Monday 22 September 2008 One of Scotland Yard's most experienced anti-terrorist officers was jailed for 10 months today after admitting credit card fraud involving tens of thousands of pounds.
Detective Sergeant Richard de Cadenet, 39, who worked on high-profile investigations including the 7/7 bomb attacks on London, misused more than £73,000 on a credit card issued to him by the Metropolitan police, Southwark crown court heard.
Intelligence and Security CommitteeEdit
- Could 7/7 Have Been Prevented?
- Review of the Intelligence on the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005
- Chairman: The Rt. Hon. Dr Kim Howells, MP
18. In early 2003, MI5 obtained intelligence indicating that an individual called Mohammed Qayum KHAN, from Luton, was the leader of an Al-Qaida facilitation network in the UK. He also appeared to be a contact of CENSORED.
19. The investigation indicated that there was a further key member of the network based in the UK. He was identified in late January 2004 as Omar KHYAM and he appeared to be acting as a courier for the network. Given his role as a courier, MI5 decided to put him under limited surveillance as part of their operation to find out more about the network.
20. However, in early February 2004 MI5 received intelligence which changed things dramatically, CENSORED.
21. This meant that MI5 were no longer looking at a facilitation network providing financial support to Al-Qaida overseas, but had instead found a bomb plot probably aimed at the UK. At this point, KHYAM became one of MI5’s top targets and Operation CREVICE became their top priority.
The size of Operation CREVICE CREVICE was the largest operation MI5 and the police had ever undertaken. It spanned a variety of countries across the world. In terms of the resources deployed by MI5, there were in the order of:
- 30 addresses searched;
- 45,000 man-hours devoted to monitoring and transcription; – 20 CCTV operations;
- 34,000 man-hours of surveillance;
24. Then, on 20 February 2004, the picture changed again. An electronics expert arrived from Canada to meet KHYAM. Surveillance showed that he was advising KHYAM and his associates on the construction and operation of remote detonation devices.15 This confirmed to MI5 that KHYAM was actively planning an attack.
25. Separately, but also on 20 February, the police anti-terrorist hotline received a telephone call from staff at a storage depot saying that someone had been storing a 600kg bag of fertiliser since 11 November 2003 and they felt it was suspicious. The police visited the storage unit later that day and obtained details of the fertiliser and the rental agreement. What they found confirmed intelligence previously received and indicated that the fertiliser was intended for use in a bomb attack. This showed MI5 that KHYAM not only had the intention to launch an attack, he also had the capability.
26. Then, on 22 February 2004, KHYAM was heard considering a number of possible targets which would cause either mass casualties (such as Bluewater shopping centre or the Ministry of Sound nightclub) or mass disruption (like the gas supplies). This indicated to MI5 that the plot was gathering pace – in the space of just three weeks MI5 had gone from a relatively routine investigation of a facilitation network to a top-level operation to prevent a large-scale bomb attack in the UK.
29. This dilemma came to a head during March 2004. It appeared from eavesdropping that KHYAM was becoming “jumpy” – he and the other CREVICE plotters were heard talking about leaving the country. MI5 thought this might be an “escape plan” for after an attack and, therefore, that the attack might be imminent.
30. MI5 and the police decided they could not take the risk that an attack might be launched, so between 29 March and 1 April 2004, the core CREVICE suspects, including KHYAM, were arrested.
32. However, soon after the CREVICE arrests, and whilst MI5 were following leads from that investigation, a different group of men whom MI5 already had under investigation (separately to CREVICE) started talking about possible terrorist attacks in the UK and the US. Immediately, this threat to life became MI5’s new top priority (just as CREVICE had been in February and March 2004).
33. This new operation was codenamed RHYME. The RHYME terrorist plotters were planning a series of co-ordinated attacks in the UK, including packing three limousines with gas cylinders and explosives before setting them off in underground car parks. The group were also believed to be planning to use radiological material in bombs. Investigating the RHYME group again absorbed most of MI5’s resources.
34. Shortly after the RHYME group were arrested, in August 2004, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the Head of the Metropolitan Police Service Counter- Terrorism Command and National Co-ordinator of Terrorism Investigations, said of the plot: “This could have caused huge loss of life. The plans to set off a dirty bomb in this country would have caused fear, panic and widespread disruption.” By foiling the RHYME plot, MI5 and the police had, again, stopped a terrorist attack which could have killed or injured a considerable number of people.
35. Once this immediate threat to life had been dealt with, MI5 again returned to follow up on the 4,000 contacts they had come across during CREVICE, and they also added the contacts they had found during Operation RHYME. But new plots were being discovered all the time, and each new plot demanded considerable resources and pushed this follow- up work lower down the scale of priorities. In each instance, the potential threat to life had to be dealt with first.
