2005 July 07 Thursday
4 Terrorist Bombs Kill Dozens In London Trains, Bus

Muslim terrorists strike again. At least 33 are dead so far.

Mr Paddick said four blasts hit London shortly before 9 am. Seven people were killed in the first blast in a tunnel near Moorgate station in the City, 21 were killed in a second near King’s Cross and another five died at Edgware Road station in west London.

There were a still unknown number of fatalities on a double-decker bus that was blown up Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury. Overall, hundreds of people were injured in the blasts, of whom 45 were seriously or critically injured.

Also see the BBC's coverage for details about each site. Also, see this exact timeline of the explosions. London time the three train explosions happened 8:51 AM, 8:56 AM, 9: 17 AM, and then 9:47 AM for the bus. Less than an hour total.

Attention of security forces was shifted toward the Gleneagles G8 summit currently taking place in Scotland.

Michael Clarke, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London, said six bombs would mean at least 24 people were involved in planting them in a targeted operation.

The fact that London had been hit when the resources of the security forces were focused on the G8 summit at Gleneagles showed thoughtful preparation by terrorists.

"It will have been quite a big plot and months in the planning," said Prof Clarke, who declined to speculate who was behind the attacks at this stage.

How many of the bombers will turn out to be British citizens, asylum seekers, illegal aliens, or temporary visitors? How'd they get into Britain and when did they become jihadist terrorists? Britain should deport all illegal aliens and stop letting in asylum seekers. It should also start revoking residency permits for radical Islamists.

The group was probably much bigger and more likely part of a still larger group.

The use of near simultaneous attacks to cause maximum damage and panic is a tactic frequently used by al-Qa'ida.

The technique was used in the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in East Africa and the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington in which four hijacked airliners were aimed at key buildings.

Note that they went for fairly simple bombs on a bus and trains. They didn't manage to kill hundreds of people. They didn't carry out an attack on an airplane or bring down a large building. They didn't use sarin or some other nerve gas.

A group calling itself "Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe" has published a statement claiming responsibility for the bombing.

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, may peace be upon the cheerful one and undaunted fighter, Prophet Muhammad, God's peace be upon him.

Nation of Islam and Arab nation: Rejoice for it is time to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.

We have repeatedly warned the British Government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid.

We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is excused.

God says: "You who believe: If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly."

The BBC found the statement on a website that has carried previous statements from Al Qaeda.

The Economist argues that the Islamic terrorists would carry out many more attacks if only it had the capability to do so.

One theory as to why it has taken so long might be that al-Qaeda moves in a very measured, careful way: attacks are long in preparation and intermittent in nature. Yet there is much evidence to suggest that that notion, which became conventional wisdom after September 11th, may not be correct. The intelligence services in London say that they have thwarted quite a number of attacks in recent years, including a plot involving deadly poisons and another which had Heathrow airport as its target. Less encouragingly, they also offer unofficial estimates that Britain may be home to roughly 1,000 budding Islamist terrorists, or close supporters of them. Whatever the accuracy of either of those assertions, the general picture is one of repeated terrorist efforts rather than measured, intermittent ones, and of a fragmented, unco-ordinated set of terrorist groups rather than a cohesive effort.

How many of those thousand budding Islamic terrorists are British citizens? How many are known to British security forces? How many could be deported?

George W. Bush is wrong yet again.

George Bush has sometimes claimed that a silver lining to the cloud his forces are struggling through in Iraq is that at least the West's enemies are being fought there rather than at home. The attacks in London are a reminder that that view is as wrong as it is glib.

Since so many Muslim terrorist groups are eager to carry out attacks no intelligence operation against a single group can stop future attacks. Every radical mosque and Muslim hothead in the West has to be watched for signs that they might be brewing an attack of their own.

Update: Will British Muslims who have fought for the insurgency in Iraq be found involved in the attack?

"The international intelligence community has been talking for some time about potential blowback from the Iraqi conflict," says Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

"The French say they know of about 100 of their people who have traveled to Iraq, and 70 or 80 British nationals are thought to have been there," he adds.

Iraq is an excellent place for groups there to check out and train the European Muslims who come there. Then they can be sent back to European countries to carry out attacks.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 07 10:36 AM  Terrorists Activities

razib_the_atheist said at July 7, 2005 3:20 PM:

one thing that i have been thinking...during the cold war weren't many of the fiercest anti-communists jewish precisely because so many communists were jewish and they felt they had to prove themselves? (the judge who sentenced rosenberg and wife to death was jewish) "moderate muslims" need to spearhead the battle and step forward (or be drafted), because they are the only ones who are capable of getting the "human intelligence" necessary. barring that, christian arabs who can "pass" linguistically are another option. i am going to be curious if the terrorists come from the native asian muslim community, or if they were arabs.

