The 2005 London terror attacks (July 7, 2005)

Every country has its ‘iconic’ terrorist attack: today was the UK’s turn.

LONDON, UK – 9/11 was obviously a big deal. Nearly 3,000 dead. Iconic buildings like the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon attacked. A country which had luckily not been on the receiving end of terrorism suddenly found itself there. Nothing before or since remotely approached the death toll or economic loss. I hope nothing ever does.

An image no one will ever forget

The phrase ‘9/11’ has now become part of our vocabulary. We refer to the current historic age as the ‘post-9/11 period’. Everything, or nearly everything, is measured against it. And that goes for other attacks in other countries.

Spain had its 9/11 (the March 2004 attacks in Madrid). France did too (the November 2015 Stade de France and Bataclan Theatre attacks). While both resulted in casualties orders of magnitude lower than the original 9/11 they were indeed significant for the citizens of their countries.

On this day in 2005 the UK had its turn. On July 7 of that year four suicide bombers boarded the London Tube and a double decker bus and exploded their backpacks, killing themselves and 52 people: more than 700 were injured.

The UK was of course no stranger to terrorism: it had been beset by the Irish nationalist variety for decades. This was different. This one was not tied to the ‘Irish cause’. This one was Al Qaeda (AQ). This was Islamist terrorism.

On this day in 2005, four Al Qaeda-inspired suicide bombers carried out attacks on the London Tube system, killing 52 people and wounding more than 700.

The four suicide bombers were identified as Shehzad Tanweer (Aldgate station), Hasib Hussain (Tavistock Square station), Mohammed Siddique Khan (Edgware Road station) and Germaine Morris Lindsay, responsible for the King’s Cross/Russell Square attack.

The attack had a significant impact on Londoners and all Brits. Nevertheless, in a sign of solidarity the world bought up ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ T-shirts, borrowed from a WWII public campaign to show fortitude against Nazi Germany. There were a lot of knock-offs as well (‘Keep calm and drink vodka’ – seriously?).

The UK has suffered many, many other Islamist terrorist attacks since 2005. But ‘7/7’ will always have a special place in that country’s recent history.

Phil Gurski

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