The Hallett Inquest into the July 7, 2005, London Bombings
Karin Brothers August 7, 2011
On Thursday, July 7th, 2005, the city of London, England was closed down after morning rush hour explosions on three subway trains and a bus. The blasts killed 56 people and injured hundreds; the country was traumatized. Despite a non-credible claim of “al Qaida” responsibility that originated in Texas (Pallister, 2005), Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to hold an independent inquiry into its causes. And despite — or because of — evidence that increasingly pointed to the complicity of British security services, the government ignored the ongoing demands for an inquiry. In May 2010, Lady Justice Hallett courageously called for an inquest into the activities of the British security services the year prior to the July 7th bombings. There was no jury although the hearings were public. The families of the 52 victims were permitted representation; the families of the four accused were not.
The testimony indicated stunning confusion about details of the blasts and raised even more questions about government involvement. The official story of July 7th bombings has the following elements: the four British Muslim men, whom the police had not suspected of being dangerous, surprised them on July 7th by taking their homemade bombs from Luton to London to blow themselves and others up on three subway trains and a bus. Their purported motive was to register their anger at the British invasion of Iraq by martyring themselves.
Previous investigations documented contradictions to the official claims (Brothers, 2008) including: evidence that police were aware that the bombings were going to happen, that police did know of three of the accused, that the bombs had been identified as sophisticated military explosives, and that none of the accused expected to die. There was no evidence that the accused intended harm to anyone. Lindsay’s and Khan’s wives were pregnant (Lindsay’s wife had a child soon after 7/7); Hussain was awaiting university entrance test results; Tanweer, recently graduated, had just paid a large repair bill on his Mercedes. They all had return tickets, they had paid their parking fees and their families all expected them home. In 2006, the British government was forced to retract its initial claim that the accused had taken certain commuter trains that would have allowed them to catch the exploding subway cars.
The Hallett inquest, which Britain’s security services warned would “encourage terrorists,” was held from October to December 2010; the hearings were public but there was no jury. Key issues in the inquest included the timing, the location and the makeup of the bombs and how the police came to identify the accused.
What is known about what happened
To understand the implications of the testimony at the Hallett Inquest, it’s necessary to review the initial accounts of how the accused were identified and what discoveries have been made since then. The following information was presented by mainstream newspapers on the day shown unless otherwise noted, with information gathered later in brackets and italics:
Thursday, July 7th:
· London Transport reports at 8:51 a.m. that a power surge has caused problems on subways; at 9:20 they report that there had actually been explosions on several trains;
· [Metropolitan Police admit, after initial denial, that they shut off mobile phone reception in the London core for the hour after 8:50 a.m.];
· Police report that they “can’t confirm” that “suicide bombers” caused the explosions;
· It was broadcast at about 10:30 a.m. and reported internationally that police marksmen killed two or three “suicide bombers” at Canary Wharf;
· Peter Powers of Visor Consultants appears on British media to report the coincidence that his emergency preparedness operation for simultaneous bombings, had been planned to take place at the same times and the same subway stops as the day’s events;
· [The body count at Aldgate and Edgware does not include bodies of “suicide bombers”];
Friday, July 8th:
· [The remains of Khan and Tanweer are discovered at Edgware and Aldgate subway sites one to two days after the bombings.]
· [A newspaper article claims that Scotland Yard counter terrorism unit believed Jermaine Lindsay to be alive on July 8th];
Monday, July 11:
· Explosives experts identify London bombs as “sophisticated” and “not homemade” [Traces of the US military explosive C4 and detonators would be confirmed later at all four blast sites (McGrory et al, 2005)];
Tuesday, July 12:
· Detectives start to examine 2500 CCTV tapes which was expected to take “at least” two weeks;
· Police call a press conference to name Hasib Hussain, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezad Tanweer as three of the four “suicide bombers” responsible. They claimed that four Asian men were seen together on [unreleased] CCTVs and by eyewitnesses taking one of two commuter trains from Luton Station to King’s Cross, where they fanned out to martyr themselves;
· Police claim that they had no prior knowledge of any of the accused;
Wednesday July 13:
· The rapid identification of the accused seems to be confirmed by 1) the discovery of a car at the Luton station parking lot that police claim the suspects rented which had a trunk filled with “homemade bombs” and 2) an address which police claimed was linked to an accused which had a bathtub filled with “homemade explosive”, which they dubbed “the bomb factory.”
· Police admit not knowing whether all of the suspects died on July 7 (Bennetto, Herbert, 2005);
· Police claim the body of the fourth “suicide bomber” is so badly shredded at the Piccadilly blast that DNA is required for his identification.
· [The wife of Jermaine Lindsay reports him missing; police search his home.]
Thursday, July 14th:
· Police claim that DNA tests indicate Jermaine Lindsay as the “fourth bomber” ; his passport and papers are discovered “near him” at that blast site;
August 24, 2005:
August 24, 2005:
· Metropolitan Police claim that they are in possession of the bodies of all “suicide bombers” which they are keeping to reassemble for analysis — six weeks after 7/7!
