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The London bombings of 2005 occurred on Seventh July in the morning hours commonly referred to as the rush hour where four bombs were detonated killing more than fifty people and injuring more than seven hundred. The attacks targeted the British civilians particularly those using underground trains.
Three out of the four explosions took place in underground trains and they occurred in quick succession leading to panic through out the public transport system in London and other major towns in the European region. The United States of America also became alert as there were fears its transport system would also be targeted.
The fourth bomb detonated an hour later in a double-decker bus and this made the public panic even more due to the sensitivity of the issue and it almost brought business to a standstill due to fear (Frost, par 3, 2008). However, with time the public regained their confidence on public means though caution was still high.
Circumstances and Responses to the London Bombings of 2005
As a result of the London bomb attacks; there were high alert responses from disaster preparedness management departments and also massive response from other emergency services through out the city of London. In the weeks that followed, people almost shunned the use of London’s public transport system especially after another attack targeting the public was experienced few days later.
It was only after some weeks later that the public started showing back some confidence in the public transport system by defying all the odds and the days that followed, the city started regaining its life again though with more security alerts and less underground rail services.
To the rest of the cities in Britain and other major cities in the world, especially in the European region and the United States, there were numerous security alerts over the issue with the public being advised to be on the look out both by the governments where they were residing and their home governments.
Apart from the public response that resulted in the reduced number of public transport users, the security response became alert both in London and other countries.
For example, in the United States of America, the Homeland Security raised threat level for mass transit systems such as the use of trains and buses. In all major cities (particularly in Washington and New York) equipped police force and explosives detecting dogs were positioned (Frost, 2008, par 8).
European countries also responded to the attacks by raising their alert levels. For example, France responded to the terror attacks by raising the level of terror alert to red which was the second highest leveling response to the London bombings.
In Germany, the levels were a bit low placing their alert levels to yellow level which showed that the likelihood of the country being attacked was minimal while in Spain, the level was raised to level three which is the highest in the country. At that level, it entailed that the security personnel were to patrol the (public) transport systems (Frost, 2008 p.6).
In nations like Singapore, security measures were immediately enforced on the sector (public transport) where the equipped officers were positioned in every area.
Plans for installation of CCTV cameras in all trains and buses and the public was also put into place and updates on the status of the security alerts and the expectations were communicated to the public to avoid confusion and other ugly scenes from occurring. These among others were the security alerts issues all over major cities in Europe and America.
The response (by the London emergency and transportation systems) were portrayed as the most broad and multifaceted response ever to a terrorist molest (Strom & Eveman, 2008, par2)
On the other hand, there were also media responses. In the UK, TV and radio networks dropped their programming schedules in order to cover the news and the same was experienced in other major news organizations such as the Cable News Network.
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The media houses also responded by removing some of the programs which were to be viewed that night or the days that followed especially if they were to cover terrorism or bombing attacks.
This among other media houses postponed some of their programs which involved suicide bombers due to the sensitivity of the matter (Frost, 2008 par. 21).
There were also legislative reactions where in the UK, parliament began by fast tracking the enactment of anti terror bill which could criminalize all acts as preparatory to terrorism, training and incitement activities. There was the legislation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2006 (Sim, 2010, par. 7).
The community on the other hand answered by launching websites which stated they were not afraid and they could not be cowed by any terrorism act.
Compare and contrast the London bombings with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 1996 Olympics bombing. During the preparations for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, the federal authorities feared there would be terror attacks before or during the event in order to instill fear among the crowds and participants.
There were preparations to reduce the vulnerability with the organizers engaging the US custom services to provide flying radar platforms and also place secret service snipers on helicopters to warn off or take out planes threatening the games.
However, despite the preparations, caution and regulations, they failed to stop a lone bomber from striking. A single person armed with a small bomb was able to detonate it in a public square killing two people and injuring over a hundred others (Selliaas, 2005 p.).
Before the September 11 attacks, the Oklahoma City building had been described as the most destructive act of terrorism in the United States of America. The blast claimed more than 160 lives and injured more than 650 people. The bombs destroyed many buildings within a sixteen block radius, razed cars and shuttered glasses in the buildings around.
As a result of the bombings, the US government enacted laws in a bid to control and stop terrorism as well as boosting protection around state buildings and to the American populace in order to stop any attacks from occurring in the future.
The similarities of the three attacks were the fact that they involved use of bombs which were detonated by Islamic extremists. All the attacks were aimed at the public and were in retaliation to the government activities against the Muslim world. They were used as a means of venting anger by the bombers to the governments which to them were oppressive.
For example, the London attacks which were conducted by four Muslims were in retaliation against the British government for participating in the war against terror in Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya among other countries. According to the tapes of the bombers, some of the bombers targeted the British civilians because they were the electorate that had voted in the government which was committing atrocities on the people (Muslim).
For the Oklahoma attacks, the bombers were in retaliation to the victims of Waco siege and ruby Ridge attacks (Kushner, 2003 p.8). The Olympics attacks on the other hand were in retaliation to abortion.
Another similarity was that the bombings in the two countries (Britain and USA) led to legislation of new laws which would deter any future bomb attacks in Britain. We had the anti terror bill by Clarke while in the USA we had the federal legislation which protected all the federal buildings from attacks.
The difference between the three bombings was the materials used to make the bombs differed. The sizes of the bombs and their destructive capabilities were also different due to the fact that there were different number of casualties in the incidences with the bombing of Oklahoma being the most destructive while the Olympics bombing was the least destructive with minimal losses of lives.
The three bombings also targeted different locations. While the Oklahoma bombings targeted civilians in buildings, the Olympics bombing targeted people in the stadium while the London bombings targeted people using public means of transport especially the underground train system.
The motivations behind the bombings were also different though all the attacks were directed towards the governments reducing their presence in the Muslim world as wanted by the terrorists.
Security problems and threats from terrorists remain a major problem to every human being but it is positive to note that there has been willingness to invest more in security and access controls.
We can conclude that measures carried by the relevant authorities were sufficient in handling the situation and the law enforcing agents enacted and implemented extra precautionary measures such as the anti-terrorism act to prevent future occurrences of terror attacks in their lands.
Given the urgencies reflected by the relevant authorities to deter the bombings, in the case of Oklahoma, Atlanta Olympics bombings there was nothing I could have done better than what was done. But concerning the London bombings a second attempt would not have succeeded if the authorities had remained alert through out but to prevent the occurrence of the situations.
With all the intelligence the United States of America and the Britain possesses, the two countries should have implemented precautionary measures ensuring that in all points of entry, people are frisked and the reasons of their visits be noted and where surveillance on certain individuals is needed certain measures should be taken.
Measures to track down all those individuals affiliated to terror groups such as the Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups must be enhanced. If these measures had been implemented earlier, the detection of attempts to bombing would have been on time, saving lives that were lost and properties which were destroyed.
Frost, M. (2008). Response to the 2005 London Bombings. Web.
Kushner, W. H. (2003). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. New York: Sage Publishers.
Selliaas, A. (2005). From Internationalization of Terrorism to the Internationalization: The Role of the Summer Olympic Games of Anti-terrorism. Web.
Sim, P. (2010). Counter-Terrorism Legislation in the UK: How the War on Terror has Affected British Policy-Making. Web.
Strom, K, J., Eyeman, J. (2008). Interagency Coordination: A Case Study of the 2005 London Train Bombings. National Institute Justice Journal No.260. Web.