Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No justice, no truth...yet

The jury at Kingston Crown Court has today returned a verdict of not guilty in the retrial of three men accused of conspiring with the London bombers to cause explosions. Two of the men were found guilty of attempting to go to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

I respect the jury's decision, and having watched much of this trial the first time around, it was clear that this was always a circumstantial case and a hard one to build. The police have done an enormous amount of work in investigating this matter, for which they are to be congratulated and it was only during this trial that some of their work could be shown in public for the first time. I am sure many police have felt just as frustrated as I have, knowing that much of their discoveries could not be shown until this trial was over.

Chilling personal videos made by Mohammed Siddique Khan as he said goodbye to his baby daughter, in front of Tanweer and Hussein, his fellow bombers, before he set off to Pakistan. Film footage of the bombers driving in their car, then the men caught on CCTV at Luton station, teenage suicide bomber Hasib Hussein at King's Cross, entering shops, and then walking through the streets of London, on his way to catch a bus, then another bus, which he bombed, less than an hour after his three friends had set off their bombs on three tube trains. Details of the mixes used for the explosions. There is so much we now know about that day, yet so many questions remain.

52 families still wait for inquests, four years on. All of us wait for M15's watchdog, the Intelligence and Security Committee to publish their second report into 7/7 - their first one, published in May 2006 had the bombers as 'not named or listed' as terrorists likely to attack the UK, and only 'on the periphery' of another investigation, petty fraudsters, not threats to the UK. It seems that the security service thought of Mohammed Siddique and his friends as men planning to kill themselves (and presumably British troops in Afghanistan) - but not on their patch, not in the UK. If that was what they thought then, how wrong they were.

And yet from this trial, and the Operation Crevice fertiliser bomb trial in May 2007, we now know that the 7/7 bombers were very far indeed from being the 'clean skins' who 'came out of the blue' which is how they were described by the then-Home Secretary Charles Clarke (who was presumably briefed thus by the security service and police he presided over at the time).

We now know that the lead bomber, Mohammed Siddique Khan, was followed home by M15 in a car registered to his wife, to his home, where he lived, at least twice. He was filmed and photographed on several other occasions, taped talking about jihad, his plans for 'ripping the country apart economically as well', before going on a 'one-way' mission. He was bugged having meetings with terrorists weeks away from planning to detonate a huge fertiliser bomb. He was known to have committed a GBP 20,ooo fraud against Jewsons, a British company. He was no unknown: he should have been flagging code red, with his history of attending terrorist training camps, his terrorist friends, his plans for economic criminality and one-way tickets to jihadi missions. Especially as by then, it was known that UK men were training abroad and then going on suicide missions, and that some UK men, trained abroad, were returning to their homeland and planning to bomb the UK. They knew all that, the security service. The police had even undergone Operation Kratos training to kill suicide bombers on the UK's streets. So yes, whether MSK could have been arrested prior to 7/7 is painful to contemplate.

They knew who he was, I am sure of it - if I had your car registration number and followed you to your home, I could find out your name, and I am not a security service officer - they knew what he was, who his friends were - yet he was seen as a 'desirable' but not essential target and he was not arrested, though time and time again there were chances to do just that. How is it possible for M15 to say to the ISC in 2005 that he was 'not named or listed' as a threat? How it is possible for the Intelligence and Security Committee not to have known that there were tapes and footage of this man, with these Operation Crevice terrorists, known to be planning these attacks at that stage, when he had been photographed and filmed and bugged - I am looking at the film of him now, walking about in London with his terrorist friends who were later jailed for 40 years? How is it right that nine months after the second ISC report examining what should have been picked up the first time, it is still sitting in Number 10, with no word as to the date it will be released? How is it fair that four years on, the families and survivors are still waiting for answers to these terrible questions: could the bombers have been stopped? Did communication and intelligence fail? And have the lessons been learned that will stop the wrong men being arrested and the right men slipping through the cracks? The recent arrests and release of Pakistani students in Manchester and Liverpool raise worrying questions in this regard - four years after the bombings.

No, there will never be justice in the matter of the London bombings of 2005, because the four men who bombed London chose to never face a judge or jury, but to deliberately kill themselves by their own hand, on a day of their own choosing: I saw film of them going to their deaths; they looked determined, even happy as they walked, shouldering their heavy rucksacks of home-made explosive mixtures. It was devastating.

So there will never be justice, but there can be the other thing so badly wanted and needed by the victims; the truth to be told, and the best way for that to happen - for the complex picture of what was known, by whom and when, what decisions were made, such as deciding not to prioritise the men who became the 7/7 bombers as investigative targets and so on - is to have an independent inquiry.

