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Blair support soars in wake of blasts Chris Johnston, London July 27, 2005 BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair's rating as a leader has soared since the London bombings, even though a big majority of voters believes his decision to go to war in Iraq has increased the risk of terrorist attacks at home.
In a Populus poll for The Times, taken at the weekend after Thursday's second wave of abortive attacks, Mr Blair's leader rating is his second-highest yet, while almost a third of all voters believe he should reconsider his decision to stand down as Prime Minister before the next election.
This boost to Mr Blair's ratings occurred even though 64per cent of voters believe his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq has increased the risk of terrorist attacks such as the ones this month in London.
The poll came as police conducted an early-morning raid on the ninth-floor public housing flat where the bombs that failed to detonate on Tube trains and a bus last Thursday were constructed.
Officers evacuated other residents before moving in to the one-bedroom flat in New Southgate, north London, after learning it was the home of Yasin Hassan Omar, a 24-year-old Somalian who tried to bomb the Tube at Warren Street station.
He is believed to have come to Britain as an asylum-seeker and has lived at the flat since February 1999.
Government figures show that 45,815 Somalians, excluding dependents, applied for asylum in Britain between 1993 and last year. Of these, 30,875 were given asylum or allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds. The $200-a-week rent was paid to the local council by housing benefit, meaning the suspect, who is still on the run, was supported by British taxpayers.
Neighbours said Omar always wore traditional African dress and that Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27, who tried to blow up a No26 bus, had also been living at the flat for the past two years. He is believed to be an asylum-seeker from Eritrea.
Five people have been arrested over the July 21 attempted bombings, although none is thought to have been one of the bombers.
New CCTV pictures of the four attempted suicide bombers have been issued by police in a fresh appeal to the public for information about their whereabouts. They are not believed to have left Britain and may be being protected in a safe house, planning another co-ordinated atrocity.
Detectives also hope that large plastic food containers will help them track down the four men. The four bombs that failed to detonate were placed in the same clear 6.25-litre tubs with white lids, which were then placed in dark-coloured rucksacks. The Indian-made containers are sold by just 100 outlets in Britain.
It has also emerged that Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, the innocent Brazilian electrician mistakenly gunned down by police, was shot eight times, not five as had been stated.
The Times poll shows only two-fifths of all voters believe that Mr Blair should stand down either now or by the end of next year, down from 50 per cent in early June.
The 30 per cent believing that he should reconsider his decision to stand down may be a temporary response to Mr Blair's handling of the attacks.
His leader rating (on a 10-point scale) now stands at 5.55, up from 5.07 in January. This was topped only by his 5.75 rating in May 2003, just after the fall of Baghdad.
Mr Blair said yesterday that there was no doubt that terrorists had used Iraq, and before that Afghanistan, and before that other things, as "reasons" for their attacks. "But I think most people understand that the roots of this are deeper."
The poll shows strong support for tough action against suspected terrorists and their sympathisers, but a tolerant view of the Muslim community generally.
Thirty-eight per cent of voters agreed that the fact that three of the London bombers were British-born Muslims showed that multiculturalism had gone too far, while 53 per cent disagreed.
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