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MI5 failed in checks on London bomber.

Summary: MI5 failed to carry out checks on the ringleader of the July 7 London bombers, yet it "cannot be criticised", a report has said.

Checks on the ringleader of the July 7 London bombers were not carried out because of a lack of resources, a report has said.

The missed chance to prevent the 2005 attacks comes in a second report into what the security services knew about the July 7 bombers before they targeted London's transport network.

However, the Intelligence and Security Committee's report said it "cannot criticise" decisions made by MI5 and police in the months before the atrocities.

But it branded the fact that MI5 could only provide "reasonable" surveillance coverage of about one in 20 terror suspects in 2004 as "astounding".

The Intelligence and Security Committee's report said extra checks on ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan and any possible link to terrorism were not carried out.

Investigators did not dig further into his background despite watching him meet extremist plotters because they believed he did not pose a direct threat, the committee found.

The heavily-censored report concluded: "Having taken everything into account and having looked at all the evidence in considerable detail, we cannot criticise the judgments made by MI5 and the police based on the information that they had and their priorities at the time.

"Even considering material that was discovered after 7/7, and that which arose from the Crevice trial, we believe that the decisions made in 2004 and 2005 were understandable and reasonable."

In a previous report in 2006, the ISC revealed that bombers Shehzad Tanweer and Khan were known to the security services but were not investigated.

However, it said it was "understandable" that a full probe was not launched.

But questions were raised after new information came out in subsequent terror trials and victims have called for a full public inquiry in to what was known before the attacks took place.

Rachel North, who was injured in the attack, said an inquiry similar to the US 9/11 report was needed to learn the lessons of what happened.

Tory MP David Davis called for an "excruciatingly detailed" public examination of all the evidence.

Chris Driver-Williams, a former senior IED analyst for the Defence Intelligence Staff, said there was an "information vortex" in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, which killed 52 innocent people and injured hundreds more.

He also revealed that his claim of an al-Qaeda link with the attackers was initially met with laughter.

One senior intelligence officer attending the Cobra meeting said the idea of an al-Qaeda link was "absurd".

Mr Driver-Williams said: "When I suggested this at Cobra, I was met with laughter. This was by people in the intelligence community who knew their onions."

"Someone senior from an intelligence organisation said: 'Who are you and what possibly qualifies you to come out with such an absurd statement?"'

By later that day the al-Qaeda link was widely accepted by investigators as the details of the simultaneous planned attacks became clear.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:May 20, 2009
Words:527
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