Sunday, 2 July 2006

Seeing isn't believing

A year on from 7/7, wild rumours are circulating about who planted the bombs and why. Some people even claim this picture of the four bombers was faked. Mark Honigsbaum, who accidentally triggered at least one of the conspiracy theories, investigates

Tuesday June 27, 2006
The Guardian

On July 10 last year, Bridget Dunne opened the Sunday newspapers eager for information about the blasts that had brought death and mayhem to London three days earlier. Like many people that weekend, Dunne was confused by the conflicting reports surrounding what had initially been described as a series of "power surges" on the tube. Why were the Metropolitan Police saying that these surges, which were now being attributed to bombs, had occurred simultaneously at 8.50am, when they had originally been described as taking place over the space of 26 minutes?

Dunne, a 51-year-old foster carer, was also having trouble squaring the Met's statement on July 8 that there was "no evidence to suggest that the attacks were the result of suicide bombings" with the growing speculation that Islamic suicide bombers and al-Qaida were to blame for the blasts that had hit the London underground and a bus in Tavistock Square. The Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, had talked himself of "these people who oppose our way of life".

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist," insists Dunne. "I was just trying to make a cohesive, coherent story from the facts."

But while the papers that Sunday were full of interviews with people who had survived the bombs, and there was plenty of speculation about Osama bin Laden's involvement, Dunne could find nothing about the times of the tube trains in and out of King's Cross on the morning of July 7.

When, a few days later, police released the now famous CCTV image of Shehzad Tanweer, Mohammad Sidique Khan, Jermaine Lindsay and Hasib Hussain entering Luton station, her suspicions deepened. How had police identified the bombers so quickly? And how was it that amid the carnage of twisted metal and bloody body parts they had been able to recover credit cards and other ID placing the men at the scene of the crime?

Suspecting something was not right, Dunne, who lives in Camden, north London, wrote to her local paper. "Do you think we are being told the truth over these bombings?" she asked. "There are so many unanswered questions that just don't make any sense."

Full article here

Regardless of Mark Honigsbaum's scepticism, at least the concerns of the July Seventh Truth Campaign have been brought into public consciousness. He presented a balanced account from a few different perspectives, although I was unhappy with the way there was no differentiation between the approaches of all July 7th campaigners.

I was also puzzled by this paragraph:
"Did July 7 bombs explode under trains?" read a posting that referred to my report a few weeks later. "Eyewitness accounts appear to contradict the theory that suicide bombers were responsible for killing 39 [sic] passengers on London's tube network that day."

Why the need for [sic]? The article Mr. Honigsbaum is quoting is speaking solely of the tube deaths, of which there were, in fact, 39 - excluding the alleged perpetrators.

I also found it interesting that he was effectively back-pedalling from his original report. He says:
"I asked passengers what they had seen and experienced and was told by two survivors from the bombed train that, at the moment of the blast, the covers on the floor of their carriage had flown up - the phrase they used was "raised up". There was no time to check their statements as moments later the police widened the cordon and I was directed to the opposite pavement, outside the Metropole hotel."

"It was from there that at around 11am I phoned a hurried, and what I now know to be flawed, audio report to the Guardian. In the report, broadcast on our website, I said that it "was believed" there had been an explosion "under the carriage of the train". I also said that "some passengers described how the tiles, the covers on the floors of the train, flew up, raised up". It later became clear from interviewing other passengers who had been closer to the seat of the explosion that the bomb had actually detonated inside the train, not under it, but my comments, disseminated over the internet where they could be replayed ad nauseam, were already taking on a life of their own."

and finally
"In the internet age, it seems, some canards never die."

Mr. Honigsbaum, although he at least accepts that the July Seventh website has outlined all the main theories and explanations for how the attacks were carried out, needs to understand that it was not just his audio report which suggested the bombs appeared to be underneath the trains. He can call his own audio report a "canard" now, if he wishes, but that does not negate the testimony of other passengers, on other trains who spoke of the holes in the floors of the trains having metal pushed upwards - suggesting that the explosions had, in fact, occurred underneath. Also, would he have felt it necessary to "check their statements" if they had reported seeing a man blow himself up on the train? I wonder.

One of our forum members also made a valid criticism: "The quotes....letting the police off the hook for not releasing more CCTV footage and blowing off the work that has been done on the train times were just slipped in there as if they represent some kind of credible response to outstanding questions. They aren’t."

The article states:"...there are people in the background of the King's Cross CCTV sequence whom police are still trying to trace. Police have also kept back details of what the bombers were wearing in order to be sure that witness statements taken from people who may have seen them on the Thameslink train can be corroborated."

This makes little sense. If there are people in the background of the Kings Cross sequence (which, due to the conflicting reports, may be either from the concourse, forecourt, underground ticket hall or even Thameslink station) who still haven't been traced a year on from the event, surely it would make more sense now to simply release the footage asking the people to come forward and identify themselves - a method used commonly used in crime investigations. Furthermore, the suggestion that the police kept back details of what the men were wearing in order to corroborate witness statements doesn't really fit in with the fact that the police did release details of what they were wearing through a single CCTV image from outside Luton station which illustrated their outfits enough that they could be identified by anyone who views it.

The information regarding the cancelled train was not obtained from a train schedule, as suggested in the article, it was obtained (and certainly wasn't "demanded") directly from the Communications Manager for Thameslink Rail at Luton who supplied the times that the trains actually ran that day. Therefore, the impossibility of the men being able to take this train cannot be dismissed.

The questions still stand and will continue to be asked.

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