London Blasts: Media Review
TWO MONTHS ON
65: 10 September 2005
The 'Mullah Crew': Revelations
About The 7/7 Cell
National Remembrance -
Without The Bombers' Families
Michael Meacher On UK-Extremist
THE 'MULLAH CREW': REVELATIONS
ABOUT THE 7/7 CELL
has a breakthrough story about the three Leeds bombers,
and quite what they were up to before the 7 July plot. Ian
Herbert and Kim Sengupta have done sterling work in
uncovering the 7/7 bombers' social work/gang activities.
Mohammad Sidique Khan,
the oldest of the four bombers, has been seen as the lead
bomber. He seems to have worked closely with Shehzad Tanweer
in creating a gang devoted to forcibly getting heroin addicts
off drugs, outward bound-type adventuring, and, sometimes,
fighting white gangs:
'The link between the
two men dates back to the 1980s. In recent years their
friendship had developed into membership of a 15-strong
group of Asian youths known as "The Mullah Crew".'
'The group's meeting points included
a local Iqra Islamic bookshop, which was raided by police
after the bombings, and a gym beneath Beeston's Hardy
Street mosque. Their radicalism was so blatant that the
gym became known as the "al-Qa'ida gym", according
to Tanweer's associates. But many were prepared to overlook
this because the leaders of the Mullah Crew were known
for energising many disenchanted Muslim boys whose heroin
abuse was giving the Asian community a bad name.'
'Tanweer seems to have been integral
to this process. "He and the Mullah Crew cleared
up the area," said a source. "Lads would be
taken by the group and put through cold turkey by locking
them in a room for five days." '
'The Mullah Crew's emphasis was on
strengthening the young Asians physically, often through
outdoor activities like paintballing, climbing in the
North Yorkshire Moors and canoeing in North Wales. Tanweer
was more committed than most and he is particularly remembered
for a paintballing trip in which he proved superb with
the gun. "He was approaching it like a proper soldier,"
said the source.'
'Islam was also a part of the Mullah
Crew's creed of clean living. "To be invited on one
of these outings you had to be a part of their religious
set," said another source. "They would not take
lads who had become too 'Westernised' for their liking."
'Another Mullah Crew trip saw an
ill-equipped group go half-way up Mont Blanc before they
were forced to head back. "Going without the proper
equipment made it seem as if they were testing their strength
for the jihad; testing their faith," said the source.'
'It appears that Tanweer took every
aspect of life seriously, from cricket (he batted for
Shaan B in the Quaid E Azam Yorkshire league) to snooker
(he rejected the usual, smoke-filled clubs in favour of
the Northern Club in Leeds, which has its own coach).'
'When it came to guarding what he
perceived to be his territory, his independent spirit
sometimes led to violence. The windows of his family's
chip shop were smashed after fights broke out between
white and Asian youths in Beeston. Tanweer seems to have
planned to get his own back. "He was part of a group
which planned to go to the white part of Beeston and get
some revenge," said a source.'
has built up a 'a different picture' of Shehzad Tanweer,
as more of an equal with Khan:
focussed, motivated and independent jihadist, who spent
time - without Khan - at a terrorist training camp in
Pakistan run by a group linked to the kidnap and murder
of an American journalist...'
'One of Tanweer's former associates
said the bomber had received lessons in handling arms
and explosives at the camp in Mansehra, a remote area
near the Kashmir border, in December and January. This
is corroborated by sources in Pakistan, one of whom claims
that he had two stints at the camp.'
One family member has
now revealed that there were hints of the 7/7 attacks. She
told Herbert and Sengupta:
'[The family] were
watching a documentary on Muslims in Britain [in May].
Shahzad was convinced there would be a battle between
Muslims and the West. [He said] "You'd better get
out of here. Everyone's going to hate you".'
While these hints are
now being recognised in retrospect, there is still no evidence
that any family member of any of the four bombers knew of
their plans in advance. The behaviour of many of them is
evidence in the opposite direction: Hasib Hussain's parents
reporting him missing to investigators on 7 July, in the
belief that he might have been a victim is the most noteworthy
example. This report was a crucial
clue in the early part of the investigation, accelerating
the identification of the Leeds bombers.
NATIONAL REMEMBRANCE -
WITHOUT BOMBERS' FAMILIES
reports that 'Relatives of the July 7 London bombers will
not be invited to the national remembrance service for the
victims. The Department for Culture said: "There is
no truth in the recent coverage." ' Back on Wednesday,
Waite, who was held hostage by Islamic extremists
for four years, stoked controversy over a memorial service
for the London bombings yesterday by calling for relatives
of the bombers to be invited. The former Archbishop of
Canterbury's envoy suggested that close relatives of the
four suicide bombers should sit alongside the families
of the 52 victims at the special service in St Paul's
'His comments were echoed
by Ken Livingstone,
the London Mayor, who said that it would be "offensive"
if relatives of the bombers were turned away from the
service on Nov 1. Mr Waite, who was held hostage in Beirut
from 1987 to 1991, said in an interview on BBC Radio 2:
"The parents definitely should be involved in the
service because in a different way they are victims themselves."
