Pressure grows for a 7/7 inquiry
Monday May 01, 2007
Survivors and relatives of victims of the 7 July attacks are stepping up the pressure for a public inquiry into MI5's handling of intelligence. On Monday it emerged at the end of a year-long terror trial that MI5 had two of the 7 July plotters under surveillance a year before the attacks.
But Home Secretary John Reid ruled out an inquiry into MI5's failures.
A letter to Mr Reid calling for an inquiry has been delivered by survivors and those bereaved in the attacks. The letter, requesting an "impartial public inquiry", says one of the purposes would be "to examine issues aimed at saving lives, minimising suffering and improving the response of government agencies to the continuing threat of terrorist attacks".
The document has been signed by more than 18 people including 7 July survivors Paul Mitchell and Jacqui Putnam, as well as relatives of those affected - such as Ros Mitchell, whose husband, Colin, was killed. Survivor Rachel North said: "This is not about blame but about future public safety - understanding what happened, how it happened and to stop it happening again."She said the group were "formally asking for a written response" to the request.
On Monday five men were given life sentences for a foiled plot to build a huge fertiliser bomb for a UK attack. It emerged during the trial that MI5 had tailed London suicide bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer while investigating that case, but took no action.
Danny Biddle, who survived the 7 July attacks, said the revelation that there were links between the suicide bombers and those behind the fertiliser plot meant a public inquiry was now essential.
"This is about finding out how this could be allowed to happen and how nobody could stop it. That needs to be investigated and to totally dismiss a public inquiry is shameful."But Paul Dadge, who also survived the London bombings, said it was easy to be critical with hindsight. He said he believed the attacks may have been prevented if the leads had been followed but argued that it was important to praise the security services for successfully securing convictions.
Mr Reid has rejected the need for an inquiry and said it would divert too many MI5 officers from the job of foiling other terrorist plots. ( The usual bullshit)
But he has asked the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to consider why the 7 July bombers were not picked up. The committee, which comprises MPs and Lords, is expected to examine claims that West Yorkshire Police special branch was not told about the MI5 surveillance operation.
ISC chairman Paul Murphy MP has previously indicated that police were informed. Tony Blair also rejected calls for a public inquiry, although he said he "totally" understood why some people sought one.He told GMTV: "The problem if you have an independent public inquiry into something like this is you will divert all their energy and attention into trying to answer the questions that come up in the inquiry."
Former home secretary David Blunkett said there was no need for a public inquiry "because it is lengthy, expensive and it presumes that we don't have the facts, and we do". (Irak war much more expensive Mr David Blunkett!)
One issue being looked at is what MI5 told both the public and politicians in the wake of the 7 July attacks.
The media were briefed that Khan and fellow bombers were "clean skins" - men with no previous record of terrorist associations.
But evidence following the end of the trial reveals MI5 photographed Khan as he met other extremists, followed him home - and by the summer of 2004 they knew his surname and that he owned a car.The revelation that one of the 7 July bombers met up with one of the fertiliser bomb plotters - Omar Khyam - at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan has caused concern.
However, the head of Pakistan's National Crisis Management Centre, Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema, said anyone "who spends a lot of money and travels to Pakistan...[is] already motivated for a particular reason".The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have both called for an independent inquiry into the 2005 London bombings.
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