UK officials didn’t probe suicide bomber’s Israel visit, lawmaker says

Inquest ignored ties between Mohammed Khan, who blew himself up on a London subway in 2005, and men who carried out a 2003 Tel Aviv attack

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the four suicide bombers who struck London, July 7, 2005. (YouTube/Tom Secker)
Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the four suicide bombers who struck London, July 7, 2005. (YouTube/Tom Secker)

Officials probing a terrorist thought to have been behind a wave of suicide bombings in London in 2005 did not look into a trip he took to Israel in 2003, just weeks before a pair of British suicide bombers targeted a popular Tel Aviv bar, British media reported Monday.

Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz MP said he intends to ask Home Secretary Theresa May to explain why that part of Mohammed Sidique Khan’s past was ignored and will look into whether further steps should be taken, according to a Sky News report.

Khan and three others struck London 10 years ago — on July 7, 2005 — killing 48 people and injuring over 700. Khan, considered the leader of the group, blew himself up on a London underground train, killing seven people.

Investigators found Khan had visited Israel for one day in 2003, crossing into the Jewish state from Jordan as part of a trip to the region that included a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Two weeks later UK citizens Asif Hanif from Hounslow and Omar Sharif from Derby became Britain’s first suicide bombers when they launched a coordinated attack on the popular Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, April 30, 2003.

Hanif killed three people and injured another fifty when he blew himself up in the entrance to the crowded venue. His accomplice, Sharif, who was supposed to detonate a bomb he was carrying as a follow-up to the initial attack, made his escape after his device failed to explode. His body washed up on the Tel Aviv beach a few weeks later and a coroner’s report concluded he had drowned.

Palestinian terror group Hamas took responsibility for the attack and released a video of the two men.

Although a 2006 UK government account of what became known as the “7/7 attacks” mentioned Khan’s visit to Israel, it noted “no evidence of anything suspicious.”

Scene of the Mike's Place suicide bombing,  April 30, 2003. (YouTube/Pavla Fleischer)
Scene of the Mike’s Place suicide bombing, April 30, 2003. (YouTube/Pavla Fleischer)

However the official report did not recall the Mike’s Place bombing.

According to Sky news there were never any convictions made in Britain for any offenses connected to the Tel Aviv bombing.

Both men were said to have ties with Khan and all three were involved with the extremist Al Muhajiroun group — later banned — that was led by radical preachers Omar Bakri Mohammad and Abu Hamza.

Also, a 2006 BBC documentary interviewed a businessman from the northern UK city of Manchester who claimed the three had asked him for funding to send young British Muslims to Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

After the July 2007 attacks in London, authorities in Israel looked into Khan’s possible involvement in carrying out the Mike’s Place attack but found no evidence that he had even visited Tel Aviv.

Nonetheless, Raffaello Pantucci, director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, a long-established British security think tank, said that the matter should have been further explored by UK authorities.

“There are certainly questions to be answered, not least about how UK authorities saw the domestic terrorist threat in 2003,” he said.

The Metropolitan Police declined to comment to Sky news as to whether information showing a connection between Khan and the Tel Aviv bombers was used in the 7/7 background reports on Khan.

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