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 3:33 PM:


But of course the so-called "moderate muslims" are not stepping forward to battle the extremists.

Anti-communist Ashkenazi Jews are unlike the Arabs in enough ways that I do not expect similar behavior from the Arabs.

Yes, it will be very interesting to see what ethnic group the terrorists turn out to be from. Arabs or Pakistanis? Or other?

razib_the_atheist said at July 7, 2005 3:44 PM:

i would bet arabs. then perhaps pakistanis. the third group of muslims in the UK are bangladeshi, but they tend to poor, insular and isolated from the mainstream becuase they are almost all immigrants (rather than 'british muslims'), which, contra cliche, of course results in a lack of militant adversarial islamism....

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 3:55 PM:


My ranking on the probabilities is the same as yours. Arabs are the top candidates. Then Pakis.

BTW, the single Madrid train station bombing killed about 193. So these 4 bombs, while requiring greater coordination, were far less effective. Why is that? Couldn't they get enough bomb material? How big was the Madrid bomb? Or were there multiple bomb parcels in Madrid in a small area?

razib_the_atheist said at July 7, 2005 4:21 PM:

i have no idea, but perhaps the british transit system is more robust somehow.

John S Bolton said at July 7, 2005 4:33 PM:

If targeted countries deport several hundred moslems for each victim killed by terrorists, this will generate more cooperation from local moslems, who are in a position to know more than others about the next terror attack, or its correlates.

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 5:35 PM:

It looked a bit like an IRA-scale event from the 80s, but they're not active anymore (particularly now that their New York funding has dried up) and in any event they would tend to use the agreed phone-warning arrangements. I thought maybe an extremist anti-globalisation/anarchist group wanting to cash in on G8 (it fits with the economic nature of the attack - ie shutting down the light rail system thereby paralysing the big money businesses operating in central London), but I discount that because they'd have been quick to issue a press release trying to explain the point of their actions.

My guess is that it'll be some adhoc collection of jihadists - probably not a formal organisation like AQ. Particularly because (as of my writing this), no one has credibly claimed responsibility, whereas an organised group would have had their media release ready to go.

By the way, I don't think the targets were high value in a terrorist PR sense. I think AQ-type terrorists really value the media spectacle, but these bombings didn't make for good TV (mostly being underground).

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 5:46 PM:

John, I really hate the idea of group punishment - its just not something that liberal democracy does, rather its a fascist/communist/totalitarian type of strategy. In a civil sense, I think group punishment just creates more recruits for the extremists because it aggravates any latent resentment within the punished community. It certainly doesn't create 'heart and mind' allies, and that's what we need.

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 6:08 PM:


I have no problem with treating groups as different based on group average differences. We have to have criteria for who we let in. We can't and shouldn't let in everyone. Why not use what groups they belong to as part of such criteria? Doing so will enhance our safety and freedom.

We ought to stop granting asylum to Muslims and greatly reduce immigration of Muslims. We ought to deport all illegal Muslims. This will make us safer.

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 7:17 PM:

Randall, I don't understand your logic - why is it safer to *stop* granting asylum to Muslims, while at the same time settling for merely *reducing* legal Muslim immigration? How does treating the Muslims differently based on how they arrive going to increase our security?

My mind also turns to the bureaucratic implementation of a system to detect Muslims, presumably potential immigrants will simply stop identifying themselves as Muslims - its not as if their denomination is tattooed on their forehead. Then, once in the country they'll undergo a miraculous self-realisation and decide to become Muslims.

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 7:40 PM:


Well, I carefully hid my logic from you.

What I have in mind is bringing in the very smart ones. They are unlikely to be devout for the same reason that devoutness falls off at higher intelligence levels in other groups.

Though, hey, I'd be up for totally stopping Muslim immigration entirely.

Implementation: reduce immigration from Muslim majority countries. Not a perfect filter. But an improvement.

John S Bolton said at July 7, 2005 8:34 PM:

One may hate group punishment, and hate war, and hate imprisonment and everything violent, but to pacifistically answer acts of war with non retaliation, would drive civilization into the sea. What is wanted is retaliation, or a punitive strike, if you want to call it that. Nothing but massive retaliation against the moslems in Britain will answer to the aggression. Those on net public subsidy, such as moslem refugeees in Britain, are aggressors, and may be treated as an enemy force accompanied by noncombatants. If they can disrupt and kill and injure, counteraggression against such a class is not only righteous, but mandatory in morality. It must be sufficiently large in the numbers deported, to discourage future attacks, and compensate for the damage done.

