Wednesday 1 July 2009

Conspiracy Files: 7/7

We will never accurately know why Mohammad Sidique Khan, Germain Lindsay, Hassib Hussain and Shehzad Tanweer felt it necessary to blow themselves up. A conventional search for a scientific explanation might analyse their angry opposition to what they saw as a war against Islam. It would consider their adherence to a set of fundamentalist beliefs that morally justified their attacks. It would look into their individual biographies and try to divine how they came to hold such views. But unfortunately for some this complexity is too mundane, too tedious - they prefer simple and yet exotic answers.

Conspiracy Files: 7/7 examined some of the alternative "answers" proffered mainly by the conspiracy film 7/7 Ripple Effect. Like all conspiracy theories it picks on alleged inconsistencies in the official narrative, exposes them and spins off all kinds of conclusions - most usually in the complete absence of any evidence.

A typical example of conspiracy theorising comes courtesy of Dr Mohammad Naseem of
Birmingham Central Mosque. He, like a reported one in four British Muslims, doubts that four young Muslim men met at Luton station early on July 7th, 2005 and went on to murder 52 people and injure a further 780 between 8.50 and 9.50 that morning. One item that planted the seed of doubt in his mind (leaving aside, of course, the desire of wanting to believe the British government were behind the atrocities) was the retrieval of documents identifying the bombers from the scene. He reckoned these could not have withstood an explosive force responsible for the bomb damage. They had to be like the hijacker's passport recovered from the scene of the Twin Towers: planted evidence (yes, Dr Naseem is a 9/11 Truth'er too). That both attacks used similar documentation to establish the identities of the terrorists is too much of a coincidence - it had to be an inside job. The more sensible explanation that the bombers left documentation nearby identifying themselves (after all, they wanted the world to know what they had done) does not appear to trouble the good doctor.

A second string to the idea 7/7 was an inside job is Tony Blair's
statement, delivered eight hours after the bombings. He noted:
I welcome the statement put out by the Muslim Council who know that those people acted in the name of Islam but who also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do.
Did you see what Tony Blair did? He mentioned Islam before any evidence had been recovered implicating the four men. It might have been politically unwise to immediately and publicly assume Muslim extremists were behind the bombs, but nevertheless it was a reasonable assumption to make thanks to Blair's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However for Ripple Effect this was no heat of the moment slip but damning evidence he had foreknowledge of the attacks.

And so the charges go on. The official report originally claimed the bombers caught the 7:40 train from Luton, but it was later discovered not to have run. A miscommunication on the part of the police? Or evidence of a lazy cover story, as the Holocaust-denying
Nick Kollerstom likes to claim? And how about that dodgy CCTV? (drag down to the fourth chapter title). Are the railings that appear through the face and body of one of the bombers evidence of fakery - as Kollerstrom claims - or a result of taking stills from a low resolution camera?

Another absurdity spun by
Ripple Effect is its belief the bombs were planted beneath the train. This is based on eyewitness interviews with The Graun that claimed the explosions appeared to erupt from under the floor. The film argues these were set off remotely and the men then framed. There are a couple of problems with this thesis. First, according to the testimony of 7/7 survivor, Rachel North the trains were packed that morning - so much so two went by her before she could get on. Presumably our shadowy conspirators knew this too - so they must have had preternatural cunning to guess in advance which trains the "patsies" were going to board. Second, it turned out the eyewitness statements were contradicted by those closer to the explosion, who said the opposite. Plus all photos of the craters left behind show the direction of the explosions pointing downwards. But best not let the facts get in the way of the theory, eh?

These are just some of the theories comprehensively debunked in the documentary. Unfortunately, as I've
noted before programmes of this sort are required viewing for socialists because of the influence organised conspiracy-mongers try and exert in radical and anti-war politics. But this is not the only danger. Rachel North has taken a stand against the conspiratorial accounts of 7/7. Not only does she find it disgusting and upsetting to be told her experience is not valid and that criticising the truth'ers makes her a government stooge, an islamophobe and a zionist, she believes the conspiracy theories help legitimate the arguments of extremists in Muslim communities. Ripple Effect's claim 7/7 was orchestrated by the British government and/or MI5 and Mossad to demonise Muslims and win support for an unpopular war is music to extremist ears.

