Terror Strikes at Home
On July 7, 2005, London suffered a terrorist bombing, Britain's worst attack since World War II. Four bombs exploded in three subway stations and on one double-decker bus during the morning rush hour, killing 52 and wounding more than 700. Four Muslim men, three of them British-born, were identified as the suicide bombers. On July 21, terrorists attempted another attack on the transit system, but the bombs failed to explode. A leaked document by a top British government official warned Prime Minister Blair more than a year before the bombings that Britain's engagement in Iraq was fueling Islamic extremism, but Blair has repeatedly denied such a link, contending that the bombings were the result of an “evil ideology” that had taken root before the Iraq war. Blair proposed legislation that would toughen the country's antiterrorism measures, and he suffered his first major political defeat as prime minister in November, when his proposal that terrorist suspects could be held without charge for up to 90 days was rejected.
In April 2006, the Blair government weathered a major scandal when it was revealed that since 1999 it had released 1,023 foreign convicts—among them murderers and rapists—into British society instead of deporting them to their countries of origin.
In Aug. 2006, London police foiled a major terrorist plot to destroy several airplanes traveling from Britain to the U.S. Intelligence sources asserted that the plan was close to execution, and had it succeeded, it would have been the deadliest terrorist attack since Sept. 11. A number of young men, most of whom are Britons of Pakistani descent, were arrested in connection with the plot.
Blair announced in Feb. 2007 that as many as 1,600 of the 7,100 troops stationed in southern Iraq would leave in the next few months. “What all this means is not that Basra is how we want it to be, but it does mean that the next chapter in Basra's history can be written by Iraqis,” Blair said.
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