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BBC Panorama questions MI5's defence of failure to prevent 7/7 bombers

Politics / Iraq War Apr 30, 2007 - 10:23 AM GMT

By: Sarah_Jones

Politics

Peter Taylor , reporting for BBC One 's Panorama programme, has uncovered evidence that questions the Security Service's claim that under the circumstances, it did all it could to prevent the 7/7 bombings.

In Panorama: Real Spooks , to be broadcast at the end of the Operation Crevice trial, he reveals that MI5 failed to pass on relevant details about the individuals who turned out to be Mohammed Siddeque Khan and his accomplice, Shezad Tanweer , to West Yorkshire Police Special Branch when it followed the pair in 2004. At the time, MI5 did not know their identities.


A MI5 surveillance team tracked Khan to his family home in Dewsbury but never asked West Yorkshire Special Branch officers what they knew about him and his friends. Nor did they show them the photograph of Khan, the leader of the bombers, they took at a motorway service station or pass on his car number plate.

As a result the local force didn't have the chance to investigate two of the men who 17 months later went on to kill 52 people on the London transport system.

Peter Taylor, who has made three TV series on Al-Qaeda and investigated terrorism for over 30 years, has seen the MI5 surveillance log for himself and through his contacts has confirmed that the details were not passed on to those on the spot to check out and follow up. There was a communications breakdown.

As a result the Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis , has called for a full, independent inquiry. He tells Panorama that MI5's claim that it did not have Mohammed Siddeque Khan under surveillance is untrue.

"It's self–evidently a surveillance operation. They're being followed, they're keeping somebody under observation, they're making a note of where they're going, they're presumably making a note of the car itself, and the times, and who's there. All those things amount to a surveillance operation."

Asked what MI5 should have said to West Yorkshire Special Branch he replies:

"Broadly speaking, we have some suspects who are associated with, we think, some sort of terrorist, or potential terrorist, plot, can you tell us who they are, whether they've got form, what their background is, well, can you tell us their names for a start? And here's a photograph, and here are the addresses."

When Peter Taylor asks: "And if West Yorkshire Special Branch say, 'we haven't a clue who they are', what would you expect MI5 to say to them?"

David Davis replies: "Go find out."

Davis goes on to say: "I want to see an independent inquiry which will both report to the government, obviously secretly, but also publish its judgement."

And when asked by Peter Taylor: "Are you calling for that kind of inquiry now?" Davis replies: "Absolutely."

The Security Service, MI5, had been watching Omar Khyam and other members of the group who were later accused of planning to bomb mainland Britain with half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

On Saturday 2 February 2004, MI5 surveillance officers noted two strangers talking to Omar Khyam . They later turned out to be Khan and Tanweer.

The MI5 log, seen by Panorama, notes that a Honda, registration R480 CCA, was seen in Langley Parade, Crawley, with Omar in the passenger seat. The driver was Khan – although MI5 didn't know his identity at the time. They checked out the registration but the name of the owner didn't ring any bells. In fact it was Khan's wife.

MI5 officers then followed the Honda North up the M1, not knowing where it was heading. Omar had already left the vehicle. When it stopped off for petrol at Toddington services, MI5's log records that photographs were taken of those in the car.

Khan was covertly snapped in the vicinity of Burger King at the entrance to the refreshment area. The photograph was officially described in the report in the 7/7 bombings as being "of very poor quality". But Taylor has spoken to other sources, who have also seen it, and they say that Khan is identifiable.

The MI5 surveillance team then followed the Honda up the M1 to the Beeston area of Leeds. They noted the address and location where some of the passengers got out. They then followed Khan to Dewsbury and recorded the address where he parked the car. The address was Khan's family home.

Four months later, they checked out the car again. It now had a new owner – registered in the name of Siddeque Khan. The name still meant nothing.

Khan and Tanweer were seen with Omar on a further three occasions – on 21 and 28 February; and 23 March 2004 – although the police and MI5 say they were still not identified by name.

Bugged conversations revealed Khan and Omar were talking about ripping off banks, companies and financial institutions – but they also revealed that Khan was planning to go on a "one way" trip to Pakistan and was worried about saying goodbye to his baby that was soon to be born – possibly on the premise that he might never see the child again.

The government asked Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to investigate the linkage between the Crevice plotters and the London bombers in order to reassure the public. The ISC gave the intelligence agencies a clean bill of health.

But the ISC was either never given all the precise details by the Security Service or was fully informed but chose to omit the journey North in its report – an inclusion that would have fuelled demands for an independent or public inquiry.

John Falding lost his girlfriend Anat in the bomb on the Number 30 bus in Tavistock Square. He says: "It's made things even more distressing to realise that they came closer to nailing him than we thought."

Panorama: Real Spooks, Monday 30 April, 7pm, BBC One


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Comments

Trade101
30 Apr 07, 16:02
Re: BBC Panorama questions MI5's defence of failure to prevent 7/7 bombers

Cannot be any worse then the clowns in the CIA who let Sept 11th happen, some say deliberatrly ;)


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