Everyone leaning toward the conspirtorial understanding of 7/7 should see this documentary. I'm pretty sure anyone who doesn't believe the evidence presented here by the BBC is
part of the cover up will find the case for the official account compelling.

Lenin once likened nationalism to the outer shell of an immature Bolshevism, and the same could be said of conspiracy theorising. Raising doubts and subjecting government pronouncements to detailed critique is welcome in as far as they illuminate what's really going on. Unfortunately the weaving of conspiracies on the flimsiest of pretexts wraps existing accounts and evidence in an extra layer of mystification, which can by association serve to discredit genuine criticisms of a government's or institution's actions over a particular matter. It also offers nothing but a council of despair. They conceive history not as a set of complex social processes as Marxists do, but as the outcomes of an unceasing sequence of manipulations by an all-powerful shadowy elite. If they can assassinate JFK, fake the moon landings and pull off the 9/11 attacks, what hope for their overthrow? As a radical and anti-establishment narrative, the conspiratorial view of history is risible, potentially dangerous and should be shown no quarter.


Anonymous said...

I am not agreeing with the outlandish theories put forth by such a 'documentary' but as you're on the subject of 7/7...

...why is it, that in the expansive surveillance society we live in, we are only shown one grainy still-image of the four supposed bombers together? That the blast on at least one of the trains definately came from underneath it, due to the metal-wreckage being forced upwards, but we are told it was in a rucksack in the carriage?

Really not one for 'conspiracy theories', but the officially given conspiracy theory of that day doesnt match up to facts either. All I would like is a public release of the evidence. This is not something to take lightly. People died.

Rachel said...

A very good piece Mr Public Sociologist. Thanks for that.

Re. Anon's comment

...why is it, that in the expansive surveillance society we live in, we are only shown one grainy still-image of the four supposed bombers together?

The CCTV was held back as it was used in evidence at a 2008 trial of 3 men accused of conspiring to cause the explosions. That trial now being over,( following a retrial in spring 2009) the CCTV evidence has been released.

In fact, if you watched the BBC doc last night, much of it was reshown. Not merely the infamous original single still of the men entering Luton station, but

a) the car with 3 of the biombers in driving on the motorway towards Luton
b) the car stopping and Tanweer getting out, buying petrol and then snacks
c) The men getting out of the car in Luton station car park and putting on rucksacks
d) the men in moving CCTV sequence including the original still entering Luton station
e) the men getting on the Thameslink train
f) the men getting off the train and walking into Kings X underground
g) Hussein wandering about Kings X
h) Hussein moving through London up, I think, Grays Inn Rd to get on the bus
(i) the train explosing at Edgware
(j) The bus exploding as seen through the doors of the BMA

That the blast on at least one of the trains definately came from underneath it, due to the metal-wreckage being forced upwards, but we are told it was in a rucksack in the carriage?

Nope, sorry, one hastily-filed Guardian at Edgeware Rd mentioned survivors further away from the blast describing tiles on the train floor rising up, and Bruce Lait, a survivor unable to remember if he had seen a bomb and thinking that the hole had metal pushed upwards.

In fact, later testimony from survivors nearer the explosions was that the bomb was in the carriage. Forensic examination proved this. As to the metal of the carriage floor being twisted up and down - the bombs were placed in rucksacks which were placed on the floor of the train.

Trains run on tracks above hard ground a few feet underneath them. An explosion on the carriage floor means that the blast goes up, down, sideways - in all directions. The blast riccochets around - when it strikes the floor of the tunnel it bounces back up again, it also bounces off tunnel walls.

What did you expect - that trains run on some kind of jelly? that blasts are sucked deep into the earth's core?