An inquiry independent of the government and the security services and the police, with the power to compel and cross examine witnesses, go through evidence in detail, and write a report and recommendations which will be acted upon and so, we hope, save lives and spare suffering in future. This is what we have asked for, for over three years now. We have been prevented from having one because of the legal processes - the trials that have followed 7/7, as a result of which some men have been jailed for planning terror offences and others have been acquitted. Now those trials are completed, we are still waiting.

The families still wait for inquests - unsure still when they will happen and whether they will be held in secret or not - under the terms of the Coroners and Justice Bill legislation.

The survivors and families wait - along with the British public - for the ISC report, to see if this time it answers our questions about what was known about the bombers before they struck. And all of us wait, not for justice, nor for 'closure' - this is not therapy, this is thankless hard and sad work, especially today, when it is my wedding anniversary and I have cancelled the celebrations to go and talk about this yet again on the news and Newsnight - but I wait, we wait for the truth to finally be told, in the hope that, one day soon, it will.

And in being told, we hope the truth will help to prevent another summer morning of screaming and smoke and sirens, and the terrible loss of innocent travellers who never come home.

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Blogger Henry North London said...

Happy Anniversary Rachel

Henry xxx

April 28, 2009 6:36 pm  
Blogger Pat said...

Thanks for sharing this response with us, Rachel. I have linked from Screw Loose Change with a message of support for your call for an inquiry.

April 28, 2009 10:47 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you.

And thanks to everyone who has supported our campaign.

April 28, 2009 11:47 pm  
Blogger KG said...

Thank you for all your engery, hard work and love. Happy Anniversary and love to you both.

April 29, 2009 12:21 am  
Blogger naresh said...

At some level, each of us is aware of our own personal security. While we recognize police in our community as a responder to incidents, police alone cannot effectively prevent property crime. This is a community problem which requires a collaborative effort from residents committed to exacting a positive change.Your own instincts can greatly assist you to make decisions which best ensure your safety.


Home Security London

April 29, 2009 7:43 am  
Blogger Mimi said...

Hi Rachel, I've only scanned your post, not read it properly, cos I'm cross-eyed with tiredness (another story), but just wanted to say that I reallysdmire your energy and persistence. It must be very painful to keep remembering and to fight for an enquiry, take care, mimi

April 29, 2009 8:43 am  
Blogger oldbamboo said...

Nothing in your blog, or the media, suggests any need for an inquiry to me. The police have an impossible task in monitoring Islamists in this country, utterly impossible, and an inquiry would clearly be a drain on them, both in terms of resources, and politically, having to fight accusations of mismanagement in the press for however many months such a process would take. In effect, by demanding one you are are raising the probability of another successful attack, and I'm sorry to be blunt but frankly your blog, and your campaign are a waste of time, wilfully ignorant of the realities of security, exploitative of civil liberties, and serving to promote you, your journalism, and your friends. Please stop.

April 29, 2009 1:31 pm  
Blogger ElMondoHummus said...

This is indeed sad. I agree, there should be an independent inquiry into the matter. Even considering the occasional small detail here and there that was off, and even considering the amount of criticism leveled at it, the 9/11 Commision Report here in the US is a reasonably accurate accounting of how September 11th happened. England deserves the same.

It's tempting to blame the court process, or the jury for this verdict, but I fear that's a bad mindset to take (and as an aside, I fully believe you, Rachel, are not doing this at all; you explicitly stated that you respect the decision. I'm talking about others, as well as my own personal knee-jerk reaction upon reading about the verdicts). It's true that letting the occasional criminal free opens the door to further acts by a person who now has a better understanding of the police and court process and can plan accordingly. It's painfully, distressingly true, and not a problem to be ignored. But in the end, the alternative of courts convicting people with less than reasonable, firm certainty is simply not a good alternative, as tempting as it is. Yes, the problem with that is that a now more experienced criminal is let loose on the streets, but at least the police now know more about him. It's an uncomfortable trade-off, and a distasteful one to boot (what if there's another bombing by one of those released men?), but with tyranny being the alternative, the least distasteful option is the one to take.

My point? The jury and justice system should not be in the blame line for this. They did honest work within their restrictions, and modifying those restrictions is fraught with peril. Better to improve diligence against such criminals to begin with, and take steps to mitigate their potential effects than to loosen conviction standards. A good, public inquiry into the bombings would go a long way towards improving diligence.

