Friday, July 08, 2005


Questions grow on London bombing

Yesterday evening watching BBC News, I was stunned to hear that only after the third explosion did the London police decide that a bomb attack was underway and shut down the system. Until that point they had been theorizing that the train had experienced "a power surge."

I'm sorry that with my limited resources I can't find the video for you (if someone can, please send me the link), but I have a timeline from the Australian Herald Sun

  • 8.49am (GMT): An incident on the train line between Liverpool Street and Aldgate is reported to British Transport Police.
  • 9.15am: Media reports emergency services called to London's Liverpool Street station after an explosion.
  • 9.24am: Police say the incident was possibly caused by a collision between two trains, a power cut or a power cable exploding. Police report "walking wounded".
  • 9.33am: Passengers told that all underground train services are being suspended because of a power fault across the network.
  • 9.33am: Reports of another incident at Edgware Road station.
  • 9.40am: Police say power surge incidents have occurred on Aldgate, Edgware Road, King's Cross, Old Street and Russell Square stations.
  • 10.02am: Scotland Yard says it is dealing with a "major incident".
  • 10.09am: Witness Christina Lawrence, who was on a train leaving King's Cross, tells BBC: "There was a loud bang in the tunnel and the train just stopped and all of a sudden it was filled with black, gassy smoke and we couldn't breathe."
  • 10.14am: A witness says that a bus has been ripped apart in an explosion in central London.
  • 10.21am: Scotland Yard reports "multiple explosions".
  • 10.23am: Police confirm an explosion on a bus in Tavistock Place.
  • 10.25am: The BBC's Andrew Marr, with Prime Minister Tony Blair in Scotland, says the PM is "still unsure" whether the explosions are a terrorist attack.

  • ....
  • 10.53am: Home Secretary Charles Clarke makes a statement outside Downing Street about "dreadful incidents" causing "terrible injuries". He says Mr Blair has been informed and advises the public not to make unnecessary journeys.

  • ....
  • 11.18am: London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair tells the BBC he knows of "about six explosions", one on a bus and the others at train stations.
  • 11.26am: The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, blames terrorism for a "co-ordinated series of attacks".

This, of course, immediately puts into question the assertion that the Israeli embassy was alerted after the first explosion. What was the notification? That there had been an explosion caused by a power surge?

The second issue raised by the timeline is the level of ineptness and unpreparedness. That the London Transport Police had no way to distinguish between a bomb and a power surge is simply incredible.

The third issue is the parallel with the timeline of 9/11 wherein authorities failed to act on information they already had to prevent the second attack on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon. The media are comparing this event with the Madrid bombings when they should be comparing it with 9/11.

The fourth issue is what the loss of liberty that the British have already suffered—and which the British government is in the process of augmenting—has done to make the British public safer.

7/9/05 3:40 pm

In the continuing revision of what transpired and when, Canadian CTV reported today that

The three bombs that struck the London subway system last week blew up nearly simultaneously, police said, as families of the missing continued their search.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick said the bombs in the subway system exploded starting at about 8:50 a.m. local time Thursday, revising earlier accounts that the Underground bombs detonated within a 26-minute span.

"A slightly different picture has emerged around the timing of the incidents," Deputy Paddick said Saturday at a news conference.

"It would appear now that all three bombs on the London Underground system went off within seconds of each other."

The synchronization suggests that the explosives used in the attack were triggered using timing devices, not suicide bombers, although authorities have not ruled that out.

"It is high explosive," Paddick said. "That would tend to suggest that it is not homemade explosive, but whether it is military explosive, whether it's commercial explosive, whether it's plastic explosive, we don't want to say at this stage."

If the simultaneity of the explosions is true, it would render moot any question of whether the police were quick enough in identifying a bomb attack in the present instance. But if they truly thought the events could have been caused by a power surge, it would seem vital to develop a system of detection that can distinguish between a bomb and an electrical malfunction.

While officials are inclined toward a theory of timed explosions in the Underground, there are rumors of a suicide bomber on the bus—

There are reports that British security officials may have recovered the body of one of the bombers, though this has not yet been confirmed.

Eyewitness accounts say after the driver of the double-decker bus announced that the bus was being rerouted because of police activity, someone was seen on the upper deck fiddling with a bag.

"Everybody is standing face-to-face, and this guy kept dipping into this bag," Richard Jones of Berkshire, west of London, told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Shortly after that, say the witnesses, the explosion went off.

According to [Alex] Standish, [editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest], the man may have intended to leave his bomb on the subway, but was unable to board because the system had already been shut down. The man may have gotten on a bus instead and detonated the package sooner than he meant to.

Follow-up post
A note on rail tickets and timers (7/19/05)

Previous post
How to drive conspiracy theorists mad... (7/8/05)

Related post
Dirty propaganda in a "Dirty War" (updated) (2/24/05)

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