The Times has a pretty reasoned assessment of the state of play. We are still with the same two theories, the copycats, and the same group. I don’t like the copycat one since it seems to overlook some basic details. These attacks are not so easy to carry out logistically. Normally there is a high degree of training and preparation, especially ‘mentalisation’ if suicide bombers are involved (eyewitnesses suggest that at least one tube bomber today did try and blow himself up). So I don’t think this kind of attack can be improvised on the ‘oh why don’t we try and do one of those this week’ kind of basis. Whoever was at work today will have had this planned for some time. So then, what a coincidence that a different group had exactly the same idea, even down to the bus (which now seems intentional).
Also the timing was reasonably coordinated. They managed to penetrate security and get to the detonation stage. Avoiding security may have been one of the reasons for the time of day chosen. The question is really why they had so few explosives, and why the bombs didn’t go off. The way things panned out on 7 July, and what the implications of the car in Luton car park are, may provide part of the missing explanation. Essentially I agree with Robert Ayers (quoted in the Times link) from – what a surprise – Chatham House.
Robert Ayers, a security analyst at Chatham House in London, said that that he believed that the same group was behind both attacks.
“All along I’ve been saying that you had four guys that died [in the July 7 bombings], but the infrastructure that trained them, equipped them, funded them, pointed them at the right target – the infrastructure?s still in place, still here,” he told the Reuters news agency.
But if the same group was involved, the obvious question was why the first wave of attacks was so professional and deadly, and second was apparently so amateur, continued Mr Ayers, a former US intelligence official.
He pointed out that police had recovered unused explosives from various sites, including a hire car abandoned by bombers at Luton. Police carried out ten controlled explosions on the hire car in Luton station car park before they placed it on a low-loader and took it away.
“One speculation I?ve had all along is that they left those explosives in the car for another group to pick up and carry out a second attack, but when they got there the car had already been taken over by the police, so they have had to cobble something together fairly quickly,” he said.
“From what I?ve been able to gather, either the bombs themselves are very, very small compared to two weeks ago, or they?ve got a manufacturing problem and only the detonators are going off, and not the primary charge. They?re certainly using explosives that aren?t nearly as powerful.”
Incidentally, just look at the timings of the tube and bus attempts. The bus is again significantly later, I don’t imagine that this can be mere coincidence:
Police evacuate Shepherd’s Bush Underground station at 12:25 p.m. after reports of an explosion. At 12:30 p.m., emergency services are called to Oval Underground station, and the station and a train are evacuated. Some passengers say they saw white smoke.
At 12:45 p.m., the ambulance service sends vehicles to Warren Street Underground station after reports of a backpack exploding on a train in a nearby tunnel. The station is evacuated.
At 1:30 p.m., the driver of the No. 26 bus reports hearing a bang followed by a smell of smoke coming from the upper deck while driving along Hackney Road, just after leaving London’s main financial district.