7/7: What Did They Know? - A Review
2nd January 2012
7/7: What Did They Know? is a brand-new documentary by Keelan Balderson of Wideshut.co.uk that explores in detail the questions of predictability and preventability with regard to the 7/7 bombings in London. Based on extensive research by the July 7th Truth Campaign and no doubt inspired somewhat by my own work on the subject and conversations between Mr Balderson and myself, this is the most detailed single video exploration of these questions to date.
The film examines some of the pre-7/7 training exercises and in that context asks whether there is a more sensible explanation for the much-vaunted Peter Power exercise on the day of 7/7 itself than that offered by the 7/7 Ripple Effect movie. Inasmuch as I explored a hypothesis about the Peter Power exercise I looked at whether it was a deliberate red herring in 7/7: Crime and Prejudice. Balderson suggests the possibility of Power being fed the exercise scenario by contacts of his in the Security Services. Both are distinct possibilities, and of course the two could be combined - Power may have been given the scenario so he could become a red herring, a focal point for conspiracy theorists. This is just hypothesis at this stage, implied by a lot of contextual material but currently unverifiable. If we could get Peter Power to testify under oath then perhaps we could get somewhere with all this, though he is not the only significant witness. The makers of various TV shows that predicted 7/7 at least as accurately as Power's exercise predicted it would also make valuable witnesses. It is not beyond the realm of historical precedent for the Security Services to feed ideas into the public domain.
Balderson also looked at the tangled web of lies spun by the Intelligence Services on the three occasions they've been asked what they knew before 7/7. The first ISC report in 2006 mentioned that the alleged bombers had appeared on the periphery of a counter-terrorism investigation. The pictures and video from this investigation - Operation Crevice - was never seen by the ISC, even though it clearly showed Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer meeting with suspected terrorists or extremists on multiple occasions. This vital evidence, which proved the extent of the surveillance done on Khan and Tanweer during Crevice, was withheld from those responsible for oversight.
Not that the ISC were particularly bothered about this, because no reprimand of any kind has been meted out to MI5. Of course, the ISC are inevitably playing catchup - they have no access to MI5 personnel, records or operational material than MI5 chooses to grant them. So it is not that surprising that after the Crevice trial and the trials of Saleem, Ali and Shakil that the ISC published a second largely misleading report. That they chose to do so around the same time that the BBC finally broadcast their Conspiracy Files debunking 7/7 episode is probably not coincidental.
As noted in Balderson's film, there exist certain documents, made available for the first time at the 7/7 inquests, that shows that the ISC narrative of what happened and when during the Crevice investigation is fundamentally flawed. According to the 2009 ISC report, Operation Crevice began in 'late March 2003', which is when the Security Services received information that 'Q' - Mohammed Quayyum Khan - was an Al Qaeda facilitator.
The ISC's timeline went on to say that the first time alleged 7/7 ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan appeared in the Crevice surveillance was in July 2003, when a phone registered to Khan called 'Q'.
Two things about this story are now known to be untrue. First, that the subscriber check on the phone returned the name 'Siddique Khan' - with two ds in 'Siddique'. This has at times been blamed for a failure to match the man apparently calling 'Q' as the man who appeared in other surveillance operations, 'Sidique Khan' with one d. Second, that the calls took place in July 2003. The subscriber check on the phone was made on the 11th March 2003, and was found to be registered to a 'Sidique Khan' (one d):
So, did MI5 begin Operation Crevice earlier than they told the ISC? Were they therefore surveilling Khan and possibly the other alleged 7/7 bombers for longer than they've admitted?
During a separate surveillance operation codenamed Honeysuckle only weeks after this subscriber check Mohammed Sidique Khan appeared once again, giving a lift to a man called Martin McDaid. The ISC described it thus:
A little more information on this episode was provided at the Inquests in the form of a West Yorkshire Police 'gist' re: Martin McDaid.
Note: In the ISC timeline the Honeysuckle Operation is said to have included MI5 - not just the West Yorkshire Police and their Special Branch. Yet in the second document there is no mention of checking Security Service databases for Mohammed Sidique Khan, only police databases. If they had, no doubt his name would have come up as the owner of a phone use to contact 'Q' the previous month. Of course, because the ISC believed MI5 when they said that the phonecalls didn't happen until July they didn't ask the Security Service about the McDaid connection. Indeed, McDaid's name does not appear anywhere in the 2009 ISC report, he is only referred to as a 'known extremist'.
The ISC timeline can be downloaded here, the subscriber check on Khan's phone here, the Gist re: McDaid here and the check on Khan's car here. Ultimately, the timeline makes no sense, unless one considers the possibility, or even probability, that 'Q' and McDaid were both informants for the Security Services. Neither have ever been arrested, or appeared as witnesses in the trials resulting from these surveillance operations. Both have effectively disappeared. If MI5 were trying to protect their informants or assets then it makes a lot more sense why they would consistently lie to the ISC over a period of years.
Balderson's film also draws some useful distinctions, between informers/informants - people within terrorist groups who pass information to the Security Services - infiltrators - fully-fledged agents of the Security Services who actively penetrate terrorist groups (etc.) - assets - who are significant figures who may be more 'allowed to happen' than 'made to happen' - and patsies - who are set up by the Security Services to appear to be responsible for something. These are crucial distinctions to make when examining the question of double agents, and I strongly recommend the Wikipedia page on Clandestine HUMINT (Human Intelligence), here. It explains the various sorts of spies available to secret services in a detailed but highly understandable way.
7/7: What Did They Know? also looks at the question of whether Omar Khyam, the third major figure linked to the alleged 7/7 bombers, was working for the ISI and/or MI5, and the story of Junaid Babar. This was the subject of my most recent e-book, available here. If the ISC had been truly interested in getting to the bottom of what MI5 knew, when they knew it, and what they did with it, then they should call these four men to testify. Khyam is in prison for his role in the Crevice bomb plot, Babar is merrily living in New York with his family, but McDaid and 'Q' seem to have vanished so they may be difficult to find. Of course, that would require naming a few spies, or rather taking people already named and confirming them as spies, which the Security Services will almost always refuse to do.
As a study of so-called intelligence failures leading to 7/7, Balderson's film is an highly informative and very digestible, and will hopefully help encourage those interested in 7/7 to explore these areas for themselves. It is an area where there is the possibility of further information becoming available, information that could answer questions of great importance. There exist a great many documents made available to the lawyers representing the bereaved at the July 7th Inquests that have not yet been published. Along with the probable double agents and the officers running the surveillance operations before 7/7, these are all sources that could become available, if pressure can be applied in the right way. Though the Peter Power exercise question is far from resolved, it is my view that the angles pursued in 7/7: What Did They Know are not only more important, but more likely to yield answers if only a genuine and uncompromised investigation takes place.