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Trying to prevent a repeat of 7/7
By Andy Tighe
Home affairs correspondent, BBC News
The terrible events of 7/7 are often described as a wake-up call. Islamic suicide bombers had finally struck in the heart of Britain's capital.
But the bombings - in which 52 people were killed - came as no surprise to the government, police or intelligence services. For some time they had been predicting it was not a case of "if" but "when" the UK would suffer an attack.
Since hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, counterterrorism became a top priority. Spending doubled to more than £2bn a year. And new laws were drafted to meet the evolving threat.
But it was not until our TV screens showed the bleeding, terrified victims of 7/7 emerging from smoke-filled Underground stations that many people appreciated just how vulnerable they had become.
But questions were soon raised about whether the authorities could have done more to prevent the attacks; about whether intelligence was properly shared and acted upon.
While an independent report laid no blame, measures were soon taken to strengthen Britain's counterterrorism capability.
The domestic security service MI5 stepped - partially - from the shadows, with a recruitment drive, a more informative website and new offices in the north of England.
The police, too, were reorganised with new counterterrorist units set up outside London.
More controversially, the government passed a series of new laws, and battled to extend the period of pre-charge detention for terror suspects.
After a drawn-out parliamentary wrangle it settled at 28 days, though there are indications that further changes could be on the way.
What did all this achieve? The authorities point to a series of successful convictions, including the jailing of Dhiren Barot, a senior al-Qaeda figure who plotted bombings in London and America.
But there have been setbacks. The system of control orders - to deal with terror suspects who have not been put on trial - has been widely criticised, with a number of individuals absconding.
Muslim leaders have complained about the large number of young Asian men arrested under anti-terrorist laws but later released without charge.
And while the police and MI5 have managed to accumulate an unprecedented database of terrorist suspects, they cannot be sure that every dangerous individual is on their books.
The threat is constantly evolving. The attacks in London and Glasgow at the weekend were foiled not by intelligence-led operations but by a combination of sheer luck and the bravery of a few individuals.
After 7/7, some senior security officials felt that many people did not fully appreciate that it signalled the beginning of a new phase of extremist activity, that further attacks were not only possible but likely.
With fresh horrors now on our screens, one of the police officers leading the current investigation told me a few days ago: "If this isn't a wake-up call, I don't know what is."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/07/07 00:02:28 GMT
The telegraph has "Before families and friends laid their own tributes, Gordon Brown led a small procession to lay wreaths in the memorial garden beside Kings Cross Station at the exact time the first bomb struck two years ago."Ceremony marks 7/7 anniversary
By Paul Cahalan
The second anniversary of the July bombings has been marked with a memorial ceremony at King's Cross Station.
The ceremony took place in the memorial garden to the victims shortly before 9am - the time the first bomb exploded two years ago.
The attackes killed 52 people and among those laying flowers were the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, mayor of London, Ken Livingstone and Olympics and London Minister Tessa Jowell.
Hundreds of people were injured in the attacks on three Tube trains and a bus.
Ceremony to mark 7/7 anniversary
Prime Minister Gordon Brown led the tributes to the 7 July victims
The second anniversary of the 7 July London suicide bombings which killed 52 people has been marked with a ceremony at a memorial garden to the victims.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, London mayor Ken Livingstone and Olympics and London Minister Tessa Jowell joined relatives at King's Cross.
Hundreds of people were injured in the attacks on three Tube trains and a bus.
Some victims claim they are struggling to deal with a complex and unwieldy compensation system.
The memorial ceremony was held at King's Cross station shortly before 0900 BST, when the first bomb exploded two years ago.
The prime minister laid a wreath bearing the handwritten message: "In remembrance and with deepest sympathy."
John Falding, who lost his partner Anat Rosenberg in the Tavistock Square bus bomb, said events like Saturday's helped him to cope.
"I certainly found that last year I gained a lot of strength from it. Otherwise I would find myself sitting at home feeling mawkish."
Mr Falding said those caught up in the 7 July attacks had been particularly affected by the recent suspected failed car bombs in London and Glasgow, but added: "The more this goes on, the more they will realise how futile their efforts are.
"The more London shows its bravery the more we show this is our victory."
Other officials at the ceremony were London transport commissioner Peter Hendy and Tim O'Toole, managing director of London Underground.
The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe - in London for the Tour de France Grand Depart - also attended.
It is you we remember and we will build a city worthy of your memory
Tribute from London mayor Ken Livingstone
He laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Paris whom he said "stood at one with London in our fight to protect the universal values of peace and democracy".
Mr Livingstone's message read: "The bombers tried to divide us and they failed.
