A leaked four-page report by the Joint
Intelligence Committee (JIC), which oversees
all spying, is the first definitive evidence
that the intelligence services expected
terrorists to strike at the Underground.
The disclosure will fuel critics’ suspicions
that Blair decided to rule out a public
inquiry into the bombings last week because
it could expose intelligence failings at the
The document, marked Top Secret and
signed off by the heads of MI5, MI6 and
GCHQ, the government eavesdropping centre,
was based partly on the interrogation of
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Al-Qaeda’s then
It stated: “The UK and its interests
remain high in Al-Qaeda’s priorities . . .
Plans have been considered to attack
Heathrow, the London Underground and other
Ministers and senior security officials
have insisted that there was no warning of
an imminent attack ahead of the July 7
bombings, in which 56 people died.
While technically true, the leaked
document dated April, 2003, will be seized
on by critics to show that ministers failed
to disclose that they knew Al-Qaeda was
targeting the Tube.
A statement in September 2003 by the
prime minister and Sir John Stevens, the
then Metropolitan police commissioner, that
a suicide attack was “inevitable”, did not
name the Tube as a specific target.
The performance of MI5 has already been
criticised because it lost track of Mohammad
Sidique Khan, leader of the suicide gang,
whom it placed under temporary surveillance
18 months before the bombings.
Officers judged that Khan was not an
immediate threat to national security and
decided to stop monitoring him.
Blair ruled out a public inquiry on the
grounds that it would detract from the
investigation into the July 7 bombs and the
failed July 21 attacks.
The report dated April 2, 2003 is
entitled International Terrorism: The
Current Threat from Islamic Extremists.
Mohammed, who organised the 9/11 attacks,
had been arrested in Pakistan the previous
In a key passage it states: “The UK and its
interests remain high in Al-Qaeda’s
priorities. Interrogation of Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed and other detainees confirms this.
“It shows that plans have been considered
to attack Heathrow, the London Underground
and other targets.”
The report adds that terrorist suspects
with links to east Africa are under
“We do not yet know the full nature of
their activity, but they do not appear to be
planning attacks here (some were questioned
by the police).”
Five men have been charged over the July
21 attacks. Four of them came from either
Ethiopia, Eritrea or Somalia.
JIC documents are circulated to a small
group of senior ministers. These include the
home secretary, the foreign secretary and
defence secretary as well as top civil
servants in Whitehall.
The Tories demanded the government
publish the whole JIC document and disclose
what other intelligence there had been about
threats to the Tube. Patrick Mercer, the
party’s homeland security spokesman, said:
“This leak underlines our demand for an