36. Some of these operations resulted directly from CREVICE: CENSORED
226. The Metropolitan Police Service told the Committee that they had, in the past, run exercises with scenarios similar to what actually happened on 7 July 2005. Since 2003, they have run an annual exercise known as Operation HANOVER which develops different scenarios for attacks on London and rehearses how the Metropolitan Police Service would respond. By coincidence, their 2005 exercise, run by the Security Co-ordinator’s office in the Anti-Terrorist Branch, took place just a few days before the attacks – on 1–2 July. The office-based scenario for this exercise was simultaneous bomb attacks on three London Underground trains at Embankment, Waterloo and St James’s Park stations. Once again, the scenario is quite similar to what actually took place, and the fact that it took place so close to the actual attacks is an interesting coincidence.
228. It would seem that multiple and near-simultaneous bomb attacks on the Underground is a fairly routine scenario for rehearsing crisis management in London.
231. On 27 June 2006, the Committee were informed that the Head of MI5 had received categorical assurances from FBI Headquarters that Mohammed Siddique KHAN had never featured on any US watch list.
238. On 27 June 2006, in response to questions from the media relating to the “bugging” of Mohammed Siddique KHAN’s car, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) issued a statement saying: “In view of speculation in the media, the MPS would like to make it clear that we have no knowledge of any technical device being fitted to Mohammed Sidique Khan’s car prior to the July 7 bombings.”
243. It is alleged by the Saudis that they provided intelligence of the 7 July attacks to our Agencies before they took place. We have investigated this allegation. The only intelligence we have seen that may be relevant was provided to MI6 by the Saudis in December 2004: CENSORED
244. There are some minor similarities between this intelligence report and the events of 7/7 but nevertheless it differs substantially from what actually took place.
253. It has been alleged in the media that there was a mastermind of the July bombings called Haroon Rashid ASWAT, and that he was linked to both the CREVICE fertiliser bomb plot and the 7/7 bombers. Mobile phone records are alleged to have confirmed that he was in contact with Mohammed Siddique KHAN hours before the London bombings.
254. After the bombings, MI5 investigated whether or not there was a “mastermind” who left the UK before the attacks. They found no intelligence to suggest that this was the case and no indication that ASWAT had any part to play in 7/7. There were some strands of intelligence, shortly after the bombings, which led MI5 to believe that ASWAT may have been involved in the attack, but these have since been discounted. Given that ASWAT and Mohammed Siddique KHAN lived in the same area of West Yorkshire, it is possible that they knew each other. ASWAT was detained in zambia on 20 July 2005 and deported to the UK on 7 August. On arrival, an extradition warrant requested by the Americans was served on him. He is currently awaiting possible extradition to the United States (he has gone through the domestic extradition process, and a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights on whether his extradition would be human rights compliant is expected in the summer of 2008).
256. It has also been alleged that ASWAT was protected from prosecution by Western intelligence services, and that he was able to leave the UK despite being on a terror watch list. We have found no evidence to substantiate these allegations.
284. During the course of its inquiry the Committee requested from the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service details of those convicted for terrorism offences between March 2004 and the present date. This was to see the results of the operations MI5 and the police have been running.
285. We were told, however, that the figures do not exist in this form. All that could be provided were statistics on arrests between 11 September 2001 and 31 March 2007
289. The Committee is both disappointed and concerned that such a simple, yet essential, piece of the evidence base – the successful conviction of terrorists – was not only unused, but was not even available. This is basic information that should have been being analysed to assess how well aspects of the strategy were working and what changes needed to be made – particularly in terms of legislation.
Mohammed Qayum KHAN
Today Q lives in a rented semi-detached house in Luton. Until recently he was working as a part-time taxi driver, and a Guardian journalist has also seen him working as a chef in a small cafe . When approached, he denied he was Q. He is thought to have since disappeared.
He is thought to have been born in Pakistan, a country he has visited often in recent years. The Old Bailey heard that during one trip in 2003 he was followed by the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI. The agents are said to have tracked him overtly to let him know they were aware of his presence there.
He was said in court to be taking orders from a senior al-Qaida figure in Pakistan called Abdul Hadi. He is understood to be Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi who, according to reports in the US, is a Kurd who served as an officer in Saddam Hussein's army. He is said to be a confidant of Bin Laden, and to have acted as an emissary to Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq. Iraqi was named by the US state department as a terror suspect shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
Q's alleged relationship with a senior al- Qaida figure was claimed by Mohammed Junaid Babar, a member of the fertiliser bomb gang who turned informant after being arrested by the FBI in New York.
Mohammed Sidique KhanEdit
Little is known about the 7/7 ringleader. Council Connections Born in St James's University Hospital, Leeds, Khan grew up in Beeston but moved to Lees Holm in Dewsbury, near Leeds in early 2005. He received his secondary education at South Leeds High School, formerly the Matthew Murray High School, which was also attended by Hasib Hussain. Khan went on to study at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Khan worked at Hillside Primary School in Leeds as a "learning mentor" with the children of immigrant families who had just arrived in Britain. Khan's colleagues commented that he was a quiet individual who did not talk about his religious or political beliefs. Khan was also involved in the community-run Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston, and worked at its youth outreach project, the Hamara Youth Access Point (HYAP). Staff at the centre have confirmed that two of the London bombers, Shehzad Tanweer and Hasib Hussain, frequented the HYAP. Khan used the outreach project as a recruitment centre, according to a friend of his who spoke to The Guardian.