July 11, 2006:
· British Home Secretary John Reid admits that the commuter trains of July 7, 2005 — that the government claimed it had CCTV and witness proof that the accused had taken — had been cancelled. [The implications are stunning: if the accused had tried to take those trains, they could not have been in London in time to be on the exploding subway cars. This would explain why no CCTV photos of Khan, Tanweer or Lindsay have been released proving they were in London on July 7th.]
The Hallett investigations:
What did happen on July 7th?
The testimony indicated that the pattern of injured and dead on the trains does not match the claims of where the bombs were supposedly detonated. The damaged subway cars were disposed of without the damage being properly documented, leaving questions about how many cars were involved (initial reports of six or seven explosions were later changed to four), what direction they were traveling in, where the explosions originated in the cars, and even which train lines were affected. Evidence also indicated that the explosion at Aldgate preceded those at Edgware and Piccadilly by several minutes. Observed injuries tended to indicate the legs and feet, which corresponds to witness accounts of damage coming from under the cars’ floors but is not consistent with backpack bombs in packed trains. There are even questions about what caused the explosions, since many witnesses insist that that there actually was an electrical power surge, possibly before other explosions. No autopsies were performed on those “unlawfully killed”, which might have shed light on the causes of their deaths.
Despite the London bus company’s claim that the CCTV tapes from the No. 30 bus were given to the police, Scotland Yard claimed that the (four) CCTV cameras on the bus were “not working”; so there were no pictures of Hussain on the bus. The number of dead had been reported as 2, 13 or 14.
How did police identify those accused of the Aldgate and Edgware Road sites?
A. The identification of Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezad Tanweer:
According to the Hallett testimony, the unidentifiable remains of Khan and Tanweer were only discovered after a day or two in the respective subway cars. The testimony claimed that their remains had been reduced to chunks of flesh – with no hands, heads or even teeth: in Tanweer’s case, only a 1.8 Kg of backbone. (In contrast, the other bodies — there were even nearby survivors — were easily identifiable.) Police turned over their remains to labs already identified (J7 blogspots) ; there was no explanation about how police had actually come to identify the remains of Khan or Tanweer.
This testimony contradicts the initial police story which implied that the only identification problem requiring DNA was Jermaine Lindsay, who was identified two days after the others, on July 14th.
B. The identification of the alleged bus bomber Hasib Hussain:
Hallett testimony revolved around the CCTV image and eyewitness accounts on July 7th. Despite Hussain reportedly wandering around for almost an hour after the subway explosions, only one CCTV photo was released, after he apparently bought a battery. (This implied that he assumed he would have an opportunity to use it!) His repeated attempts to call the other accused after 9 am show that he thought they were alive; the police’s unexplained shut- down of London’s cell phone system for the hour after the subway explosions meant he could not reach them or have known about the explosions.
Bus No. 30 eyewitness accounts were contradictory in every respect. While there seems to be no doubt about Hussain’s death on the No. 30 bus, there was no evidence that he caused the explosion.
C. The identification of Germaine/Jermaine Lindsay:
Those monitoring the inquest were surprised that police did not explain how Lindsay was identified. The case surrounding Germaine Lindsay is particularly strange. Police removed Lindsay’s car from the Luton parking lot hours after the July 7 explosions; its registration was on their database because of a previous infraction. On July 12th, police identified a King’s Cross photo of Lindsay (a black Jamaican) as Tanweer (of Pakistani descent)! On July 13th a police spokesman admitted that police did not know if all of the suspects died on July 7th.
The police claimed that they needed time to identify the shredded remains of the fourth “suicide bomber” through DNA analysis, but investigators noticed that Lindsay was not identified until after his wife called to report him missing on July 13th. It was only after the search of Lindsay’s home that police claimed they found his passport at the blast site and publicly identified him on July 14th.
Given the claim at the Hallett inquest that police had Khan and Tanweer’s bodies by July 9th, the July 13th police admission that they were not in possession of at least some suspects’ bodies had to mean that they did not have Lindsay’s. Newspaper articles from The Guardian (Jones, 2005) and (The Bucks Herald, 2005) bear this out. The totality of this evidence indicates that Lindsay survived July 7th.
