Monday 14 February 2011

A cat amongst the [stool] pigeons - Mohammed Junaid Babar [Re-post]

An article in today's Guardian asks some of the questions that J7 posed to the 7/7 Inquests when we sent our submission on Preventability to the coroner and counsel in July 2010.

In light of the Guardian series of articles regarding this issue, we reproduce below our submission listing the serious issues that arise from the role that Mohammed Junaid Babar has played in the events of not only 7th July 2005 but also the so-called 'fertilizer bomb plot', apparently scuppered by Operation Crevice, and also the incarceration of Fahad Hashmi:


Without the testimony of 'Supergrass' Mohammed Junaid Babar at the Crevice trial, would there have been enough evidence against these men to merit the 40 year life sentences they received? Especially given the statement read on behalf of these men at the end of the Crevice trial explicitly denied that there was any plot to attack the UK:
This was a prosecution driven by the security services, able to hide behind a cloak of secrecy, and eager to obtain ever greater resources and power to encroach on individual rights.
There was no limit to the money, resources and underhand strategies that were used to secure convictions in this case.
This case was brought in an atmosphere of hostility against Muslims, at home, and abroad. One stoked by this government throughout the course of this case.
This prosecution involved extensive intrusion upon personal lives, not only ours, but our families and friends.
Coached witnesses were brought forward. Forced confessions were gained through illegal detention, and torture abroad. Threats and intimidation was used to hamper the truth. All with the trial judge seemingly intent to assist the prosecution almost every step of the way.
These were just some of the means used in the desperate effort to convict. Anyone looking impartially at the evidence would realise that there was no conspiracy to cause explosions in the UK, and that we did not pose any threat to the security of this country.
It is not an offence to be young, Muslim and angry at the global injustices against Muslims."9

The section in the Provisional Index of Factual Issues entitled “Preventability” comprises by far the bulk of the index. Further, the bulk of areas outlined in points 13-23 relate directly to just two of the accused, Khan and Tanweer, and their interactions with others connected to Operation Crevice, notably, and mostly, Omar Khyam. There are wider connections over and above those between Khan (now deceased) and Khyam (serving a life sentence, received in no small part due to the testimony of the prosecution's 'star witness'14 Junaid Babar), featuring individuals that appear to create and facilitate links between disparate individuals and groups across continents, and we outline these for informational purposes below. Many of these individuals appear to have protected status in that they have either never been arrested or have miraculously evaded prosecution over a period of time when many lesser figures were rendered to the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay.

Much is made of the failings of West Yorkshire police and the security services to properly investigate and/or assess Khan and Tanweer, particularly in the two years prior to 7th July 2005. However, there is an important question to be asked here:

How would Khan and Tanweer have known that they were not under investigation given the following facts:

29 March 2004: Momin Khawaja was arrested in Canada in the culmination of what was reported as a “a month long sting operation”

30 March 2004: Eight arrests were made of men who were known to Khan and Tanweer as part of Operation Crevice.

June 2004: news broke that the FBI had been holding Mohammed Junaid Babar in custody in New York since April 2004. It was reported that he was negotiating a plea bargain with the authorities.

Junaid Babar, a US citizen had being widely reported since November 2001, declaring support for the 9/11 attacks and announcing he was recruiting fighters to fight against US forces in Afghanistan:
As the TV camera rolled Mohammed Junaid Babar’s eyes shone indignantly behind nerdish glasses: “There is no negotiation with the Americans. I will kill every American that I see in Afghanistan, and every American I see in Pakistan.”15
Jon Gilbert, who conducted interviews with Junaid Babar, later mused:
“The conundrum still remains, though. Why did Babar talk to me so willingly in the first place? It’s a question that I’ve been asking myself for more than six years. Some suggest that he may have already been an FBI agent.“16

Despite making inflammatory and widely publicised pronouncements about being an Islamic warrior, despite seemingly declaring war on Americans, and despite his being a key facilitator in the alleged “terror training camps” in Pakistan (akin to the U.K equivalent of 'Q', Mohammed Quayyum Khan, also a part-time taxi driver), Junaid Babar appears to have been allowed to travel freely between Pakistan and the UK, as shown by the Operation Crevice timeline compiled by the Metropolitan Police17.
· Pakistani-born Mohammed Junaid Babar leaves his home in the USA, just days after 9/11 and travels to Pakistan to live

Spring 2003
· Mohammed Junaid Babar meets Omar Khyam and Waheed Mahmood in England.

