Legislators ask why police didn't investigate the lead London bomber before attack

A legislative committee that investigated London 's July 7 terrorist attack has cleared Britain 's intelligence and security services but concluded more could have been done to investigate the lead bomber beforehand, the BBC reported Thursday.

The results of the inquiry by parliament's cross-party Intelligence and Security Committee into the July 7 attack have not been made public, and a committee spokesman declined on Thursday to answer any questions about it.

But the British Broadcasting Corp. said it had learned that the inquiry clears British intelligence and security forces of negligence in the bombing of London 's bus and subway system, which killed 56 people, including the four bombers, and wounded hundreds of people.

The committee will ask the Prime Minister Tony Blair why lead bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, was not investigated, despite being known to police for suspected petty fraud, the BBC said. Counterterrorism officials were said to be aware of Khan, but he was not suspected of being a key player in a radical group.

The inquiry also questions the quality of British intelligence about the activities of British militants operating in Pakistan prior to the London attack, the BBC reported.

Three of the four bombers, including Khan, were of Pakistani descent, and Khan had traveled to Pakistan and other Asian countries before the attack. But, the legislative inquiry says, it was difficult at the time for British security forces to get information about terrorist suspects operating in Pakistan , BBC reported.

The legislative committee also criticizes the British government's system of terrorism alert and threat levels, which it called unclear, the BBC said. The national threat level was lowered from "severe, general" to "substantial" just before the London attack, the deadliest in this country's history and its first suicide bombing.

The committee said that although it was probably irrelevant to the bombers' plans, the warning system needed to be simplified for the public, the BBC said.

Khan was one of the four bombers who took part in the attacks last summer as he detonated explosives in a rucksack on a subway train, killing seven people.

The report by the legislative committee, which will be submitted to Blair, was completed after the lawmakers interviewed police and members of Britain 's intelligence community.

The Conservatives, Britain 's largest opposition party, said Thursday that the committee's reported findings show that a public inquiry into the attack is needed.

"This raises serious questions about the monitoring of terror suspects. The government should now answer our call for an independent inquiry so that the lessons of the July bombings can be learned," said David Davis, a top Conservative Party official.

"This report reinforces our call for a clearly understandable and public system of alert and threat levels, like they have in America ," Davis said.

Nick Clegg, an official with the Liberal Democrats, Britain's second largest opposition party, said Thursday, "Understanding what went wrong before the July 7 bombings is a highly complex process and should not be the subject of finger pointing and apportioning blame.

But, he added, "This leaked report appears to be a helpful guide for improvements in our internal security arrangements which we can only hope will be adopted by the security services", reports the AP.

D.M.