Wednesday, August 15, 2007 

Legal challenge to refusal to hold an independent inquiry into 7/7.

It's great to see that rather than giving up, getting disillusioned and waiting for the next tragedy to unfold, the families of those who were murdered on 7/7, along with a number of survivors, have informed the Home Office of their intention to take legal action in order to force the government into setting up an independent inquiry into just what was known of the bombers prior to the events of that fateful day.

Rachel rightly points out just how inadequate the "investigation" by the Intelligence and Security Committee was, a parliamentary group which takes everything it's told by the security services at face value, even when it becomes obvious that they've lied to them on numerous previous occasions. Even when supplied with prima facie evidence of the wrongdoing of those they're meant to be monitoring, the committee likes to shift the goalposts, as showed by their report into extraordinary rendition, which cleared MI5/6 of any involvement in the conspiracy after it decided to change the definition of just what exactly constitutes ER.

The other thing worth mentioning is that the legal challenge, if it goes ahead, will be using the provisions under article 2 of the human rights act which provide for an inquiry into the death of someone if the right to life is ruled to have been breached. It would be nice if the tabloids which have demonised the act now reported that far from being a terrorists' charter, the act also provides the right for those murdered by them to find out whether the state failed to adequately protect those killed. I'm not holding my breath.

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Monday, May 21, 2007 

Roll up, roll up! Who wants ten years in the slammer for having this book?

Via Postman Patel:

A 34-year-old man accused of possessing an al-Qaeda training manual has been released on bail by magistrates.

Khalid Khaliq, from Beeston, in Leeds, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of involvement in the 7 July London bombings.

Could this "al-Qaida training manual" possibly be similar to the one featured on that well-known jihadist website, the Smoking Gun? Among the lessons featured in the "Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants" are the making of ricin: the same phony recipe which Kamel Bourgass had a copy of. Other essential teachings in the ways of waging holy war against the infidels are knowing that you can kill someone by making them eat cigarettes:

There is enough nicotine in three cigarettes to kill a person. Sixty to seventy milligrams of pure nicotine will kill a person within an hour if eaten.

Well well well. Who would have known?

To be serious for a second, this isn't really funny. The potential punishment for having a copy of such a laughable document is a possible 10 years in prison, which ought to tell you something about the idiocy of imposing custodial sentences on the back of someone having a book that might be useful to terrorists. Chuck Palahniuk, before submitting Fight Club to publishers, asked experts whether the recipes that are recited in the novel for nitroglycerin, which he had obtained during his research, were legitimate. He was told they were, and so modified them slightly. This, sadly, is the sort of territory we're getting into.

The other three who were arrested at the same time as Khaliq have all been released without charge. Mohammad Sidique Khan's cousin, Imran Motala, gave an interview to the Grauniad at the weekend. Despite apparently being under surveillance for at least a year, with no signs whatsoever that he was involved in any form of radical Islam, he was still held for 7 days before being released. This isn't the first time that months of surveillance seem to have got something horribly wrong - the other was Forest Gate. It's also worth remembering that a couple of the arguments against holding an inquiry into 7/7 are undermined by such revelations: firstly that not every suspect can be held under surveillance over long periods, when those who are obviously innocent apparently can be, and secondly that an inquiry will divert resources for tackling extremism now. If people like Motala can be held under scrutiny for so long, those resources seem to be in the wrong place already.

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Monday, April 30, 2007 

Forever delayed.

They say that good things (or in this case, depressing but motivating things) come to those that wait, or at least that advertisement for a particularly foul beer does, but the news accompanied by the conviction of 5 men for plotting what would have been far more devastating explosions than 7/7, was that, as had been well rumoured, they had links to two of the bombers that killed themselves and murdered dozens of others on that day now known only as two numbers.

These links were not just passing acquaintances, that they'd both encountered some of the plotters on internet forums and had been flagged up as possible co-conspirators. These links were, as Peter Clarke or John Reid would not doubt tell us if they weren't horribly on the back foot, extensive, detailed and authoritative, or do those terms only apply to sexed up dossiers?

One of the revelations is genuinely astounding: Khyam, alleged to be the ringleader in the plot which never came to fruition, and where it's not even clear where they would have struck, drove Mohammad Siddique Khan, the alleged ringleader on 7/7, for hours on the motorway while MI5 listened in. Rather than being, as we were told, that these were "clean skins" and that it was a complete bolt from the blue, from the very minute that the bombers were positively identified MI5 have worked to at least keep this information from coming out, whether because it was "subjudice" or rather because it was an unpleasant fact that the public didn't need to know about.

Within a week of 7/7 there were allegations being made that MSK was known to the intelligence services, and indeed had been missed in the Crevice raid, or at least had links to that investigation, facts that have taken close to two full years to finally emerge. The desperation of the spinning by MI5 is quite mind-boggling to see. The Spook on First Post suggested a month ago that the security service was going to produce a document entitled 'Rumours and Realities', and lo and behold, there's a document on MI5's website entitled Rumours and reality.

