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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bombers Were on U.K. Spies' Radar

LONDON -- British intelligence agencies decided not to closely watch two bombers before their attacks on London's transport system July 7 because their identities were not clear and agents were busy working on "known plans" to attack Britain, a legislative committee reported Thursday.

The panel's chairman said there were "no culpable failures" by Britain's security services and no warning of the attacks, but concluded that more resources in Pakistan and at home might have helped authorities detect the plot.

The report by the Intelligence and Security Committee said resources were shifted from the two bombers to concentrate on "known plans to attack the U.K."

It said the degree of al-Qaida involvement in the attacks, if any, was unclear and that it had found no links between the July 7 attacks and the people who mounted failed bombing attempts against the transport system two weeks later.

The four bombers killed themselves and 52 others when they detonated backpacks jammed with explosives on three subway cars and a bus on July 7 -- the worst terrorist attack in British history. Authorities have long held that the four were homegrown terrorists who acted alone.

"Neither the potential speed of radicalization nor the fact that British citizens could be radicalized to the point of suicide were understood" by security services before the attacks, said committee chairman Paul Murphy. "The committee are concerned that this could have had an impact on the ability of authorities to respond."

"Greater coverage in Pakistan or more resources generally in the U.K. might have alerted the agencies to the intentions of the 7th of July group," he added.

Three of the bombers' families were originally from Pakistan and several had traveled there before the attacks.

The Intelligence and Security Committee -- a panel of lawmakers that meets in secret to scrutinize intelligence work -- interviewed the heads of Britain's two spy agencies as part of its work.

"It has become clear since the July attacks that Siddique Khan was the subject of reporting of which the Security Service was aware prior to July 2005. However, his true identity was not revealed in this reporting, and it was only after the 7 July attacks that the Security Service was able to identify Khan as the subject of the reports," the report said.

The report said it was also clear that before the July 7 attacks, the Security Service "had come across Siddique Khan and Shazad Tanweer on the peripheries of other surveillance and investigative operations." At that time, it said, "their identities were unknown to the Security Service and there was no appreciation of their subsequent significance.

"As there were more pressing priorities at the time, including the need to disrupt known plans to attack the U.K., it was decided not to investigate them further," the report said.

"When resources became available, attempts were made to find out more about these two and other peripheral contacts, but these resources were soon diverted back to what were considered to be higher investigative priorities," it said.

The man later identified as Khan had been mentioned in reports from people detained outside Britain in 2004, the report said.

"This reporting referred to men from the U.K. known only by pseudonyms who had traveled to Pakistan in 2003 and sought meetings with al-Qaida figures," the committee said.

The Home Office report has been widely seen as an alternative to a full public inquiry, which could have heard evidence in open sessions.