Why did they initially think London bombs were not suicide bombers?

IIRC, at first they were saying that they did not think the bombers were suicide bombers.

Was there evidence to support this, or was it just that they hadn’t yet seen evidence to support a suicide bomber theory, and “defaulted” to a non-suicide theory?

If so, isn’t that a “no evidence either way” type situation, and kind of odd to not just say “we don’t yet”? Sort of like saying the coin toss was probably heads, because there’s no evidence it’s tails (when there’s really no evidence either way)?

Or was it a “no evidence either way” type scenario, coupled with a statistical fact that most bombs are NOT suicide? (I don’t know if that is a true statictic or not).

IIRC, The latest news is they were not intended to be suicide bombings…however, one of the terrorists made a blunder on the bus and blew himself up. There was a quote from a man on the bus…that there was a 20-ish young man on the top deck constantly fumbling with his backpack. Every 30 seconds or so he was reaching into it tampering with something. Then the man got off the bus, and a few seconds later it blew.

I don’t have any law enforcement background so this is just my speculation but I think the default would be to assume that the killers were not suicidal until proven otherwise. Think of the heat the the police would/will get if we learn that the police overlooked something that allowed the killers to get away free. After all, Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh was captured because he was initially stopped up for a traffic violation.

I touhght Scotland Yard was being reasonably cautious. Bombings in the U.K. in the last few decades were typically the work of the non-suicidal IRA and there was no reason to instantly presume Islamist suicide bombers.

And, geez, it’s only been a week. This isn’t CSI where Grissom can take a few swabs at the crime scene and get the perpetrator’s DNA, address, turn-ons and turn-offs before the next commercial.

First of all, I think it is dangerous to read too much into what news reports say early on. Not only are the facts still coming in, but the information vacuum can lead reporters themselves to read too much into what little information there is.

Secondly, the three bombs on the tube trains all went off almost simultaneously - IIRC within a minute of each other. This apparent synchronization led to comparisons with the Madrid bombs which were set off remotely.

I guess I don’t understand how defaulting to a non-suicide theory more cautious than simply saying they don’t know if it was suicide or not.

Did I give the impression I was bashing them for the speed or accuracy of their work? I’m just wondering why they initially came to the early conclusions they did, I’m not judging them on being incorrect, which is perfectly normal.

Well, as was stated above, England’s experience with bombings (and trust me, they’ve had folks blowing up various stuff in their country off-and-on as far back as 1940) it’s usually not a suicide bomb. Whether it was German bombers dropping bombs or IRA folks leaving time-bombs behind, the vast majority of what England has dealt with was non-suicidal in nature.
To use a rather goofy analogy, if you grow corn in Kansas, and every time it’s all been eaten, it was a plague of space locusts, your first instinct when it happens again would not be ot assume it was a plauge of ravenous zombie cows, even if the folks in Texas were dealing with that all the time.

Ah, so you mean cautious in the sense of it being a safe bet.

This is the way I understood it. This kind of tight synchronization is apparently easier if you have remote-detonated devices than if you’ve got three people staring at the second hands on their watches. Set up the bombs (somebody… oh never mind) with a cell phone as the activator, and speed-dial each one in succession.

It’s defaulting to the assumption that the perpetrators are still out there to be caught.

Another main reason for the initial suspicion that it was not a suicide attack is because it was very similar to the Madrid attack, which was done by remote detonation.

Lots of interesting speculation here, but as **GorillaMan ** and **ticker ** both said, the folks from Scotland Yard actually told us why they initially drew that conclusion (from the Daily Mirror, the day after the attacks):

I can’t find an attributed quote, but I’m pretty sure I heard that same theory and rationale given by a fellow named Ian Blair at a press conference the afternoon of the attacks. Sorry for my ignorance… I believe Blair is London’s Police Commissioner… I don’t recall exactly, but the surname stuck with me.

Yes, that’s right - or strictly, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (there’s also other police forces in London!)

Not quite. IIRC, having seen all the BBC News24 broadcasts of the press conferences through into Saturday, Sir Ian announced during one of the two Friday broadcasts that the initial forensic examinations at Aldgate and Edgeware Road suggested that the bombs were located at floor level in doorwells. And drew the inference that this implied that they had probably been left there rather than being carried by suicide bombers.
By the Saturday, the new understanding of the chain of events was that the three Tube explosions were very close together (the Edgeware Road one originally having been thought to be about 20-30 minutes after the first two, which in turn had been thought to be 5-10 minutes apart). That suggested the use of timers.
Then on Monday night came the breakthrough with the identities and the CCTV footage.

The Mirror’s speculation was reasonably clever, given what was known by the end of Thursday, but was never formally suggested by the police in public. (There was always the problem of how, if people were leaving bombs on trains using Kings Cross as a hub, two made it through several stops, but one never got to the next stop. Various scenarios were suggested, but IMHO none were very satisfactory.)

It’s to the Met’s credit in the last week that when they have drawn conclusions in public they have described their reasons for reaching them. It makes it much easier to understand why they have revised some conclusions when one can see how much weight to accord to the different lines of evidence as they develop from day to day.

Although moot, it seemed perfectly plausible to me - for a start, getting down to the Piccadilly line adds five minutes. Allow for the first train being too crowded to board (it was rush hour, after all). By then, the Circle Line ones could easily have got as far as they did.

It’s the bus one that’s the mystery - did the bomb fail to detonate first time around, perhaps?

But your scenario involves someone being able to get on a train, leave the bag and immediately get off again at the same station. Otherwise a bomber would still be on the Piccadilly line train between Kings Cross and Russell Square. One might just get away with doing this, particularly during rush hour, but someone stepping on a train, putting down a bag and getting straight off is still likely to be noticed and the person called to. The Mirror’s speculation acknowledges this and introduces the idea that it was timed so that the passengers couldn’t react. But then the Circle line bombs weren’t put on at Kings Cross.
A more plausible scheme would have been to get on the trains, put down the bag, wait a few stops and then get off. That’d be much more likely to work, particularly during rush hour. But that again runs into the Piccadilly line train not making it even one station out of Kings Cross.
Still, as you note, such speculation now appears moot.

It was reported in some of today’s papers that the Northern line northbound services weren’t running on the Bank branch at the time, due to a faulty train. There’s thus the speculation that the fourth bomber was thwarted in an intention to get on it. By the time he realised that he wasn’t going to be able to get on it, he may then have been forced to improvise and switch to the bus.
But that’s just more speculation.

I was getting myself all confused, and have now checked a tube map. I was thinking of the Victoria Line.

More speculation, yes. But I’d be surprised if the eventual explanation is any less mundane than something like this.