Bombings Target London Minorities

Associated Press/May 5, 1999
By Kristin Gazlay

London -- A gay pub packed with Friday night revelers in the heart of London's restaurant district. A bustling Bangladeshi neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon. A lively weekend street market, teeming with shoppers, in an Afro-Caribbean neighborhood.

London's police commissioner pulled no punches Saturday: Gathering places for the capital's minorities are the focus of a murderous nail-bombing campaign that has claimed two lives and injured more than 115 people in less than three weeks.

"Although the attacks have been targeted on minorities, these are attacks on the whole of the community, on all of us," commissioner Sir Paul Condon said, disclosing that police were questioning one man in the bombings.

He warned all Londoners that they were vulnerable and urged them to be vigilant, noting that the bombers had provided no warnings.

"It is a fact of life in a democracy in a great world-class city that there are many, many opportunities for the bombers to seek a target and put a device down," Condon said.

A shadowy, neo-Nazi group called White Wolves claimed responsibility for Friday's explosion in the Admiral Duncan, a gay pub overflowing with drinkers celebrating the balmy start of a three-day weekend.

The White Wolves are believed to be an even more radical sect that splintered off from Combat 18, the group that said it planted the previous two bombs -- April 17 in the south London neighborhood of Brixton, and April 24 in the largely Bangladeshi community of Brick Lane.

Although the Irish Republican Army killed about 120 people and injured thousands during its 23 years of bombings in England aimed at ending British rule in Northern Ireland, the outlawed group always provided some form of warning before its devices went off.

All the White Wolves' "high command" provided were identical stencilled death threats sent to members of the Jewish, black and Asian communities in recent weeks, saying in part:

"Notice is hereby given that all non-whites (defined by blood, not religion) must permanently leave the British Isles before the year is out. Jews and non-whites who remain after 1999 has ended will be exterminated."

Authorities arrested five people beginning on Friday in the attacks, but four were ruled out as suspects, Deputy Police Commissioner David Veness told reporters Saturday.

"Combustible materials" were found in the fifth suspect's home in Cove, southwest of London, according to a senior officer from Scotland Yard's anti-Terrorist Branch, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The officer also confirmed the suspect appeared to be the same white man shown in video footage released Thursday by police, who said it depicted their chief suspect in the Brixton attack.

That first bomb exploded after being left in an athletic bag outside a frozen food shop, injuring 39 people. The second was planted in a car parked in a busy street in Brick Lane, injuring seven people.

The carnage in the Admiral Duncan -- the site of the terror campaign's first two fatalities -- was the most horrific. Four people were also critically injured, some with their limbs blown off, and almost 70 more were hurt.

Witnesses reported seeing a man with a blond goatee leaving a bag in the pub moments before the 6:35 p.m. local time explosion.

Veness, the deputy police commissioner, said the latest bombing was the result of a "relatively rudimentary and crude" device about the size of a shoebox, packed with nails and other metallic objects.

Queen Elizabeth II sent her "heartfelt sympathy" Saturday to the families of the dead and to those injured in the Admiral Duncan.

The pub's gaping entrance remained shrouded in a tarpaulin, with the tables inside still littered with half-finished drinks and abandoned jackets and bags.

Mounds of bouquets began stacking up behind the barriers blocking off the street in the center of Soho, which adjoins Chinatown and the theater district.

"To those who died living their lives, our thoughts are with you," read one card, left by another gay London venue. Another read simply: "London loves you all. Stop the hate."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.