Wish there was something Yanks on this side of the Atlantic could do to forward this. But support is all we have, I'm afraid.

April 29, 2009 2:02 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Old Bamboo

Read this>


Twin tower detective backs call for public inquiry into 7/7 attacks
Sean O’Neill

A senior detective who worked on the September 11 investigation has joined calls for a public inquiry into the July 2005 suicide bombings in London.

Detective Superintendent Des Thomas told The Times that an independent examination of the apparent intelligence failures that allowed the 7/7 bombers to strike was essential to prevent a repetition of those mistakes.

Mr Thomas, whose 35-year police career also included IRA and Animal Liberation Front cases, is prepared to appear as a witness on behalf of a 7/7 survivors’ group that is taking the Government to court in an attempt to force an inquiry.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, rejected the group’s calls for an inquiry last week and Government lawyers told the group that its court challenge was “premature and misconceived”. Ministers, police and MI5 officials oppose an inquiry, claiming that it would divert resources.

But Mr Thomas, now retired from the police, said that the authorities were creating a “smokescreen” and an inquiry could be conducted quickly and efficiently.

The core issue for any inquiry into the 7/7 attacks, in which 52 people died and more than 700 were injured, is why surveillance on the bombers’ leader Mohammad Sidique Khan was apparently dropped in 2004.

Khan, 30, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, came to police and MI5 attention 16 months before the bombings, when he was photographed and bugged in the company of a group of men planning to carry out a bomb attack.

When the plotters were arrested in March 2004, Khan was classified as a “peripheral target” and inquiries into his activities were, apparently, discontinued. It is not known what discussions took place between MI5, Scot-land Yard and West Yorkshire police about further investigation of his extremist activity. Mr Thomas, who is regarded as an expert on the conduct of criminal investigations, said: “If Khan did drop off the radar then there was a huge flaw in the way these matters were being investigated. If the proper procedures were being followed, all the decisions relating to Khan should have been properly documented. There should be minutes of meetings between MI5 officials and police of chief officer rank. There should be ‘policy books’ recording every decision and the justification for that decision.

“If these matters were documented then the initial work of an inquiry would not take very long at all. It would take me, or someone of my training, just two days to read all the relevant documents and identify the problems.

“If the documents are not available it would take longer, but in such a scenario the argument for public accountability would be even more powerful than it is now. If the documents do not exist, then either those in charge of the investigation did not know what they were doing or they don’t want people to know what they were doing.”

Mr Thomas, former deputy head of Hampshire CID, said he believed that 7/7 could have been prevented if action had been taken when Khan first came to attention.

He said: “The question which has to be answered is, ‘Was this avoidable?’. Had better management of resources and techniques been in place could it have been stopped? My suspicion is that it was avoidable.” Claims that holding an inquiry could hamper the work of national security were “obfuscation”, Mr Thomas said.

He added: “It is wrong to say you cannot examine terrorist issues because of secrecy - it’s all to do with glamorising the work and people being self-important. Really, terrorism is nothing more than organised crime. Investigations must be managed properly and that all comes down to mind-grinding attention to detail.”

In 2001 Mr Thomas was a senior investigating officer on the 9/11 investigation dealing with the repatriation of the remains of British victims of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

He has lectured at the Police Staff College and at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth and Cardiff Law School.
Everyone else, thanks again.

April 29, 2009 2:05 pm  
OpenID Penny Century said...

oldbamboo: Concern troll is concerned

April 29, 2009 3:31 pm  
Blogger oldbamboo said...

At the risk of being a pain, and not getting on with my day job, I'm sad to say the article you have pasted up doesnt move my view on this an inch.
I work in IT security, in banking mostly (yes I know) and the fact is that I have spent the last ten years raining paper on people in the form of governance requirements for how they manage their security. My expectations, professionally, are pretty much in line with Mr Thomas's. I expect to see minutes from meetings, sign offs, accountability, procedures, policies. If I dont find them, then I tell them to put them in. A year later, if they have put them in, there is always an extra inch of bureacracy I can request. Sadly if the people targetted are men or women of quality, I am confronted with the suspicion that what I am doing can degenerate into merely tying up the best kind of resources with the worst kind of dereliction of responsibility, namely the taming of vital skills into on-rails drudgery, just for 'safeties sake' The chief benefit, to my clients in senior management, is that when things blow up, they can reach for the paperwork and insist that it represents their own efforts and convictions.
The public sector, both in order to engorge itself and to appeal to liberals easily stimulated by the media, has followed an equally ruinous descent into a world where a rocket scientist is suddenly expected to work from a binder. The result is that, and this is something that Mr Thomas knows too well, meetings dont get adequately minuted, because it is the only place left in industry and government where a tough decision can be made in private without it being strangled at birth. Meetings have been turned into Star Chambers by the very levels of 'accountability' which you crave so much for 7/7 but no doubt loathe when it turns a police officer or a teacher into an ineffective, demoralised drone, whose whole purpose has been subverted into ptotecting the blameless architects of the new centralised planning.
I am seldom moved to comment on the web, except for the odd book or video game review on Amazon, but something about this campaign seems wilfully obtuse, and it provokes a fair amount of anger in me, so apologies for the tone.

