7-7 anomalies emerge

The conspiranoid site Prison Planet has picked up on a BBC Radio 5 report from the evening of July 7, the same day as the London attacks, in which Pete Power, a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism official and now managing director of the private security firm Visor Consultants, states that his company was carrying out an exercise on how to manage multiple bomb attacks on the London Underground at the precise time that the real attacks happened. He declines to say who contracted his firm for this work, saying only that it was “a company,” and that he can’t mention its name for “obvious reasons.”

POWER: At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.

HOST: To get this quite straight, you were running an exercise to see how you would cope with this and it happened while you were running the exercise?

POWER: Precisely, and it was about half past nine this morning, we planned this for a company and for obvious reasons I don’t want to reveal their name but they’re listening and they’ll know it. And we had a room full of crisis managers for the first time they’d met and so within five minutes we made a pretty rapid decision that this is the real one and so we went through the correct drills of activating crisis management procedures to jump from slow time to quick time thinking and so on.

Of course, like all conspiranoiacs, Prison Planet cannot refrain from telling the readers what to think:

The exercise fulfils several different goals. It acts as a cover for the small compartamentalized government terrorists to carry out their operation without the larger security services becoming aware of what they’re doing, and, more importantly, if they get caught during the attack or after with any incriminating evidence they can just claim that they were just taking part in the exercise.

This is precisely what happened on the morning of 9/11/2001. The CIA was conducting drills of flying hijacked planes into the WTC and Pentagon at 8:30 in the morning.

This last claim is not true. In fact, PP’s own embedded link on the drills goes to its page delineating several Pentagon (not CIA) exercises scheduled for the morning of 9-11, including one (Vigilant Guardian) that concerned a multiple hijacking scenario—but none concerning “drills of flying hijacked planes into the WTC and Pentagon.” The only one which came close to “drills of flying hijacked planes into the WTC and Pentagon” actually concerned such a scenario at the Chantilly, VA, offices of the DoD’s National Reconnaissance Office (see WW4 REPORT #48).

Prison Planet has also posted a follow-up story on the automatic e-mail Visor is now sending out in response to queries on the matter (which we present here minus PP’s distracting interjected commentary):

Thank you for your message. Given the volume of emails about events on 7 July and a commonly expressed misguided belief that our exercise revealed prescient behaviour, or was somehow a conspiracy (noting that several websites interpreted our work that day in an inaccurate / naive / ignorant / hostile manner) it has been decided to issue a single email response as follows.

It is confirmed that a short number of ‘walk through’ scenarios planed [sic] well in advance had commenced that morning for a private company in London (as part of a wider project that remains confidential) and that two scenarios related directly to terrorist bombs at the same time as the ones that actually detonated with such tragic results. One scenario in particular, was very similar to real time events.

However, anyone with knowledge about such ongoing threats to our capital city will be aware that (a) the emergency services have already practiced several of their own exercises based on bombs in the underground system (also reported by the main news channels) and (b) a few months ago the BBC broadcast a similar documentary on the same theme, although with much worse consequences [??]. It is hardly surprising therefore, that we chose a feasible scenario – but the timing and script was nonetheless, a little disconcerting.

In short, our exercise (which involved just a few people as crisis managers actually responding to a simulated series of activities involving, on paper, 1000 staff) quickly became the real thing and the players that morning responded very well indeed to the sudden reality of events.

Beyond this no further comment will be made and based on the extraordinary number of messages from ill informed people, no replies will henceforth be given to anyone unable to demonstrate a bona fide reason for asking (e.g. accredited journalist / academic).

The only other medium to pick up the story is Aljazeera.com (not to be confused with Aljazeera.net, webpage of the Qatar-based cable TV network, although the name was probably chosen precisely to cause confusion). Although Aljazeera.com refrains from interjecting commentary in the story, it waxes elequent about 7-7 “Conspiracy Theories” (by its own wording) elsewhere.

This anomaly certainly bears scrutiny, and the conspiranoiacs get credit for catching such anomalies and bringing them to light before they slip down the Orwellian memory hole. But they do the truth a big disservice through their sloppiness, treating conspiracies as a priori conclusions, and inability to simply let the facts speak for themselves. Prison Planet spells out how the 7-7 conspiracy supposedly worked in an article entitled “How the Government Staged the London Bombings in Ten Easy Steps“:

1) Hire a Crisis Management firm to set up an exercise that parallels the terrorist attack you are going to carry out. Have them run the exercise at the precise locations and at the very same time as the attack. If at any stage of the attack your Arabs get caught, tell the police it was part of an exercise.

