Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Picture That Could Have Stopped 7/7; Inquest Hears of Security Blunder That Left Bomber Free to Plan Plot That Killed 52

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Picture That Could Have Stopped 7/7; Inquest Hears of Security Blunder That Left Bomber Free to Plan Plot That Killed 52

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Cheston Courts Correspondent

THIS is the picture which could have prevented the July 7 bombings.

The image of ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan and Aldgate bomber Shehzad Tanweer was revealed on the eve of the inquest verdict into the atrocity. Tomorrow, coroner Lady Justice Hallett will list recommendations and criticisms aimed at preventing future deaths.

She will also pay tribute to the courage of rescuers and the Tube and bus passengers caught up in the blasts that claimed 52 lives.

The photograph was taken by MI5 agents as Khan and Tanweer, then aged 21, chatted at the Toddington service station on the M1.

They had followed Khan from one of several meetings he had with Omar Khyam, leader of another al Qaeda cell, which was plotting to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre.

Each time Khan, then aged 29, and Tanweer had driven the 400-mile round trip from West Yorkshire to Y Crawley, West Sussex.

Two months after this photo was taken in February 2004 the FBI arrested a jihadist, Mohammed Junaid Babar, in New York and he became a valuable supergrass.

Babar told investigators of two men from West f Yorkshire he knew as Y "Ibrahim" and "Zubair", whom he had met at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2003.

MI5 and the police had photos of Khan and Tanweer but this sharp, colour picture was never sent to the FBI for Babar to identify. Instead they sent others, including a blurry black and white image of Tanweer which was so bad Hugo Keith QC told the inquest: "I think one of my children could have done a better job."

At that time the security services assessed Khan as a small-time fraudster, not capable of conducting a major terrorist attack. If they had known he had received terrorist training he could have been intercepted -- and the tragedy of July 7 could have been avoided. …

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