As the newly installed head Jonathan Evans is at pains to point out, "The Security Service will never have the capacity to investigate everyone who appears on the periphery of every operation", which is quite true. The trouble with this statement is that MSK was considered such a peripheral player that he was put under surveillance, that it was known he had gone and trained in Pakistan, that everything about him now known suggests that he was a committed jihadist, and that even then it was clear he was considering killing himself and others for his perverse, wicked cause.

There is of course, as the cliché goes, nothing quite like hindsight, and as with most clichés, it has a ring of truth around it. Why though go to all the trouble of being at pains to show how deadly and enduring the threat we now face is, as the terrorists are complete unknowns, when they knew full well even then that it was nonsense?

This is exactly why there now needs to be a full, independent inquiry into what happened both on that day, before that day and then after that day. The government's tired, facile argument that this would take away vital resources from those who are so earnestly protecting our lives is exactly that; disingenuous and worthy of contempt. They treated us with contempt when they lied to us, when they continue to overstate the nature of the threat, when they relentlessly scaremonger moments after telling us to do exactly the opposite, and tell the leakers to stop leaking when the biggest leaks are often from them. Terrorism can be defeated, but only if our governments and protectors are honest with us will it encourage us to be honest with ourselves. They could do much to kick-start the beginning of such a culture by ordering the inquiry.

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Friday, April 06, 2007 

Happy Easter, war is starting.

It's a well-known fact that no one takes much notice of newspapers on bank holidays. News itself tends to be in short supply, and as we all know, no news is a perfect opportunity to make it up. "Good" Friday has turned out to be no exception.

The Scum then takes the "revelation" that the 7/7 bombers had been on a "reconnaissance" mission, supposedly staking out targets, to mean that they were, err, going to "bomb the Queen". This doesn't make sense in the slightest - the whole point of suicide attacks is to cause as many casualties as possible, not something that's going to be achieved by a single bomber blowing himself up outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. A truck or car bomb would have been different, but they clearly hadn't planned or had the resources for such an attack, although a viable device was left in the car abandoned by the bombers in the Luton train station car park, presumably as a booby trap as the police don't believe another bombing was planned. The only point of an attack by a single bomber would be to show that nowhere would be safe, and while there is a seemingly endless supply of "martyrs" willing to kill themselves in Iraq, that is certainly not the case here. The article then goes on to say that the blasts were planned 7 months in advance, which somewhat seems to contradict the idea that they hadn't decided where to bomb only nine days before the actual attacks.

The Telegraph seems to have fallen for the exact same story, except they claim that the bombers changed their plans at "the last minute". One has to wonder if the men were going through the motions, examining the possibility of bombing such landmarks but deciding not to pursue it when attacking the public transport network would both be far easier, create more casualties and strike just as much fear into the public as symbolic attacks would.

The other question has to be why it's taken close to two years for the three men now alleged to have been involved with the plot to be charged. We're told that the footage of the men on their "reconnaissance" mission was discovered shortly after the attacks in the initial investigation. Even considering the supposed lack of help forthcoming from the community in Beeston, for it to take 21 months for the men to be either formally identified or sufficiently proved to be involved for the CPS to prosecute seems extraordinary. It has to be assumed that they were not deemed to be prepared to take part in suicide attacks themselves, because otherwise the public seems to have been left at considerable risk.

The other coincidence with the timing of the arrests and the charges is that of the end of the trial of those arrested under Operation Crevice; the jury still seems to be out, considering the charges against the men. We know that once the jury has a reached a verdict there are meant to be forthcoming revelations involving the 7/7 attacks, things which currently can't be reported due to subjudice. Rachel suggests that the charges won't affect these from coming out, but that words will have to be considered carefully. Again, this seems to blow any chance of an inquiry into the bombings even further into the long-grass.

Elsewhere, the right-wing press takes its cue from Blair to blame Iran for the deaths of the four soldiers killed by a roadside bomb, regardless of any evidence whatsoever to prove it.

The Scum takes it even further, directly blaming

But this smirking creep is no reality game show host. He is a murderous tyrant who tortures and kills his own people.

While he basked in a major public relations coup, terrorists acting with his blessing were blowing up four Brits in Basra — two of them women.

Seeing as it's not even certain who was responsible for the IED, the only evidence being circumstantial in that it took place in an area where the Mahdi army are well-supported, and as Juan Cole points out, Iran and the Mahdi army aren't the greatest of friends (the Badr brigades, the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq are the ones directly supported by Iran), this is an allegation too far.

The Mail and the Express are instead insulted by the Iraqis who dared to visit the place where our heroes were blown up, smiling as they hold up the detritus left behind. Why aren't these people grateful? We've given them freedom down the barrel of a gun, bombed their country for 16 years, killed thousands of men and women, enforced sanctions responsible for the deaths of 500,000 children, and still they rejoice when the British die! It's almost as if they don't want us there.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007 

I see no bombers....

The first word that comes to mind regarding the revelation that the head of MI5, "Dame" Eliza Manningham-Buller told MPs on the 6th of July that there was no imminent terrorist threat to London, and that the security situation as a whole was under control, is farce. That may however may be less than fair to those whom the following day were blown apart as a result of this farce. Rachel, in two typically brilliant posts, uses another f-word: failure.

