The Observer reported on Sunday about the forthcoming results of a UK Home Office inquiry into the 7/7/2006 subway bombings in London:
The official inquiry into the 7 July London bombings will say the attack was planned on a shoestring budget from information on the internet, that there was no ‘fifth-bomber’ and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan.
The first forensic account of the atrocity that claimed the lives of 52 people, which will be published in the next few weeks, will say that attacks were the product of a ‘simple and inexpensive’ plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom.
Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet. Their knapsack bombs cost only a few hundred pounds, according to the first completed draft of the government’s definitive report into the blasts.
If this is true (and the Tory party is already questioning these findings), it’s not that surprising, and is basically consistent with what’s become the conventional wisdom since at least 2004: that al-Qaeda is in many ways more of a franchisee than a centrally-controlled organization. As a franchisee organization, al-Qaeda is likely to be more pervasive, but probably less sophisticated in terms of technical expertise and terror tradecraft. However, I also think that this franchisee model might not be applicable to plots inside the United States; I often have an uneasy feeling that the remaining “core” al-Qaeda wants to keep the U.S. as “reserve terrority” from potential franchisees, waiting until it can carry out large-scale, catastrophic attacks inside the United States.