Another terror attack is 'inevitable', says Blair

Last updated at 21:00 07 July 2006

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said another terrorist attack in London is inevitable yesterday as more damning links between Al Qaeda and the July 7 atrocity emerged.

Sir Ian revealed three further attacks had been foiled since those bombings but warned: "I think there will be further attacks, in fact I know there will be further attacks."

As he spoke, intelligence officers were meticulously examining the Al Qaeda video of British-born suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer for new clues as to links between the terror network and the atrocity.

For investigators now believe there is growing evidence that far from being home grown terrorists who acted alone, Tanweer and bomb cell leader Mohammad Sidique Khan were trained and directed by Al Qaeda.

The links are certain to fuel calls for a public inquiry into the Tube and bus bombings that killed 52 innocent people and into whether the Security Services missed vital clues.

It is now known:

• Tanweer and Khan are said by Pakistani sources to have spent three days with Al Qaeda's number two Ayman al-Zawahri in the country's tribal areas in January 2005.

• They are also said to have met with Abu Hamza Rabia, Al Qaeda's head of external operations and premier teacher of explosives, who was killed in a US airstrike last December.

• Both Britons spent three months in Pakistan between November 2005 and February 2006 where they met with other Al Qaeda figures.

• An Al Qaeda operative held by America picked out Khan as having attended training camps with him in 2004.

• Khan experimented with making and detonating explosive devices made from household chemicals.

• He was involved in the mixing and exploding of at least four different types of device and fired both AK 47 Kalishnikovs and rocket propelled grenades.

• Khan was monitored discussing a bombing and whether to say goodbye to his family - an indication he was planning to take part in a martyrdom operation.

• Both men are believed to have made their "suicide videos" while in Pakistan leaving them to be cut later with footage from al-Zawahri.

• They underwent training with other young radicals born in Britain.

Khan and Tanweer returned home with their plans clearly set. They both left their jobs, rented a place in which to build the bombs and began buying material.

Some 300 telephone numbers in Pakistan were directly or indirectly linked to the bombing. Many were made from or to call offices and have proved impossible to trace.

Anti-terror investigators point out that this in itself is highly suspicious because, at a time when almost everyone in Pakistan has the use of a mobile telephone, great lengths were gone to to ensure they could not be traced.

The emerging weight of evidence linking the bombers clearly to Al Qaeda has led to families and MPs again demanding a public inquiry despite the government's refusal, which was underscored again yesterday.

Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, said: "The fact that Shehzad Tanweer was operating with Al Qaeda backing shows that there is still a long way to go in terms of the investigation into the bombings and the police and intelligence services must continue to try to find the others involved. It shows we really do need a full public inquiry into the 7/7 bombings."

On the video released on the eve of the July 7 anniversary, Tanweer warns of further attacks and the fear is that other Al Qaeda trained Britons are waiting to be activated. Several are said to be currently awaiting instructions in East Africa.

Those fears of further attack were underlined yesterday by Sir Ian, who said: "Since July the threat has palpably increased and I fear that we have to accept that we live in an age for some years when the threat of an attack getting through is very real.

"Some of the threats that we have now interdicted in the last few months are from outside and inside. We are now in a position in which the threat is both internal and external.

"The threat is very grim, there is no doubt about it. There are, as we speak, people in the United Kingdom planning further atrocities."

Sir Ian said he did not think the video of Tanweer, which followed one last September of Khan, proved Al Qaeda was responsible for the London bombings.

"They are a very opportunistic organisation and they may well have collected that video together to make it look as though they were. On the other hand, it may be very possible that they did have some hand in it.

"My main sense is a sense of real outrage: outrage for the victims that this offensive video has been produced on this day, but also outrage for the decent Muslim communities of Britain who just watch again as somebody claiming a perverted version of Islam (claims) to be doing these horrors in their name. That's just not true."

He said the investigation into the July 7 attacks was continuing at an enormous pace, adding: "We have not given up."

Sir Ian said the much-criticised anti-terror raid in Forest Gate, East London, by police searching for a chemical device had been his lowest point since the bombings.

Defending the operation last month in which two brothers were held and then released without charge, he said: "I have not met a single person within my organisation who said you should not have gone in there. We cannot do nothing when we have credible intelligence saying someone is planning an atrocity."

Britain's most senior policeman spoke as details were leaked of a confidential investigation which outlined how British policy over Iraq and Palestine is used by terrorists to justify their violence.

The official investigation into the London bombings said the policy had been a motivating factor while Tanweer and Khan referred to it on their videos.

The report says: "Foreign police and Iraq; Iraq HAS had a huge impact."

It continues: "Iraq is cited many times in interviews with detained extremists but it is over-simplistic to describe terrorism as the result of foreign policy. What western foreign police does provide is justification for violence..."

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now