7/7 bombings: end of the road
Sean O’Neill and David Brown | April 29, 2009
No one will be brought to justice for the mass murder of 52 people in the 7/7 London bombings, security sources conceded last night as three men were acquitted of helping the terrorists.
After a massive security operation, a four-year investigation and two trials costing well in excess of £100 million, three friends of the lead suicide bomber, c, were cleared by a jury of being part of his support cell. Sadeer Saleem, 28, left court a free man but Waheed Ali, 25, and Mohammed Shakil, 32, were convicted of attending terrorist training camps and will be sentenced today.
Detectives are certain that the bombers received help from within the Muslim community in Beeston, Leeds, which, they say, is reluctant to co-operate with police. Sources said that potential witnesses had been “actively dissuaded” from helping police. As many as ten sets of unidentified fingerprints were found in bomb factories used by Khan, 30, and the three other men who killed themselves in the attacks on three Tube trains and a London bus on July 7, 2005.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner John McDowall, of the Scotland Yard Counter Terrorism Command, said: “While those directly responsible for the bombings died in the attacks, we remain convinced that others must have been involved in the planning.”
Mr McDowall appealed for witnesses to come forward, but Andy Hayman, the Yard’s head of counter-terrorism in July 2005, writes in The Times today that the trial was “the last throw of the dice” for the 7/7 investigation.
Survivors and relatives of the victims accepted the verdicts with resignation and demanded immediate publication of an Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report into 7/7, the urgent opening of inquests and an independent inquiry with powers to summon witnesses.
“We want an inquiry which can get to the bottom of what went wrong and why Khan wasn’t stopped. We don’t want a witch-hunt, we just want the truth,” said Rachel North, who was injured in the blast at King’s Cross.
The ISC report is expected in two weeks. The key issue for the relatives will be the fate of a fax message sent by MI5, which watched Khan in 2004 as he associated with another British terrorist, to West Yorkshire Police asking for his movements to be watched.
Informed sources say that receipt of the fax was never acknowledged. Police did not monitor Khan and he flew to Pakistan where he was groomed by al-Qaeda leaders to become a suicide bomber.
Graham Foulkes, whose son David, 22, died on a Circle Line train at Edgware Road, said that the trial revealed that there had been significant pre-attack intelligence about Khan.
He said: “Immediately after the bombings the Home Secretary, Tony Blair and other politicians were saying these men were ‘clean skins’ and the attacks came ‘out of the blue’. Either they were lying, or the intelligence community lied to the politicians.”