Friday, May 12, 2006

7/7 Reports - II

It now seems clear that the parliamentary committee and Home Office reports released yesterday will do little to end speculation about who and what was behind the July 7 2005 London bombings. The British government's aim is evidently to conceal most of the real evidence, and to imply that, while there may have been a tenuous Al Qaeda link, the bombers were essentially acting on their own, with "home-made" weaponry.

The press and media reports alone suggest that this isn't a satisfactory explanation of what happened. For one thing, the bombings bear the hallmarks of a carefully-planned, military-style operation- the level of organization required to achieve such a synchronised attack would surely have been beyond the resources of the group of "local lads" as portrayed in the press.

The apparent slowness and reluctance of the British security services to officially envisage the possibility of such an attack, and their underestimation of the threat, raise even more questions.

There are particular questions about intelligence-sharing. On July 11 2005, in a report that is still relevant now, the New York Times wrote that
There was an extraordinary, private meeting in London on Saturday, convened by Scotland Yard and MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, that brought together senior law enforcement and intelligence officials from the United States and the two dozen European countries. The meeting was to discuss the bombings in London last Thursday.

Participants said they were struck by how little was known about the attacks, which hit three trains in the London Underground and a double-decker bus. The investigation into the coordinated bombings, which left at least 49 people dead and more than 700 wounded, is now the largest criminal inquiry in British history.

Britain is regarded by other European countries as often having access to more and better quality intelligence because it is part of a long-established, Anglophone intelligence-sharing agreement with the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But the two-hour session indicated that the British officials running the complex inquiry were frustrated because they had few breaks, few leads and no suspects in the 48 hours after the attack, the most important investigative period after a terrorist bombing.
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