Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Saudi ambassador says he warned UK of possible attacks

AFP , LONDON

Saudi officials alerted Britain several weeks before the deadly July 7 bombings in London that a terror attack was being planned, two newspapers reported yesterday.

The Observer quoted a security official in the Saudi capital Riyadh as saying that information was passed to MI5 and MI6, Britain's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies respectively.

The Sunday Telegraph quoted the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, as saying that details of a possible conspiracy to attack London -- apparently extracted from terrorism suspects in Saudi Arabia -- had been given to British intelligence.

"There were reports passed on to your authorities several months ago [in April-May] in general terms of a heightened expectancy of attacks on London," said the ambassador, a former chief of Saudi intelligence.

Security sources played down the reports. The Observer quoted one source as "categorically" denying that any specific information had been received that could have averted the July 7 attacks.

The source said they "did not recognize" the details of the Saudi claims, which came to light one month to the day after the attacks.

There was no immediate comment from the Foreign Office or the Home Office, but Prime Minister Tony Blair has previously rejected suggestions of an intelligence failure.

Fifty-six people were killed, including four apparent suicide bombers, in the July 7 morning rush-hour bombing of three Underground subway trains and a double-decker bus.

It was the deadliest terrror attack ever in the British capital, and was followed two weeks later by an attempted copycat attack in which the explosives, stuffed into rucksacks, failed to go off.

Saudi security sources were reported yesterday to be investigating whether two al-Qaeda operatives were in phone contact with a British ringleader of the plotters of the July 7 bombings.

Money transfers were thought to have been made from Saudi Arabia to Britain in the first six months of the year through businesses in the two countries, it was reported.

The Observer and the Sunday Telegraph said the investigations revolve around two Moroccans, both alleged to have been senior figures in al-Qaeda.

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