Accused London bomber: It’s Iraq, stupid!

From yesterday’s Newsday:

LONDON — Bombers in the botched July 21 attacks here were avenging the deaths of Muslim civilians in Iraq, one suspect reportedly told authorities, as British and Italian police seized eight more suspects yesterday and extended their probe to Saudi Arabia.

The startling admissions by the suspect, Osman Hussain, during a closed-door hearing in Rome were published in Italian media yesterday as Britain and Italy remained on high alert for attacks.

The July 21 bombers were shown hours of footage of dead Iraqi civilians and grieving Iraqi widows in preparation for their attacks aboard three subways and a bus, Hussain, 27, was quoted as saying at the hearing in Rome, where he was captured Friday.

“We were told we must do something big,” Hussain reportedly said.

The report also calls into question initial claims that Hussain was Somali:

Hussain, who reportedly was born Hamdi Isaac in Ethiopia, lived as a teenager in Italy and gained asylum in Britain by falsely claiming he was from war-torn Somalia. He reportedly told investigators he was recruited for the July 21 attacks by Muktar Said Ibrahim, one of three other alleged bombers seized Friday in London. He said he met Ibrahim in a London gym. Ibrahim taught the cell how to assemble explosives, he reportedly told a Rome magistrate Saturday.

Scotland Yard is believed to be investigating a Saudi link to the bombings after learning that Hussain made a call to Saudi Arabia just before his arrest in Rome. Ibrahim, 27, reportedly visited Saudi Arabia in 2003.

Are Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens going to eat crow after weeks of vociferously claiming the bombings were unrelated to Iraq?

See our last post on the London bombings investigation.