Yes, there is a need for accountability, yes there is a need for process, procedures, and standards. They are fundamental to any organisation. My personal take on this issue, and your place in it, based on actual and daily experience at a high level within both the private and public sectors internationally, is that a journalist of any stripe is for the most part pre-disposed to report on orgnisational failings which, as a result of several decades of pervasive and distorting mass media, simply no longer exist in sufficient number for them to be the central issue. The central issue now, and I say this as a right wing libertarian and it scares me, is what do we do with the media, and it's capability to traumatise and harangue any institutions, people or values which have got the balls to move out of lock-step from under its magnifying glass for long enough to actually do something useful. The problem is that journalism isnt a real job. Armed only with a basic knowledge of grammar, libel law, and a modicum of sideshow psyhology, anyone can censure somebody else, and do it to a broad and appreciative audience. Journalism provides its practitioners with only the most fleeting experience of the organisations it attacks, and even if that exposure is prolonged and develops into a deep understanding, it is seldom compatible with the tone and pitch expected by a broad public base, whose edge has been worn off by over-exposure to a form of needlessly provocative, partisan, and above all politically correct journalism, which has long since ceased to exist within anything resembling public discourse.
Your campaign is part of the problem, will never be part of the solution.
Finally a Senior Detective is not that big a deal as a source. The abiding impression I got from the article was that he was angling for work. That, and he knows how to stalk hard working people with a rule book. Yeah, well, pardon me for not being impressed with him.

April 29, 2009 4:00 pm  
Blogger oldbamboo said...

penny century:
Nope. I'm not a troll, I just well, I'll say it it's true... I hate liberal hand wringing, this site in particular, and want to say why, just to find out whether or not I'm some jumbo fascist who gets priapic around football and human rights abuses, who needs setting straight.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right, but I am making some effort in contributing and dont have leathery knuckles or anything other than a desire to debate some issues I see in the air over here.
I am quite rude and dismissive though... You have a point there.
Anyway, thanks for listening.

April 29, 2009 4:11 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Given that pieces relating to the inquiry campaign on this site are being read by people who lost loved ones in the attacks, or who were hurt, and who support the inquiry campaign, it would be nice to think that commenters can avoid being rude, dismissive, smearing or personally abusive in the comments.

Thank you.

April 29, 2009 4:22 pm  
Blogger oldbamboo said...

Yes. I agree with you. And I hope nothing I have said could be considered remotely offensive by people who suffered losses. I dont think so, but yeah, I had all guns blazing and I can imagine it not boding well for anything further I might have to say.
Just to get back to brass tacks, the point I am making is that the inquiry being requested, to my mind, will not bring any benefit to society, and, the personal reasons of people caught up in the event notwithstanding, I would like to be able to openly question why anyone would believe otherwise.

April 29, 2009 4:43 pm  
Blogger Mike Philbin said...


did you know that there's already been a Downing Street petition cancelled about this very subject? Also, I'd like to see the same happen for 9/11 (and maybe even 11/3 Madrid) because there's a strong suggestion that all these three events helped their respective countries garner public opinion for war, losing a heck of a lot of civil rights in the process. Petition this, I'll sign it.

April 29, 2009 6:54 pm  
Blogger oldbamboo said...

To all here who suffered terrible losses on that day, Good luck, move on, keep moving.

Rachel, insinuating that someone is antagonising the bereaved is unforgiveable. I clearly had my suspicions about your blog when I came barging in, but I was prepared to be contrite, open, what have you. I'm honestly, truly horrified by your response.

I'm off back to the book reviews on Amazon, and thanks for listening. I hope what I had to say had some worth to someone out there.
Good luck.