"It is you we remember and we will build a city worthy of your memory - a city in which it is the people who are its greatness, not its buildings or the things that pass."
The officials bowed their heads in silence for several minutes, before relatives of the bomb victims came forward to lay their own tributes.
Organisers said there would be no national silence and, in line with the wishes of families, no large public event.
The act of remembrance comes as police and security services are on heightened alert, with a number of high-profile events such as Wimbledon, the Live Earth concert and the first stage of the Tour de France taking place in London.
It has emerged that 118 out of 614 compensation claims made by victims have not yet been fully resolved.
London minister Tessa Jowell and mayor Ken Livingstone laid wreaths
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority said the outstanding claims were the most serious ones, involving complicated calculations of loss of earnings and estimates for future care.
The authority denied it had been "sitting on applications" for two years and said it was always looking at how to make the system easier.
A total of £4.2m has been paid out so far.
Ms Jowell told BBC News 24 the claims had been dealt with "as swiftly as the individual circumstances of these claims allow".
However, she said the government was considering an overhaul of the compensation system.
My memories of July 7 bombing
Jul 7 2007
by Sophie Doughty, Evening Chronicle
LONDON bombing survivor Lisa French returned to the capital today on the second anniversary of the terrorist atrocity which changed her life forever.
The brave 32-year-old has put her fears aside to travel to the spot where she came so close to losing her life.
Lisa, of Longbenton, North Tyneside, was on the top deck of the No 30 bus when it was blown apart at Tavistock Square on July 7, 2005.
And although the recent spate of terror alerts in the UK have left her wary of returning to the capital, Lisa is determined to pay her respects to the passengers who were not as lucky as herself.
“It’s going to be really difficult but I will feel much better afterwards,” she said. “The recent terror alerts have definitely brought it all back, and it’s made going to London this weekend much more stressful. I do feel like I’m in a bit of a protective bubble when I’m in Newcastle.
“It will always be in the back of my mind when I’m in London and I’m probably more concerned than I would have been if the recent events hadn’t happened
“But if I didn’t do this then the terrorists will have won and that’s why I’m doing this.”
Fifty-two people died when four suicide bombers struck across central London, two years ago today, 13 of whom were sitting just feet away from Lisa on the bus.
The blast shattered her teeth, damaged her hearing permanently, and left her with emotional scars that will stay with her for the rest of her life.
Not a day goes by when Lisa does not think of the fellow passengers who lost their lives.
“I still think about it all the time,” she said. “I think about the victims everyday, and that makes me feel so lucky to be alive. It has changed my life. I appreciate everything much more now and don’t take anything for granted.”
Lisa was sitting in the last surviving row of seats on the bus, and feels she owes her life to those who died, in her place.
She can remember seeing the bomber board the bus, with his backpack of deadly explosives.
The vivid memories of that day have left Lisa terrified of travelling on public transport.
But she is determined that the terrorists will not win and is having counselling to overcome her fears.
And staff at Stagecoach’s Newcastle depot have recently helped by taking her out on one of their empty buses.
“I have been getting some treatment to get me back on public transport,” she said. “I’m still quite wary. I have been on the bus a couple of times since but it has made me really uncomfortable. It’s always going to be difficult but I’ll get there eventually. Stagecoach have been fantastic.
“I’m getting there but it’s a long struggle. When something like this happens your life changes but life goes on as well.”
Lisa has travelled to London with her husband Russ Goodwin, 29.
They plan to visit the scene of the bus bombing and quietly reflect on the events of two years ago.
Lisa will then meet up with some of the other survivors, and families of victims, who she has kept in touch with over the past two years
She added: “I think only people who have been through this can understand. It’s something you can’t imagine.”
Three bombs went off simultaneously on Underground trains on July 7, 2005, followed by the final explosion about an hour later on the bus.
Lisa had travelled from Newcastle, to London’s King’s Cross station to attend a business meeting, that day.
It was disruption on the Underground caused by the earlier blasts, at Russell Square, Aldgate and Edgware Road, which lead to her to decide to take the No 30 bus. She was talking to a fellow passenger on the top deck about the incidents when the terrorist detonated his bomb.
The second anniversary of the atrocities will was marked by a series of low-key events in the capital today.
Survivors and relatives of those who died will gather at Kings Cross station shortly before 9am, when the first bomb exploded.
Organisers said there will be no national silence and, in line with the wishes of families, no large public event.
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy will lay flowers at the railway station.
Work is under way to erect a permanent memorial to the victims in Hyde Park’s Lovers’ Walk.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone said: “`London will never forget the terrible events of July 7, 2005, and the 52 innocent people who lost their lives.