January 2004
· Mohammed Junaid Babar travels to England and subsequently meets Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Jawad Akbar and Anthony Garcia
The results of a joint BBC Radio 4 File on 4 and Newsnight investigation also revealed that, “We understand that Siddique Khan was also seen with this man [Junaid Babar] in Leeds in 2003.”18

Hassan Butt, who first facilitated Junaid Babar's stay in Pakistan19, describes a meeting between Babar and Khan in Leeds, held after attending a barbecue to raise money for 'training camps' which is attended by a number of prolific propagandists and provocateurs for 'extremist' 'Islam'.
Butt reveals that after the jihadist barbecue he drove to Khan’s home near Leeds with another guest, Mohammed Junaid Babar, who would shortly become a supergrass. Babar’s testimony helped to secure the conviction last week of five members of the Crevice gang, who had planned to blow up — among other targets — the Bluewater shopping mall in Kent and the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London.

Although Babar describes the barbecue in his testimony, he does not refer to the drive north, nor to some of the guests named by Butt.
The host was a long-standing activist of Al-Muhajiroun, the group set up by Sheikh Omar Bakri in 1996
The guest list included men who were later to become notorious. Among them, claims Butt, was Mohammed Quayyum Khan, a part-time taxi driver from Luton who is alleged to have sent Mohammad Sidique Khan to the Malakand training camp on behalf of Al-Qaeda.

Butt, who had borrowed his brother’s navy blue Audi TT to get to the party from his home in Manchester, decided it was time to head back north. Babar asked to be dropped off near Leeds. ..

As the sun rose, Babar directed Butt to a terrace house in Batley, West Yorkshire, 15 minutes from the M1. A man in pyjamas came out to greet them. It was Mohammad Sidique Khan.

Butt had met Khan before. Babar had introduced them in 2002 at a gathering at Butt’s flat in Islamabad. Khan now recognised Butt and asked him if he wanted to come in.20
How likely is it that the joint intelligence services of the US and UK were not tracking Babar or Butt in the UK, particularly given Babar's high profile? Which of these two individuals was being tracked and to what extent? How was it possible that Junaid Babar was allowed to travel so freely between Pakistan and the UK?

FOI requests to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office submitted by J7 have been refused in respect of attempts by independent researchers to assess this information.

On Babar's second visit to Britain, he stayed with Fahad Hashmi in London and left behind some waterproof socks and a pair of night vision goggles. Junaid Babar went on to become the State's star-witness for the prosecution in the Crevice and Khawaja trials, and his testimony also resulted in a 15 year sentence for Syed Fahad Hashmi, who had previously been extradited to the US from the UK on the basis of the “glorified camping equipment”21 that Babar had left at Hashmi's residence. This was then reported as:
Hashmi, who moved to Britain from Queens in 2003, allegedly allowed his London flat to be used to store supplies and money that Babar was shipping to Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi, then head of al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan.22
Hashmi spent over 3 years under SAMS, extreme measures which included total isolation whilst facing a life sentence for this 'crime'.

Babar was also the source for the aluminium powder which featured in the Crevice trial.
The government would further prove that the defendant purchased and attempted to purchase the aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate that he knew would be used in explosive devices in the bombing plot in the United Kingdom, and that he did this throughout from December 2002 through March of 200423.
On 6th April 2004, Babar returned to the US but was not arrested or detained until 10th April 2004 when he was picked up by the FBI whilst on his way to a 'taxi school' in Queens, NY.

This is just a week after the Operative Crevice arrests; was his work now done? How did he manage to escape the 'no-fly list' to re-enter the US, given his well-publicised running and facilitating of 'terror training' in Pakistan?


9 J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign - The People's Independent Public Inquiry into 7/7 -
13 THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA v MOHAMMAD MOMIN KHAWAJA [2007 FC 490] Ottawa, Ontario, May 7, 2007 [PDF]-
15 The supergrass I helped to create - Times Online -
16 Ibid.
17 OPERATION CREVICE, Timeline and facts and figures - Metropolitan Police Service -
18 BBC - Press Office - Newsnight/File on 4 investigation -
20 The jihadi house parties of hate - Times Online -
21 U.S. student pleads not guilty in terrorism case - World news - Terrorism - -
22 Focus: Is the Islamist group al-Muhajiroun waiting to strike again? | World news | The Observer -

