back to article 'Better IT could have stopped 7/7 bombings'

Better connections between police and MI5 intelligence databases may have helped stop the July 7 suicide bombings, according to a parliamentary investigation. The report by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), published today, found that MI5's failure to prevent 52 deaths on London's public transport in 2005 was the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    call me crazy

    "Mohammed Siddique Khan's name had appeared on a number of occasions in different versions, linked to different addresses, telephone numbers and vehicles, on various databases and in connection with separate incidents,"

    But surely any reasonable person would conclude that these happened to be two or more people with the same/similar name no matter what IT systems were being used.

  2. michael W


    This is where you have the two main views, one being that it's an outrage that MI5 had his name but didn't follow it up and that they should have done, yet to do this they would need much tougher privacy invading laws enabled that are currently talked about, like snooping on all communications.

    And the other is the reverse of the above, if you don't want your privacy invaded then you have to acknowledge that a lot of the time, MI5 won't have enough information before an event happens to actually link the people to the plot.

    It's all well and good to bemoan that MI5 didn't do enough yet once they have the correct name of a suspect after an event has happened it's probably pretty easy to slot that person into the puzzle and find all the evidence you need.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Waste of time

    As a survivor of the bombings I've been following this pretty closely. These are some things to bear in mind:

    MI5 have such a huge amount of data to go through I can happily believe that they simply chose what they thought were the best priorities. "Hindsight, " as Intelligence & Security Committee chairman Kim Howells said " is a wonderful thing."

    Kim Howells, however, has been linked with the Labour Party for decades. In fact, from before the miners' strike of 1984. Dr Howells has since admitted to destroying union documents during the strike which may have related to the death of a miner who crossed the picket line and was killed when two striking miners dropped a concrete block on his car [].

    His predecessor as chairman was one Margaret Beckett, Labour leader after the late John Smith and before a certain Anthony Blair. The earlier version of the "report" from July 2008 has a covering letter from her to the Prime Minster starting "Dear Gordon" (not, you'll note, 'Dear Prime Minister' - all terribly chummy) [].

    Is there anyone ... ANYONE ... out there who seriously believes that this updated waste of trees is in any way independent and capable of criticising those who might (and I stress "might") have been at fault? No-one who isn't currently investigating their own colon, I suspect.

    A public enquiry might - frankly - do bugger all, but I'm sure as hell not going to be told what happened to me and hundreds others that day by a bunch of corrupt, detached, self-serving imbeciles who might very well have screwed up and be hiding it.

  4. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Better connections between police and MI5 intelligence databases

    Oh, look, *another* justification for linking all Government databases so they can watch and monitor everything we do and every where we go and everyone we talk to and every website we visit and...

  5. Scott Mckenzie


    We need him...

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Could it have been stopped ?

    It is a slippery slope from ''it could have been stopped if XXXX'' to ''all that needs to be done now is ensure that XXXX always happens''. This is complete rubbish. It is not possible to follow every possible rogue/terrorist/... without regarding a large part of the UK population as suspicious - when they are innocent. This may be the thinking behind our Jaqui's deluded attempts at turning this country into a police surveillance state.

    We have a choice:

    1) lead relatively free lives where we expect people to behave properly. We will accept that the occasional misguided/nutter/... will break the rules of good society and kill people.

    2) Turn the UK into a police surveillance state, spend oodles of money on it, and still not be much safer than in (1) -- but the politicians can say ''not our fault we are doing what we can''.

    My choice is (1). We end up being free and don't spend stupid amounts of ££ on this stuff.

    Politicians want to be seen to be doing something.

    The security services industry (which includes the police & MI5) want the extra money that this all brings.

    Yes: it sucks if you (or a loved one) gets blown up, but lets face it: you have a better chance of getting the jackpot on the lottery - it isn't really likely.

  7. Leo Davidson
    IT Angle

    Better foreign policy could've prevented 7/7 bombings

    Better foreign policy could've prevented the 7/7 bombings.

    Why worry about the symptom when you could tackle the cause?

  8. Anonymous Coward


    they have multiple entries using multiple spellings in multiple locations in multiple databases with a wide range of sources and still people are calling it a failure? They even refer to him in two different ways throughout the article (MSK and SK)

    No. Following the wrong person and not noticing (then shooting them) is a failure. The gov'ts response to the ispphorm petition is a failure. Failing to call up information that must have been a pain to find even with hindsight just isn't.

    So I guess it's almost a well done to MI5 for doing what they did.

    I wonder how an ID Card database would have saved us all?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desite the amount of IT you have

    Its all down to basic investigations.

    You need good investigators to 'join the dots'. Not draconian laws, but smart people.

  10. EvilGav

    @michael W

    Quite right.

    It's a little like Nostradamus - most of his "predictions" are found after the event, prior to something happening, they are mostly guess-work and/or gibberish.

    However, good to see another government set-up committee have basically said we need the IMP as soon as possible.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I've heard of organisations using IT as the scapegoat for the mishaps of others, but this is a pretty serious allegation to shovel onto the IT department. I can't help but think that regardless of the fact that differing records were being kept on multiple databases for the suspected leader, that this would have been of little use if the human units involved were unable to keep his most basic details up to date in most of them!