The reports in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, that those responsible were "cleanskins", that MI5 can't be everywhere at once and that there were no failures within the intelligence services are also looking increasingly hollow. Reporting restrictions regarding Operation Crevice, with the prosecution of those being tried coming towards a verdict, are soon to be lifted. Rumours are emerging that at least one of the July 7th bombers had a connection to those involved with that plot. We also now know that the surveillance of Mohammad Siddique Khan involved agents listening to him talking about waging jihad, yet he was apparently not identified, and he was eventually put down as a fraudster, at the lower levels of jihadist militancy, rather than a potential suicide bomber. Rachel also mentions how the surveillance of MSK was abandoned to instead focus on Dhiren Barot, who although a veteran jihadi had no funding, no material and only ridiculous ideas like trying to penetrate the tunnels of the London Underground, and producing a dirty bomb from setting fire to or planting explosives around smoke alarms.

Also worth wondering about is whether MI5 is hopeless in general or was genuinely taken by surprise by 7/7. For Manningham-Buller to apparently go from considering the security situation under control to there being around 30 plots, with "Sir" Ian Blair telling us, according to whichever report you believe, that the terror threat is now either worse than that posed by the Soviet Union or since WW2, within a year and six months seems suspect. We were told beforehand that it was a matter of if, not when Britain was targeted, while in reality they were playing down worries just before we actually were struck, yet now Ian Blair wants us to believe that the "sky is dark". The foiled "liquid bombs" plot, which as time passes looks to be even more shaky and exaggerated than it was when the arrests took place, doesn't really help when it comes to analysing the true threat. All we know for sure is that the Sun wants us to stay scared, that the police want at least 90 days detention without charge, and that ministers still don't want a full public inquiry into 7/7.

It may yet turn out that the revelations once the Crevice prosecutions have finished will make such an inquiry irresistible. If it does, then it will have taken the government close to two years to do something it should have done immediately in the aftermath of the horror on the tube. If it doesn't, then they will continue to be betraying those who expected far better, both from MI5 and ministers who have done everything possible to play down the full facts, of which we are still uncertain. Establishing a watchdog similar to the IPCC for the security services, something Gordon Brown is at least interested in, is also long overdue.

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Monday, December 18, 2006 

More complete coincidences.

As other blogs have already noticed, another piece of news to be buried on Thursday was Eliza Manningham-Buller's decision to step down as head of MI5 earlier than expected, although they've since been keen to stress that Buller apparently made the decision prior to the 7/7 bombings. Strange how they forgot to make the announcement until last Thursday, eh?

Her announcement naturally also has nothing to do with what appears to be soon to emerge new information about those behind the bombings. The Sunday Times reports that they and other media are being blocked by court order from revealing the true scale of the intelligence that MI5 had on those who were previously described as "cleanskins", while the Daily Wail has further details, via Rachel:

Intelligence sources say the men were first seen in early 2004, nearly 18 months before the suicide attacks in London, which left 52 people dead on three Underground lines and a bus.

On one occasion, Khan was monitored driving his car with suspects in it and on another was recorded talking to them about training for jihad.

They also talked about carrying out financial frauds, which helped persuade MI5 that they were not interested in attacks in the UK.

All this is hard to square with the government's own continuing line that a full public inquiry into 7/7 would divert resources or tell us little that we don't already know. While the inquiry into the death of Diana probably isn't the best example and doesn't really compare to what a full investigation into 7/7 would be like, Lord Stevens' comprehensively demolished all the conspiracy theories, whether their proponents are conceding or not. As those of us who frequent blogs know all too well, there are still some people who think that 7/7 was an inside job. While an inquiry would be unlikely to convince the hardcore of fantasists, it would help destroy their arguments.

Along with the need for full closure, a proper and honest summary of what the intelligence services did and didn't know desperately needs to be made public. This doesn't need to be about blaming them, more showing us properly what we are up against. For the moment we're stuck with the hysterical mumblings of politicians who have done their utmost to make "the threat" a party issue; this undermines trust both in them and in the honesty of the spooks and police.

Instead, the government seems to be determined to leave us either entirely in the dark, or buying us off with occasional tidbit, which will only drive the hunger for a full inquiry in the long run.

As for Manningham-Bullshitter herself, she's off to live in the country with her alpacas. Whether she will "treat" us to her memoirs, as did Stella Rimington, who spent her time overseeing the infiltration of those dangerous subversives in CND and breaking the miners strike but actually wrote very little about those things because she was right and we're all wrong, remains to be seen.

P.S. You can sign the Downing Street petition for an inquiry here.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006 


Davide from the Nether-World has set-up a petition on the Downing Street website calling for an inquiry into the 7/7 bombings, which is well worth signing for obvious reasons:

Oh, and if you decided not to bother signing the one asking Blair to resign, maybe you'd like him to stand on his head and juggle ice cream instead, as suggested by Bloggerheads.

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