His mother-in-law, Farida Patel, is also involved in education and works as a council liaison officer at a school in Dewsbury. In 1998 she was the first Asian woman to be invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party, meeting the Queen and other members of the royal family, in recognition for her work amongst the Muslim community in Dewsbury, and again in 2004.
Abdullah el-Faisal In 1999 he came under the influence of a "Muslim" cleric, Abdullah el-Faisal, who had actually been born into an evangelical christian family working for the Salvation Army in Jamaica. In 1981, Ttwo years after converting to Islam (aged 16) Faisal went to Trinidad on a Saudi Arabian government-sponsored six-week "crash course" in Islamic and Arabic studies, where he was taught "the skills of being an imam." He left Jamaica in 1983 for Guyana where he studied Arabic and Islam for a year. He then moved to Saudi Arabia on a Saudi government scholarship in November 1984 where he studied at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Muhammad university of Riyadh for seven years. During this time El-Faisal was sent to the United Kingdom to preach by Sheikh Raji. Having completed his Islamic studies he returned to the UK in 1991, becomming the imam of the Brixton Mosque in South London. He quickly aquired rights of residence by marrying Pakistani-British biology graduate Zubeida Khan (whom he had met months after his arrival) in 1992.
Martin McDaid Martin McDaid (known to MI5 since at least 1998). McDaids home was raided in November 2003
(In April 2003?) Sidique Khan gave McDaid a three-minute lift in his blue BMW and a check on the car threw up Sidique Khan’s name and address at Gregory Street, Batley.
On one occasion Sidique Khan was bugged talking about his plans to travel to Pakistan for terrorist training.
The Security Service was separately interested in a Luton man, Mohammed Qayum Khan, since named in court as an al-Qaeda facilitator. It was monitoring his phone records - and one call was with a mobile registered to a "Siddique Khan". That phone was registered at the Iqra book bookshop. Since 7/7, we have learned that Mohammed Qayum Khan sent Khan to Pakistan in the summer of 2003 (He arrived using the false name Ibrahim) where Khan/Ibrahim then met an "Omar Khyam" from Crawley.
When he returned to the UK, Khyam began developing a massive bomb plot that the police and MI5 smashed in April 2004.
But before he was arrested, surveillance teams saw Khyam meet an unidentified man four times - Mohammad Sidique Khan.
Khan's bombing accomplice, Shehzad Tanweer, joined him for these meetings which required a 500-mile round trip from Leeds to Crawley. Following their first meeting, MI5 followed the Leeds men and took the photograph that was later so badly cropped.
Months before the bombings, two more strands emerged. MI5 received information that there was a man from West Yorkshire called Saddique, a committed anti-Western extremist. He and another man called "Imran" had trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the late 1990s and 2001. One document shows West Yorkshire Police linked the pair to the organisers of the 2001 Lake District camp. MI5's Witness G was asked why this intelligence was not followed up. He said that there was a good operational reason not to investigate further - but, ominously, it could not be disclosed on national security grounds.
On 18 July 2005, the Pakistani government released video footage of Khan arriving at Karachi airport on 19 November 2004 with Shehzad Tanweer, another of the London bombers, on Turkish Airlines flight TK 1056. Khan and Tanweer stayed in Pakistan until 8 February 2005, then flew back to London together. A third member of the London group, 18-year-old Hasib Hussain, arrived in Karachi on 15 July 2004 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on flight SV714.
Prior to his travel to Pakistan, this Zeeshan Siddiqui had worked for London Underground. Counter-terrorism officials allege that he met Abd Al Hadi al-Iraqi, a senior Al Qaida leader.
According to the Daily Times he was arrested when he went to a Police Station in Peshawar to report the loss of his passport. Zeeshan reports he was tortured by Pakistani security officials. Zeeshan wasn't charged with any terrorism related offenses. He was charged with not having valid travel documents though even these charges were dropped and in January 2006 he was released. A Pakistani judge ruled that he should receive corneal surgery, because his beatings had damaged his eyesight.
Following his return to the United Kingdom, in May 2006, Zeeshan was put under a control order. According to the BBC he took "a customer service job with a firm with links to Euro-Disney resort in Paris". He sought an amendment to the control order's travel restrictions, because his new job would require training in Paris. When he didn't comply with the terms of his control order he was confined to a mental institution.
On June 14, 2007 the Daily Mail reported that he escaped from that mental institution, and was at large.
Shehzad Tanweer, joined M.S.Khan on a 500-mile roundtrip meeting with Omar Khyam in Crawley.
