Sunday, April 02, 2006

Official: Iraq war led to July bombings

Mark Townsend, crime correspondent
Sunday April 2, 2006
The Observer

The first official recognition that the Iraq war motivated the four London suicide bombers has been made by the government in a major report into the 7 July attacks.
Despite attempts by Downing Street to play down suggestions that the conflict has made Britain a target for terrorists, the Home Office inquiry into the deadliest terror attack on British soil has conceded that the bombers were inspired by UK foreign policy, principally the decision to invade Iraq.

The government's 'narrative', compiled by a senior civil servant using intelligence from the police and security services, was announced by the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, last December following calls for a public inquiry into the attacks.

The narrative will be published in the next few weeks, possibly alongside the findings of a critical report into the London bombings by the Commons intelligence and security committee.

Initial drafts of the government's account into the bombings, which have been revealed to The Observer, state that Iraq was a key 'contributory factor'. The references to Britain's involvement in Iraq are contained in a section examining what inspired the 'radicalisation' of the four British suicide bombers, Sidique Khan, Hasib Hussain, Shehzad Tanweer and Germaine Lindsay.

The findings will prove highly embarrassing to Tony Blair, who has maintained that the decision to go to war against Iraq would make Britain safer. On the third anniversary of the conflict last month, the Prime Minister defended Britain's involvement in Iraq, arguing that only an interventionist stance could confront terrorism.

The narrative largely details the movements of the four bombers from the point when they picked up explosives in a rucksack from a 'bomb factory' in Leeds to the time when the devices were detonated on the morning of 7 July.

Alongside Iraq, other 'motivating factors' for the bombers, three of whom came from west Yorkshire and one from Buckinghamshire, are identified. These include economic deprivation, social exclusion and a disaffection with society in general, as well as community elders. A videotape of Mohammed Sidique Khan was released after the attacks, in which he makes an apparent reference to Iraq, accusing 'Western citizens' of electing governments that committed crimes against humanity. Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also appeared on the tape, repeating his claim that Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq was responsible for the outrage.

The Home Office account of the July atrocity also chronicles in detail the trips to Pakistan made by Khan and Shehzad Tanweer and is understood to confirm that the two met al-Qaeda operatives. However, the final report will not name the militants known to some of the London bombers in case criminal proceedings are taken against them.

Leaks last week from the intelligence and security committee similarly confirmed how Khan, the mastermind of July 7, slipped through a security net. MI5 called off surveillance on him in the months before the bombings, in which 52 people were killed. The Home Office narrative supports the parliamentary committee's general view that the security services are not to blame. Despite the trips abroad, however, the narrative says that the London suicide bombers were only ever peripheral players in terrorist organisations and that, on the whole, there was 'nothing exceptional' about them before the attack.

Recent letters to the Home Office from the law firm Leigh Day & Co - acting for the family of one victim - warned that an independent inquiry was essential to explore 'what could be done to prevent such attacks happening again, and how to protect and save lives in the future'.

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At 5:35 PM, Blogger Wolfie said...

This report is hardly a surprise. Thousands of British people descended on Parliament to protest against the War in Iraq at the time, not only because there was no grounds but also because they could see that it was counter-productive in the "war on terror". I'm sure that this will ultimately be Blair's greatest legacy.

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Yeah, Blair's legacy: that's one consolation in life; the legacy is looking bleaker and bleaker. Serves the autocratic twit right...

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Phu said...

What do you make of the other motivations suggested? I agree social exclusion could form a real part in the motivations of these bombers, although I would find it hard to accept economic deprivation as a genuine reason. These men may not have been well off, but they do not seem to have been any worse off than the rest of the council estate dwelling public.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Gert said...

"[...]... but they do not seem to have been any worse off than the rest of the council estate dwelling public."

True but the average council estate dweller is less well of than the average Briton.

But I don't believe the other motivations were all that important. Many of the original al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan were well-to-do Saudis and bin Laden himself is a rich man... These people are true believers, with money, social or economic deprivation all this has little to do, IMHO.


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