MI5 – Security Expectations – Facing Reality in a Democracy
Comment at end
2nd May, 2007
At Prime Minister’s Questions today, Tony Blair argued that he does not believe it is correct to order an additional separate independent inquiry to examine perceived shortcomings of the secret services over links between this case and the London bombings of 7th July 2005. I have to agree. For how long would we keep any state secrets if it became habitual to check out every layer of the state’s security apparatus when something goes wrong?
Click here to watch today’s PMQs including the PM’s response to David Cameron.
Below – a comprehensive report and view from outside the UK, on our terrorist convictions in London, 1st May 2007.
Exclusive: MI5, The Bomb Plot, And Shocking 7/7 Secrets
Author: Adrian Morgan
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: May 2, 2007
Might it have been possible to avoid the carnage in London when Islamists detonated bombs, killing and wounding so many innocent people? Or does MI-5 believe this is the price to be paid for living in a democratic society that values its freedoms? FSM Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan reveals some worrisome truths.
MI5, The Bomb Plot, And Shocking 7/7 Secrets
By Adrian Morgan
On Monday (April 30), a trial which had started on March 21, 2006 came to its conclusion at London’s Old Bailey. Five of seven defendants were found guilty of conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life between 1 January, 2003 and 31 March, 2004. Two other defendants were found not guilty.
The five men are pictured here. Clockwise from top left they are Jawad Akbar (23), Omar Khyam (25), Waheed Mahmood (35), Anthony Garcia (24) and Salahuddin Amin (32). All had been arrested on March 30, 2004. The leader of the group, Omar Khyam, had with the assistance of Jawad Akbar purchased 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from a supplier in Burgess Hill in Sussex. This was the same substance which had been used in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995 and had killed 168 people.
The ammonium nitrate was kept in a storage depot in Hanwell, west of London. Here Khyam had been caught on surveillance cameras regularly checking the fertilizer. MI5 and police had been tracking the activities of the group throughout 2003, in an operation code-named “Crevice”. At the time, this was the largest terrorism operation for both police and MI5. Crevice began when MI5 were investigating Muhammed Qayyum Khan, a Muslim taxi-driver living in Luton. Sometimes called Q, he had been said during the year long trial to have been the real leader of the group of plotters.
“Q” had been said to have taken orders from a man named Abdul Hadi, a senior Al Qaeda member. This appears to be the same man as Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi aka Nashwan Abdulbaqi, a Kurdish Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, who has been in CIA custody since his arrest in Iraq. Last week, Abdul al-Hadi was transferred to Guantanamo.
Despite serious allegations made in court, police and MI5 maintained that they had no evidence to have Muhammed Qayyum Khan, aka “Q” charged. He has remained free, and is now said to have gone into hiding.
Investigations were revealing the international extent of the plot, involving an American-born operative based in Lahore in Pakistan, a Canadian Muslim who is still awaiting trial in his homeland. The main members of the plot had belonged to the UK radical Muslim group founded in 1996 by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, Al-Muhajiroun.
The ammonium nitrate had been replaced with an inert substance, unbeknownst to Omar Khyam who lived in Crawley, west Sussex, near Gatwick Airport. During the trial, the court heard surveillance recordings of conversations in which Khyam had been planning to blow up airplanes, a nightclub, the Bluewater Shopping Mall in Kent and suggesting other targets, such as water supplies, which he suggested should be poisoned. One member of the group, Waheed Mahmood, worked for the power company National Grid Transco. The group had considered mounting an attack upon the national grid, and also distributing poisoned hamburgers outside soccer stadiums. At Khyam’s home a list of 12 synagogues was found, indicating possible Jewish targets of the group.
In 2000 when he was only 18, Khyam had been sent to fight in Kashmir by Al-Muhajiroun. His family went to Pakistan to find him. He told the court that he had attended a terror camp between January and March 2000, where he learned about reconnaissance, the use of AK-47s and firing rocket-propelled grenades.
