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LONDON - Criticism of the British government grew Monday over the revelation that at least one of the London bombers was investigated last year by MI5, the vaunted domestic intelligence service.
MI5 reportedly did not find Mohammad Sidique Khan — who was checked out in connection with an alleged plot to explode a truck bomb in London — to be a threat to national security and failed to put him under surveillance.
The Home Office, which speaks for MI5, declined to comment on the suggestion that agents had dropped a crucial lead, or on reports that a Briton of Pakistani origin suspected of links to al-Qaida had entered the country two to three weeks before the attack and flown out the day before.
If true, "this would indeed be evidence of an enormous failure," said Charles Shoebridge, a security analyst and former counterterrorism intelligence officer.
Despite the criticism, the government has not launched any investigations into why the security services did not pick up the London bombers before July 7, when the attackers blew up three London subways and a double-decker bus, killing 56 people.
"All the political parties are agreed that the right course at the moment is to focus on what further steps need to be taken in relation to the law but also getting to the root of that evil ideology that is driving this terrorism," Charles Falconer, the lord chancellor, told the BBC. "Now is not the time for any form of inquiry."
Critics acknowledged that intelligence officials face a tricky task in choosing how to allocate their resources for tasks like surveillance.