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Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Sunday, June 28, 2015

 

Amongst the full horror of the terror attacks in Tunisia is the stark fact that this was the second largest terrorist attack against British citizens since the London bombings. The first, on July 7th 2005, was now ten years ago.

What Happened

The previous day in 2005 we had learnt that London would be hosting the 2012 Olympic games but this elation was very short-lived. The following day 52 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a terrorist attack carried out by four men.

As on that day suicide bombers Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Hasib Hussain, 18, and Jermaine Lindsay, 19, met at Luton station. They took a train to King’s Cross in central London, then separated to carry out their attacks.

Shortly after 8.50am, Tanweer detonated his bomb at Aldgate, Khan set off his device at Edgware Road and Lindsay blew himself up between King’s Cross and Russell Square. Hussain detonated his device on board a No 30 bus at Tavistock Square at 9.47am.

Twenty-six people died in the bombing at Russell Square, six died in the bombing at Edgware Road, seven died in the bombing at Aldgate and 13 died in the bus bombing at Tavistock Square.

The Victims

52 people died that day many of whom were just going to work, travelling into the city for conferences or going about their day in London.

Some died despite help from fellow passengers on the tube and bus to keep them alive.

Some cruelly died having diverted their route from an alternative that was experiencing delays or had left their houses later than usual 

Until their deaths were confirmed many relatives walked the streets with missing persons posters desperately looking for them.

Comments at the time

The Prime Minister at the time was Tony Blair. He was in Gleneagles, Scotland hosting a G8 summit when the attack occurred.  

Mr Blair broke off to make this statement. Read it in full:

"It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London.

There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured and our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with victims and their families.

It's my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face-to-face with the police and emergency services and the ministers that have been dealing with this, and then to return later this evening.

It is the will of all the leaders of the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions that we were going to reach.

Each of the countries round that table have some experience of the effects of terrorism and all the leaders, as they will indicate later, share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorism.

It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long-term problems of climate change and the environment.

Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it is also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8.

There'll be time to talk later about this.

It's important however that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.

Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world." 

About the Terrorists

The biggest shock for the UK was that three of the bombers were British-born sons of Pakistani immigrants. The fourth Lindsay was a convert born in Jamaica. Siddique Khan, made a videotape in which he described himself as a soldier. He said:

“Your democratically-elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. And your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters. Until we feel security you will be our targets and until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation.”

Another Failed Terrorist Attack

Still fresh in the minds of British people, just a fortnight later, another four would-be suicide bombers launched failed attacks on the tube and a bus. In a state of heightened alert this sadly lead to police marksmen shooting dead innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes. This shooting represented a very low point for the Metropolitan Police Force.

The Inquiry

An inquest in 2011 heard that the ability of emergency services to help the injured and dying was restricted by a range of issues such as equipment shortages to delays in reaching the scenes.

Incredible bravery was shown that day as emergency and underground staff went into smoke filled tunnels to rescue and help survivors unaware of further bombs or dangers they may face.

The 7/7 coroner, Lady Justice Hallett, found that each one of the 52 innocent victims would have died “whatever time the emergency services reached and rescued them” 

Marking the Anniversary

Survivors of the 7/7 bombings and relatives of those who died will join Prime Minister, David Cameron, the London mayor, Boris Johnson, other politicians and members of the emergency services at memorial events on 7 July.

Firefighters, London Underground staff, paramedics and passengers caught up in the horrors of a decade ago will also mark the anniversary in separate events. Due to events in Tunisia and the ongoing high security level in the UK there will a high alert.

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