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 8:40 PM:

I agree about smart people probably being less inclined to be devout. (And let me assure you that I wouldn't be petty enough to point out that Osama would have made an excellent immigrant based on such a test - he being an engineer or some such).

I think that a practice of the west accepting only the smartest is the worst option in the long term. We need stable nations, and stable nations need smart people. By cherry-picking those people we are essentially reducing the capacity of the source country to develop.

I think the better option is to only allow immigration between equally developed regions - ie Western Europe US Australia Canada Japan etc. As a country reaches some reasonably well accepted level of development, then they can move up the ranks of the immigration club. Of course, any emigrant is free to migrate 'downward' into less developed countries, just not upward.

Matra said at July 7, 2005 8:43 PM:

Randall Parker - "BTW, the single Madrid train station bombing killed about 193"

There were something like a dozen bombs in Madrid last year though two or three failed to detonate.

Stephen - "It looked a bit like an IRA-scale event from the 80s, but they're not active anymore (particularly now that their New York funding has dried up)"

The IRA may not be bombing London these days but they are still very active in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Following last winter's Northern Bank robbery in Belfast and their sophisticated money laundering activities in the hours after it, I doubt they need any New York funding.

razib_the_atheist said at July 7, 2005 9:17 PM:

the miniseries shogun there was a scene where samurai were made to step on a bible to show they weren't christian, since the christian samurais were perceived to have had loyalties to portugal (or an "evil" daiymo in league with portugal). anyway, inspiration? ;)

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 11:08 PM:

Matra, good point about the IRA's local activities. On a related topic, someone pointed out to me that we are now talking about Muslims in a similar manner to which much of the english speaking world talked about the Irish in the late 19th / early 20th century.

razib_the_atheist said at July 8, 2005 4:21 AM:

someone pointed out to me that we are now talking about Muslims in a similar manner to which much of the english speaking world talked about the Irish in the late 19th / early 20th century.

analogies...analogies. only valid if there is a good correspondence between source and target....

Richard said at July 8, 2005 6:00 AM:

The big Irish wave had passed by the late 9th cent. and assimilation was such that the reporters were surprised that the dead trooper at the top of San Juan hill was German and not Irish. The evil untermenschen tag had passed to Southern and Eastern Europeans. Punch was probably still publishing its ape caricature of the Irish though.

bioIgnoramus said at July 8, 2005 7:36 AM:

"much of the english speaking world talked about the Irish in the late 19th / early 20th century": one of my grandfathers was Irish and grew up then. It was his considered view that
"the english speaking world" was pretty much spot on in its opinion.

Matra said at July 8, 2005 9:01 AM:

The Irish started arriving in America before today's Western states were settled. Indeed they played a big part in that settlement and thus the building of the country. The Irish are from European Christendom. Muslims belong to a different civilisation altogether. If Muslims in the West don't give up their religion I don't see much of a chance for successful integration.

raj said at July 8, 2005 9:16 AM:

anybody think this would work? why not mandate that every bag brought on a train or bus in london (maybe other places if it works) has to be a certain size and transparent plastic? think people would go for it?

Derek Copold said at July 8, 2005 10:31 AM:

Well, no matter what exact set of Islamists perpetrated the bombing and how effectively they could or could not have been, we can certainly see that the "Flypaper Strategy" has not worked.

razib_the_atheist said at July 8, 2005 12:32 PM:

If Muslims in the West don't give up their religion I don't see much of a chance for successful integration.

uh, i don't necessarily disagree with you, but you know that are probably one google query (.1 seconds) away from someone interpolating "Irish" and "Britain" into that exact phrase as a quote from an Englishmen post-Restoration pre-Empancipation, right? i don't think the analogy necessarily works, but mostly because i think comparisons like irish:muslim has to be vetted by an examination of all the correspondences and consideration of context (not only is it accurate, but what predictive power are you trying to get out of the analogy). but those of us who hold such views (whether subtle or not) are held to higher standards beacuse stephen's opinion is "conventional wisdom."

Randall Parker said at July 8, 2005 12:37 PM:


Conventional wisdom on Iraq has been so wrong that it seems to me that the conventional wisdom on Middle Easterners and Muslims is what ought to be held to higher standards.