2) Hire four Arabs and tell them they’re taking part in an important exercise to help defend London from terrorist attacks. Strap them with rucksacks filled with deadly explosives. Tell the Arabs the rucksacks are dummy explosives and wouldn’t harm a fly.

3) Tell four Arabs to meet up at London Underground and disperse, each getting on a different train. Make sure Arabs meet in a location where you can get a good mug shot of them all on CCTV which you can later endlessly repeat to drooling masses on television.

Etc., etc. Will somebody please tell Prison Planet that Pakistanis are not Arabs?

See our last post on the London attacks.

  1. Homegrown terror network, or international plot?
    From a July 12 Radio Free Europe report on the first arrest in the case:

    The arrested man is thought to be a relative of one of the main suspects. The present whereabouts of all the main suspects is unknown: police are considering the possibility that one or all of them were killed in the bomb blasts.

    But the most ominous news is that authorities believe most of the suspects were of Pakistani origin but born in Britain and raised in the provincial city of Leeds in Yorkshire. One of the bombers is thought to be from Luton, an industrial town just north of London. Both cities have large Muslim populations.

    If these facts are correct, the implications are grave indeed.

    It would mean that instead of having to deal with a handful of foreign terrorists who arrived in England on a single terrorist mission, the British authorities are facing a domestic terror scene that has been able to secretly nurture, train, and equip British citizens for a major attack on one of the world’s great cities — all under the noses of the police and intelligence communities.

    London-based security analyst Chris Langton of the International Institute for Strategic Studies says the events are a setback for national security.

    “This is a blow to the security of the country in that this happened without anybody being aware that it was imminent — particularly because the extensive surveillance and intelligence-gathering activities that have gone on over the last months have been successful in many other ways, in preventing attacks,” Langton said.

    Analysts say it’s too early to conclude that Britain already has a fully developed terror network. But some — like London-based security consultant Crispin Black — say it’s fairly obvious the bombers had access to expertise, probably from overseas.

    “I don’t accept the story that these [young men] would spontaneously turn into suicide bombers and carry out a do-it-yourself operation in London. I think they have technical support from a bomb maker, and command and control [links] from someone else,” Black said.

    1. Pakistan claims al-Qaeda link
      From China Radio International:

      Al-Qaida Links with London Bombs?
      2005-7-16 7:15:38

      Pakistani intelligence agents believe one of the London suicide bombers visited a school run by an al-Qaida-linked group, and met with the mastermind of a 2002 grenade attack.

      Pakistani intelligence agents believe one of the London suicide bombers visited a religious school run by an al-Qaida-linked terror group, and met separately with the mastermind of a 2002 grenade attack on a church near the U.S. embassy.

      The investigation focuses on at least one trip that 22-year-old Shahzad Tanweer made to Pakistan in the past year.

      Intelligence agency said that Tanweer is believed to have visited a radical religious school run by a banned Sunni Muslim militant group with alleged links to a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament.

      Pakistani officials believed Tanweer also met with Osama Nazir, a Pakistani militant arrested for helping plan a grenade attack on a church in Islamabad that killed five people in 2002.

      Three of the four suicide bomb suspects, Tanweer, 18-year-old Hasib Hussain, and 30-year-old Mohammed Saddiq Khan, were Britons of Pakistani ancestry.

      In London, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair confirmed police believed they would discover an al-Qaida connection to the London blasts.

      “I’ve said before this explosion has the hallmarks of al-Qaida, the simultaneous explosions, the fact that the dead appear to be sort of foot soldiers.”There is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist Muslim, there is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist Jew, there is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist Christian. The key issue is the slide into extremism.”.

      Pakistani intelligence officials said the Interior Ministry has provided photos and profiles of the suspected London bombers to intelligence agencies to help them determine whether they have any links to al-Qaida suspects already in custody.

      1. Arrests in Pakistan
        From the Mirror, July 16:

        Pakistan detains four more suspects in London probe

        By Mian Khursheed

        FAISALABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan’s security forces detained four men in the cities of Lahore and Gujranwala on suspicion of links with the suicide bombers in the attacks on London, an intelligence official said on Saturday.

