UK officials caution media reports tying car bomb attacks to Qaeda
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British officials are concerned over some sensationalized reporting by the media on the recent car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, RAW STORY has learned.
According to Nev Johnson, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office press officer with responsibility for security and intelligence, media reports of Prime Minister Brown’s comments regarding Al Qaeda have been grossly misrepresented.
“The UK media hasn't analysed the PM's statement yesterday sufficiently thoroughly,” Johnson told RAW STORY on Monday. “[The Prime Minister] didn't attribute blame directly to Al Q’aida, but said the methodolgy was similar, and talked more generally about Al Q’aida worldwide.”
Authorities thwarted what appeared to be coordinated car bomb attacks in London on Friday. An ambulance crew spotted fumes coming from a Mercedes outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London, and police found it packed with gas, nails, and cylinders of propane. Several hours later, a second Mercedes was noticed parked illegally not far from the nightclub, and authorities said it had been rigged with a similar device. On Saturday morning, a burning jeep packed with gas cylinders was driven into the main terminal building of Glasgow International Airport.
British intelligence authorities have told RAW STORY that the three attacks, two failed and one almost successful, do appear to be connected. However, they could not attribute the attacks directly to Al Qaeda at this point in the investigation.
During an interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr for BBC Sunday AM, Prime Minister Brown discussed at length the threat of terrorism in the world and organizations such as Al Qaeda. It is those comments that have been taken out of context by media reports.
GORDON BROWN: ... you can expect that a terrorist organisation will want to use methods such as using a car as a bomb effectively to cause maximum damage. And I think we've got to recognise what the nature of the threat that we're dealing with is.
Al Qaeda and people who are related to Al Qaeda and while I don't want to comment on the police investigation that is ongoing, it is clear that we are dealing in general terms with people who are associated with, with Al Qaeda in a number of incidents that have happened all across the world. It wants to make its point, its propaganda effort by inflicting the maximum damage irrespective of religion, on civilian life.
Within hours, British, US, and other media suggested that the attacks were an Al Qaeda plot, causing frustration to authorities in both countries. The London Evening Standard referred to "the suspected ringleader of the Al Qaeda car bombers." The Age in Australia stated, "The agency MI5 is reported to believe that all three were carried out by a previously unknown al-Qaeda terrorist cell planning a spate of Baghdad-style car bombings." And a Reuters story began, "The foiled car-bomb plot in London shows al Qaeda has imported the tactics of Iraqi and Indonesian militants to Britain, the prime minister's top terrorism adviser said yesterday."
A British source close to MI6 concurs with Press Office Johnson that at this time authorities are not claiming this series of attacks to be Al Qaeda and also agrees that what is being compared to Al Qaeda is methodology. This source, although not wishing to discuss any details of an ongoing investigation did say that authorities have ruled out organized crime.
As of this morning, authorities in Australia have detained a physician in connection with the bombings. Australian authorities identified the suspect in their custody as Dr Mohammed Haneef. UK authorities have also detained two doctors, four other suspects, and a woman who is believed to be the wife of one of the physicians.
Larisa Alexandrovna is the managing editor for investigative news at Raw Story. She also covers intelligence and national security stories as a correspondent for Raw Story. She can be reached at [email protected]