In the months before he travelled to London to blow himself up on the underground train to Liverpool Street, Tanweer, 22, visited Pakistan to study the Qur'an and Arabic. "He came home after three months because he didn't like the people there," his uncle, Bashir Ahmed, 64, said. "When he came back he started going to the mosque five times a day," said Mr Ahmed. The day before Thursday's bombings, Tanweer, who lived with his father, Muhammad Mumtaz, a fish and chip shop owner, and mother, Parvaz Akhtar, saw his uncle. There was nothing to suggest what he was about to do. "He was very calm. No one knew he was going to London."
"He was proud to be British. He had everything to live for. His parents were loving and supportive. They had no financial worries. He was intelligent. He went to university. His plan was to go into sports. The family is shattered. This is a terrible thing. It wasn't him. It must have been forces behind him." Mr Ahmed denied that Tanweer had travelled to Afghanistan and taken part in training camps. "There is no way - I have seen his passport," he said.
Tanweer attended the Muslim Association mosque and madrasa in Stratford Street near his home daily. But the imam there denied that the mosque had sent him to Pakistan.
The 'Girlfriend' July 7 terrorist Shehzad Tanweer had a secret girlfriend as he prepared to wage holy war, it emerged January 16, 2011. He met the woman in the weeks leading up to the suicide attack. She has now told police about her conversations and meetings with Tanweer in the days before his attack on a Circle Line train near Aldgate station. She says even her own family do not know she had a relationship with Tanweer, and the police have granted her total anonymity.
The pair began a relationship in June 2005, shortly after Tanweer returned to his home in Leeds from a terror training camp in Pakistan. Her existence came to light at the inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims, where she was known only as ‘A’ when she gave evidence.
Coroner Lady Justice Hallett said: ‘The revelation of her identity could have devastating impact upon her life, her privacy and possibly upon her health.’ The woman had co-operated with police ‘in confidence’, and the coroner said she would not want others to be discouraged from doing the same.
Tanweer’s father, Mohammed Mumtaz Tanweer, shook his head and said ‘no comment’ when asked about his son’s secret girlfriend.
Tanweer's religious credentials as a serious Islamic extremist were cast in a questionable light when, in 2011, evidence emerged that he had a 'secret girlfriend' with whom he had been intimately involved until the very end, for a period of three years beginning in 2002. This evidence seems to cast Tanweer in a somewhat contradictory light, as sex outside of marriage is deeply frowned upon in even the most liberal Islamic circles, being assigned the label of a major sin in traditional Islamic Jurisprudence."
On September 12, 2001, Martin Gilbertson attends a party in Beeston, a neighborhood in Leeds, Britain, where a group of Muslim youths are celebrating the 9/11 attacks that took place the day before. Gilbertson is introduced to three men who run the Iqra Islamic bookshop and some related establishments in Beeston. Their leader appears to be Martin McDaid, a former Royal Marine who converted to Islam and changed his name to Adbullah Mohammed. Gilbertson, a former Hell’s Angel and rock and roll roadie, is not Muslim, but McDaid and the others ask if he can instruct them in website production. Over the next two years, Gilbertson ends up getting paid to do the production work for them himself, as well as repairing their computers and setting up encryptions to protect their computers from being monitored. Gets to Know 7/7 Bombers - Two of the future 7/7 London bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, live in Beeston and regularly visit the Iqra bookshop. Gilbertson comes to know them well. But after spending time editing video footage meant to serve as radical Islamist recruiting propaganda DVDs, he becomes alarmed at the content and decides to go to the police. Informs Police - In October 2003, he goes to the local police to warn them about the circle of radical Islamists he is working for. For instance, he warns that McDaid is “ranting and raving” about “jihad.” He is told to send his material to the anti-terrorist squad at the West Yorkshire police headquarters instead. So he sends them a package containing some of the DVDs he helped make, a contact number, a list of names (including Tanweer and Khan), and details about their e-mail traffic. He leaves the area some months later and loses contact with the group. He never hears back, until he goes to the police again shortly after the 7/7 bombings. Police Fail to Say If They Were Informed - A West Yorkshire police spokesman will later say: “It’s going to be almost impossible to trace what happened to a specific item of mail. We don’t have an anti-terrorist squad, and there’s no way of saying to where it might have gone from the mailroom. We get all sorts of material on extremist groups—but it’s impossible to say whether this made its way into the intelligence system, whether it was discounted as low-level intelligence or whether it was acted upon in some way.” Talk about Dying for the Cause - Gilbertson will later say that he did not hear any specific plans for suicide bombing. But an associate of his will later say: “Some people made it clear they had no objection to dying for their cause. They didn’t see it as suicide, and didn’t talk much about martyrdom. They saw the suicide bomb as the only weapon they had in a war in which they were outgunned and overpowered.” [GUARDIAN, 6/24/2006] Police Raid - Gilbertson will later tell the BBC: “I know that other people were talking to the police at the same time. There were many people who were voicing their concerns about what was happening in Beeston. But nobody would listen.” But he also believes that police raided the Iqra bookshop soon after he mailed his warning. He says that in early 2004, he was asked to repair a laptop belonging to one of the people he had warned the police about, and was told the laptop had been damaged after being seized by police. He says that he thought, “Oh, the police listened to me.”
