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Mi5 knew of july 2005 plot coming { May 2 2007 }

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London Bombing Survivors Call for Probe
Wednesday May 2, 2007 4:16 AM

AP Photo LMN102, LMN104, LMN103

Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Survivors of the 2005 London transit bombings on Tuesday called for an inquiry into the blasts after newly disclosed details showed British intelligence agents knew the men were plotting an attack.

Links between two of the subway attackers and a group planning a spree of bombings across southern England were revealed Monday, when five members of the latter group were jailed for life. The ties between the men had been kept secret to ensure a fair trial.

Authorities first insisted the subway bombers and plotters were unconnected and unlikely to have been directed by overseas terror chiefs.

However, their common ties to radical preachers, rogue mosques and al-Muhajiroun, an Islamist group now banned in Britain, suggest the country's suburban terror cells were more closely tied than authorities previously believed.

Armed with the new details, survivors of the July 7, 2005, blasts, along with relatives of the 52 commuters who were killed and opposition lawmakers, sent a letter to Home Secretary John Reid demanding an independent inquiry.

``We want answers, we want an independent inquiry,'' survivor Jacqui Putnam said.

Reid previously rejected an inquiry as too costly and likely to distract officials from counterterrorism work.

On Monday, five al-Qaida-linked men - all British citizens - were sentenced to life in prison for plotting to bomb a nightclub, power plants and a company doing work in Iraq after a yearlong trial. The plot involved bombs made from a half-ton stockpile of fertilizer.

Surveillance teams tracking the five men stumbled onto the transit attackers over a year before the bombings, but officials failed to piece together intelligence in time to halt them.

Survivors said they were appalled by the admission by Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 that it had monitored transit bombing ringleader Mohammed Siddique Khan and an accomplice in early 2004.

The men were tailed on at least four occasions as agents investigated the fertilizer cell - followed on freeways, pictured mingling with terror suspects at a service station and heard in bugged telephone conversations vowing to murder non-Mulsims.

But the agency - which also placed a tracking device in Khan's car - believed they were planning attacks overseas and did not rank them as a priority.

American radical-turned-FBI informant Mohammed Junaid Babar said Khan and fertilizer plot ringleader Omar Khyam both met Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an al-Qaida operative now in U.S. custody, at militia camps in Pakistan. Babar said al-Iraqi sat at the top of a terror chain stretching from Pakistan's Himalayan foothills to rural England.

``The ultimate emir (prince) on top was Hadi,'' Babar testified.

Among the men who reported to Hadi and directed British cells was a taxi-driver from Luton, northwest of London, security officials said. His tapped conversations with Khan and Khyam tipped authorities off to the fertilizer plot in 2003, officials said, but not to the transit bombings.

The revelations suggest Britain underestimated the extent to which terror cells receive outside support, said London-based ex-U.S. intelligence officer Bob Ayers.

``Britain's government is now very quickly realizing that the support infrastructure for these cells is in place and that it's trans-national,'' Ayers said. ``They've had a 180 degree turnaround in their thinking.''

Prime Minister Tony Blair defended his intelligence agencies Tuesday, saying they had foiled a number of plots. Security officials say MI5 has halted at least 11 attacks on Britain since Sept. 11, 2001, including the fertilizer bomb plan.

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