London terror bombings: a political crime

The World Socialist Web Site unreservedly condemns the terror bombings in London that have claimed dozens of lives and injured hundreds more. We send our deepest condolences to the families of those who perished and those who were injured, and all those who have been shocked and traumatised by what they experienced.

Once again, the world is witnessing horrific scenes of death, injury and suffering sustained by people who bear no responsibility for the crimes committed by their governments. The bombs were timed to go off at rush hour in order to kill and maim the maximum number of people as they travelled to work, took their children to school or went sight-seeing.

The final toll of dead and injured is not yet known, but the estimates continue to climb.

Beginning at 8:51 a.m. on July 7, four bombs detonated in rapid succession. Three devices exploded on the London Underground and one on a packed double-decker bus. Trains travelling between Aldgate and Liverpool Street, Russell Square and King’s Cross and one parked at Edgware tube station were hit. The top deck of a bus carrying passengers from Hackney to Marble Arch was torn off.

According to official sources, 35 people were killed in the Underground, two died in the bus bombing, and one victim died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the blast. At least 700 have been injured, 45 of these seriously. A number have lost limbs and others are badly burnt.

US officials have told ABC News that British police discovered two unexploded bombs following the four blasts.

The criminal nature of these outrages is underscored by the fact that they occurred in a city that has been the scene of innumerable protests against imperialism and war. In February 2003, more than 1 million people marched in London to oppose the plans of the US and Britain to invade Iraq.

If it is to emerge that the bombings were carried out by an Islamic terrorist organisation, it would provide further bloody evidence of the reactionary and politically bankrupt character of such groups. Terrorism does not hinder imperialism. Rather, it spreads fear, anger, confusion and political disorientation—all of which play into the hands of the political elites in London and Washington and their pliant media.

However, at this point it is not possible to accurately determine who carried out these attacks. A group calling itself “The Secret Organisation of Al Qaeda in Europe” has claimed responsibility on an Islamic web site, saying the blasts were in retaliation for British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the group has never been heard of before, and some experts have questioned the authenticity of the posting.

The lack of information has not stopped British Prime Minister Tony Blair, US President George Bush and the other heads of state meeting for the G8 summit in Scotland from seizing on the atrocities in an attempt to justify their policy of war and attacks on democratic rights.

Speaking from the opulent surroundings of Gleneagles, Blair and Bush could not wait to utilise the bombings for their own ends. Blair barely paused to acknowledge the victims and the anguish of their families before insisting that the G8 summit would continue. According to Blair, the bombings were “particularly barbaric” because they “happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, and the long-term problems of climate change and the environment.”

Bush also stressed what he claimed to be the distinction between the evil of the terrorists and the G8 leaders “working to alleviate poverty, to help the world to rid the pandemic of AIDS [sic], and ways to have a clean environment.”

“The contrast couldn’t be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty and those who kill, those who have such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks,” he continued, before declaring that “The war on terror goes on.”

The G8 also issued an official communiqué insisting that the assembled head of state would “continue our deliberations in the interests of a better world.... Here at this Summit, the world’s leaders are striving to combat world poverty and save and improve human life.”

These statements were immediately taken up by the international media and regurgitated ad nauseam.

At a time when scores of people were grievously wounded and families were receiving the terrible news of the deaths of loved ones, the last thing anyone needed to hear were the self-serving platitudes of the master cynics and hypocrites of the G8.