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Part of the task now is to unravel the bombers' links to foreign countries and al-Qaeda. Last week, an American official confirmed that his British counterparts were hot on the trail of Haroon Rashid Aswat, a 31-year-old British-born man also of interest to American authorities. Aswat is alleged to have been part of a plan to establish an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon six years ago. The British, a senior U.S. law-enforcement official says, consider Aswat "a central figure" in their investigation of the London blasts, though U.S. intelligence is uncertain of his role. Aswat, born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, near where one of the July 7 bombers lived, was a former top aide to Abu Hamza al-Masri, the one-eyed, hook-armed imam who was arrested last year and is fighting extradition to the U.S. on terror charges. Pakistani and British sources contacted by Time repeatedly denied reports that Aswat had been arrested last week in Pakistan, though men with identical names may have been detained. A British official said, "To our knowledge, Aswat is not in Pakistan, and may never have been." Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's President, has admitted that radical Islam is a problem in his country. But with some reason, he points out that Pakistan is not the only nation to have a problem with radical jihadists. "There is a lot to be done in Pakistan," Musharraf said last week, "and we are addressing it. But there is a lot to be done in England."
It isn't just Pakistan with which British authorities must establish good working relations. They need to do so, too, with other European counterterrorism investigators, for in Europe's borderless world, criminals can easily hide in cities far from home. Yet the path of European cooperation on terrorism does not always run smoothly. Last week Germany's highest court allowed Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian-born German wanted in Spain for suspected involvement in the Madrid bombings (as well as for allegedly trying to buy Osama bin Laden a ship), to go free. The court found that there were shortcomings in the German law authorizing the European Arrest Warrant, which came into force among many E.U. states in 2004. The warrant is designed to streamline the process of handing over individuals sought by other member countries; in the last year, it has cut the average time needed to extradite suspects from 9 months to 45 days. But if Germany stays outside the new system, its effectiveness will be much reduced. Spain's Audiencia Nacional, the court that investigates and tries terrorist offenses, said it would consider freezing the extradition of Spanish nationals wanted in Germany until Germany fixed the problem with the warrant, though quite how such a move was supposed to help fight terrorism is unclear. An Italian antiterror investigator lamented that the mess over the warrant demonstrates "one of the basic difficulties about cooperation: each country has its own particular law, its own jurisdictional autonomy. In some ways, we have never really developed cooperation in Europe. Obstacles are always created."
Though they have a record of working closely with each other, frictions between Britain and France have grown more evident, too. British officials were furious last week after the head of the French National Police's antiterror unit, Christophe Chaboud, gave an interview to Le Monde stating, wrongly, that the explosives used on July 7 were military-grade. And some French officials took the chance to repeat their old complaints that the British habit of watching potential terror cells rather than disrupting them is dangerous. "No question, the British have gleaned much knowledge with their approach," says a French Foreign Ministry official. "But the July 7 attacks confirm that the process of radicalization is much quicker than it used to be. We think that confirms the French approach of keeping pressure on groups to prevent them from acting in the first place." As if to admit that the French had a point, Britain's police chiefs last week asked for new powers to disrupt terror networks, including the right to detain suspects for up to three months without charge and disrupt and shut down extremist websites.
Whether or not those powers come, other changes in British law certainly will. Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced the government would introduce a crime of "indirect incitement to terrorism" to target those who glorify terror without precisely advocating it a line which many radical jihadists in Britain have learned to skate brilliantly. Clarke wants to develop a database of extremists whose preaching, websites or articles could justify excluding them from Britain, and is proposing to deport refugee preachers who are thought to inspire terror groups in Europe even if they only got into Britain because their home countries are known to employ torture. One such cleric has long been a thorn in the government's side: Abu Qatada, a Jordanian sentenced in absentia to life back home for involvement in a terror bombing campaign, and who is now under house arrest in Britain. Clarke said an agreement would soon be signed with Jordan guaranteeing good treatment of anyone Britain returns; Qatada can start packing his bags.
Back in London, police followed up more than 500 calls to the antiterror hotline after they released CCTV pictures of the four suspects in the abortive bombings. And investigators sifted through the treasure trove of evidence left in the bombers' unexploded backpacks including letters, as well as bomb parts and explosives. Metropolitan police chief Blair said his officers were working around the clock and "are facing previously unknown threats and great danger." But after the mistaken shooting at Stockwell station, he will have to work hard to convince an often skeptical Muslim community that the police are tempering their determination to apprehend the bombers with caution and respect for innocent lives.
Most Londoners got to the weekend thanking their stars that they had made it through another week safe and sound. But after such a narrow escape and facing the possibility that the campaign against their city has only just begun some, perhaps, remembered the words of an Irish Republican Army communiqué 20 years ago, when its bombers came within a whisker of blowing up the whole British Cabinet in the Grand Hotel, Brighton. "Today," said the i.r.a., "we were unlucky. But remember; we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always."