Police chief ‘can’t explain failures over 7/7 plotters’

A photograph of July 7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan taken by West Yorkshire Police surveillance officers in 2001
A photograph of July 7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan taken by West Yorkshire Police surveillance officers in 2001
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A TOP Yorkshire police officer told the 7/7 inquests he could not explain why his force failed to pass on to MI5 details of contacts between terror plot ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan and a known Islamist extremist.

The security service asked West Yorkshire Police in June 2004 to search its records for a “Sidique Khan” of Gregory Street, Batley, who was the registered keeper of a Honda Civic that had travelled from Leeds to the Sussex home of Omar Khyam, the head of a terror cell that was planning to kill hundreds with a giant fertiliser bomb.

More than a year earlier, undercover West Yorkshire officers had watched extremist Martin McDaid take a short lift in Leeds in a BMW registered to a “Sidique Khan” of the same address.

The information was recorded on the force’s Special Branch computer system, but the name did not turn up during the search for MI5.

Assistant Chief Constable John Parkinson told yesterday’s hearing the system appeared to be working correctly and the force could find “no technical reason” why the name had not appeared.

Mr Parkinson said the search was one of several requests made of the force by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police during their investigation of the fertiliser bomb plot. The approaches were made on a “task and complete” basis, instructing West Yorkshire officers to do no more than fulfil the confined terms of each request for fear that further involvement could compromise the operation.

Suicide bombers Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Habib Hussain, 18, all from Leeds, and Jermaine Lindsay, 19, originally from Huddersfield, killed 52 innocent victims when they blew themselves up on London’s public transport network on July 7, 2005.

West Yorkshire Police had contact with all four bombers for matters unrelated to terrorism in the years leading up to the attacks.

Khan’s fingerprints were taken in April 1986 following his arrest for receiving stolen goods and his photograph was taken in February 1993 after he was cautioned for assault.

Tanweer was arrested for burglary in April 1995 and public disorder in April 2004. He was photographed and his fingerprints and DNA were taken.

Hussain was photographed and had his fingerprints taken after he was arrested for shoplifting in October 2004. Lindsay was stop-checked while driving in Huddersfield in March 2005, but this information was not discovered until after the bombings.

The hearing continues.