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Police admit they had July 7 ringleader's fingerprints for years before attacks - but only just noticed

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Police admit they had July 7 ringleader's fingerprints for years before attacks - but only just noticed
[link to www.dailymail.co.uk]

Bungling police have only just discovered they held the fingerprints of the ringleader of the July 7 bombings on file before the 2005 atrocities, it emerged yesterday.

West Yorkshire Police revealed it ‘recently’ found two sets of Mohammad Sidique Khan's prints in its archives - one taken when was arrested aged just 11.

But four days after the 7/7 attacks which killed 52 innocent people, the force told anti-terrorist branch officers from Scotland Yard that no such records existed.
Details of the appalling blunder could spark fresh questions about whether the attacks could have been prevented.

Police and MI5 came across Khan several times before the 2005 bombings, in particular while investigating a major terrorist fertiliser bomb plot.

West Yorkshire Police has launched an inquiry into the mistake as it prepares for the upcoming inquests for those killed in England's worst terrorist attack.

Details of the blunder emerged at a pre-inquest hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Khan, 30, from Dewsbury, near Leeds, killed himself and six innocent people when he set off a bomb on a Circle Line Tube train at Edgware Road on July 7 2005.

Three suicide bombers under his command murdered another 46 travellers in separate attacks that day on two other London Underground trains and a bus.

Officers in West Yorkshire took Khan's prints for the first time when he was arrested in April 1986, aged 11, for being involved in receiving stolen goods.

The second set of prints was taken by the force in February 1993, when Khan was arrested for assault.

The records belatedly came to light after Scotland Yard contacted West Yorkshire Police last month to check whether they had the July 7 bomber's fingerprints on file.

West Yorkshire Police said in a statement: ‘Having found this information, West Yorkshire Police considered it appropriate to disclose it to the coroner to the inquests.
‘West Yorkshire Police are making inquiries into these records and continuing preparations for the forthcoming inquests.’

Max Hill QC, counsel for the Metropolitan Police, stressed that this was not the first time that Scotland Yard asked West Yorkshire Police for detailed information about Khan.
The coroner, Lady Justice Hallett, has been hearing legal argument this week about what form the July 7 inquests - expected to start in October - should take.

Lawyers for many of the bereaved families say they should include a broad-ranging investigation of whether the authorities could have prevented the bombings.

But MI5 argues this is both unnecessary and impossible because such an inquiry would require the disclosure of intelligence files which must remain secret to protect national security.

Last April the families of the July 7 victims demanded an inquiry into blunders made by the security services after the only suspects to be charged over the attacks were cleared.

They spoke out after a jury found Waheed Ali, 25, Mohammed Shakil, 32, and Sadeer Saleem, 28, unanimously not guilty of conspiring to cause an explosion.

In the wake of the verdicts, it emerged that 7/7 bombers Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were photographed four times meeting members of the fertiliser bomb plot cell - but no further action was taken against them.

They were thought to be 'fringe contacts' involved in credit card fraud. Despite this assessment, MI5 still passed their details to West Yorkshire Police.

Why this tip-off was not fully followed up is unclear although it is understood that a fax to police with the request for the men to be watched was not acted on.
Intelligence chiefs are said to have missed 12 clear opportunities to arrest the 7/7 cell between 2003 and 2005.
Khan had been secretly recorded talking to Omar Khyam, a key member of the fertiliser bomb gang, about terrorism and MI5 had his name, phone number, car number and address on file 16 months before the attack.

Scotland Yard said last night: ‘The Met first approached West Yorkshire Police on 10th July 2005 to establish whether they held any information, including fingerprints, relating to Mohammed Sidique Kahn.

‘We were informed on 11th July 2005 that no fingerprints were in existence.

‘In our role assisting the Coroner in gathering any information or evidence which may be needed for the hearings the Met has liaised with a number of parties in recent weeks including West Yorkshire Police who we asked to check and confirm that the position they set out in 2005 was accurate.’