Terror plot jury fails to reach verdict

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The Independent Online

Survivors of the July 7 bombings and bereaved families were tonight still waiting for anyone to be convicted in relation to the terror attack after a jury failed to reach verdicts in the case of three men accused of helping the bombers.

Waheed Ali, Sadeer Saleem and Mohammed Shakil were charged with carrying out a two-day reconnaissance mission in London seven months before the 2005 atrocity.

The three men were the first people to be prosecuted in connection with the suicide bombings which claimed the lives of 52 innocent people and injured up to 1,000 more on the capital's transport network.

But following a three month trial and 15 days of deliberations at Kingston Crown Court, the jury was unable to come to a verdict on charges of conspiring with the four bombers and others unknown to cause explosions between November 17, 2004, and July 8, 2005.

The panel of eight women and four men were discharged and a date set at the end of September for a directions hearing to give the Crown Prosecution Service time to consider whether the trio will face a retrial.

Judge Mr Justice Gross said if a decision was made to re-try the men, the case would be likely to take place in the new year.

Survivors of the attacks and the families of those who died said tonight that they feared the failure to reach verdicts would further delay the inquests into the victims' deaths.

A report by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee into the investigation that followed the attacks was due to be published next month. Families fear that may also now be delayed.

Jacqui Putnam, who survived the Edgware Road bombing, said: "Our biggest concern is that the inquests will now be postponed and also the ISC report.

"It is much worse for the bereaved because they need to have an inquest. They need to know and it's still hanging over them. And because it is still hanging over them it is still hanging over us (the survivors) because we are all in this together."

Clifford Tibber of Oury Clark solicitors, the firm acting on behalf of survivors and bereaved families pushing for a public inquiry, said today's news meant such a hearing was more important than ever.

"The victims, the bereaved and the public are entitled to know the full facts behind the worst terrorist atrocity on the UK mainland; they are entitled to know whether or not the July 7, 2005, bombings could have been prevented and they are entitled to know whether lessons have been learned."

Suicide bombers Mohammed Siddique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Hasib Hussain and Jermaine Lindsay detonated rucksack devices packed with explosives on three tube trains and a bus.

The trial heard that Ali, 25, Saleem, 28, and Shakil, 32, were all close friends with ringleader Khan and his right hand man Tanweer, and all grew up in the Beeston area of Leeds.

At the end of 2004 the three defendants visited the London Eye, the Natural History Museum and the London Aquarium while allegedly pinpointing potential targets during a trip to London with the other two bombers, Hussain and Lindsay.

The three defendants travelled from Leeds to London with Hussain where they met Lindsay and the group stayed overnight in a hostel.

The prosecution alleged that the trip was "an essential preparatory step in the plan to bring death and destruction to the heart of the UK".

Detailed 'cell site analysis' of mobile phone use, including calls to the London Tourist Board and various attractions, allowed the group's movements across London to be mapped.

The three defendants admitted making the visit but claimed it was an entirely innocent "social outing" and the purpose was for Ali to visit his sister.

They told the jury they used the opportunity to see some of the capital's landmarks at the same time.

The court had heard other evidence of how all three men went on organised trips to training camps in Pakistan with Khan between 2001 and the July 7 bombings in 2005.

The jury also saw surveillance footage of Ali with Khan and Tanweer meeting a "committed terrorist" known as "Ausman".

Ali and Shakil were arrested in March 2007 at Manchester Airport as they were about to board a flight to Pakistan.

Saleem was detained at his home hours later.

All three defendants made no secret in court of their support for jihad and defending Muslim lands. But they claimed they did not advocate suicide bombings and had no idea about the July 7 plot.