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Osama bin Laden was aware of London terror plots

US officials have concluded that al Qaeda chief was aware of a series of coordinated attacks on London's public transport system that rocked the English capital on July 7, 2005.

Dozens died in a series of attacks on London in July 2005

Dozens died in a series of attacks on London in July 2005

In the US on Wednesday, government experts concluded that al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was aware of the coordinated attacks that targeted London on July 7, 2005.

US security officials also said that circumstantial evidence suggested he had advance knowledge of an ultimately unsuccessful plot to bomb transatlantic flights simultaneously using home-made liquid bombs.

However, there was no "smoking gun" evidence proving that he had orchestrated the plots, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nonetheless, one official said that he was "immersed in operational details" of the London-based plots. Another said it was believed that "he was aware of them ahead of time."

Fifty-two civilians and four suicide bombers died in the July 7, 2005 attacks on three London underground trains and a double-decker bus. Hundreds were injured. According to another official, it was "the last successful operation Bin Laden oversaw."

Officials gathered a great deal of information from bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad

Officials gathered a great deal of information from bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad

Not involved in current plots

These allegations back claims by the Obama administration that the al Qaeda chief kept in touch with the activities of his followers around the world, despite years of apparent isolation in Abbottabad, where he was killed by US special forces on May 2.

They also support earlier investigations by the British authorities that elements of al Qaeda's core leadership played a role in the 2005 attacks on London’s public transport system. However, until recently, Osama bin Laden had not been personally linked to the attacks.

At the same time, the evidence found in his lair, on which the officials have partly based of their suppositions, does not seem to indicate that bin Laden was involved in any current plots directed at Western targets, although there is information that suggests that he was personally involved in plots against European targets last year. Intelligence about the plots led to public travel warnings being issued by European and US government agencies last fall.

Pakistani spy chief heads to US

The new information about Osama bin Laden came as the head of Pakistan's spy agency made his way to the US for a one-day trip. The raid on his hiding place in Abbottabad has exacerbated tensions between the two allies.

Pakistan's ISI head and the PM have come under a lot of pressure since bin Laden's killing

Pakistan's ISI head and the PM have come under a lot of pressure since bin Laden's killing

The Pakistani military said on Wednesday that Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who is the head of the country's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was heading to Washington for unscheduled talks.

Few details were released about the one-day trip that comes amid deepening tension between the two allies and at a time when the ISI is under intense pressure to sever ties with militant groups, including those that work in Afghanistan and India.

The relationship between the countries' intelligence agencies has worsened continually since the beginning of the year when a CIA contractor killed two Pakistanis. The killing of Osama bin Laden in May did not help matters.

Pakistan said the operation violated its sovereignty. In retaliation, Islamabad reduced the number of US military trainers allowed into Pakistan and set clear terms for US intelligence activities.

Displeased, Washington has decided to cut 800 million US dollars in security assistance.

Moreover, there has been a great deal of tension over the use of drones to conduct missile attacks in Pakistan's northwestern region on the border with Afghanistan. Dozens of suspected militants have been killed just this week.

Author: Anne Thomas (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Sarah Berning

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