London attack scene
Photo: AP

Report: UK blasts could have been prevented

Parliamentary report published by Evening Standard reveals British intelligence had surveillance on London bombers long before attack, but stopped tailing them due to manpower shortage

LONDON - British intelligence agents were tailing one of the London bombing terrorists in the weeks prior to the attack, after they discovered the man conducted a thorough Internet search for explanations on how to manufacture a bomb, a parliamentary report set to be submitted on Thursday reveals.


According to the report, published by The Evening Standard Wednesday, the British security forces were not at fault for any intelligence failure.


The report states that although terrorist Shehzad Tanweer was exposed by the British intelligence service before the attack, security forces were not informed of his activities. However, the UK newspaper stressed that the report does not focus on the issue of Tanweer, as his matter raises many questions that cannot be answered as of yet.


The report further reveals that Mohammad Sidique Khan, the London cell's leader, was known to intelligence agents a long period before the bombing. Khan was even recorded by the MI5 speaking of his great wish to take part in the Jihad and parting from his family. According to the report's authors, Khan was already resolute to carry out a suicide attack then, but despite the incriminating tapes the MI5 called off his surveillance due to shortage in manpower.


In addition, both Khan and Tanweer were defined by the MI5 as insignificant members mostly involved in fund raising activities, while other activists were branded much more dangerous.


Eastern agents needed


Although they were part of a group that ideologically supports al-Qaeda, the terrorists were acting on their own initiative and not sent by Bin Laden's organization , the report states.


Despite the fact they were not labeled a threat, the report shows that Khan and Tanweer participated in a training drill in Pakistan, during which Khan was even photographed hurling a grenade and launching a rocket. However, he was not required to report for questioning upon his return to the UK.


The bombings could have been prevented had Britain been possession of better intelligence, the report concludes. However, it holds no specific agency responsible for the failure, and claims the bust was the result of the agents' inability to infiltrate radical Muslim groups.


One of the report's main conclusions is that the intelligence agencies employ too many "white" agents that are uncapable of assimilating into fundamentalist organizations. In order to accomplish this mission, the report states, more Middle East-born agents must be recruited.


פרסום ראשון: 05.11.06, 00:28
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