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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Authorities let Tube bomber ‘slip away’

Gulf News

LONDON: The row over British intelligence failures deepened yesterday after it was claimed that London Tube bomber Mohamed Sidique Khan was recruited by the Al Qaeda up to five years ago. (prior to 9/11/01)

The ringleader behind the July 7 attacks met and trained with senior terrorists across the world, but was deemed not to pose a threat.

As reported in the Evening Standard 10 days after the attacks, Khan was the subject of a ‘routine assessment’ by MI5 last year after his name cropped up in an investigation into a foiled bomb plot in Britain.

On Tuesday night it was revealed that spies had filmed and taped him talking to a terror suspect in the plot who has since been detained. But Khan was dismissed by officials as being merely a ‘criminal associate’.

In the three months since the July 7 attacks, it has been revealed that Khan frequently travelled abroad on terror missions to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel.

It is now known he travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia as well.

In 2001, the same year that the 30-year-old began working as a primary school teaching assistant in Leeds, he was sent by Al Qaeda to meet a terrorist leader in Malaysia.

Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, is regarded as one of Osama bin Laden’s ‘most lethal’ terrorists and is believed to have organised the 2002 Bali bombing, killing more than 200 people.

Security sources believe Khan also met the bombmaker behind the attacks - known as the ‘Demolition Man’.

Azahari bin Husin, 46, studied at Reading University in the late Eighties and received a doctorate in engineering in 1990. He is linked to last month’s Bali bombings, which killed up to 30 people, and police will want to know if Husin helped the July 7 cell make their bombs.

Previously, Khan was known to have travelled frequently to Pakistan. British intelligence officials are still trying to trace Khan’s movements in Pakistan as they attempt to uncover the terror network that planned and supported the July attacks.

Israeli police have confirmed that Khan flew to Tel Aviv on February 19 2003 - two months before a suicide attack by two other British-born bombers.

He is also believed to have travelled to Afghanistan and to have trained at camps in the Philippines run by the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network. The group has waged a bloody campaign to establish an Islamic republic across much of South-East Asia, killing hundreds in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Last month, a chilling video suicide message emerged in which Khan claimed the British public were to blame for the London terror attacks. It is unclear how the tape was edited but it is understood that at one stage Khan refers directly to attacking the transport network.

British officials are trying to obtain the complete video, which is said to include a message from Aldgate bomber Shehzad Tanweer and a commentary by Osama bin Laden’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he refers to the Queen and further attacks.
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