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British Intelligence Deserves Better
Last uploaded : Wednesday 16th May 2007 at 03:06
Contributed by : Carol Gould



In the first week of May this year a remarkable achievement was made in the annals of British Intelligence.

Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmoud, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar and Salahuddin Amin were convicted of conspiring to perpetrate an atrocity on the British mainland that would have put 9/11 in the shade. All British citizens, the men plotted over a stretch of time a meticulously-devised series of attacks on the Ministry of Sound nightclub, the Bluewater shopping mall in Kent and the House of Commons that would have resulted in mass casualties. They were to use fertiliser bombs, a nuclear device and an airliner to generate maximum death and destruction in their country, the United Kongdom of Great Britain. They sought out jobs in the power industry to establish the routes of the gas and electric grids.

The tracking of their plot, known as Operation Crevice, involved hundreds of intelligence and police operatives here and abroad. Credit is due to the vigilant young woman at the self-storage depot in England who wondered why the suspects were storing one gigantic load of fertiliser in their unit. She alerted police; in turn the security services removed the fertiliser for tests and replaced it with an exact visual replica made of cat litter. The terror suspects returned to inspect their parcel and were caught on a secret camera. The rest is history.

What is so striking about this story of triumph of the superb and subtle British intelligence community is that the media, instead of congratulating the intelligence officers, have used footage and stills showing two of the July 7th bombers on various training missions with the five convicted men to condemn the efficiency of the police and MI5. The Daily Mail devoted pages and pages to screaming headlines vilifying MI5 and Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, its director. Speculating as to whether Dame Eliza is leaving the service or was pushed, the report quotes Grahame Russell, whose son Philip was tragically killed on 7 July 2005: ‘I think the Government would want to hang Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller out to dry.’

Many survivors of 7/7 and families of the dead have been pursued by the media to comment on the story of the July bombers appearing in images with the five potential terrorists. They are outraged by the evidence that the men who perpetrated the London bombings slipped through the net. Yes, it is puzzling and lamentable that the other men were not pursued. Mohammed Siddique Khan, who blew himself up on the London Underground, is heard on a tape saying goodbye to his infant daughter before leaving for a mission to Pakistan. That MI5 and foreign security services did not purse the 7/7 men is unfortunate -- they were dismissed as credit card fraudsters only -- but the achievement of the same intelligence officers in preventing a massive atrocity unprecedented in human history deserves more praise than the media have cared to provide.

Lest we forget that only one of the 9/11 hijackers, Zacharias Massoui, was apprehended inside the USA. The actual event on that September morning was a miserable breakdown of domestic security. For that matter, Richard Reid, who in 2001 would have blown up an airliner had passengers and crew not disabled him, had entered Israel and travelled inside the Jewish State without being apprehended.

Notwithstanding the series of intelligence failures that led to 9/11 and July 7th he media condemnation of MI5 for failing to spot the July 7th bombers is a miserable misappropriation of blame. The intelligence services over thirteen masterful months managed to track the five Operation Crevice terrorists undetected and accumulate evidence with meticulous care and discretion.

Furthermore, the man who gave evidence against the five, Mohammed Babar, was arrested in New York; his evidence was fundamental to the trial. It is to the credit of the security services in the United States and United Kingdom that he was apprehended and, as it were, ‘cultivated’ into turning state’s evidence, or ‘supergrass.’(In a bizarre inversion of logic about Babar, a reader of the London ‘Evening Standard,’ John O’Brien of Woldingham, Surrey wrote in to the paper, ‘..The Crown Prosecution Service is now claiming a major success…over the use of an American citizen to give evidence on its behalf..’ He goes on to say it is ‘regrettable that members of the US forces have not been brought to witness or to justice when they have been involved in the deaths of British soldiers..’ American soldiers who commit a tragic friendly-fire mistake in the same league as five mass-murderers with fertiliser bombs and dirty nukes? )

Praise is often difficult to give but criticism seems to proliferate in the mass media. During World War II the British intelligence services performed remarkable feats in the defeat of Hitler. The new enemies of the West, radical religious fanatics dressed in jeans and Nikes as ordinary Joes, are being tracked down with the same skill the geniuses at Bletchley possessed. If thousands and even tens of thousands of deaths and maiming have been prevented with the incarceration of the five terror masterminds MI5 and the police deserve plaudits and, most of all, gratitude from a nation redeemed from an unspeakable and unprecedented tragedy.

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