London, Feb 22 (ANI): British Intelligence outfit MI5 missed an opportunity to identify the ringleader of the July 7 bombers as terrorists because a surveilance photograph of him that could have been shown to an overseas al-Qaeda supergrass was poorly edited, the inquest into the 2005 attacks on London's transport system has heard.
Mohamed Sidique Khan was secretly photographed at Toddington Service station on the M1 over a year ahead of the attacks after he met with another terrorist who was under surveillance, The Telegraph reports.
While returning, Khan was followed from the meeting in Crawley, West Sussex, along with fellow bomber Shezhad Tanweer and another associate.
Although the photographs taken from the service station clearly showing Sidique Khan and Tanweer standing in front of a Burger King take-away and a fruit machine, an MI5 desk officer changed the colour of the grainy picture to 'black and white' and cropped it so poorly that it was not sent to America.
In the photograph, half of Tanweer's nose and face had gone missing, while Khan's half body and head had been chopped off, the paper said.
The supergrass had reportedly spent time with him at a terror training camp in Afghanistan, and agreed to co-operate with the US after he was taken into custody.
Though it was claimed that the picture was cropped to prevent MI5's undercover techniques from being exposed, Hugo Keit, counsel to the inquests, told a senior member of MI5: "I am bound to observe, if you will forgive me, one of my children could have done a better job of cropping out that photograph."
However, an M15 witness said that there was no documentation to explain why the pictures had been so badly cropped, adding: "My judgment would be when a photograph is cropped in this way for whatever reason it is that by including the background we are giving away too much detail about the covert means behind the observation."
But Keith said that the "informative aspect was entirely obliterated" and "a little care might not have gone amiss where proceeding with one of your most significant sources." (ANI)