John S Bolton said at July 8, 2005 2:48 PM:

Britain has tens of thousands of Moslems who are receiving net public subsidy, who are there completely on sufferance. Summary deportation of that many would be the most perfect retaliation, and it would promote a lessening of ghettoization by hollowing out the ghettoes. Aggression is used to support the immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who are on net public subsidy. The burden of proof is on those who say this level of aggression on the net taxpayer should be maintained or increased.

razib_the_atheist said at July 8, 2005 3:13 PM:

Conventional wisdom on Iraq has been so wrong that it seems to me that the conventional wisdom on Middle Easterners and Muslims is what ought to be held to higher standards.

well, between you and i perhaps, but who cares about that? to make an impact on the mainstream you need to wedge into their assumptions obliquely and seem beyond reproach. it is a matter of style, not substance.

anyway, though not necessarily for the right reasons, my liberal friends have been pretty much right about iraq. doesn't matter now, we're in, and no doubt we'll be getting ourselves into other messes in the near future. if my liberal friends had taken a more subtle and less "we all know how things really are" they might have convinced more people than if they simply chatted away with fellow travelers who also "knew how thigns really were" and scored intraideological points.

razib_the_atheist said at July 8, 2005 3:31 PM:

to be more constructive, even mainstream "conservatives" often push the contentless islam = peace line. we need to be conscious of who occupies the "high ground."

Randall Parker said at July 8, 2005 3:40 PM:


Regards mainstream right-wingers: They use the Left's moral assumptions and liberalism as starting points. The neocons are really right-wing liberals. I don't think of them as conservatives.

Wedging into the assumptions of the liberal-left: Well, I'm personally not going to try to seem beyond reproach by their moral standards. I don't see you taking that approach either for that matter. I think taking on their assumptions is a more productive approach.

I try to write from my own assumptions and offer evidence why the assumptions of others are wrong. There are people out there looking for alternative views. I pretty much write for those who want empirical reasons why the conventional wisdom is wrong.

Still, I see an advantage for some people to try to take the tact of writing from a more mainstream viewpoint. I think the people at the Center for Immigration Studies help the cause of immigration restriction going about it their way rather than the VDare way. On the other hand, I think the VDare way helps persuade a lot of people too.

razib_the_atheist said at July 8, 2005 3:58 PM:

Well, I'm personally not going to try to seem beyond reproach by their moral standards. I don't see you taking that approach either for that matter.

i think you misunderstand me. i don't mean moral reproach, as much as the empirical-theoretical stance. for example, your posts are often chock full of links, data, and often dissenting viewpoints from your own. there is a normative angle you are pushing, sure, but it is embedded in a lot of data, and you don't take stuff as "given" all the time (you link to "related" posts all the time when you don't make things explicit). this isn't the norm on a lot of blogs. that's the main reason i don't read blogs much, people write to their own group, whether that's Left, Right, secular, religions, etc. (if course john kerry is a commonist, of course g.w. bush is hitler vol II) in your own ingroup you don't need to flesh out details, or concern yourself with process, procedure and good faith because everyone already agrees on the terminus. so, of course the irish:english analogy is not equivlalent to the islam:west analogy. well, i might agree with that (i actually do), but most people come to the table (not necessarily most of your readers, but a minority like stephen do) with "mainstream" opinions and models which doesn't concede this obvious truth.

most of the human race are always going to be followers. we just need more people to work on all cylinders, balancing norms, theory and data. that is i think the sui generis aspect of the modern west, the value given to going on all cognitive cylinders and letting process work its magic.

razib_the_atheist said at July 8, 2005 4:15 PM:

also, as i've said at my blog, it's put up or shut up time for me, i will post within the week why i think the irish:muslim analogy is facile. i think using some concepts in cladistics can flesh out the issues....

Stephen said at July 8, 2005 9:36 PM:

Raj, pleny of suicide bombers go around with sticks of TNT taped to them, presumably to them not being able to use a bag is just a minor inconvenience. In the IRA days, garbage bins were removed (useful place to dump a bomb) and the population was always on the lookout for an abandoned bag etc. This was an effective countermeasure because the IRA wasn't into suicide - which of course isn't a problem for the current crop of loons.

Stephen said at July 8, 2005 10:17 PM:

Razib, one of the things that attracts me to Randall's writings is his evidence based style. Reasonably rare for a blogger.

PS: I've never been accused of having 'mainstream' opinions! Must be getting old.

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