To reiterate some of the questions that J7 posed to the Coroner that now require urgent answers if we are to understand what truly happened on 7 July 2005, how it happened, why it happened, and who made it happen:
  • How likely is it that the joint intelligence services of the US and UK were not tracking Babar or Butt in the UK, particularly given Babar's high profile?
  • Which of these two individuals was being tracked and to what extent?
  • How was it possible that Junaid Babar was allowed to travel so freely between Pakistan and the UK?
  • [Babar entered the US] This is just a week after the Operative Crevice arrests; was his work now done?
  • How did he manage to escape the 'no-fly list' to re-enter the US, given his well-publicised running and facilitating of 'terror training' in Pakistan?
Ms Gallagher has raised some of the issues presented in the Guardian articles during this morning's Inquests hearings. She spoke on behalf of Mr Foulkes, father of David Foulkes, who was interviewed by the Guardian and quoted as saying "the terms of reference of the inquest are too narrow to deal with such questions and thinks that it should be suspended while they are re-evaluated":
.. He's asked me to make clear that his concern is not that scope is too narrow and, indeed, the scope ruling fully encompasses the issue of preventability and it's going to be explored next week, but what he does want to ensure is that the inquest has all relevant information and is in a position to fully explore this issue, including the potentially new information referred to in the article and the material that he's seen. Mr Foulkes is, of course, aware that there are PII materials which we haven't seen. It may be that this wasn't a new issue to the Inquest team and to you, my Lady. It may be that this is covered in bundle A and bundle B, which the legal teams and the families haven't seen. But Mr Foulkes' concern is this: he wishes to ensure that the Security Services give a clear statement to the inquest: (a) that they're not aware of any basis for the suggestion that Babar had been an informant for the authorities for any country prior to his detention in New York City in April 2004; and (b) that they've provided to the Inquest team and the coroner all information which they have in respect of Babar and US/UK communications in respect of him, and Mr Foulkes' comment to the press --
LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: As relevant to these proceedings.
MS GALLAGHER: Precisely. Mr Foulkes' comment to the press was intended to suggest that, if the Inquest team didn't have those assurances, then suspension might be required, and it's an understandable and defensible comment which he made at the time in those circumstances.

Monday 7 February 2011

The Conspirators and the "Conspiracy Phones"

This previous post raises an interesting question regarding quite how the four accused men had avoided detection to such an extent that the security services had no idea of their alleged plans. What with travel tickets, handwritten documents laying their plans bare and receipts recovered both from the homes of the accused and the Alexandra Grove 'bomb factory', their behaviour suggests that these men were not in the least bit concerned about their alleged plans being discovered yet the narrative tells us 'Khan was worried about being under surveillance during this time.

'This time' plainly refers to the supposed planning of the events of 7/7, since just above this statement, it is also written,
Other things suggest discipline and meticulous planning with good security awareness including careful use of mobile phones and use of hire cars for sensitive activities associated with the planning of the attacks.

The 'careful use of the mobile phones' was explored on the 4th day of the inquests during the testimony of DS Mark Stuart of Counter-terrorism command. DS Stuart confirmed that 'a certain number' of phones were recovered. What we also discover from DS Stuart, is that the police referred to the phones the accused men were using that day as 'operational phones' (as opposed to their personal phones) - which Mr. Hugo Keith QC later interchanges with the intriguing term 'conspiracy phones'.

These phones are claimed by DS Stuart to have been a way to 'avoid detection' by being changed on several occasions:
A. [DS Stuart] There were a series of operational phones. The earliest operational phones began in May, the middle of May, 2005, sir.
Q. [Hugo Keith QC] How many times were the phones switched or how many times were a new set of operational phones introduced into their usage?
A. For three of the subjects, four times, you're looking at data for the last, fourth, operational phone. For Lindsay, there were three, sir.
DS Stuart confirms later in the proceedings that the total number of 'conspiracy' phones used by the men was 15. One could argue that if a phone is changed four times, as three of the men are alleged to have done, this equates to five phones in total each - meaning that with Lindsay's four phones, the total amount of changes stated equates to 19 phones. This may seem a trivial point, but it is indicative of the confusing nature of DS Stuart's testimony. Another example of this is his account of the recovery of Khan's 'conspiracy' phone:
Q. In particular, investigators found in the wreckage a phone subsequently determined to belong to Khan?
A. That's correct, sir, yes.
Q. When that phone was examined, did it have any readable data on it?
A. No, sir, it was damaged beyond --
Q. Officer, could I ask you to keep your voice up a bit?
A. Sorry. No, it was too damaged to recover data from.
Q. So when that phone was examined, it wasn't possible to extract any relevant information from it?
A. No, sir.
Q. Was there also recovered from the Russell Square tunnel a phone subsequently determined to belong to Lindsay?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When that phone was recovered, was it found to have information on it?
A. It was, sir, yes.

