It’s this. On July 12 2004, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, an al-Qaeda member was arrested in Lahore. On his computer were names of people in Luton, the town where Jermaine Lindsay met the three Leeds-based bombers of 7/7. Lahore is also the city Shahzad Tanveer, one of the Leeds-based bombers, visited for several weeks last December.
Khan cooperated with the Pakistani authorities, who passed names onto the British anti-terrorist authorities. Although his arrest was initially kept secret, it was leaked “on background” to US journalists on August 1. That was just after the Democratic National Convention, which had given John Kerry a boost in the opinion polls, prompting the Bush administration to wonder if they could do anything to bolster their support, such as announce a victory in the war against terror.
This leak alerted the UK al-Qaeda members who knew Khan. As a result, alleges Juan Cole, British police, who had been following Khan’s contacts, had to move swiftly to arrest 13 suspected terrorists, one in Luton and one on nearby Bushey.
However, because they had to act before they had prepared enough evidence, they had to release five of the 13, , whilst other suspects escaped. ABC News says:
Security officials tell ABC News they have discovered links between the eldest of the London bombers, Mohammed Sadique Khan, 30, and the original group in Luton. Officials also believe it was not a coincidence the subway bombers all met at the Luton train station last week. "It is very likely this group was activated last year after the other group was arrested."
All this helps explain Nicolas Sarkozy’s otherwise bizarre statement this week; his details were incorrect, but if this story is right, he was onto something.
The bottom line here is that people close to George Bush – or perhaps even Bush himself – jeopardized the lives of British people in order to win some quick opinion poll ratings.
I hope this story is unutterable rubbish, and that it is credibly refuted.
If I were a journalist, I’d be asking: Why was Khan's name leaked, thus compromising an intellgidence source? What were the links between Khan and the 7/7 bombers? When Shahzad Tanveer visited Lahore, did he meet any of Khan’s associates? What were the connections between the 13 arrested on August 3 and the Leeds bombers? Were the police planning to arrest more than 13 people last August? What, if any, were the links between the men released last August and the Leeds bombers? What is the connection between the Luton names on Khan's computer and the fact that Lindsay met the Leeds bombers in Luton? If there's no connection, were there really two separate al-Qaeda cells operating in the same small town unknown to each other? Is it true that the police had to move too swiftly as a result of the Bush administration’s leak?
As I’m a mere blogger, though, all I’ll ask is: even if Mr Cole’s allegations are true, could we trust this government to corroborate them?