I do wish people would actually bother to familiarise themselves with the facts, before spouting the same old tired tropes they find on the internet. It does not take long to google for 7/7 CCTV footage. It does not take much to understand that explosions are not neat and tidy things.

Conspiracy theories might sound exciting - but they fall apart quickly if you lay them out and examine their component parts. Which si why conspiracy theorists like to aask questions - the easy bit - anyone can ask endless questions - but rarely hang about for the answers.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

First off Rachel, glad you dealt with anon's nonsense before I waded in all cack-handed and may even have swore at them.

Second-up, I watched it Phil and was grateful for all the counter evidence is gave me when debating with tin foil hat wearing loons that frequent the Internet.

Anonymous said...

The thing is that the archives of history are full of Governments doing daft conspiracy-like things and each time one of these daft things emerge from archival research, it gives conspiracy theorists another plausible scenario. If the Government didn't do dumb things to begin with, then conspiracy theorists would be easier to debunk.

Vengeance and Fashion said...

Anon - I forget the figures, but I think that most CCTV produce images too useless for use in criminal justice proceedings. No surprise that the images of the suicide bombers were less than perfect.

None of the above said...

If you believed a word of the theory as detailed in the documentary, then you must be so retarded that there is no solution to your condition.

If you still believe the theory after it after it was shown to have been made by a middle-aged man called John from Ireland who thinks he's Jesus and worked with a holocaust denier on several parts of the film, then well, I don't know. What do we with do with suck fuckwitted morons?

As for the leader of the mosque, there must be someone more intelligent in the whole of Birmingham?

Religion. It's enough to make you give up.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Spot on that man above!

Charlie Marks said...

Watched the documentary, but didn't give it my full attention. Felt it was a bit too easy to go after people who believe they're Jesus or deny the Holocaust, because that rather ignores why the conspiracy theory is widely accepted amongst particular groups in society.

The government was warned that a likely response to the invasion of Iraq would be the increased threat of a domestic terror attack, yet even after the atrocity took place and it was revealed by one of the bombers in his "martyrdom" video that it was in response to the war, there's been complete denial that the two are linked.

Blair didn't even wait until the investigation had concluded - he went ahead and pronounced it was done by Muslims. This, alongside the police actions against young Muslim men - most of whom have not been charged let alone convicted - has helped to plant doubts in people's minds.

We should have had an official by independent inquiry into how this atrocity took place. A court case couldn't take place, obviously, but an inquiry would have revealed the full details of what happened - rather than a drip-drip of revelations, like the fact the four were not "clean skins".

But this was resisted because the government feared that it would intrude too much on the activities of the security services. Perhaps it was for the same reason they have avoided an inquiry on the war in Iraq - the evidence would emerge that the government lied us into a war of choice, and as a result we are at increased risk of attack from terrorists.

Clearly the intense focus on Muslims helps solidify support for the government's foreign policy, but that doesn't mean the focus need be on Islam. Thirty years ago it was Irish youths being picked up under suspicion of terrorism. No doubt if the inhabitants of Iraq or Afghanistan were of another faith, we would have intense scrutiny on co-religionists living in the UK.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I don't know, I thought they went after the knowledge vacuum that enabled the daft tinfoil hat wearing nonsense to garner support. Also, some people so desperately wanted to buy it.

As for exposing the new Jesus thing and that one of the mentalisits was a Holocaust denier, that's all fair, you have to credit the quality of the source, not all sources are of equal value.

sackcloth and ashes said...

'If the Government didn't do dumb things to begin with, then conspiracy theorists would be easier to debunk'.

Newsflash: conspiracy theories like 7/7 are easy to debunk because their proponents have no evidence to prove their claims, and resort to either misrepresenting or distorting the evidence in order to push their case.

It's got nothing to do with goverment deceit (whether over Suez, Rainbow Warrior etc), it's whether you are fabricating your claims. And the 7/7 truthers (who also seem to include Holocaust deniers and 9/11 nuts) are definitely telling porkies.