So very early on, we find that no data could be extracted from Khan's phone, which was recovered from the Edgware Road site, due to the damage it sustained. The implication thereafter is that the only way any data relating to Khan can be examined is through looking at incoming calls or texts on the other phones recovered from the day, in particular, the phone attributed to Lindsay, from which information had been extracted. However, a little later in his testimony, DS Stuart seems to contradict his earlier statement:
Q. Could I just run very briefly through why you are so sure that these phones relate to these people? In relation to Khan and his operational phone ending 254, were there a number of pieces of evidence which demonstrated that that phone was indeed his?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Could you very briefly, please, summarise why that conclusion was reached?
A. The handset for that phone was discovered at the Edgware Road scene where Mohammed Sidique Khan's body was recovered. DNA from Mohammed Sidique Khan was recovered from the handset as well. The phone was routinely cell-sited in and around his home address. It was cell-sited in Luton on the 7th where we know from CCTV Mohammed Sidique Khan was. It only ever rang the other three. It was never rung by another number attributed to Mohammed Sidique Khan. That was the principal evidence, sir.

How could this data regarding Khan's phone be known if it wasn't extracted from the phone which DS Stuart had earlier stated 'was too damaged to extract data from'? DS Stuart does not enlighten us to any alternative method used to gain access to the phone's data.

Curiously, DS Stuart never states whether or not Shehzad Tanweer's phone was also recovered in the same way as the other three, at the scene of the explosion at Aldgate. We should note claims by both the narrative and Hugo Keith QC in his opening speech to the Inquests, that Tanweer had lost his mobile phone on the evening of 6th July, during a game of cricket.

However, DS Stuart confirms that a call was made at 00.03.59 on July 7th 2005, from Khan to Tanweer. If Khan's phone is too damaged, then we must assume that this particular data came from Tanweer's phone. But Tanweer lost his phone on the evening of July 6th ; we cannot know if it was his personal or 'conspiracy' phone, we cannot know if he or someone else - found it, and cannot know if a phone attributed to him was found at Aldgate. We further cannot know from which phone this information was extracted as we are not privy to the contact schedule cited by DS Stuart.

When explaining how the 'operational' number for Tanweer was attributed to him, DS Stuart tells Mr. Keith:
This was a number which was provided by Shehzad Tanweer on the rental agreement for the Nissan Micra subsequently left at Luton train station. Again, it was only rung by the other three and not by Tanweer himself. Generally cell-sited in the area of his home address.

So in contrast to the identification of the other three phones, which occurred due to their being recovered from the respective blast sites, Tanweer's 'conspiracy' phone number is identified because he provided it to the car hire company which supplied the Nissan Micra. Why should this be?

The car hire company provides another example of contradicting the idea that attempts were made by the men to avoid detection; Tanweer provided the First 24-Hour Car Rentals Limited with his family home address, confirmed in the statement of an employee of the company who called round to the Tanweer home when the car had not been returned as agreed.
By today, Tuesday, 12th, I was very concerned at the whereabouts. I decided to visit his home address and I went to the vicinity of the address and I saw a police cordon. Having explained why I was there I then provided the rental agreement.

In another statement, it is revealed to the Inquests that another First 24-Hour Car Rentals employee had attempted to contact Tanweer on 7th July, despite the fact that his rental agreement was until 8th July. Why would the car hire company attempt to contact Tanweer the day before he was due to return the car? Again, this is not revealed. The statement from the car hire company contradicts Hugo Keith's claim that they rang Tanweer's phone on 7 July, although the unreleased schedule showed this call:
[First 24-Hour Car Rentals] "Following 8 July, when the vehicle had not been returned as agreed, I rang the mobile number given by him on at least two occasions. However, the phone was off. I can only say, if I saw the man again, I would definitely recognise him."
[Hugo Keith] My Lady, we know that the last entry on the schedule prepared by Mr Stuart at your direction is that there was a call on 7 July, in fact, two minutes to 3 from First 24-hour Car Rentals to Tanweer's number.

Neither was the cell siting for Tanweer's mobile phone disclosed, which would have identified whether this phone was at Aldgate or, if lost, at least identified the location.

DS Stuart had also disclosed that the contact schedule only relates to calls made from 27 June 2005 onwards:
Q. Notwithstanding the fact that there were many thousands of calls made to and from any number of potentially relevant phone numbers, you prepared a schedule showing all the calls between the four men from 27 June onwards?
A. That's correct, sir, yes.
Q. In essence, the most relevant days leading up to the events of 7 July?
A. Yes, sir.

It isn't stated at which point the accused are supposed to have switched to their final set of 'conspiracy phones'; only that this occurred in the last few days before 7/7. Later in the proceedings, Ms. Caoilfhionn Gallagher, representing bereaved families, pushes for analysis of all the 'conspiracy' phones. DS Stuart may yet be called back to give further testimony on these, and we may yet receive clarification regarding how (or even if) Tanweer's phone was recovered.

