July 7 bombings: Failure to link MI5 and police databases may have left bombers free

The failure to link databases at MI5, police forces and counter-terrorism organisations significantly weakened intelligence ahead of the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

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The failure to link databases at MI5, police forces and counter-terrorism organisations significantly weakened intelligence ahead of the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

Unlinked MI5 databases may have contributed to 7/7 bombingsThe badly overstretched authorities did not have access to the right data to create a joined up picture of suspects ahead of the bombings, according to a high level report issued yesterday by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

The committee called for “much better connectivity and automation between counter-terrorism and intelligence databases”, in particular between police forces, MI5 and regional counterterrorism organisations.

Police and security services were exonerated over the decision not to pursue the attacks’ ringleader, Mohammad Siddique Khan, even though he had been linked to terrorists planning another plot over a year before. But the report found their disparate databases badly lacking, which hindered the authorities’ ability to make key links in intelligence.

“Prior to 7/7, Mohammed Siddique Khan’s name had appeared on a number of occasions in different versions, linked to different addresses, telephone numbers and vehicles, on various databases and in connection with separate incidents. We have collated these instances [in the report] but at the time they were not connected,” the committee said.

The Police National Computer contained information on Khan referring to a caution for criminal assault in 1993, and West Yorkshire Police had records of checks on his car, a BMW. Records of phone calls received by Khan were held by MI5.

There were also records of Khan and meeting Omar Khyam in 2004, ahead of Khyam’s failed bomb plot targeting the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London. Checks on a car used by Khyam were held by his West Yorkshire Police, the Metropolitan Police and MI5.

None of the records was linked to create a joined-up picture.

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