Martin McDaid, who also served in the Special Boat Service, said he knew the four terrorists but he was totally against violence. Mr McDaid, who now calls himself Abdullah, said he worked several hours a week at the Iqra bookshop in Beeston, Leeds, where the four terrorists lurked. Mr McDaid said:
"They left the bookshop before I even joined. He (Khan) said he agreed with the Sept 11th attacks and the manager didn't. It was only Mr Khan then, the other three weren't even on the scene. They then stopped speaking to us. They had also been ostracised by the mosques in Beeston, who did not agree with their views. We are totally against any violence."
He said he had served in the Royal Marines for 10 years:
"I'm an ex-anti-terrorist operator. I spent one and a half years with the Special Forces - with the Special Boat Service. I finished nearly 15 years ago."
He said he was the educationalist at the Hamara Islamic Centre and was responsible for taking members out on field trips:
"I know a lot of people, I know 600 people in this grand mosque alone. Yes, I know these four and I spoke to them to say "hi and bye'. Whatever views they held, they did not make them widely known. They even came to the grand mosque a few days before. They were polite."
"I also met Jermaine Lindsay (the King's Cross bomber) twice at the mosque. He played with the kids for an hour and everyone talked about his smile. It's very strange how these four came together. I also know the Egyptian from the chemist. Yes he is a bio-chemist working on enzymes. But he is not a bomb maker. I do not know how this guy has been implicated. Nothing can upset him, he is so sweet. We need to find the person who is really behind it. We need to find out who taught them. We are all worried that this person is lurking around teaching other people. The Muslim community wants to find this person as much as everyone else. I am against oppression of any sort. The videos are internet material. It was collated so the public would have easy reference information that is not normally available."
Wearing green robes with white trainers, the bearded former soldier denied preaching hatred and distributing hate-filled DVDs. He also denied any money from the bookshop had been used for anything illegal. He admitted knowing Naveed Fiaz, who also ran the bookshop and has been quizzed by police since the bombings:
"There is no charge against him. He runs the bookshop, he works with me. I am totally against violence of this sort and I completely condemn these acts. There were innocent people at the centre of those atrocities. Those people have no part in anything like this. I served this country in so many different conflicts. I would rather do someone a good turn than a bad one. These people have now passed away and they will be judged for what they have done. They will be judged by God".
A man, who did not wish to be named, said he had been preached to by McDaid but it had not been extreme.
"He would be behind the counter wearing western clothes, and would tell me to make sure I prayed and attended the mosque. He was always quite pleasant."
The Ministry of Defence refused to identify any current or former members of the armed services.
- Panorama: London under attack
- Peter Power Visor Consultants
A WOMAN sat back to back with Hasib Hussain on the bus — but LIVED when he exploded his bomb. Sapna Khimani was on the top deck in a rear-facing seat while Hussain was inches away looking towards the front. She said in a statement read to the inquest: “There was a bright flash of white light from behind me and simultaneously a firecracker from my left. “The next thing I was aware of was a female and male voice asking who I was. My lips were stuck together. “I could not open my eyes. I was aware of being placed on something and being wheeled to a vehicle. The next thing I knew was waking in hospital to the face of my husband.”
was in an upstairs seat, told how the bomb went off “a few short seconds” after several passengers got off the gridlocked vehicle. He said: “A black guy in a dark suit flew backwards, like being sucked out of an airplane. “The top of my shoe had been ripped off. There was literally nothing left behind me.” Gary instinctively leapt from the ripped-open top deck on to the pavement and ran, still not realising the bus had been bombed.
said he was on the top deck with girlfriend Tania Calabrese when he was thrown 20 metres out of the back of the bus. Tania said: “My seat was the last one there and intact. The metal beneath my feet was collapsing. I held on to a bar. “I realised Tony was not with me. I could see bodies hanging off the side of the bus. I was screaming his name trying to find him. I found him on the floor quite a distance from the bus.
told the inquest that she had seen an "Asian-looking tall guy with a big backpack" get on to a No 91 bus close to King's Cross station. He quickly drew her attention because of his agitated manner.
"He started moving [from side to side] nervously. People were already packed on the bus and someone punching them all the time with the backpack, that was very bad manners," Dybek-Echtermeyer said.
The backpack was clearly heavy, she said, and the bomber, standing only half a metre from her on the lower deck, "looked very exhausted and had sweating going onto his chin, and that was also very horrible to look at".
She said she had exchanged glances with other commuters who were also annoyed by his behaviour.
The inquest has already heard that Hussain tried to detonate his device to coincide with the other three bombers but had to buy replacement batteries and make a second attempt.
Because of the disruption caused by the earlier explosions, Dybek-Echtermeyer said, the No 91 bus had travelled only a short distance before it terminated at Euston station. She had walked to Tavistock Square where she had tried to board another bus – the No 30 that Hussain had just boarded – but found it was too full.
