Citing police and MI5 sources, The Mirror.co.uk, a mainstream British internet
publication, has now admitted the probability that the four London bombers were
in some way duped by a master bomber ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=15742951%26method=f
ull%26siteid=94762%26headline=was%2dit%2dsuicide%2d%2d-name_ ... ). This
theory has been widely reported internationally (for example by the Sydney Morning
Herald, 18 July 2005).
In the Mirror’s scenario the master bomber cynically tricked his team
into thinking that when they pressed the button, they were setting off a timing
device that would give them sufficient time to leave the target area. Instead,
they pressed the buttons, detonated the bombs and killed themselves as well
as their victims.
According to this scenario the bombers were merely expendable low-level operatives
whose death would happily remove the probability that, if caught, they would
reveal, under interrogation, details about their controllers and other members
of the network.
In its way, this admission is a breakthrough that should allow other more plausible
scenarios to emerge for investigation.
In that spirit, let me suggest variants of the “dupes scenario”
that I believe are at least equally plausible, given the information currently
available to the public .
It’s necessary to understand that the detonators were probably constructed
from mobile phones. Mobiles can be used to set off bombs in three ways: by using
them as a timer (alarm clock function) or by remote detonation using voice or
text message. While unidentified police sources have claimed that no “timers”
have so far been found, The London Times had admitted the possibility of mobile
phones being used.
There are many problems with the version of the dupes scenario publicized by
If the four men knew they were carrying bombs and believed they were going
to plant them before withdrawing safely from the scene it would certainly have
occurred to them that the police would afterwards be searching for four men
of Islamic background and that they would be recorded on CCTV arriving at Luton,
then at Kings Cross and then going their separate ways. They are hardly likely
to have ignored this threat. They would certainly have traveled separately and
approached the targets from different directions. They would not have blithely
assumed they could meet up again at the rented car at Luton to drive home. Nor
would they have left more bombs in the car as suggested by some media reports.
The Mirror’s scenario also depends on the three tube bombers (and probably
all four of them) activating the bomb timers (perhaps by pressing a button)
at an agreed time and unwittingly blowing themselves up. But why would they
operate in that way? If the aim was to leave the bombs on the trains –
surely the most effective target in terms of death and chaos – then the
bombers would have activated the timers as the trains were pulling into a station
then got off at the last moment leaving the bombs on board. But in that case,
they would all have unwittingly detonated the bombs just as the train was approaching
No, the simplest and most compelling reason for the near simultaneous detonation
of the three tube bombs is that the bombs were detonated by timers, and that
timers were set running, by some method, at Kings Cross station.
The master bomber’s backup
It is entirely plausible that the master bomber would not have relied solely
on the timer. If a timer failed to detonate one of the bombs, a dupe would be
left alive and in possession of the evidence. A simple fail-safe detonator might
also have used a mobile phone, perhaps the same one used as the timer in each
of the bombs. The London Tube system is not equipped for mobile phone reception,
but if the master-bomber backed up the timer by sending a text message to the
four bombs, the message would have been delivered to the bomb detonators as
soon as the unwitting bomber left the underground and entered a mobile phone
reception area on the surface.
In my variants the four dupes were recruited to carry out some task, other
than a bombing, which involved them going to Luton, where they picked up the
bombs, securely packaged to prevent their real contents being detected by the
men, then to Kings Cross, where they received further instructions. The purpose
for which they were recruited might have been either legal or illegal.
* A drug courier run, for which they were promised big money.
* A secret courier task, related perhaps to clandestine support
for, say, the Iraqi resistance or a Palestinian group.
In either case the dupes were instructed to proceed to Luton, then by train
to Kings Cross to meet a contact who was probably unknown to them, but who,
they were assured, would recognize them when they got off the Luton train. This
person would tell them where to deliver the stuff. It’s unlikely they
would have been given an address to go to. They would have been told to travel
individually to four separate destinations – such as the entrance to another
railway station – where they would be recognized by the person they were
to give the backpack to. That scenario is consistent with standard clandestine
Based on what we know of the character and background of the four, I’d
rule out the idea that they thought they were drug couriers. More likely, I
believe, is that the manipulator would have played on their political and religious
sympathies and their sense of adventure. They would have been told they were
transferring something important (guns, munitions, currency, explosives –
exactly what would probably have been left to their imagination) to separate
locations in London for onshipment to the final recipient – possibly the
Iraq resistance or a Palestinian group.