Germaine Lindsay was said to have purchased and originally registered the phones, then transferred them to each of the others at a later time. DS Stuart makes it clear in his answers that although there was 'some slight mixing' in the use of the 'operational' phones, in that personal phones may have been used to ring an 'operational' phone number, by the time the accused were using their final set of phones, they were used solely for 'operational' purposes or calls to service providers.

Again, the implication is that this, along with clarification by DS Stuart that the use of the phones showed that the men were taking care over communications by buying prepaid unregistered phones and changing them regularly. Yet strangely, the behaviour of Hasib Hussain regarding his phone contradicts this assertion. Having earlier described how the top-up card for his 'operational phone' was found at his home address and the SIM card holder in a bag upon which Hussain's fingerprints were found, under questioning by Max Hill QC, DS Stuart details how the police knew about Hussain's personal phone:
Q. Secondly, in relation to Hasib Hussain, you analysed data relating to mobile number ********805, and two points again in relation to that. Firstly, that number was not used by Hussain on 7 July?
A. No, sir.
Q. But, secondly, through analysis of items recovered, including a SIM card, a mobile phone SIM card, found at Tavistock Square where Hussain's body was found, a download -- in other words, interrogation of the information held within that SIM card -- showed the 805 number saved within the SIM card under the title "My number"?
A. Yes, I believe that's the case.
Q. That goes towards attribution of that as a personal phone for Hussain, but one that you can say was not used on 7 July?
A. Correct, sir, yes.

If Hasib Hussain was only using this phone in the 'last few days' leading up to 7th July, then why take the trouble to program in his own personal number? Why would someone trying to 'avoid detection' do this anyway? Moreover, Hussain's personal phone was found by his brother, Imran, to contain not only Lindsay's number, but that of the keyholder for 18 Alexandra Grove, Dr Shakir Al Ani. Why program these numbers into his personal phone, if he was also in possession, at various times, of four (or more) 'conspiracy' phones. When asked by Lady Justice Hallet how the police were able to distinguish between the personal phones belonging to each men and the 'conspiracy' phones, in terms of usage, DS Stuart responds:
There was a distinct difference between the usage of the two types of phone. The personal phones all appeared to be unrelated, a lot of different people rung by them, but the enquiry showed that they were people that were known, historical friends and family. So that's why I can't remember there being anything which jumps out as being operational from a non-operational phone, my Lady.

If this is the case, why did Hussain have the 'operational' numbers found on his 'non-operational' phone by his brother, which in turn, according to the Daily Mirror, led him straight to the Alexandra Grove 'bomb factory' If Hussain was seriously trying to cover his tracks, he had made a pretty poor fist of it.

In summary, we've learned the following from DS Stuart's testimony regarding what Hugo Keith prefers to call the 'conspiracy' phones:
  • Khan's 'conspiracy' phone was too damaged to extract data from, yet counter-terrorism investigators appeared to have managed to do just that.
  • We do not know whether Tanweer had a 'conspiracy' phone with him on July 7th, because although DS Stuart mentioned calls being made from other phones to the phone attributed to Tanweer, he never mentions calls being made from that phone, nor does he mention that his phone was found at the Aldgate scene in the same way that the phones attributed to the three other men were found at the other blast sites.
  • We know that Tanweer lost his phone on 6 July but we do not know whether this was his personal phone or 'conspiracy' phone, or whether he found it before the next day. The cell siting of the car hire company call on either the 7 July according to the schedule or the 8 July according to the car hire company, would reveal the location of this phone but was not disclosed to the Inquest.
  • The four accused were trying to avoid detection to such an extent that they routinely left incriminating evidence, either in their own homes or the Alexandra Grove flat, provided a genuine address even when using a 'conspiracy' phone to arrange car hire and Hussain in particular, found a way of leading detectives straight to his personal number from his 'conspiracy' phone.
  • There may have been 15 or 19 'conspiracy' phones in total, but we have only been provided with testimony with the final 4 phones used. We were not allowed to see the contact schedule; this was "not for publication".
  • DS Stuart defines the "trade craft" use of the "conspiracy phones" thus: "Taking care over your communications, buying prepaid unregistered phones, changing them regularly to avoid detection ultimately" yet later states that Tanweer's phone, at least, was purchased, and registered, by Lindsay using a false name. Why would Lindsay go to the trouble of registering the phone at all, when an unregistered phone could so easily be purchased with a pre-paid SIM?

If you wish to comment on this article, please join the discussion on the J7: 7/7 Inquests blog.