  12. jimbarter

    This story

    Makes for an excellent motivation poster stuck to the wall over our IT dept.

    many thanks.

  13. Dan
    Thumb Down

    Shock horror

    Government report says that government could 'protect' us better with more invasive surveillance and the kind of pervasive systems that the spooks are after anyway.

    In other news, the Pope was confirmed as a Catholic.

  14. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Better choices

    This report shows exactly how NuLabour's major failing is that, having recognised a problem, they immediately chuck immense amounts of money at inappropriate and expensive 'solutions' rather than spending a little time thinking about the issue and coming up with a workable solution at a reasonable cost.

    In this case it seems to me that if, rather than chucking billions at their ID card obsession, they had spent a bit of money on a comparison and selective linking system to match data on the Special Branch computers, the Police National computer and MI5 databases they'd have got something that was actually useful without invading everybody's privacy.

    What is it that makes them ignore expert advice in favour of some half-baked[*] scheme dreamed up by a knowledge-free advisor? Are they really scared of revealing their ignorance or just monumentally stupid?

    [*] I was going to say 'Heath Robinson' scheme but that would demean Heath Robinson, whose gadgets could be built and would actually do what they were intended to do.

  15. John Smith Gold badge

    Soundex algorythm anyone?

    Developed to collapse human names with different spellings but the same sound (homonyms?) into 1 match.

    Developed IIRC for the 1890 US census.

    Described in PCW in the early 80's and Knuth's Art of Computer Programming.

    Might be a bit better value for money than Scope II and have a chance of working.

    But what do I know?

    You can guess what will be in my large coat pocket.

  16. O
    Thumb Down


    I think not waging illegal wars might have been a bit more effective ....

  17. Nanki Poo


    That clears up the Israel Conspiracy and justifies storing everybody on computer all at once! Brilliant. Now why didn't I think of that...?

    "Yeah, the one with the 9/11 Pentagon photo in the pocket..."


    But for Crissake, where I don't believe those who intend to attend a terrorist camp are certainly going to have any real intent of harm, monitoring those who attend and stay should surely be top-priority, even if it is not suspected they are 'active'? the type of information that gets regularly MANUALLY passed between services!?!? Surely!? Anyone? Even the police are handed lists of suspected criminals on their beat these days, don't security services do the same thing?

    Maybe if there was less resources allocated to applying the terror law to photographers, cyclists, anti-arms protestors et al and more allocation to those who know who the terrorists are then we might just get somewhere, eh? And as someone else said, for the billions its going to cost to log everyone in the country, shouldn't they actually spend a fraction of that and analyse the existing data the people who actually deal with this thing have? What kind of people would document every single person rather than the largest risks?

    Oh, yeah, just remembered... ContactPoint...


  18. Nanki Poo

    Oh, BTW...

    "Even the police are handed lists of suspected criminals on their beat these days, don't security services do the same thing?"

    I of course mean share them with other security services... not Mr Plod on the beat on a daily basis...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Screw up in public = more funds/power

    Seems pandemic - can I get my nose in the 'under-resourced/under-insured' trough too... Or does proven competence disqualify me?

    Here's the plan - Forget my other network/infrastructure roles and focus on local and remote network intrusion.

    I'll start by freaking out the board with stories of employee and cracker exploits in other firms.

    I'll press for T&C where staff get fired for any unauthorized packet in any direction, and then sell a ridiculous permissions lock-down to employees as protection against the sack.

    If anyone objects, I'll scan their every log entry, bill it as a security audit, and reluctantly report transgressions to the HR dept.

    I'll spend the rest of my time finding pings from countries on the west's 'enemy list' - ideally the ones with beaches and a liberal attitude to alcohol - a THOUSAND packets a day signifies an attack worth investigating, yes?

    That way I get free-holidays and maintain a constant cold feeling down the spines of all the financial decision-makers.

    Nope. Couldn't do it. Amazes me that people exist who can.

    I can't remember exactly when this stopped being predictable and started getting scary...

    "Better foreign policy could've prevented 7/7 bombings" - Concur 100%

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have an idea for National Security

    Employ, say, one in every 4 people in the country in MI5. Your unemployment stats instantly look great and you can keep tabs on everyone all the time.

  21. Reid Malenfant

    Logistics, logistics, logistics!

    In the real world it may take up to 12 trained operatives (and numerous changes of vehicles) just to maintain 24 hour covert cover on a mobile, surveillance aware suspect. Regardless of technology, this is predominantly eyes and hands on work. Multiple targets effectively increase your work load exponentially - and ever increases your likihood of 'showing out' and blowing the entire job.

    Surveillance work is a minority pursuit and only for those with the right patience and aptitude to take it on. There will only ever be a handful of sufficiently trained staff to properly undertake the most limited of operations. The work is highly skilled, intense, gruelling and not remotely compatable with family life so is rarely regarded as anything more than a limited detatchment - maybe 4 years tops - before the threat of burn-out and/or divorce prompts a career change and new and inexperienced staff take over.

    This is both the reality as things currently stand and the reason why you'll only ever go so far with hands-on serveillance .

  22. David Pollard

    @AC - I have an idea for National Security

    Hmm. Combine it with Social Security and you have National Socialism.

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: I have an idea for National Security

    You are the Stasi and I claim my five pounds!

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