7 Jul 2015

MI5: 7/7 ended scepticism about terrorist threat

Ten years on, the head of MI5 says 7/7 delivered a step change “in the nation’s counter terrorism defences”. In a statement to mark the 10th anniversary of London’s suicide bombings, which claimed 52 lives , the intelligence services Director General Andrew Parker said the terrorist attacks ended any scepticism about the threat.


He said without that they may not have been able to uncover the airline bomb plot a year later, which he describes as Al Qaeda’s most ambitious plot.

Thousands would have died, he adds, in the attempt to use liquid bombs on flights from London to various US cities. “I’m not sure we would have detected it without the uplift that followed 7/7.”

MI5 was criticised at the inquest and by a parliamentary inquiry for not prioritising two of the bombers Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer and place them under constant surveillance.

The review carried out by the intelligence and security committee, entitled “Could 7/7 have been prevented?”,  found that the agency’s resources were stretched to the limit in 2005 – “they could only provide a reasonable level of coverage for 6 per cent of the overall known threat.

“Over 60 per cent of MI5 targets had coverage described as ‘inadequate’ or ‘none’ – among these were 52 ‘essential'[ targets that had no coverage at all. These are astounding figures”.

Mr Parker tonight reiterated what the agency’s said in the past that “we simply can’t find and stop every terrorist plot. We could not have prevented 7/7.”

Since 7/7, Drummer Lee Rigby has been the only victim of a terrorist attack in the UK. But at least 40 plots are said to have been foiled and MI5’s chief  said tonight “the continuing fact that some people, born in the UK, with all the opportunities and freedoms that modern Britain offers, can nonetheless make those sorts of warped choices presents a serious societal and security challenge”.

He adds the terrible events on 7 July 2005 are enduring reminders of what the agency is striving every day to prevent.

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