UK Car Bombs May Have Al-Qaeda in Iraq Link

The Sunday Times reports that the failed UK car bombing plot may be tied to al Qaeda in Iraq.

AT least one of the suspects being quizzed over the alleged plot to set off car bombs in Britain was in recent contact with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, senior security officials said yesterday. Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command SO15 is understood to have uncovered evidence that in the months leading up to the attacks one or more of the suspects communicated by telephone or e-mail with terrorist leaders in Iraq.

The development has fuelled a theory that the failed attacks in London and Glasgow were designed as a farewell to Tony Blair to punish him for his role in Iraq. Details of the Al-Qaeda role in the three failed car bombings are expected to emerge over the next few days.

The development suggests that intelligence received by MI5 earlier this year about a possible Al-Qaeda attack to mark Blair’s departure was accurate. A report in April by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) warned that a senior Iraqi Al-Qaeda commander had outlined details of a big attack on Britain.

There’s a lot of speculation here. Basically, a terrorist in London at some time in the months leading up to the plot sent an email or made a phone call — we’re not sure — to “terrorist leaders” in Iraq. This, in turn, has led to some guessing — on the part of whom we don’t know — that there may be a connection.

Following all leads in this sort of thing is, of course, appropriate. One wonders, however, what it is that we’d do about it if it proved true. We are, after all, at war with al Qaeda in Iraq now. Would this strengthen British resolve to stay and defeat these bastards over there? Or would it be cited as additional grounds for getting the hell out now?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    It still looks to me as though we should hold our judgement on the direct al Qaeda connection of these guys until we have more information. I still suspect that they’re what John Robb calss “unsupported organic terrorists”. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking measures to reduce the likelihood of such attack succeeding, though.

    I’ve been seeing more and more claims that the Brits have overreacted. I use the light bulb approach to evaluating overreaction. Question: how do you know whether you have enough light in the room to read by? Answer: when you’ve, like, got enough light to read by. If you can’t, you don’t have enough.

  2. Michael says:

    From the description of the “bombs” themselves we can assume that any relationship to Al Qaeda is small. Obviously these UK “bombers” had none of the explosives knowledge that Al Qaeda regularly employs. All of the descriptions I have read talk about gasoline and patio gas (propane in a pressurized tank). Liquid gasoline does not explode, it just burns, and not very fast. Gasoline vapor will explode, but I haven’t seen any mention of a means to disperse the gasoline to get a vapor to ignite. Standard propane tanks will also not explode, then are specifically designed to not explode. Even the car that did catch fire did not have any of it’s propane tanks explode.

    These seem like some guys who have heard about Al Qaeda, put a bunch of stuff they new would burn into a car, and expected a big *kaboom* when they lit a match. This attack shows that the best way to combat Al Qaeda is to show them lots of US action movies.