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London Bombings 2005

London Bombings 2005

7th July, 2005 London Bombings

The central London Bombings of July 7th 2005, which were a series of four separate, but co-ordinated attacks, were Britain's worst terrorist attack since the Lockerbie Disaster in 1988 and first suicide bombing. Fifty-two innocent civilians were killed, plus the four bombers, and more than 700 were injured, some severely.

The 2005 London bombings appear to have been co-ordinated to coincide with people travelling during the morning rush-hour on the day following the announcement of London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Four young Islamist men carried the homemade type 80 IED's in rucksacks - three in underground trains and one on a double-decker bus. They detonated the three of them aboard London underground trains in rapid succession and the other about an hour later.

Three of the four were British-born sons of Pakistani immigrants and the fourth was a Jamaican convert to Islam. Two of them were married with children and one was even a teacher. They were all described by the authorities as 'cleanskins', which is MI5 jargon for 'having no previous known connection with terrorism or the police', ie having no criminal record or association with criminal elements.

Two of the bombers left video tape recordings giving their reasons for their actions. They described themselves as 'soldiers'. The tapes were later played by Al Jazeera.

At first, the reason for the explosions on the underground had been given as 'power surges'. This was later ruled out by the electricity supplier National Grid, but afterwards, the Home Secretary confirmed that there had been terrorist attacks. At first they suspected that there had been six explosions on trains, plus the one on the bus, but they later confirmed that it had been four in total.

Security was increased to the highest level throughout the country and suspicious packages were destroyed in controlled explosions in at least seven cities. The Times reported that the Metropolitan Police's Special Firearms Command were following al-Qaeda suspects with orders to shoot to kill, if they refused to comply with stop-and-search regulations.

Disruption to the capital's tube stations and bus services lasted for up to a month. The financial implications of the July 2005London Underground Bombings were not significant, as the FTSE rose above the 6th July close on the 8th, completely wiping out the 71 point loss on the 7th. Insurance and reinsurance easily covered all financial losses and compensation.

The London Underground Bombings were unique in that the reporting was characterised by footage sent in by members of the public which they had taken with their  mobile phones. This set a precedent that is now commonplace. At peak usage times, the BBC web site was receiving 40,000 page requests a second.

A certain senior official predicted that the terrorists would be British, but of immigrant Islamic families, because of the complexity of the operation and some countries criticised the UK for being too tolerant towards Islamist militants, dubbing London Londonistan.

Despite a video tape screened by Al-Jazeera claiming to the contrary, the British government declared that following extensive enquiries, they could not discover any evidence that al-Qaeda had provided the perpetrators of the July 2005 London bombings with any support, advice or materials, although more recent findings by Pakistani and German intelligence agencies say otherwise, reporting that a British al-Qaeda operative played a major role in the planning and supplying of the mission.

by +Owen Jones