Later Khyam and the other convicted men had visited Pakistan in 2003. They stayed at the Lahore home of a US national of Pakistiani descent, Mohammed Junaid Babar. This man, also a member of Al Muhajiroun, had fled to Pakistan after 9/11. He had been arrested in the US following his return. On June 2, 2004 he had pleaded guilty in a NYC court to five counts of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, and supporting a terrorist operation. In August 2004, Babar agreed to cooperate with US authorities. He admitted helping to set up a jihad camp, and smuggling funds and military supplies to a senior Al Qaeda leader.
On March 24, 2006, under heavy security, Babar gave his first evidence at the trial. Babar had first met Omar Khyam in 2002, and had gone with him to a sermon led by hook-handed radical preacher Abu Hamza, who was jailed for seven years for soliciting murder on February 7, 2006. Babar told the court that several men had stayed at his Lahore home, where explosive materials were kept in a bag, kept in a bedroom wardrobe. These materials included ammonium nitrate, urea and aluminium powder, as well as the deadly toxin ricin. Babar had been given detonators by Salahuddin Amin.
Babar’s evidence against the men has been considered crucial in securing convictions for the five sentenced members of the cell. When the trial, costing an estimated £50 million ($99 million) concluded on Monday morning, press restrictions were lifted, and additional details were revealed to the public. These contained shocking revelations about MI5’s surveillance of operations.
It was revealed on Monday that – long before the events of 7/7 – members of the group who were given life sentences had been seen meeting with two of the four men who carried out the suicide bombings of July 7, 2005, which killed 52 people on London Transport and injured more than 600 others. The two men were Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. Khan was the leader of the 7/7 bombers. They were seen with Omar Khyam and others on four separate occasions. This revelation has led to calls from relatives of those killed on 7/7 to demand a public inquiry.
In May 2006, a report on 7/7 had been published by a committee appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair. This report was made by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), chaired by Paul Murphy, MP. This acknowledged that MI5 had been aware of Mohammed Sidique Khan and that he had featured in their surveillance, but conceded that there was no sufficient reason to suspect he was a serious danger of becoming a suicide bomber.
As I reported yesterday in an article on MI5 (written before the Operation “Crevice” trial concluded), an unnamed individual who had sat on the committee had claimed that at no stage were transcripts presented to ISC of Sidique Khan discussing manufacture of a bomb. The leaked information stated that Khan had been monitored meeting suspects who were planning another attack. It is now known that the conversation of bomb-making had taken place with Omar Khyam, main leader of the Crevice cell.
Paul Murphy, who chaired the ICS meeting, claimed to the Houses of Parliament on July 11, 2006 that “Some allegations have been made that material was withheld from the Committee during the course of our investigations into the events of July last year and, indeed, that we were misled by the agencies. We have examined each and every one of those claims, whether they were made verbally or in the media, and are satisfied that they are not true. Our report stands as an accurate representation of the facts as we saw them. Although we have investigated the claims over the past weeks, we are still of the opinion that the conclusions at which we arrived in our written report were right.”
There is still no evidence that the ICS members were ever told of the surveillance involving both Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. According to MI5 in the aftermath of 7/7, Sidique Khan and Tanweer were thought to have had no involvement with Al Qaeda. Only after Thursday August 31, 2005, when an Al Qaeda video was broadcast by Al Jazeera TV showing Sidique Khan delivering a “farewell speech” did his Al Qaeda involvement become known.
Sidique Khan and Tanweer had traveled to Pakistan before the 7/7 attacks. In July 2005, two US intelligence officials had claimed that Junaid Babar had met Mohammed Sidique Khan. This was probably in Pakistan, where Khan’s farewell video was made. Shortly before the first anniversary of 7/7, a second video was shown on Al Jazeera featuring Tanweer (pictured). He was seen in front of the same backcloth as the one in Khan’s video. No adequate reason (Al Qaeda terrorism funding?) has been been made to explain why jobless Tanweer left $190,000 in his will.
The revelations which filled the UK new media on Monday afternoon are that on February 2, 2004, Khan and Tanweer had met Khyam at the Toddington service station on the MI motorway. The pair had been in a green Honda Civic vehicle, and had been followed by agents up to Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, to the home of Farida Patel, Sidique Khan’s mother-in-law.
