand inquiry



Published: Thu, July 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Understanding the four homegrown bombers is essential, said a councilman.

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Muslim leaders demanded a judicial inquiry Wednesday into what motivated the four "homegrown" suicide bombers who targeted London, as Prime Minister Tony Blair proposed an international conference on rooting out Islamic extremism.

The government said all 56 people known to have died in the bombings of three subway trains and a bus have been identified, but Home Secretary Charles Clarke warned the number could rise.

Twenty-seven people remained hospitalized, several in critical condition. Police also have not ruled out the possibility of finding more bodies in the mangled wreckage of a train that is still in a deep tunnel near King's Cross station.

In Pakistan, an intelligence official said investigators there arrested a man who had direct links to the July 7 bombings, and investigators used telephone numbers provided by Britain to determine who may have had contact with the bombers.

Homegrown

Three of the bombers, all Britons of Pakistani descent, traveled last year to Karachi in southern Pakistan, where officials are trying to determine whether they received training from extremists.

Blair has also sought the help of Britain's Muslim community. He met Tuesday with 25 community leaders, who have agreed to form a task force to take on the radical voice of Islam.

Sadiq Khan, a Muslim lawmaker in Blair's Labour Party, said the group was still in an embryonic stage and would address issues such as the standard of religious education, the role of the media, political participation by British Muslims and social deprivation.

Leaders warned, however, that the Muslim community alone could not eliminate extremism and called for an independent judicial probe into what may have motivated the bombers.

"The scale of disenchantment amongst Muslim youth is very clear to see," said Inayat Bungalwala of the Muslim Council of Britain. "Various factors are at play: underachievement in education; a high rate of unemployment; discrimination in the workplace; social exclusion and also the government's own policies, especially in Iraq.

Inquiry

"The process of how we get four homegrown suicide bombers must be understood and that is why we are calling for an inquiry."

The demand for an inquiry appeared to reflect Muslim concerns about the impact of social problems in their communities even as they seek to distance themselves from the attacks and any form of extremism.

London's left-wing mayor, Ken Livingstone, said Wednesday that the bombers' radicalism was fueled by Western foreign policy and decades of British and American intervention in the Islamic world.

"A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy,"

Livingstone told the BBC, noting however that he had no sympathy for the bombers and opposed all violence.

The U.S. Defense Department has sought to dispute allegations of mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo, where about 520 prisoners remain, mostly Afghans, Pakistanis and others captured after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Terrorism experts have said since the London bombings that examining the suspects' mobile phone records from the months before the attacks would be a crucial part of the investigation.

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




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