        The news of detentions came a days after the security officials investigating connections with the bombings said they had rounded up four suspects in the central city of Faisalabad.

        An intelligence source said the authorities had established that all three Britons of Pakistani descent involved in the four-man suicide bomb team had visited Pakistan in the last year.

        Investigators had earlier confirmed that Shehzad Tanweer had visited Faisalabad and the eastern city of Lahore on two trips to Pakistan over the past two years, but the authorities were now sure that Mohammad Sidique Khan and Hasib Hussain also visited Pakistan in 2004.

        The two suspects picked up in Gujranwala were both believed to belong to the banned al Qaeda-linked Kashmiri militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammad), according to a security agency source.

  2. The ID anomaly
    Conspiranoiacs are also jumping all over claims that the bodies of the attackers were conveniently found with lots of ID. E.g.:

    Police found plenty of identification, including drivers’ licences and bank cards, on the four men’s bodies.

    “They wanted people to know who they were,” a security source told the Evening Standard. “They wanted to be martyrs.” (Globe & Mail, July 14)

    This is drawing obvious analogies to the seeming anomaly of a hijacker’s passport surviving the WTC disaster and being found by the FBI in the rubble. E.g.:

    Personal documents of all of them found at the scenes framing the patsies, just like paper passports of the hijackers found on 9/11.
    (Prison Planet)

    Well, we agree—it is weird. But once again, why do the conspiranoiacs always have to overstate the case? PP uses the plural (“passports”), but only one supposed hijacker passport was found in the WTC rubble. It belonged to Satam al-Suqami, and confusion about more than one found passport stems from early erroneous accounts that it was Mohammed Atta’s passport that was found. (Wikipedia)

    Numerous conspiranoid sites (Newsrake, Rense, KurtNimmo) seem not to have got the word that these early accounts were wrong, and happily go on assuming that both al-Suqami’s and Atta’s were found.

    People who take such dogmatic stances shouldn’t play so fast and loose with the facts.

  3. More houses raided
    From Bloomberg, July 14:

    British police today raided an eighth home in England as they expanded their investigation of last week’s London subway and bus bombings, attacks that may have been carried out by U.K.-born Muslims as young as 18.

    The house in Lodge Lane in the Beeston area of Leeds, in northern England, was being searched by officers from London’s Metropolitan Police, said a West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman in a telephone interview. A house in Aylesbury, northwest of London, was still being searched today after officers raided the building late yesterday, police said. The searches began with raids on six other homes in the Leeds area two days ago.

    While authorities haven’t named their four suspects, U.K. news organizations including the BBC have, describing them as 18 to 30 years old and from West Yorkshire. A fifth man, possibly the mastermind, is being sought, the BBC said. Police said they couldn’t rule out more attacks from people tied to the bombers.

    Once again, residents were evacuated from the “cordon zone” around the house, although further details weren’t available. Pretty scary how fast Leeds is starting to look like Palestine.

  4. The suspects
    Prison Planet is among those examining the information now available on the four suspects and determining: “As we predicted, the so-called suicide bombers are ordinary people who would have nothing to gain and everything to lose from blowing themselves up. We have a frame-up in action.” (Does anyone ever have anything “to gain” from suicide bombings? Other than a ticket to paradise?)

    Actually the results are rather a mixed bag. According to Newsday‘s profile today (July 14), assembled from wire reports:

    Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, spent “more time in the gym than the mosque” and his friends said “he never talked with them about religion.”

    Ejaz Fiaz, early 30s, “had recently dyed his hair blond and shaved the beard he’d proudly grown as a mark of a devout Muslim.”

    Hasib Mir Hussain, 19, had long hair and blue contact lenses, and was “a charmer who liked to flirt,” but “turned very religious two years ago.”

    Shahzad Tanweer, 22, was “quiet” and “religious” and travelled to Pakistan this year to study Islam.

    The accounts of un-Islamic behavior are drawing analogies to the 9-11 hijackers’ partying on the eve of their attacks. From PP’s “How the Government Stages the London Bombings in Ten Easy Steps“:

    6) 4th Arab goes out partying in London night before and ends up getting out of bed late. No worries, the 9/11 ‘hijackers’ did the same thing but that didn’t cause us a big problem.

