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August 8, 2005
Saudis Warned Brits Of An Impending Attack

Yesterday, the Observer reported that the Saudis officially warned Britain that it had word of an attack on London weeks ahead of the July 7 bombings. Its intelligence services had monitored the cellphone of a terrorist leader in its country and had told Britain of the existence and activation of an Islamist cell within the UK:

Saudi Arabia officially warned Britain of an imminent terrorist attack on London just weeks ahead of the 7 July bombings after calls from one of al-Qaeda's most wanted operatives were traced to an active cell in the United Kingdom.

Senior Saudi security sources have confirmed they are investigating whether calls from Kareem al-Majati, last year named as one of al-Qaeda's chiefs in the Gulf kingdom, were made directly to the British ringleader of the 7 July bomb plotters.

One senior Saudi security official told The Observer that calls to Britain intercepted from a mobile phone belonging to Majati earlier this year revealed that an active terror group was at work in the UK and planning an attack.

He also said that calls from Majati's lieutenant and al-Qaeda's logistics expert, Younes al-Hayari, who was killed in a separate shoot-out just four days before the 7 July bombings, have also been traced to Britain.

The Saudis insist that either this intelligence relates to the July 7 cell or that another completely different cell still remains active in the UK, planning another attack. Unfortunately, neither the Brits nor the Saudis can ask Majati, who allegedly masterminded the Casablanca bombings and possibly the Madrid attack as well. He died in a hail of gunfire in April in a battle against Saudi police.

The British confirm that the Saudis passed along an extensive amount of intelligence on Majati's communications. They received e-mails, transcriptions of phone calls, and text messages, but none of them had enough specifics to stop the July 7 attacks. They do not 'recognise the specifics' of the Saudi claim, however, meaning that the British intelligence services dispute the details of the Saudi claims of cooperation.

If Majati had any involvement in the July 7 attacks, it shows once again that the center of the terrorist movement exists in Saudi Arabia, not Pakistan, at least in terms of finance and direct operation. It also shows that the Saudi government has taken counterterrorism more seriously of late but still lags behind the curve. Majati died in April; the attacks came three months later. Someone took up the slack and helped coordinate the efforts in London. Some of that slack may yet get identified through the collapse of the July 21 follow-up attack. The speed of the arrests in that case provides some glimmer of hope that it may already have done so.

Just as the Bush Administration did, the Blair government may face tough questions about the nature of its intelligence and whether their security services reacted appropriately. The argument casts suspicion in the wrong direction. Before 7/7, the British appeared more worried about protecting their multiculturalism than defending against terrorism, believing that their open-arms approach to Muslims gave them some immunity to AQ targeting. Now the British understand that allowing radicals to emigrate and preach hatred and violence on the streets of their cities does not celebrate multiculturalism but demonstrates a suicidal lack of willpower to draw the line on threats to its existence. As the British electorate finally draws that conclusion, their government will have the mandate it needs to eject the immigrants who use British land and liberty to argue for the destruction of both.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 8, 2005 6:27 AM

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