Conclusions: The implications of the evidence to date:
While there is speculation that the accused may have been recruited as “suicide bombers” to correspond with the emergency-preparedness operation, it is apparent that they were connected with a reported British agent, Haroon Rachid Aswat. Aswat is claimed to have visited the bombers in the weeks before the attacks and made about 20 calls to them until shortly before the blasts. (Ahmed, 2006, 274). Despite being on a security watch list, it appears that Aswat arrived in Britain two weeks before July 7th and left just hours before the London Transport explosions. British authorities have reportedly not been interested in questioning him about his possible role in the July 7th events. (Woods et al, 2005)
The accused could not have arrived in London when the blasts occurred because the commuter trains they were meant to have taken were either cancelled or delayed. They would not have found out about the subway explosions because of the London Transport reports of a “power surge” as well as the police shut- down of London’s cell phone system for the following hour. As apparently- scripted “suicide bombers”, they had to be killed before they learned about the explosions on their trains and spoke to any media. The “operational cell phones” they were given for this event would have given police their location as they went to Canary Wharf, where police marksmen killed them as “suicide bombers!” Canary Wharf is a media center and the reports of their deaths were reported internationally because of the media witnesses there.
Once in possession of Khan and Tanweer’s bodies, police would have needed to make it appear that they had been killed by explosions rather than by bullets. Their remains were consistent with having been destroyed by close contact with explosives, but not consistent with the explosions at the subway blast sites, where all of the bodies were basically intact. The (presumed) remains of Khan and Tanweer were found at the subway sites one to two days after all the other bodies were found. Police seemed to be unsure of where to spread their identification papers which supposedly survived the vaporization of their bodies; Khan’s identification papers were found at Edgware, Aldgate and even on the No. 30 bus!
International experts had claimed from the start that the bombs used in all of the July 7 bombings were sophisticated, and traces of an unusual variant of the US military explosive C4 with detonators had been identified at all sites. The subsequent police discovery and identification of “homemade explosives” in a rented car and in an apartment with no obvious connection to the accused were treated by the police as if it proved both that they had identified the accused correctly and that the July 7th bombs were homemade. The media has played a largely obedient role by repeating the “homemade” story even when Scotland Yard retracted their identification of this material (Ahmed, 2006, 31, 45). Hallett testimony showed that the blast sites indicated no evidence of “homemade” explosive. The use of sophisticated bombs using military explosive, the placement of bombs underneath the trains, as well as the government’s dishonesty in presenting false evidence against the accused, suggest that British security agencies framed the accused.
The accused, among the least likely to have committed any acts of terrorism, have been convicted by the media of crimes that they would certainly have been exonerated of had they lived to defend themselves. The fact that they were such unlikely terrorists has been used by the British government as a further excuse to expand their surveillance of the Muslim community for “extremism”. This newly- created paradigm of “home grown terrorists” has been used successfully to obtain convictions of Muslims in Britain, the US and Canada. These cases have created dangerous legal precedents which have eroded civil liberties and the justice systems in their respective countries.
In May 2011 the Hallett Inquest determined that 52 of the 56 London deaths had been “unlawful”, the fault only of the “bombers” rather than of the hours-long medical response time or a lack of diligence of the security services. Hallett refused the families of the accused the further investigation they had requested into how their loved ones might have come to have been involved. On August 2, 2011 a legal challenge by victims’ families to force the British government to hold a public inquiry into the July 7 attacks was abandoned “acknowledging that the proceedings would be likely to be unsuccessful.” The July 7th Truth Campaign’s efforts to obtain an independent inquiry are continuing.
· Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq. 2006. The London Bombings, London: Duckworth
Bennetto, J, Herbert, I, 2005. The suicide bomb plot hatched in Yorkshire. 13 July. The Independent. Retrieved July 28, 2011 at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/the-suicide-bomb-plot-hatched-in-yorkshire-498616.html
· Brothers, Karin 2008. Physics911. The Stepford Double-cross: How the London bombings turned every Muslim into a terror suspect. Accessed Aug 7, 2011: http://physics911.net/karinbrothers
· J7 blogspot Khan. The identification of Mohammed Sidique Khan. J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign. Accessed July 28, 2011 at: Http://77inquests.blogspot.com/search/label/Mohammed%20Sidique%20Khan?updated-max=2011-02-18T14%3A22%3A00Z&max-results=20
· J7 blogspot Tanweer. The July 7th Truth Campaign. Accessed July 28, 2011 at: Http://77inquests.blogspot.com/2010/11/77-inquests-disintegration-of-shehzad.html
· Jones, Sam 2005. Aylesbury house is searched in effort to find associates. Thursday, July 14. The Guardian. Retrieved on July 28, 2011 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/14/july7.uksecurity11
· Pallister, David 2005. UK-based dissident denies link to website that carried al-Qaida claim. The Guardian. Saturday July 9. Retrieved at July 28 at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/09/july7.uksecurity11
· The Bucks Herald 2005. Aylesbury was ’30 minutes from evacuation’. Tuesday, 25 October. The Bucks Herald. Retrieved July 28, 2011 at: http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/aylesbury_was_30_minutes_from_evacuation_1_600516
· Woods, R, Leppard, D., Smith, M. 2005. Tangled web that still leaves worrying loose ends: The arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat sets numerous questions. July 31. The Sunday Times. retrieved June 26, 2008: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article549996.ece
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