Note that in this variant the manipulator might be either an agent
provocateur working for Mossad, an American or British secret police faction,
or a genuine Islamist, but the cynicism of the manipulation suggests a state
operation, rather than that the men were duped by one of their own.
* A security training exercise. This variant has already been
flagged by skeptics. In it the dupes were offered good money to be "the
enemy" in a security training exercise played out in the underground and
were naive enough to believe the recruiter. They would have been engaged as
actors and told they were only required to carry the backpacks to certain destinations
to see if they could get them through the security people under training who
had been given the “profile” of a suspect. They would also have
been told that, for security reasons, they were not under any circumstances
to talk to anybody else about the exercise. As a further precaution they would
have been told they’d only be informed of their destination when they
were briefed at Kings Cross station. They would probably have been told to meet
back at the station for a debriefing. Such exercises are a normal part of security
training, but we might question whether, in the atmosphere generated by Britain’s
role in Iraq, four young Muslims would have been happy to take part.
Arming the bombs
Whatever method was used to dupe the men, they arrived with the bombs at Kings
Cross station where they met a contact and were assigned their tasks.
In the case that the men thought they were engaged in a non-legal task, examination
of, or tampering with, the backpacks by the contact, who they probably would
not have known, would have run the risk of arousing their suspicion. So how,
in that case, were the timers activated?
This could easily have been accomplished by the master bomber, or more likely
an unseen accomplice, using a modified TV, stereo or garage door remote control.
Rigging a remote to turn on and to activate the alarm clock function on a mobile
phone would present no difficulty to a techno-terd of average ability.
Why did the fourth bomb explode on the bus?
The mobile phone detonator scenario also provides a plausible explanation for
Hasib Mir Hussain’s bomb exploding on the No. 30 bus an hour after the
When the phone-based detonator attached to the bomb he was unwittingly carrying
was remotely switched on, the alarm clock function failed to activate. So the
bomb failed to detonate twenty minutes after activation and he left the tube
either because his train hadn’t arrived (it has been hypothesized that
he was supposed to travel on the Northern Line which had been disrupted by technical
problems) or he was evacuated from the tube after it ground to a halt in the
aftermath of the bombs.
Perhaps he tried to reach his appointed destination by bus. Perhaps he caught
the No. 30 to do a little sightseeing. Why not? He’d heard that the whole
underground had been knocked out by some sort of a power surge, London was in
chaos. He couldn’t contact the man he thought was his controller for the
exercise (or in the illegal purpose variant, his London contact) because the
phone network was down. And he didn’t know where his three friends were.
As the master bomber listened to the incoming news reports (and perhaps other
intelligence) he would have realized that only three bombs had gone off. This
would have been a bad moment. Somewhere, out there, was a dupe, still alive
and carrying the evidence. If he hadn’t already sent the text message
to the bomb detonator, he now did so. But the mobile network was in such chaos
that it took another hour before the message was delivered to the bomb on the
Keep it Simple, Stupid
The variants of the dupes scenario I am suggesting do not require a large conspiracy
in the operational phase. The whole job might have required (apart from the
* An agent provocateur, to recruit the four.
* A master bomber to plan the operation, supply the bombs
and rig the detonat/p>
* An assistant to remotely activate the mobile phone detonators
at Kings Cross.
That’s a nice tight little cell of just four conspirators, or perhaps
only three if the master bomber doubled as the contact at Kings Cross or as
the unseen assistant. It’s easy to organize, very hard to detect and has
a very low chance of failure. An organization such as Mossad would have no difficulty
finding three or four hardened bastards for the job … and an overwhelming
interest in provoking world outrage against Muslims.