On February 21, 2004, the Honda Civic was seen at Crawley, near Gatwick. It was parked outside Khyam’s family house where a meeting to discuss the fertilizer plot took place. The meeting lasted four hours. Khan told Omar Khyam that he was planning to go to Pakistan’s border regions to fight with jihadist militias. Khyam had bought an airline ticket to Pakistan. Khan said: “This is a one-way ticket, bruv, yeah, you agree with that, yeah? You’re happy with this… basically…because you’re going to leave now, you may as well rip the country apart economically as well. All the brothers are running scams. All the brothers that are leaving are doing it. That’s all I’ve got to say, bruv. Is there anything you’d like to ask? Then fire away.”
Sidique Khan had asked if he could delay leaving the country because his wife Hasina was six months’ pregnant. Sidique Khan said “With regards to the babe, I am debating whether or not to say goodbye and so forth.”
On February 28, 2004, Mohammed Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Omar Khyam were watched as they went around building merchants in Crawley. This was part of a fraud operation. As a result of these methods of gaining money, it is claimed by MI5 that the two future suicide bombers were fraudsters, rather than serious jihadists. After this, Sidique Khan drove the Honda Civic to Wellingborough in Northamptonshire. Here they had a three hour meeting at a cellular phone store. Accompanying Khyam was his younger brother Shujah Mahmood, who was also on trial at the Old Bailey, but found not guilty by the jury.
After the meeting in Wellingborough, Khan drove the two brothers back to their home in Crawley. Apparently Khan attempted to avoid being followed by the route that he took.
On March 21, 2004, while the Honda Civic was being repaired after a crash, Khan and Tanweer were seen by MI5 in a Vauxhall Corsa in Crawley.
On March 23, a week before the Crevice plotters were arrested, Khan and Tanweer were once again seen by MI5 agents in Crawley, in the newly repaired green Honda Civic. They went in a convoy, led by Khyam in a silver Suzuki Vitara, to Upton in London. There they visited an Islamic bookstore. They drove to Slough in Berkshire where Khyam had a rented property. Khyam’s apartment had been bugged, and he, Tanweer and Khan were heard discussing fraudulent schemes. Several times they went outside the apartment to talk outside. Then Khan and Tanweer returned to Dewsbury at midnight.
Jonathan Evans, head of MI5 (pictured) released a statement on the Security Service website. He stated: “The Security Service will never have the capacity to investigate everyone who appears on the periphery of every operation. I believe the account we are publishing here will make this clear.”
The MI5 account of the events surrounding the surveillance of Sidique Khan and Tanweer in relation to Operation Crevice is believable, but has glaring omissions. At no stage is the possible “Mr. Big” of the operation, Muhammed Qayyum Khan or Q, even mentioned.
MI5 also provides a page on its website in which it discusses supposed myths or “rumors”, juxtaposing them with its explanations or “realities”. Most of these explanations are glib statements, and hard to dispute or confirm.
The Home Office and Metropolitan Police have also made statements on the affair. The Met have also issued a video of Salahuddin Amin being questioned. Amin was living in Pakistan, and it was claimed in the Crevice trial that he acted as a go-between for Q who lived in Luton Bedfordshire. He had welcomed Omar Khyam at the airport when he went to Pakistan. He had also greeted Mohammed Sidique Khan when he visited Pakistan.
John Reid, the Home Secretary, has said that he does not support a public inquiry into whether MI5 could have used its surveillance knowledge to prevent 7/7 happening. He claims that it will take funds and manpower away from the task of plotting the numerous plots and individuals already under investigation.
MI5 has valid reasons for keeping its activities secret. Leaks from last May which suggested they were aware of Khan discussing a potential bomb have been shown to be accurate. Jonathan Evans claims that Khan’s identity was not known until after 7/7. Relatives of those who died in London at the hands of Sidique Khan’s suicide squad are angry and demanding justice. But as Jonathan Evans stated: “The sense of disappointment, felt across the Service, at not being able to prevent the attack (despite our efforts to prevent all such atrocities) will always be with us. The reality is that whilst we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the UK public, we must be honest about what can and cannot be prevented in a democratic society that values its freedoms.”
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for Spero News. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.
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