“In paying our respects, Londoners will continue to demonstrate the tremendous resilience and strength they displayed in the aftermath of the bombings and show the world that this city will not be divided.”
Brown lays flowers on 7/7 anniversary
BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown has laid flowers to mark the second anniversary of the death of 52 people in the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings on London's public transport system.
Mr Brown, accompanied by London Mayor Ken Livingstone and his Parisian counterpart Bertrand Delanoe, delivered the wreaths at around 8:50am (0750 GMT), the time when transport system was shut down after the attacks.
The ceremony at King's Cross railway station was low-key, reportedly at the wish of the families of those killed, and was not accompanied by any national moment of silence or commemoration.
A total of 52 commuters and four British Islamist suicide bombers were killed when bombs went off on three London Underground trains and one bus in quick succession.
The attacks caused the biggest peacetime loss of life in Britain since World War II. [?Lockerbie]
Brown lays wreath to mark July 7 bombings
Sat Jul 7, 2007 3:07PM BST
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown led a flower-laying ceremony at Kings Cross station on Saturday morning to mark the second anniversary of the July 7 London suicide bombings.
Brown, along with London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Minister for London Tessa Jowell, laid wreaths at the station to mark the first of the four explosions in 2005.
Survivors and relatives of victims laid their own floral tributes at the station, some in the shape of the number seven.
The low-key event was at the request of families of those who were killed or seriously injured in the explosions on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus.
The bombings killed 52 people as well as the four Islamists who carried them out and a further 700 people were injured.
It was the highest toll from a bombing in the UK since the death of 270 people in the 1988 Pan Am Lockerbie disaster.
In February, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that a permanent memorial to the 52 dead would be installed in Hyde Park.
Bomb suspect in court on London suicide attacks anniversary
July 7, 2007 - 9:22PM
Prime Minister Gordon Brown marked the second anniversary of Britain's first suicide bombings Saturday amid tight security in London and as an Iraqi doctor faced a court after three failed car bombings.
Brown joined survivors of the July 7, 2005 attacks and politicians including London Mayor Ken Livingstone to lay flowers at a memorial garden at King's Cross railway station in memory of 52 commuters who died.
The low-key ceremony -- Brown did not speak, simply bowing his head for a few minutes in quiet contemplation -- contrasted with last year's national day of commemorations and came with the capital still jittery over security.
Last Friday, two car bombs, including one outside a packed city centre nightclub, failed to go off in London, while the day after, a flaming Jeep Cherokee slammed into Glasgow airport in Scotland.
The first man to be charged over the botched attacks, 27-year-old Bilal Abdulla, appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London Saturday for a brief preliminary hearing.
Dressed in a white sweatshirt, Abdulla spoke only to give his name and confirm his date of birth. He was charged with conspiring to cause explosions by police Friday night but his full trial will not take place for months.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life.
Abdulla was one of seven people detained in Britain over the attempted attacks. The others remain in custody, while one is under armed guard fighting for his life in hospital after suffering 90 percent burns.
Security was heavy in London Saturday as hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to the capital for one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Some 5,000 police were to be deployed over the weekend as the Tour de France cycle race kicks off in the city for the first time.
Elsewhere, stringent checks were in place as the Wimbledon tennis championship reached its climax with the womens' final and the mens' semi-finals.
London was also hosting a leg of the giant, international Live Earth concerts which aim to raise public awareness of global warning. Stars including Madonna and Foo Fighters were set to play at Wembley Stadium in the north-west.
In the face of such a busy day, many survivors did not want a major event to mark the second anniversary of the July 7 attacks, the biggest peacetime loss of life in Britain since World War II.
One of them, Rachel North, wrote on her blog, which she started after the attacks, that she would be marking the day privately by laying flowers with fellow survivors but added: "Life goes on."
"Last year, London stopped, and it was a very emotional day," she wrote.
"But this year, London on 7/7 has a major sporting event: the Tour De France, and a big music event, Live Earth, and the capital will be full of Londoners and tourists enjoying a busy weekend.
"I hope that the day passes without incident."
Some of those attending Saturday's ceremony with Brown said they had been very upset by recent security alerts -- Beverli Rhodes, 46, revealed that she had hardly slept in the last week.
"We are all trying to get back to normal but with everything that is happening at the moment, it is hard and can push you overboard," she said.
"We have just got to live through it as best we can and not let them win."
Brown, also accompanied by London minister Tessa Jowell and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, laid his wreath at around 8:50am (0750 GMT), when the first bombs exploded.
A short message attached to the flowers which he laid read: "In remembrance and with deepest sympathy."
Work is currently under way to erect a permanent memorial to the victims in Hyde Park's Lovers' Walk.
© 2007 AFP
This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.