U.K. Bombings: Beware the Bandwagon Effect

Police say suspect in London hate bombings acted alone. But could neo-Nazi groups be tempted to continue the campaign?

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Klansmen may be a rare species in Britain, but lone nutters abound. So it should come as no surprise that despite the rush by white supremacist groups to claim a string of London bombings as their own, police have charged a man they believe acted alone. David Copeland, a 22-year-old engineer from a village south of London, was arraigned on Sunday for Friday's bomb attack in a gay pub, which killed three people, as well as for two earlier nail-bomb attacks targeting minority communities. Prosecutors said Copeland was arrested after a phone tip, and that he had no known connection to Combat 18 -- the neo-Nazi group that had claimed responsibility in a phone call to the BBC -- nor to any other right-wing organizations.

The obvious enthusiasm of groups such as Combat 18 for the nail-bomb attacks on minority neighborhoods may, however, be cause for concern. "People who are crazy enough to take responsibility for a bomb attack they didn't commit have to be pretty desperate," says TIME International's Barry Hillenbrand, a former London bureau chief. So even if police are correct in assuming the three attacks were the work of their lone suspect, the groups whose claims of responsibility will then have been proved false may feel compelled to do some bombing of their own.