'He said that it was both "Christian
and courteous" to invite the families to the commemorative
service, which is due to be attended by members of the
Royal Family, senior politicians and leaders from different
faiths. He added: "I firmly believe the parents of
the children who commit crimes of an abhorrent nature
such as murder need understanding." '
'The suggestion was first raised
by Church of England bishops at the weekend. The
Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Jack Nicholls,
said he would like the bombers' families to attend, but
only with the approval of the bereaved and injured. "The
families should be consulted. If such a suggestion were
to bring more anger between communities it would not be
a risk worth taking," he said.'
release from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport
is rather curious. It says:
'The service is intended
to provide comfort to the grieving families and friends
of the victims. It will also be an opportunity to be an
affirmation of London as one of the world's great cities
and an affirmation of our multi-cultural and multi-faith
'There is no
in the recent coverage which alleges that the families
of the London bombers should
be invited to the service, or that this was ever
going to be the case.'
'We fully understand the anguish
of the families of the bombers, but it would be wholly
inappropriate to invite them to this service.'
There may be 'no truth whatsoever'
that the DCMS and St Pauls ever considered the possibility
of inviting the families, but it is hard to see how there
could be 'no truth whatsoever' in the 'allegation' that
they 'should be'
Britain is going to affirm its nature
as a multi-cultural and multi-faith society by excluding
demonised, isolated and innocent Muslim relatives from a
national service of remembrance. One of the few ways that
British society has of reaching out to British Muslims,
and offering these families a way out of exile or a cramped
life under police protection, is being thrown away.
All reminiscent of the controversy
over the national remembrance service after the Falklands
War. The Archbishop of the Church of England defied
the Government of the day in making the service inclusive:
'Mrs Thatcher famously fell out with
the archbishop when he used the celebratory service at
the end of the Falklands War to ask his congregation to
remember those who mourned on both sides. As
a former soldier and winner of the Military Cross he knew
precisely what war meant and preached a Christian
message inconvenient and embarrassing to a bellicose prime
minister who herself had never experienced combat.'
We expect less of the former anti-war
firebrand Rowan Williams, criticised
by broadcaster John Snow for 'running scared'.
MICHAEL MEACHER ON UK-EXTREMIST LINKS
Michael Meacher, former Environment
Minister in Tony Blair's Government, has a very interesting
article in today's Guardian
detailing US and British sponsorship of al-Qaeda-linked
now faces its own blowback'.
Chalmers Johnson, author of the book
recently in The Nation:
' "Blowback" is a CIA term
first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report
on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed
Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended
consequences of the US government's international activities
that have been kept secret from the American people.'
Returning to today's Guardian,
Mr Meacher has some interesting things to say about Britain's
an interview on Fox TV this summer, the former US federal
prosecutor John Loftus reported that British intelligence
had used the al-Muhajiroun group in London to recruit
Islamist militants with British passports for the war
against the Serbs in Kosovo. Since July Scotland Yard
has been interested in an alleged member of al-Muhajiroun,
Haroon Rashid Aswat, who some sources have suggested could
have been behind the London bombings.'
'According to Loftus, Aswat was detained
in Pakistan after leaving Britain, but was released after
24 hours. He was subsequently returned to Britain from
Zambia, but has been detained solely for extradition to
the US, not for questioning about the London bombings.
Loftus claimed that Aswat is a British-backed double agent,
pursued by the police but protected by MI6.'
The former minister suggests that getting
to the bottom of the 7/7 plot may turn on whether 'Scotland
Yard, in its attempts to uncover the truth, can prevail
over MI6, which is trying to cover its tracks and in practice
has every opportunity to operate beyond the law under the
cover of national security.'
Mr Meacher also cites 'a recent report
by the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation', which
suggests (rather implausibly, we think) that British-born
militant Omar Saeed Sheikh may have orchestrated the 7/7
bombings from his cell in Pakistan. Omar Sheikh 'is now
in jail in Pakistan under sentence of death for the killing
of the US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 - although many
(including Pearl's widow and the US authorities) doubt that
he committed the murder'.
Mr Meacher goes on to suggest that,
'Omar Sheikh who, at the behest of General Mahmood Ahmed,
head of the ISI [Pakistan's CIA], wired $100,000 to Mohammed
Atta, the leading 9/11 hijacker, before the New York attacks,
as confirmed by Dennis Lormel, director of FBI's financial
Omar Sheikh may well have an important
role in international terrorism, but it is difficult to
place a great deal of confidence of anti-Pakistan analysis
emanating from the Observer Research Foundation, whose mission
is 'Building Partnerships For A Global India'.
As for the Ahmed-Sheikh-Atta axis,
this may also exist, and ISI links to al-Qaeda seem extremely
plausible. However, the source for this story once again
is Indian: the Times of India
and India Today. This story from
which seems to have done quite a bit of work on the financing
of 9/11, dissociates Dennis Lormel from the Ahmed-Sheikh-Atta
'According to accounts in both The
Times of India and India
Today, former ISI chief
Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmad instructed Sheikh to send the $100,000
' "A direct link between the
ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions,"
the Times article said.
"The U.S. cannot but suspect whether there were other
senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know
of things." '
'It added: "Evidence of a larger
conspiracy could shake U.S. confidence in Pakistan's ability
to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition."
says Ahmad lost his job only after India shared with the
FBI evidence showing a link between the general and Sheikh's
wiring of funds to Atta.'
'J-e-M's accounts were frozen not
long after Dennis M. Lormel, director of FBI's financial
crimes unit, confirmed the $100,000 transaction, if
not the source.'
' "They wired over $100,000
into Mr. [Mohamed] Atta a year ago," he testified
in October, not identifying
who "they" were.'
The point is not to exonerate the Pakistani
authorities of involvement in al-Qaeda's activities, but
to be careful about the evidence.
JNV welcomes feedback.
This page last updated 10 September 2005