TODAY'S MNA PRESS NEWS
Back to article list
BRITISH M15 VIEWED TWO SUICIDE BOMBERS
by MONTANA NEWS ASSOCIATION
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Dec 19, 2005
It's a case that practically mirrors the United States government's own intelligence failures prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC. According to the British news media, two of the four suicide bombers who killed 52 people in the July 7, 2005 attacks were scrutinized by MI5 in 2004, but the men were deemed "not to be a threat."
Shahzad Tanweer, 22, who detonated a backpack bomb on the underground train in London, is suspected of being indirectly involved to an alleged plot to build a bomb in 2004 in Britain. It's long been known that the suspected mastermind, Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, was familiar to the British security service, MI5.
This disturbing revelation regarding the second of the four bombers having come to the attention of MI5 the year before is likely to increase pressure for a probe into the London attacks and any failures in intelligence.
Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to whom MI5 and the police report, has been strongly against a far reaching independent investigation. Clarke said he preferred that a more limited investiation and "narrative" be conducted by a civil servant.
In a news story, Britain's The Independent also established that there are so many new terrorist suspects coming to the attention of the security agencies and Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch that there are not enough officers to investigate them all. Britain has not been as quick to increase manpower as the US in combating terrorism.
Tanweer, who killed eight people including himself, is said to have come to the attention of MI5 agents who conducted a routine investigation of the subject. Unfortunately, MI5 took no further action after it was decided that Tanweer was a low-level suspect and that there were far more significant suspects to investigate.
The decision by MI5 to disregard two of the men who would later become suicide bombers was based on the assessment that they were not on the intelligence "radar" and only had an indirect link -- via an associate of the group under investigation -- to the main targets, according to The Independent.
These recent disclosures highlights the police and security services' lack of intelligence on a growing number of British-born Muslims who have become radicalized while in the United Kingdom. It's believed that many others are learning terrorist tactics in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and north Africa.
In the aftermath of the devastating July 7 suicide bombings, it was believed that the terrorists, Tanweer, Khan, Jermaine Lindsay, 19, who killed 26 people, and Hasib Hussain, 18, who killed 13 people on a bus, possessed no links to terrorism.
It was later revealed that Khan, a teaching assistant, who killed six other passengers when he blew himself up on a Tube at Edgware Road, was the subject of a routine threat assessment by MI5 officers after his name cropped up during an investigation in 2004.
Further, until the terrorist attacks, Tanweer was not thought to have been known to British security services and law enforcement. But as anti-terrorist detectives have pieced together the background of the suicide bombers, more evidence has emerged of their previous involvement and contacts with extreme Islamists living in Britain.
Reportedly, both Tanweer and Khan spent three months in Pakistan before returning to Britain in February of this year. Credible evidence exists that they had been trained in terrorism tactics in religious schools in Pakistan. British security officials were told that these men were briefly on a terrorist watchlist, according to US officials, although that report has been dismissed by British security sources as a case of mistaken identity.
But the MI5 and anti-terrorism police task force are not solely to blame for intelligence failures. British news sources claim that some terror suspects, who officers would like to put under surveillance, are not being scrutinized because of a lack of manpower and resources. British security services have witnessed big increases to their budgets for counter terrorism, but there are still not enough officers available to investigate the growing number of terror suspects.
To be fair, security and police officers have thwarted at least three alleged terrorist plots in the past five months, but there is still fear within
within MI6, MI5, and Scotland Yard that it's only a matter of time before a terrorist cell achieves a successful attack on targers within the United Kingdom. Adding to the problem is the number of immigrants continuing to enter Britain from nations know to harbor or train terrorists.
While MI5 has increased the number officers by 500, and is looking to hire about 500, the Metropolitan Police seeks to increase its manpower with 1,500 anti-terrorist officers.
Counter-terrorist experts told The Independent in London that in future it could be that success will be judged not on whether all the attacks are foiled, but how few actually succeed.