So, we can expect the Home Office narrative account of what happened on 7/7 2005 out this week, and The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report to be issued on the same day. The ISC report
, which ''has been studying the lessons of the 7 July bombings and will make wide-ranging recommendations on how the security services should adapt to the changing face of terrorism''.
I'm surprised that they are both coming out on the same day, since I think it is likely that they may seem to contradict each other if the Observer's previous leaks are anything to go by. According to the Observer
, the ISC report...''... has found there was a direct link between the bombers' ringleader, Sidique Khan, who killed six people when he blew himself up on a tube train at Edgware Road, and a terrorist cell that had been under surveillance by the security services.
The revelation will prove damaging. Previously it was believed Khan was linked to the cell only through a third party. That he had direct links to the group under surveillance raises questions over why he was not placed under closer supervision.''
(Yup, look into the Crevice
Hang on though. The security services seem to be telling us one thing and the Home Office quite another. On the one hand, we have Khan and his links to other terrorists
. On the other hand, the bombers are apparently acting alone. Which is right?The ''narrative''
seems to be going to indicate that the four men acted independently, without any Al Qaeda links or contact with other terrorists using materials available from local stores and bomb recipes ''from the internet''. (Tsk. Pesky internet. Shut it down
.) Here's the Observer, April 9th.''The official inquiry into the 7 July London bombings will say the attack was planned on a shoestring budget from information on the internet, that there was no 'fifth-bomber' and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan.
The first forensic account of the atrocity that claimed the lives of 52 people, which will be published in the next few weeks, will say that attacks were the product of a 'simple and inexpensive' plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom.
Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet...''
I have blogged about this before. It's an open secret, if you go and look around the internet. Seems Khan was not only known to security officials
, but under surveillance in early 2004, and now, we find, clearly linked to another terrorist cell who were also
under surveillance. Khan and fellow-bomber Tanweer were apparently only suspected by M15 of being sympathetic to terrorist causes
, and were engaged in fraud to raise money for jihad
, fighting overseas, not in the U.K, but because resources were scarce, he was let slip the net and not kept under surveillance. With fatal consequences on July 7th.
Frank Gardner, BBC Security correspondent noted the cross-party Parliamentary committees expected findings..."Could they [ the July bombings] have been prevented with better intelligence? Yes. Could they have been prevented given the resources that the agencies had? They think probably not.
"They are not pointing the finger of blame at anybody," he [Gardner] told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.''
But it seems that M15's and M16's limited resources were diverted towards other anti-terror operations which were seen as more of an immediate threat. These terror suspects were intercepted and arrested, but some think that security services were forced to spring the trap earlier than planned.
Now what I want to know is this. Here we have Khan
, the ringleader, already seemingly engaged heart and mind with the jihad
cause in 2004, when the other terrorists were arrested about to carry out their alleged plot. We have Khan (and his associate Tanweer, and possibly another of the London bombers) travelling to Pakistan, attending terrorist training camps, raising money for jihad
causes, recruiting young men in the gyms and youth centres and book shops of Beeston, angry, depressed enough to be signed off work in Khan's case, radicalised and attending sermons by radical preachers urging bloody jihad, enraged by DVDs of atrocities committed against Muslims in Chechyna, Palestine and especially Iraq, and not just on the periphery of a group of men actively engaged with plotting a major vehicle bomb atrocity, but ''directly linked'' with them. Aware of the plans of the would-be vehicle bombers? Very probably.
So did this mean that Khan, seeing that other terrorists, some of whom he had ''links'' to, ( the A team?) had been captured in 2004, decided independently to go to Plan B, in July 2005? A team of over a dozen men, buying large amounts of fertiliser to allegedly make a large vehicle bomb had been rumbled, as we see from the current trial at the Old Bailey. So, he comes up with his own plan. Take a smaller group, of four men, use bomb materials easily available in the high street, use knowledge gleaned from the internet, and strap the bombs on your backs, in black rucksacks, mingling easily amongst the crowds of commuters, stepping onto the soft target of the London Underground on a day that shimmered with symbolic significance. 7th July, the fourth anniversary of the day when angry young Asian men rose up with home-made bombs in Bradford to ''defend themselves'' against the ''oppression'' of their fellow citizens? Was that what happened, was that the ''real'' story of July 7th?
That makes both
the narrative and the ISC report work. Khan was ''linked'' with another group of would-be terrorists in 2004, he trained with these men and other other would-be terrorists who were planning attacks on Britain in a training camp in Pakistan, and after they got nicked
, then he went on to act '' independently''. And there is no Al Qaeda Mastermind, no Bin Laden in a bat cave involved here, this is not 9/11. This was a homegrown operation where British men met, plotted, got the training they needed abroad, and from the internet and then went off to kill. This is the new reality, and it is far more chilling, and our leaders are misguided, for you cannot make a war on it, because this new enemy has no boundaries, no armies, no generals. This is an idea
, and an idea cannot be invaded and bombed and fought. Bombing and fighting, paradoxically, makes this idea stronger.
