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Monday, April 30, 2007 

Forever delayed.

They say that good things (or in this case, depressing but motivating things) come to those that wait, or at least that advertisement for a particularly foul beer does, but the news accompanied by the conviction of 5 men for plotting what would have been far more devastating explosions than 7/7, was that, as had been well rumoured, they had links to two of the bombers that killed themselves and murdered dozens of others on that day now known only as two numbers.

These links were not just passing acquaintances, that they'd both encountered some of the plotters on internet forums and had been flagged up as possible co-conspirators. These links were, as Peter Clarke or John Reid would not doubt tell us if they weren't horribly on the back foot, extensive, detailed and authoritative, or do those terms only apply to sexed up dossiers?

One of the revelations is genuinely astounding: Khyam, alleged to be the ringleader in the plot which never came to fruition, and where it's not even clear where they would have struck, drove Mohammad Siddique Khan, the alleged ringleader on 7/7, for hours on the motorway while MI5 listened in. Rather than being, as we were told, that these were "clean skins" and that it was a complete bolt from the blue, from the very minute that the bombers were positively identified MI5 have worked to at least keep this information from coming out, whether because it was "subjudice" or rather because it was an unpleasant fact that the public didn't need to know about.


Within a week of 7/7 there were allegations being made that MSK was known to the intelligence services, and indeed had been missed in the Crevice raid, or at least had links to that investigation, facts that have taken close to two full years to finally emerge. The desperation of the spinning by MI5 is quite mind-boggling to see. The Spook on First Post suggested a month ago that the security service was going to produce a document entitled 'Rumours and Realities', and lo and behold, there's a document on MI5's website entitled Rumours and reality.

As the newly installed head Jonathan Evans is at pains to point out, "The Security Service will never have the capacity to investigate everyone who appears on the periphery of every operation", which is quite true. The trouble with this statement is that MSK was considered such a peripheral player that he was put under surveillance, that it was known he had gone and trained in Pakistan, that everything about him now known suggests that he was a committed jihadist, and that even then it was clear he was considering killing himself and others for his perverse, wicked cause.


There is of course, as the cliché goes, nothing quite like hindsight, and as with most clichés, it has a ring of truth around it. Why though go to all the trouble of being at pains to show how deadly and enduring the threat we now face is, as the terrorists are complete unknowns, when they knew full well even then that it was nonsense?


This is exactly why there now needs to be a full, independent inquiry into what happened both on that day, before that day and then after that day. The government's tired, facile argument that this would take away vital resources from those who are so earnestly protecting our lives is exactly that; disingenuous and worthy of contempt. They treated us with contempt when they lied to us, when they continue to overstate the nature of the threat, when they relentlessly scaremonger moments after telling us to do exactly the opposite, and tell the leakers to stop leaking when the biggest leaks are often from them. Terrorism can be defeated, but only if our governments and protectors are honest with us will it encourage us to be honest with ourselves. They could do much to kick-start the beginning of such a culture by ordering the inquiry.


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