Saudi King Abdullah‘s minutely prepared visit to London got off on the wrong foot.
The day before he landed, he took his hosts to task for their slackness in fighting terror.
“We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain but unfortunately no action was taken. And it may have been able to avert the tragedy,” said Abdullah in an interview, in reference to the July 7, 2005 bombing attacks on London transport in which 52 people died
He went on to say: “It will take 20 to 30 years to defeat the scourge of terrorism – with vigilant effort.”
The monarch’s British hosts decided not to ignore the royal broadside. British officials dismissed his tip-off as shown to have been “full of holes” when closely examined by the MI5 domestic security service and later by a parliamentary panel.
“There was nothing specific in the Saudi intelligence of a plot to launch terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom,” the officials went on to quibble. And the MI5 Website stated: “No prior warning of the attacks was received from any source. The Saudis provided information about possible planning for an attack in the UK which was materially different from the attacks that took place in London on July 7.”
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources say that, despite the red carpet, guard of honor and banquets prepared by Buckingham Palace, this exchange cast a pall on the royal visit and accentuated the profound differences in approach and worldview between the Saudis and British on terror.
At the same time, King Abdullah is not the first leader to accuse Her Majesty’s government and British secret services of falling down on advance warning of the 7/7 plot. As French minister of the interior at the time of the attack, the incumbent French president Nicolas Sarkozy was responsible for national security against terrorism and coordination with European counter-terror agencies in its prevention.
Royal contempt for British counter-terror methods
He maintained at the time that the British undercover service identified more than one of the suicide bombers and kept them under surveillance for a time before deciding that they posed no threat.
The British angrily denied this charge at the time but, in the last two years, particulars have emerged to support the charge.
Our sources note that King Abdullah is just as critical of Washington and Madrid on the score of counter-terrorism. By a strange coincidence, 21 Madrid bombers responsible for the 2004 train attacks were convicted and sentenced during his London visit.
It is the Saudi King’s strong view that they should all take lessons from Saudi Arabia’s success in containing al Qaeda’s threat in the kingdom and heed its advice and intelligence. Instead of arguing with him, they could be doing more to counter Islamic radicals and extremists at home.
Abdullah was put out by being dogged by human rights activists when he expected the British to ask for his advice on combating extremist terror.
A senior adviser in the king’s entourage remarked sarcastically that the term “Londonstan” used in the 1980s and 1990s was not coined in Saudi Arabia.
He was implying that the British had brought the danger on their own heads by welcoming to their shores radicals and dissidents of every stripe, boasting any ideology and hailing from every continent. Under the cloak of political asylum, a great many extremist Islamic groups were given free rein to set up base in London and operate under the protection of British intelligence, the patronage of influential politicians and access to the British justice system. Some were even granted stipends.
UK asylum blamed for homegrown Islamist terror
From this hothouse, radical elements planted terrorist cells among British Muslims. A network of indigenous terrorists was born. Without this generous asylum policy, the homegrown British terrorist network may not have evolved. It would certainly not have developed the ability to carry out large-scale suicide attacks.
British apologists justify their expansive asylum policy on two grounds:
1. The moral obligation to promote democracy and help opposition groups to fight tyrants perpetrating human rights abuses in their countries. This is the rationale offered publicly.
2. Outside the public domain, British officials quietly confide to critics, especially in America, that radical dissident organizations under their thumb in London provide a pool for recruiting agents both as insiders to spy on those groups and to help British intelligence keep them within manageable bounds. These recruits are also used to enlist penetration agents in their own countries – often through family ties.
It was not lost on Riyadh that Saudi dissident groups enjoyed asylum in London for two decades and were given license to agitate against the Saudi royal house.
The Saudis never accepted the British defense of their generous asylum policy, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources note.
In their view, British secret services consistently failed over the years to penetrate the radical Islamic groups. Its members who grew up in the UK were savvy enough about the British way of life and way of thinking to dupe British intelligence. The information they fed their controllers was deliberately misleading.