Moments later, she told the inquest, "I felt this huge noise and blast of air ... [I turned and] basically I saw the bus going into the air and I just ran."
A BOMB blast survivor has spoken of the moment she was reunited with the “inspirational” hero who led her to safety.
Lisa French was travelling to a meeting in London on July 7, 2005, when she was redirected from an Underground station to a nearby number 30 bus service.
Once on the upper deck, she was sitting just inches away from a young man carrying a bomb that he would soon detonate, killing 13 people as well as himself.
While Lisa, of Longbenton, North Tyneside, cannot remember the blast, she will never forget the sight of Chris Symonds, the British Transport Police worker who came to her aid and guided her from the wreckage of the red London Transport bus.
Now, four years on, the 34-year-old has finally met up once more with Chris, a Falklands War veteran, after he was tracked down by producers from the BBC.
In tonights’s edition of BBC 1’s Inside Out, viewers can watch their emotional meeting.
Lisa said: “Those few minutes that he spent with us, looking after us, were inspirational. He’s an amazing man. When he first came up to me and the lady sat beside me, he introduced himself and showed us his ID badge – we were deaf from the blast so couldn’t hear anything – and he took us off the bus.
“I remember having this really pristine, clean and normal looking man telling me that everything would be okay and as he’d been through a similar experience, he was proof that it could be all right.
“He did some really clever little things to make us feel safe, like when he led us away.
“Instead of saying ‘we’re going to interview you down the police station’, he said: ‘Come on ladies, I’m going to take you for lunch in the police station’. Over the course of the next couple of hours, he was basically in command of the triage section set up in the station, and he organised getting trays of sandwiches and water bottles passed around. He was amazing.
“I tried to track him down several times, but he left the transport police and moved house. However, the Inside Out team wrote to every Chris Symonds living in London, and that’s how he got in touch.
“Meeting him again was amazing. It was like going on a blind date, I was so nervous, and I’ve told him he dare not walk out of my life ever again. He was an even bigger legend the second time around.
“I told him how he made me feel like the safest girl in the world. His new job at Network Rail sometimes brings him to Newcastle so we still keep in touch over email and we’re planning a night out and a curry soon.”
Chris, whose ship was hit when he served in the Falklands War, said: “I don’t think it ever goes away for me or for Lisa. For the rest of her life she will remember that awful day and I think it’s the same for anyone who has been involved in any kind of atrocity.”
Tonight’s Inside Out programme sees presenter Chris Jackson follow Lisa as she conquers her fears by detonating landmines in Cambodia, getting back on a London bus and skydiving from 13,000ft.
DR PETER JOHN PASHLEY HOLDEN:
While we rushed away, Dr Peter Holden, who was in London for a meeting inside the British Medical Association building, did the opposite.
“Everything went pink — that was the pressure wave hitting us. Then we heard the bang,” he says, talking today from a room at the BMA, directly above the site of the explosion.
Dr Holden is a GP but also works on two air ambulances and is a major incident adviser. “I’m trained for this kind of thing,” he says. “We deliberately waited two minutes and dropped the blinds. We had no doubt that it was a bomb… It used to be classic that there would be a secondary device. There’s no point being a dead rescuer.
“When I got downstairs two of my colleagues looked at me and said, ‘Peter, this is your scene, tell us what to do.’ I thought, ‘Oh deep shit.’
“I sat down for about a minute and wrote down my priorities, because that is the only way to deal with the issue…Then I moved back out and said, ‘Right, this is what we do.’”
The bus blast killed 13 people. Dr Holden prioritised 15 people according to their injuries and his colleagues set to work with nothing but two first aid boxes. He continued to manage the scene even when the emergency services arrived. “I was the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was just luck: I should have been elsewhere. I was told, ‘You have got a meeting with the minister at 12.30pm, so you had better stay and prepare. That’s how I ended up being here on that day.”
For Dr Peter Holden, “It won’t go away,” he says. “I work two days a week where it happened. Four times a day, two days a week I walk past the place where I made some very crucial decisions, so it’s a constant reminder. Occasionally there are tears, of course there are, but oddly enough it’s not then [at the time] that you get it. Sometimes the tears are when you go out on a job.”
But he is ready to get on with life and being a doctor has helped with that. “I don’t specifically agonise over that event. Those of us who work with the emergency services, we have learned to cope,” he says. “I want people to move on. That’s not disrespecting the dead, but actually we all do have to move on.”
(B) Dr Holden paid tribute to the caliber of the team around him, mainly older doctors who had the breadth of training and skill to call on.
Ironically Dr Holden had spent 9/11 watching events unfold in New York with the same group of Doctors by his side - they had talked over what their response would be to such an incident and remembered that on the day.
Only later did Dr Holden realize that the Courtyard where the treatments had taken place was in fact the site of the Memorial to Doctors killed in WWI and WWII. "I hope we did them proud." said Dr Holden.