Time for a total, radical reapproach. The old rules don't work; this is not the IRA or the Cold War. This 'War On Terror' cannot be fought and won with weapons, however hi-tech, with bombs and guns and raids. It leads to only more bombs, more deaths. Nobody can win this war of terror, not Blair, not Bush, not Al Qa'eda. Not you, not me, not any number of young men marching off with a bomb in their bag or a gun in their hand.Nobody in the Intelligence services was to blame,
says the leaked ISC report. Maybe. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But if you had the bomber in your sights, and you let him go on and he carries out the worst ever terrorist atrocity on British soil with three accomplices, then I am personally angry, because it happened and it should not have happened. It may well be a strategic issue, a resource issue. How can you possibly monitor every angry young man, every trip to Pakistan? There are 500,000 visits from UK citizens to Pakistan every year.) How can they all be tracked? And what does it do to people to survey them all as potential terrorists?
There are now wider questions about freedom and fear and risk and civil liberties. Do we want to live in a society where there is so much monitoring of its people? What will the effects of this round-the-clock '' for your own protection'' surveillance be? Distrust? Fear? Worse?
Are we all deemed potential terrorists now? Will this anger more young men and paradoxically make more terrorists? I don't know. Let's all have a sensible debate about it, hey? Instead of bashing out I.D cards and increasing stop and searches of anyone with brown skin. And let's think about causality too. What is making these young men so angry in the first place?
. Our foreign policy, the U.S foreign policy, the way it rather looks as if we have a beef with Islamic mineral-rich lands, and act like 'our' oil is under their sand?
Our leaders have said that the rules have changed. Yes, they have, but they are blind to just how much
they have changed. There is only one thing stronger than fear, only one thing stronger than hate...
In the meantime, here is the Observer trying to do a 'definitive' account
of 7/7 that seems to pre-empt the ''narrative'' about what happened on July 7th, (which I can see is basically taken from news accounts and from survivor testimony at the GLA) and which irritatingly contains some inaccuracies. For example, Germaine Lindsay stood by the second set of doors in the middle of carriage one on the Piccadilly line train, not at the back. The bombers seem to have got the 7.24 train, not the 7.40, and it was train 331, not 311 that was bombed on the Piccadilly line. ( For the second and third inaccuracies you can thank the conspiracy theorists, so they do have their uses, despite their taking two molehill inaccuracies ( some inaccuracies in reporting
, wrong train time, wrong train number...
) and making it into a mountain (...so it never happened! Everything is a lie and the Government did it!
) Hmmm. BBC News Director Helen Boaden at the WeMedia conference did mention the other day that news reports will usually be 80% accurate, not 100%, and that there will always be inaccuracies. That's rolling news, that' s human error, especially in the early days of a moving, multiple-sourced story. So, we await the official, forensic version of what happened on that day. Ten months on, we still wait.
I can see that certain parts of what went on leading up to July 7th, and after cannot be released because they could compromise existing trials and ongoing investigations, and I can deal with that. But much of what went on leading up to the day and after, I think should be discussed and examined in public. The motivations of the bombers, and how many more angry young British men there are, who feel that the only way they can change the world is to kill themselves and others - and what can be done to stop such deadly, nihilistic rage. The response on the day, and after, the communication, the treatment of the physically and psychologically injured, the lessons learned. Which is why I want an independent inquiry, not a narrative.
Though I wait to see what the narrative will say, I do not have high hopes. It's not about blame, though, from my point of view. It's about saving lives and sparing suffering
. It's about having hope for the future.
If we learn from this, we can do more than understand. We can change.
We stand looking at two futures: one, in which we blindly carry on as we have done before, fighting back those who fight back when we fight them, fighting, fighting, an eye for an eye until the whole world is blind. Or a different future, in which we look at what we are doing and question it, and do things differently.
After the bombs exploded, there was a sense of unity that I will never forget. We did not descend into vengeance and barbarism. Muslims and Christians and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and atheists; men and women from all over the U.K, all over the world, stood shoulder to shoulder, ordinary people grieved by an attack on many that was an attack on all. Every day, all over the world, bombs maim and bombs kill, and we meet them with more bombs, more force. Thousands of years of meeting hurt with hurt, and hate with hate. In this age where information and pictures travel at the speed of thought, around the world, is this the best we can do? Is this the future we condemn ourselves to?
People say, why do you ask for an independent public inquiry? I say, why do we not
have a public enquiry? It was the public, after all, not the politicians, who were attacked. The politicians are only servants of the public. This narrative was complied from meetings held and questions asked behind closed doors. Let the public know what risks they run, why there are those who seek to kill for an idea living amongst them, let the people ask their questions and let those charged with protecting us answer us. What are they afraid of? What are we afraid of? Is facing and understanding our fears really going to finish us off?
I don't think so. I think we can cope with learning that mistakes have been made.
I'm not sure we can carry on coping if we don't learn from our mistakes.
Anyway, the petition for an enquiry is here
, if you want to sign it. It says it is from the British public, but you don't have to be British to sign it. There were people from all over the world travelling on the trains and buses of London that day. It could have been anyone who was attacked indiscriminately on July 7th. It could have been you. It just happened to be me, and hundreds of other people.Here are some of us, you can join us.