Nightclub bomb alert issued two weeks ago

Stewart Tendler, Michael Horsnell and Adam Fresco
London Times

Saturday June 30, 2007

Nightclubs across Britain were warned they could be terrorist targets just days before yesterday’s attempted double car-bomb attack in London, The Times has learnt.

Two cars packed with petrol, nails and “patio gas” canisters were left primed to wreak destruction among London clubbers making their way home after a Thursday night out. Only the vigilance and courage of ambulancemen and police officers prevented massive loss of life.

One car, a pale green Mercedes, had been left outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Haymarket. A second, a blue Mercedes, was left a few hundred yards away in Cockspur Street, a busy thoroughfare close to Trafalgar Square. This vehicle was towed away at 3:30am on Friday to an car pound on Park Lane by unsuspecting parking officials.

Had either device gone off it would have generated a huge fireball and a shockwave spreading over 400 yards in all directions. If, as suspected, one had been primed to detonate before the other, people fleeing the first blast could have been caught by the second.

Yesterday a hunt began for the drivers of the two vehicles, and footage from dozens of CCTV cameras in the area between Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square was being examined. The discovery of the bombs confirmed the fears of counterterrorism chiefs, that al-Qaeda would bring Iraq-style tactics to Britain.

The drama came as it emerged that a 53-page document alerting businesses to the threat posed by VBIEDs — vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices — had been issued to police two weeks ago. It had been passed on to the Tiger Tiger club only a few days before yesterday’s events.

The incident also appeared to be foreshadowed by a posting on an internet forum used by terrorists, saying: “Today I say: Rejoice, by Allah. London will be bombed.”

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, gave warning recently that car and lorry bombs were “the greatest danger” facing Britain.

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