By personal invite Dr Holden is now a member of the Emergency Incident Advisory group, one of three medics from the BMA to be honoured in this way.
He admits he's been unable to travel on a London bus since, and it took the group at the BMA a year to travel on the tube again.
(c) Monday 11th October 2010
It started as a normal day in the office - but quickly turned into a day which a Chesterfield born Doctor described as one on which the medical profession showed itself at it’s finest.
7/7 2005 saw Matlock GP Dr Peter Holden at his offices at the BMA in Tavistock Square where he spends two days a week. He shouldn't have been there at all, having been invited to see the refurbished offices at the Law Society, but, on count of a meeting with officials, had changed his plans.
Sitting with colleagues on the third floor, he was aware that something was unfolding - colleagues had reported that there were problems with London Transport and an Air Ambulance was circling close by, obviously looking for somewhere to land.
Within minutes everything had gone 'salmon pink' as the pressure wave from the No 30 bus being blown up hit.
In January 2011, Dr Holden will be at the Inquest which has begun this week, to give his account of the events that day. Findings will centre on how the 52 innocent victims died and whether more could have been done and whether the attacks could have been prevented. The inquest is expected to last five months.
The Chesterfield Post caught up with Dr Holden just before he returned to London.
Dr Holden has vast experience in pre hospital medicine, spending a large amount of time doing shifts with various air ambulance teams around the country. He's the BMA's lead negotiator on Swine flu and a highly regarded medic. He is one of only a few Doctors in the country to have completed courses on biological, nuclear and Chemical attack response.
He was therefore well placed to deal with what was put before him that day. His colleagues made it clear they were following his orders and he tells how his first point of call was to the Library in the BMA HQ where he knew he'd find a book, 'British Critical Management Master', only to find that, after years of seeing it gathering dust on the shelf, it had been moved that day!
So, it was down to Plan B - sit for two minutes in a corner and write down what he thought he'd need.
He recalls the scene outside as being 'chaos'. "There is", he says, "always a period of time where all involved need to get a sense of direction. There was no sense of horror, or fear."
He's used to dealing with roadside casualties, just a need to make clinical decisions. He remembers that he walked round with his hands in his pockets, knowing that he needed to be a clinical leader, fearing that as soon as he rolled his sleeves up he would become a 'Doctor' and the organization of the scene would be lost.
Dr Holden told us that all the training he's had has taught him to prepare for a scene that would have commanders and organized facilities. However, this unexpected event meant that only office medical supplies were on hand - just one bag of stuff. People were being brought in to be treated on table tops, used as stretchers and treatment was taking place in the inner Courtyard of the BMA Offices, as it was safer than anywhere else in case another blast took place.
The Doctors treating the casualties were vaguely aware of what was happening around the city throughout all of this, but with everyone shutting down their mobiles as a priority - the radioactivity could set off a second blast - communication was non existent.
THE TIMESCALE Dr Holden remembers getting downstairs to the scene at just before 10am.
The first external person arrived at 10:10am, an Ambulance Technician who was quickly dispatched to get more supplies.
At 10:20am the back doors opened at the BMA and help arrived in the shape of the Royal London Medics.
Dr Holden who, as he remembers, was wearing pin stripe trousers and a white shirt greeted them. They had communication equipment and were able to relay the message that there was a functioning casualty station that just needed supplies.
The first ambulance arrived soon after with an Ambulance Commander following behind, enabling a grease board to go up detailing casualty priority and an evacuation planned.
The area was cleared by 11:30am, leaving causalities who had been taken to a next-door hotel to be triaged by Dr Holden.
The only remaining priority was finding beds for the staff at the Offices, as London was gridlocked, and the Tavistock Square area was to become a forensic scene for 12 days, with spirit, Dr Holden informed us that offices were found so that the British Medical Journal could still be published as normal - "The Luftwaffe hadn't stopped us publishing , neither would they."
As the bus driver closed the doors in my face at the stop on Upper Woburn Place I wanted to scream. Swarms of people had got off. I could see people standing on the lower deck, but I knew I would have fitted. I swore at the driver — too late for him to hear.
Having already been thrown off the Tube at Euston, before sitting on a bus outside the station for some 15 minutes until I was told it would be going nowhere, I was seething. The No 30 went near my office, I was sure. I was already 45 minutes late for work and I needed to get on it.
Resolving to beat the crowds that were clustering around this bus stop and get on at the next, I marched after the bus, concentrating my gaze on its tall red back wall. When the No 30 bus blew up on Upper Woburn Place on July 7, 2005 I was 10 metres behind, trying to catch it. With a bang it seemed to vanish in a cloud of smoke — a horrific magic trick.
At that moment a shower of tiny pieces of debris fell down on me. Ahead, people in suits turned towards me and began to run. I stood still, shocked, until a man grabbed me, swung me around and rushed me in the other direction.
“The bus blew up into tiny pieces. The people must be in tiny pieces,” I kept repeating to him. “I was trying to get on that bus.”
