israeli embassy, london .
(photo credit: SKY News)
An appeal by two Palestinians convicted of bombing the Israeli Embassy and Balfour House, a Jewish community center, in London in 1994 was dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights last week.
In December 1996, Samar Alami and Jawad Botmeh were sentenced at the Old Bailey to 20 years in prison, to would be followed by immediate deportation, for conspiracy to make, place and detonate bombs at the embassy and Balfour House in July 1994. Fourteen people were wounded at the embassy and eight at Balfour House.
It is believed that Alami and Botmeh were trying to sabotage the Middle East diplomatic process. They were alleged to be members of, or sympathizers with, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but, being dissatisfied with the terrorist group's official policy, had become part of a breakaway British group.
In 1997 David Shayler, a former MI5 officer, said that some months prior to the bombings, the security services received information that a terrorist organization unconnected to the two convicted bombers was seeking information about the location and defenses of the embassy for a possible bombing attack. He was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act for giving secret information to a British newspaper.
However the trial judge relied on related intelligence received after the bomb attack that the terrorist organization Shayler had not been responsible.
An appeal by Alami and Botmeh to the Court of Appeal in November 2001 was dismissed. At the trial, Lord Justice Rose said: "Those who - whatever their motivation - place bombs in the heart of this city cannot expect their conduct to be treated by anything other than very substantial terms of imprisonment."
In October 2004, Alami was transferred to Send Open Prison in Surrey, southeast England, and she is currently permitted weekend leaves.
The bombers were the first to use explosives in the UK made of triacetone triperoxide (TATP).
At their trial, the pair denied any involvement in the London bombings, but admitted to experimenting with TATP and model aircraft to develop techniques that could be used in the "occupied territories."
Alami, a chemical engineer, admitted possessing other explosive devices and related literature. Botmeh, also an engineer, was alleged to have purchased the two cars that were used in the London attacks, and a large amount of TATP explosive of a different type to that used in the two bombs was found in a lock-up rented by him.
The pair alleged that a Palestinian known to them as "Reeda," whom they were unable to further identify, had supplied the TATP found in the lock-up and accompanied Botmeh to buy cars at auction.
TATP's base ingredients - drain cleaner, bleach and acetone - can be bought easily and without attracting suspicion, and its chemical composition is simple. It is almost undetectable by sniffer dogs or conventional bomb detection systems.
TATP was used in the London 7/7 bombings that killed 52 people in 2005.