The London Bombing: Egypt, Pakistan and France Weigh In
The Egyptian government has arrested Magdy Elnashar, an associate of the bombers in Leeds, a chemist in whose Leeds home police have found “large amounts of explosives.” Elnashar had left for Egypt recently. He maintains his innocence. My guess is that he would be Egyptian Islamic Jihad (of Ayman al-Zawahiri) and that he authored the statement of responsibity by “Qaeda al-Jihad in Europe” that appeared on the internet July 7. Readers who have been following my analysis will remember that based on my analysis of the document, I found an Egyptian source most plausible.
Pakistani authorities are looking at a possible link between one of the bombers and two Pakistani jihadi organizations, Lashkar-i Tayyiba and Jaysh-i Muhammad. It is unconscionable that the two have not been dissolved. Ahmed Rashid is good on the situation in Pakistan. It is alarming that although Osama Bin Laden’s popularity has fallen dramatically in most Muslim countries, according to a recent Pew poll, 51 percent of Pakistanis at least some of the time place some confidence in him to affect world affairs.
Associated Press reports that the bombers were angered over the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Palestine. Seumas Milne of the Guardian argues that it is an insult to the dead to deny the link to Iraq.
The French newspaper Liberation has revealed that the fourth suicide bomber in the July 7 attacks was Lindsey Jermaine. Although the French thought he might be English, he is a Briton of Caribbean heritage.
The French also have also alleged about the roundup of al-Qaeda last summer (see below) that:
“Out of “the 13 presumed terrorists identified by the British only 8 were arrested and 5 escaped. The arrests were part of an operation which recovered 600kg of explosives,” said the senior French police officer, who yesterday revealed to Libération the fact that amongst the five who escaped from the operation was Mohammed Kahn, one of the alleged suicide bombers who struck on the London Underground. This Briton of Pakistani descent has been on the list of Scotland Yard’s “targets” for the last 15 months, only with a different age and a different first name – Kayoun* instead of Sidique, but “it’s the same man” who gave the police the slip.”
If Mohammad Sadique Khan had been named by Noor Khan in Pakistan, and managed to escape British surveillance because the Bush administration splashed details of an ongoing investigation all over the press to throw John Kerry into the shade, that really is criminal.
The initial French statements by Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy were reported a little inaccurately, so that he looked as though he were saying that the British police had had the four bombers in custody last year. That would have made the British police look like dangerous incompetents and it elicited a sharp rebuke from British Home Secretary Charles Clarke. [Sarkozy mentions “March of 2004” but appears to have the date wrong. The arrest of 8 of 13 suspects came in August after Noor Khan’s name was leaked.)
The Bush administration’s political maneuvering in early August, 2004 did enormous damage to the British and Pakistani attempt to use Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan to out al-Qaeda members in the UK planning an attack on the London Underground.
The Guardian wrote last September:
“President Bush’s chief domestic security official yesterday apologised for the disruption of a big MI5 and police surveillance operation in Britain.
Tom Ridge, the homeland security secretary, said the leaking of intelligence in the US about alleged terrorist suspects here was “regrettable”.
Mr Ridge was speaking to journalists in London before meeting David Blunkett and Sir David Omand, the prime minister’s security and intelligence coordinator.
Whitehall was furious early last month when individuals were named and allegations about terrorist attacks were made public in the US.
The claims, about putative attacks on buildings in the US and on British targets, including Heathrow, were based on information found on the computers of an alleged al-Qaida sympathiser in Pakistan.
The disclosures forced the police to quickly arrest 12 suspects in raids across England.
In Blackburn, Lancashire, armed officers pulled two men out of a Mercedes, and in Luton, Bedfordshire, neighbours told how dozens of police had halted a red Nissan in a residential street and pinned the driver against the door for almost three hours.
Anti-terrorist officials here have been seriously concerned about the disclosure of infor mation in America which, they say, could prejudice the outcome of prosecutions.
They are also unhappy about the frequency of public warnings in the US about possible attacks – something which, say Whitehall officials, could lead to the dangers of “crying wolf” or “threat fatigue”.
Mr Ridge said that the US had raised its threat level and placed extra armed guards around buildings because of “credible” and “specific” information coming from Pakistan.
“The volume of potential information was the largest we have ever seen,” he said.
He added that there was credible intelligence of terrorist plans to “disrupt the democratic process” in the US. ‘
*One thing that always puzzles me when I read Western news reports about these Muslim radicals is that nonsense words show up as names. There is no such thing as “Kayoun.” Maybe they mean Qayyum. It is a minor point, but Muslim names most often are Arabic or Persian, and morphology is important in recognizing and understanding them. I.e. it is part of police work to figure out what the name really is.