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7/7: Report clears security services

The report, based on interviews with members of the police and intelligence community, was due to be handed to Tony Blair in April.
None | By Agence France-Presse, London
UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2006 07:17 PM IST

A secret parliamentary report that was leaked on Thursday has cleared Britain's intelligence and security services of negligence in the July 7 bombings, but said that they should have known more about militant links with Pakistan.

The report has not accused any agency of negligence over the suicide bombings on three London underground trains and a bus which killed 56 people, including the four bombers.

The report, based on interviews with members of the police and intelligence community, was due to be handed to Prime Minister Tony Blair in April, the BBC said.

Blair's official spokesman said the leak of the report would be investigated as members of the committee that have access to highly classified intelligence material are supposed to operate within the "ring of secrecy".

The committee, composed of members of the governing Labour and opposition parties, accepted that gathering intelligence on the activities of British militants in Pakistan was extremely hard before July 7, said the broadcaster.

Police said three of the bombers were British Muslims of Pakistani origin, at least two of whom, including suspected ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan, had visited Pakistan in the months before the bombings.

Counter-terrorism officials say Sidique Khan, who before July 7 was suspected of petty fraud and not terrorism, was considered a low priority to whom it was not worth diverting resources.

But the committee questioned why he was never fully investigated, despite being known to security officials, the BBC reported.

David Davis, the Conservative party's spokesman on home affairs, who called for an independent inquiry, told reporters, "This raises serious questions about the monitoring of terror suspects."

After meeting his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Summit in Malta in November, Blair said London and Islamabad were exchanging information on suspected militants travelling between both countries.

"It obviously is a serious worry for both of us," Blair said, adding that a clearer picture had emerged about the links since July 7.

The committee was also critical of the complicated and secretive system of alert and threat levels, the BBC said. The national threat level was lowered from "severe, general" to "substantial" just before July 7.

Committee members found this made no difference to the bombers' plans, but that the public needs to be better informed.

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