    No source or link is provided for the claim that the “4th Arab” partied on the eve of the attack. (And, as we’ve pointed out, none of the London suspects were Arabs.) And claims (e.g. on 9-11Research) about the 9-11 hijackers’ supposed drinking binge may be overstated. Wikipedia tells us the incident at the Hollywood, FLA, sports bar was a week before the attacks (not the “night before”) and that Mohammed Atta, at least, was just drinking juice.

    1. and…
      Bill writes: “Will somebody please tell Prison Planet that Pakistanis are not Arabs?”

      AND: will somebody please tell PP that neither Pakistanis nor Arabs are COMPLETE MORONS? “Hire four Arabs and tell them to strap ‘fake’ explosives to themselves” blah blah blah. Is this not an outrageously racist fantasy?

    2. Who is the “fourth bomber”?
      News accounts are divided as to whether the “fourth bomber” (how exactly were the numbers assigned?) was Elaj Fiaz (also rendered Nadim Fiaz and described by Leeds Today as a “schizophrenic Elvis Presley fan”), persumably a British-born Pakistani like the other three, or a Jamaican-born Briton named Lindsey Germail. (AFX News, July 14) Strangely, the media seem not to be noticing this anomaly in their own reporting.

      1. Widow skeptical
        The media seem now to be settling on Lindsey Germail/Jamal, 19, a Jamaican-born convert to Islam, as the “fourth bomber” (King’s Cross). His pregnant widow, however, is refusing to believe it and demanding DNA evidence. From the Sun, July 16:

        I want to see DNA proof

        SUICIDE bomber Lindsay Jamal’s wife last night insisted: “They’ll have to prove to me he did it.

  5. More on the bombs’ military origin
    London explosives have military origin

    LONDON, July 13 (UPI) — Scotland Yard has asked for European cooperation in finding how last week’s London subway and bus bombers obtained military plastic explosives.

    Traces of the explosive known as C4 were found at all four blast sites, and The Times of London said Scotland Yard considers it vital to determine if they were part of a terrorist stockpile.

    C4 is manufactured mostly in the United States, and is more deadly and efficient than commercial varieties. It is easy to hide, stable, and is often missed by traditional bomb-sniffing detection systems, the newspaper said.

    Forensic scientists told the newspaper the construction of the four devices detonated in London was very technically advanced, and unlike any instructions that can be found on the Internet.

    The attacks in the morning rush-hour Thursday killed at least 52 people, and injured more than 700. At least four British bombers, three of Pakistani descent are among the dead.

    Another man was arrested in West Yorkshire Tuesday, but no further details have been released.

    London bombers used ‘military’ explosives

    LONDON, July 12 (UPI) — High-grade military explosives appear to have been used in the London bombings last Thursday, a senior French counter-terrorism officer has said.

    “The nature of the explosives appears to be military, which is very worrying,” said Superintendent Christophe Chaboud, the chief of the French anti-terrorist police, who was in London to assist Scotland Yard with the investigation.

    Detectives have concluded that a single bomb maker built all four devices as similar components were found at all four blast sites, the Times of London reported Tuesday.

    British intelligence officials have asked their European counterparts to check military stockpiles and commercial sites to determine is explosives are missing, European-based intelligence officials told the New York Times.

    But one official said the only “concrete evidence” was that the explosives were not homemade. “We don’t know if they are civil industrial or military industrial explosives.”

    1. Another flip-flop
      The experts have changed their story again. Now we’re back to the notion of simple homemade devices. From the Guardian:

      The simple but lethal device

      Alok Jha, science correspondent
      Saturday July 16, 2005

      Police suspect that the explosive used in last week’s attacks in London was a compound known to chemists as “mother of Satan”.

      It is simple to make and has been the explosive of choice for extremist groups in the Middle East for many years. It is often employed by bombers in the West Bank, and was used by the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, who had packed it into his shoe in his failed attempt to bring down an American Airlines flight in 2001.

      Its chemical name, acetone peroxide, betrays the simplicity of its ingredients, which can be drawn from easily available household products such as nail varnish remover.

      A polymer of acetone peroxide – triacetone triperoxide (TATP) – is one of the most sensitive explosives known, being highly sensitive to impact, temperature and friction. It can be made to explode in the presence of a flame or spark.

