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7/7 bombing review to leave unanswered questions

Written by: Staff
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London, May 11: Britain will unveil details today of events building up to and on the day of the London suicide bombings last July which killed 52 people and injured more than 700.

But the Home Office review is likely to leave many questions unanswered and its limited scope has provoked criticism from survivors of the bombings and opposition political parties who have demanded answers about possible intelligence failures.

Four Britons caused carnage after detonating homemade bombs on three London underground trains and a double decker bus during the morning rush-hour on July 7 in the first suicide attacks by militants in western Europe.

Media reports say anti-terrorism police have concluded the men were not part of an international conspiracy but had been acting alone, although a number had attended militant training camps in Pakistan.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, believed to have been the ringleader, appeared in an al Qaeda videotape released after his death but experts doubt Osama bin Laden's group played a major, if any, role in the bombings.

In his message, Khan said the attacks were a response to the ''atrocities'' committed by western governments against Muslims.

Last year, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government rejected holding a public inquiry into the bombings, arguing that it would interfere with the work of the security services and that the focus should be on preventing further attacks.

Instead, today's report will provide a definitive narrative on what happened and the immediate build-up.

A police spokeswoman, who said the hunt for any possible co-conspirators was continuing, said no new details about the ongoing investigation would be released.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The Conservatives have questioned why the general security level had been lowered a few weeks before July 7 and why the men had not been picked up as possible threats by the security services.

Initially police played down suggestions the men had come to their attention before the attacks.

However, court documents show that Khan and another of the bombers had been under surveillance by anti-terrorism officers more than a year beforehand and had been in contact with a suspected British terrorism cell.

There have also been unsubstantiated media reports that the police had tracked all four men a year before the attacks but gave up the operation after deciding they posed no threat.

Parliament's intelligence and security committee will also issue a report on Thursday and media reports have said this would shed more light on how much was known about the group.

A security source it was easy to make judgements with the benefit of hindsight and that, based on the evidence they had at the time, security officials would have taken the same view that Khan did not pose a threat.

''Talking to people about would they do anything differently, horrifically but understandably the answer is 'no,''' he told Reuters.

John Tulloch, who was sitting opposite Khan when he detonated his bomb but survived, told Reuters in January that only a public inquiry would be satisfactory.

''Some of the questions that have to be asked won't be answered by the Home Secretary's narrative written by some bureaucrat,'' he said.

REUTERS

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