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Iran cleric says UK could have bombed own capital

Reuters | July 16 2005

A leading Iranian cleric said on Friday the British government could have orchestrated last week's bombings in London to stir up flagging enthusiasm for British military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Four British-born Muslims blew themselves up in separate attacks on three underground trains and a bus during the morning rush hour, killing 54 and injuring hundreds.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads Iran's top legislative watchdog the Guardian Council, said the British had themselves to blame.

"One possible set of culprits is al-Qaeda. But al Qaeda is Bush and Blair. Who launched al Qaeda? You must be tried, you who are the mothers of al Qaeda," he told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran, blaming British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the growth of Islamic militancy.

"The other likelihood is that the British regime may have carried out the attack itself ... because it benefits most... They want to justify their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan," he added.

"They tell people 'if we don't fight terrorism, this will happen to you,'" the cleric continued.

Jannati's remarks echoed editorials in Iran's hardline press that argued the attacks smacked of a plot by the British government to justify anti-Muslim reprisals and military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most Iranian conspiracy theories centre on Britain, which is labelled as "the old fox".

The suspicion has its roots in 19th century Persia, where Russian and British agents jostled for control of routes to India in a series of military encounters and diplomatic intrigues known as "The Great Game".


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