“So was I,” he replied. “Don’t look back.”
I didn’t, but Psaradakis told the inquest that he had seen bodies dismembered and a leg stuck to the wall of his bus.
“When people ask me to talk about July 7 2005, the first thing that comes into my mind are all those innocent people, men and women, who lost their lives in such a horrible and barbaric way,” he says. “I don’t drive buses any more, but I still work in the bus industry and every time I see a bus it comes into my mind. Sometimes there are images and I think very strongly about them.”
Back at the top of Upper Woburn Place, the stranger and I parted. “I’m going to try to get to work,” he said, and I never saw him again.
For me it had begun as a normal morning. I was 22 years old and still living with my parents in south-east London. I had taken my usual train to London Bridge and got on the Northern line just moments before the blasts at Aldgate, Edgware Road and Russell Square — just early enough to be underground, cut off from news of what was happening. The Tube didn’t stop at Angel, my station, nor King’s Cross. By the time we were spewed out at Euston, I was cursing London transport — another day, another delay.
So, as I hovered vacantly on the road after the blast, the cause of the chaos still escaped me. “The driver must have known there was something wrong with the bus,” I thought. The word “bomb” did not enter my mind.
Police cordons prevented me from getting out of the area, so I sat on a bench outside the Friends House Quaker building on the Euston Road, with no concept of how I had arrived there.
I called my mother and managed: “A bus just disappeared in front of me,” before tears erupted. And once they started they kept coming, until someone from the Quaker building invited me in, wrapped me in a blue St John Ambulance blanket and gave me cake and tea.
A woman with a bloodied face followed me in, convulsing and signalling to anyone who spoke to her that she could not hear.
When the journalists arrived I was swept up in a storm of questions. My sister, who was in Mexico, first found out what had happened when she saw me on CNN. When my father arrived hours later, having navigated around several police cordons to get to me, I was talking to the BBC.
Although my story appeared in several newspapers subsequently, I felt then and still feel now like the fraud of 7/7. I was unhurt — not even scratched, where others were killed, injured or lost relatives. On the first anniversary I was keen to tell anyone who asked that I had not been affected. I had gone to work the next day on the Tube.
For some who suffered real losses, the past seven years will have stood still. For me, life has moved on. I have had two career changes. The first, in October 2005, perhaps subconsciously chosen because it took me out of London, off the buses and Tubes and into a car. The next into journalism.
In my case, my parents may have been most affected by what nearly happened to me that day. Thinking of what might have been, my father bought me an AA pocket A-Z of London and advised I try to walk around the city.
I kept it in my bag, but it was only weeks later, while looking up some directions, that I realised the picture on the cover was of Tavistock Square and Upper Woburn Place.
7/7 London bombings inquest: Victims would have died "whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them"
Each of the 52 victims of the July 7 2005 terrorist attacks would have died "whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them", a coroner ruled today.
Magdi Mahmoud el-NasharEdit
He helped rent a flat in Leeds, England, where he was studying for his doctorate, to 19-year-old Jermaine Lindsay before leaving on a six-week holiday to Cairo. Two weeks later, on July 7, Lindsay was one of four suicide bombers who blew themselves up in attacks they planned on the London Underground and a double-decker bus that killed 52 passengers. Police said the flat was used as a bomb-making lab and began a global manhunt, suspecting Mr El Nashar was the brains behind the operation. Mr El Nashar said he was arrested because his mobile number was found on Lindsay's phone. He said he was introduced to Lindsay through mutual friends who thought he could help find him a flat.
When biochemist Magdy Mahmoud Mustafa el-Nashar was released from custody in Cairo in 2005, no one could have be more relieved than the vacationing former student and his family.
Released unharmed by Egypt’s notoriously torture-prone Interior Ministry police, el-Nashar lived to tell the tale. But unbeknownst to the former North Carolina State University student there was a disturbing backstory to his arrest.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a damning report documenting the FBI’s abuse of the process for obtaining a National Security Letter (NSL) in connection with its probe of el-Nashar.
The Bureau delayed its own investigation in North Carolina “by forcing a field agent to return documents acquired from a U.S. university,” Ryan Singel reports.
Why? Because the agent received the documents through a lawful subpoena, while headquarters wanted him to demand the records under the USA Patriot Act, using a power the FBI did not have, but desperately wanted.
When a North Carolina State University lawyer correctly rejected the second records demand, the FBI obtained another subpoena. Two weeks later, the delay was cited by FBI director Robert Mueller in congressional testimony as proof that the USA Patriot Act needed to be expanded.
Samir Al AniEdit
Dr Shakir Al AniEdit
Dr Shakir first met Elnashar at the Leeds Grand mosque close to Alexandra Grove four years ago.
The two became friends and Dr Shakir rented him one of several properties he owns in St John's Terrace, close to the mosque.
When Elnashar approached him for the keys to Alexandra Grove, he agreed without hesitation.
Dr Shakir Mahmoud Hussain Al Ani