      “It is very, very dangerous,” said Hans Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College.

      “The skills of a reasonable graduate from a British university first degree who has done organic chemistry will perfectly well understand how to make it, and he could make it.”

    2. Magdy El nashar militarywor
      Magdy El nashar military
      worked at egyptian military factories
      this the truth
      check BBC footage of his house
      read title under his name if you can read arabic

  6. Timers or suicide?
    Contradicting earlier reports (e.g. Reuters, July 9) that timers were used in the bombs, authorities are now saying the attacks were suicide bombings. A July 14 NBC report on this claim also notes:

    British police are pursuing a fifth bombing suspect who may have masterminded the London attacks. According to an unidentified source quoted in The Times of London, detectives are looking for Magdy el-Nashar, 33, an Egyptian-born academic who recently taught chemistry at Leeds University. The newspaper said he was believed to have rented one of the homes being searched in Leeds.

    This would appear to be the only Arab related to the case. Contrary to the ignorant assumption of Prison Planet, none of the alleged bombers were Arab.

    1. El-Nashar arrested?
      From the UK Telegraph:

      London bombs suspect arrested in Egypt

      (Filed: 15/07/2005)

      A key suspect in the London bombings has been arrested near Cairo.

      Reports said Egyptian chemistry student Magdy Elnashar, 33, who was believed to have had a central role in making the bombs, had been detained near Cairo and was being questioned.

      Elnashar, who studied for a PhD at Leeds University, is thought to have links to a Leeds flat being searched by anti-terrorist officers.

      He was detained in a suburb of Cairo following a worldwide search involving the FBI, Interpol and other agencies.

      ABC said authorities believed he had left Britain two weeks before the four explosions that killed 54 people on July 7.

      A statement from Egypt’s Interior Ministry said Elnasher had returned to Egypt for 45 days of holiday and had intended to return to Britain to complete his studies.

      Elnasher denied any link to the attacks, it said.

      Leeds University said Elnashar came to Leeds to study for a PhD in the school of biochemistry in October 2000.

  7. Flashback to Madrid
    Prison Planet also reminds us of a possible military connection to last year’s Madrid attacks, reprinting this story from the London Times:

    Madrid Bombers Linked to Spanish Security Service

    London Times | June 21 2004

    THE man accused of supplying the dynamite used in the al-Qaeda train bombings in Madrid was in possession of the private telephone number of the head of Spain’s Civil Guard bomb squad, it emerged yesterday.

    Emilio Suárez Trashorras, who is alleged to have supplied 200kg of dynamite used in the bombs, had obtained the number of Juan Jesús Sánchez Manzano, the head of Tedax.

    The revelation has raised fresh concerns in Madrid about links between those held responsible for the March bombings, which killed 190 people, and Spain’s security services, and shortcomings in the police investigation. Señor Suárez Trashorras and two other men implicated in the bombings have already been identified as police informers. Other members of the group had evaded police surveillance, despite concerns within the security services about their activities and evidence of their association with al-Qaeda.

    The telephone number of Señor Sánchez Manzano was contained in a Civil Guard dossier handed to Juan del Olmo, the investigating judge, at the National Court in Madrid. The number was written on a piece of paper found in the possession of Carmen Toro, the wife of Señor Suárez Trashorras. Both are in custody accused of supplying dynamite used in the Madrid bombs.

  8. On the whole, your don’t have a leg to stand on
    Although you are fair and correct in some of your criticism, you net effect is obscuring the truth. You ad hominem attach (conspiranoid) language places you in the same general category as Ann Coulter.

    I understand why anyone can take exception to prisonplanet. But, have you had a chance the read the absolute crap in the 911 Commission Report. Who’s side are you on?

    1. I’m on the side of truth.
      With a small t rather than a capital one.

      It is you conspiranoids who share the Bush mentality: either we’re with you or against you. It’s OK for you to call everyone outside your own elite circle “sheep”, but if your critics engage you in a little colorful invective we’re with The Enemy. “Conspiranoid” is a reference to Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” a phenomenon which has hypertrophied since he wrote the essay in 1964.

      Conspiranoiacs also invariably can’t spell (I think you meant “attack,” not “attach”) or use correct grammar (questions generally end in question marks—or were you sleeping that day in second grade?)