Bin Laden knew about 7/7 and jet liner plots

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The Independent Online

Osama bin Laden had foreknowledge of the 7/7 attacks in 2005 and the failed attempt to blow up trans-Atlantic passenger jets the following year, US security officials claim.

After sifting through evidence in the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden was shot dead in May, US investigators believe evidence points toward the al-Qa'ida chief being "immersed in the operational details" of planned attacks as late as 2006. But they added that Britain's largest terrorist attack was the last time Bin Laden, pictured, oversaw a successful operation. Speaking anonymously to Reuters, security officials painted a portrait of a man on the run, but one who continued to have a hand in planning operations more than four years after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Although the allegations cannot be verified independently, they are the first time US officials have suggested a direct link between Bin Laden and 7/7. Britain's security forces had already found evidence that ring-leader Mohammed Siddique Khan had been in contact with al-Qa'ida's core leadership during his time at training camps in Pakistan.

But there has been little evidence that Bin Laden had a direct role. The officials told Reuters that the evidence fingering Bin Laden was circumstantial and contained no "smoking gun". But they nonetheless insisted that the al-Qa'ida chief had foreknowledge of both 7/7 and the trans-Atlantic bomb plot.

"Bin Laden was absolutely a detail guy," one official was quoted as saying. "We have every reason to believe that he was aware of al-Qa'ida's major plots during the planning phase, including the airline plot in 2006 and the London '7/7' attacks."

The officials added there is strong evidence, including material collected from Bin Laden's compound, indicating that – as the London-based plots unfolded, Bin Laden was in contact with other al-Qa'ida militants.

"We believe he was aware of these plots ahead of time," one official said.