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Terror in London

The Bombing of London, 2005

By Andrew Langley

HeinemannRaintree, pound;8.75

"Islamic extremist: Someone who promotes Islam in an extreme manner." Not, perhaps, the most useful glossary entry in this short but full account of the London bombings of last year. It follows the bombers from when they left their homes early on the morning of July 7 to their rendezvous in Luton, and the explosions at Edgware Road, Russell Square, Aldgate and Tavistock Square. We see the familiar bombed-out bus, the fuzzy mobile photos taken in the tube, and the poignant, desperate posters put up by relatives; we also learn of the hundreds of rats who endangered the rescuers in the underground and the refrigerated trucks that took away the corpses.

The book is ideal for the school library or for citizenship lessons, outlining in detail the events of that terrible month: the investigation, the follow-up attacks a fortnight later, the arrests and the tragic death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

There is a strange, horrifying photo of Hasib Hussein, the bus bomber, calmly leaving Boots to catch his bus, alongside words from survivors: "I thought I wasn't going to get out of this - whatever it was - I just didn't know"; and Ken Livingstone's Churchillian cry of defiance: "Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

The book ends with Mohammed Sidique Khan's angry pre-recorded video message: "Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier"; and there is mention of the men watching videos of brutal treatment of Muslims in Palestine and Chechnya.

Why this should lead them to blow up trains and buses in London in the name of a religion which vehemently condemns the taking of human life is not explained. The answer lies in the difference between "Muslim" and "Islamic Extremist"; that glossary needs expanding.

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