April 30, 2009 9:57 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

In effect, by demanding one you are are raising the probability of another successful attack, and I'm sorry to be blunt but frankly your blog, and your campaign are a waste of time, wilfully ignorant of the realities of security, exploitative of civil liberties, and serving to promote you, your journalism, and your friends. Please stop.OldBamboo, you must be aware that the campaign for an independent inquiry is supported by many survivors and bereaved families and I am simply a spokesperson, along with others for it.

Therefore to say, as you did, that it is 'a waste of time...wilfully ignorant...exploitative...' and ludicrously 'raising the probablility of another successful attack' is insulting to them, as well as to me. I suppose the Bloody Sunday inquiry bereaved families are therefore responsible for 7/7, by your logic. That type of inquiry, which had the security services giving evidence about failures to Judge Saville will never be repeated since the June 2005 Inquiries act limited the scope of public inquiries and had them set by Cabinet Ministers.

To further add, as you did, that my reason for championing and supporting an independent inquiry at the behest of the bereaved and injured who support the campaign and have been asking for one since 2005 is 'serving to promote you, your journalism, and your friends' is frankly, bloody rude, and in my opinion, gratuitously offensive and spiteful personal abuse.

So to then get on your high horse and write stuff like 'insinuating that someone is antagonising the bereaved is unforgiveable' and that you are 'horrified' is deeply unconvincing from my point of view.

Your rant about journalists is off topic and irrelevant, your use of strawmen and personal attacks are unpleasant and your behaviour on my blog comment thread is unwelcome. I'm glad you are off to the book reivews - I hope that you don't deign to tell authors who read them that they are 'self-promoting' for *having dared to write and be published in the manner of a spiteful anonymous internet bully, because such behaviour reflects very poorly on anyone who indulges in it.


*which is my suspicion as to what all this is about

April 30, 2009 12:19 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Happy Anniversary.

And for what it is worth, I just saw OldBamboo's words as an alternative point of view to yours. I did not think he was being offensive.

And to be honest, although I can see why you want an inquiry, I am just not sure what it will achieve.

Anyway, that is not meant as a personal attack, just my point of view. Hope you manage to have your re-arranged celebrations soon.

April 30, 2009 3:02 pm  
Blogger Hendo said...

I'm one of those journalist people who doesn't have 'a real job'. But personally speaking - as an ordinary member of society - I like proper inquiries into official screw ups. When they work properly they form part of a process of open investigation rather than a liberal conspiracy to fix blame and neutralise otherwise valuable institutions. Improvements in conduct often result. Perhaps there should be one into the running of public IT contracts, for example, which seem to cost such a lot of money and yet often fail in a spectacular manner.

I don't know if there'll ever be a public inquiry into the conduct of the intelligence services in the run up to the London bombings, but it can't be wrong to campaign for one. In a free society it's right to seek answers to questions.

'Old Bamboo's' destructive remarks seek to promote apathy and a sense of 'sod it lets's all go home'. But this is not a video game review site; it's a serious diary (apart from the cat references) about Rachel's politics and experiences after being injured in the bombings. She cannot reboot and start over, or turn away to pick up another book. This is her life.

And as her friend I support her in her writings and expression, and say to Old Bamboo, stick to the review section of Amazon; this is a serious site where a truly impressive person argues her case.

April 30, 2009 3:24 pm  
Blogger oliver said...

hi rachel, we spoke a few times when I was at Capital Radio. I'm now at Feature Story News and have linked to your excellent blog from ours...


May 01, 2009 1:14 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks Oliver!

And thanks Hendo and everyone else for the comments, apart from david duff in his piss-weak disguise.

May 02, 2009 3:08 pm  
Blogger Boris Epstein said...


Thanks for a god informative post.

Given that after all this time and all this work the government has failed to convince the jury that anyone but the 4 alleged bombers was involved (and the bombers are dead, hence unable to refute whatever is being said about them) isn't it perhaps time to consider that there is more to this then we are being told? For instance, the authorities now claim they knew enough to arrest at least one of the bombers. Why didn't they? Was this something allowed to happen?

Of this atrocity there may have been many beneficiaries; you can definitely put the "neocons" in power in both the UK and the US on that list. I think that is an important consideration to keep in mind.

May 02, 2009 3:58 pm  
Blogger Mimi said...

Hi Rachel, I'm back again, this time having read the post properly.I think that most people who are victims of something only ever want the truth. It is often denied to them because of legal or financial repercussions,or self-interest of some party, and that it most frustrating and unjust.
I hope that your campaign is successful. Again, I think you are a brave lady, mimi

May 02, 2009 11:23 pm  

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