Authorities let their guard down before Docklands bombing, says victim’s brother

Michael McHugh, PA

Authorities let their guard down ahead of the London Docklands bombing, a man whose brother died in the attack has said.

A 3,000lb IRA explosive in a vehicle parked outside the Bashir family business exploded in February 1996 as the IRA ended an 18-month ceasefire.

Inam Bashir, 29, died in the newsagents he was working in, along with colleague John Jeffries.

Ihsan Bashir
Ihsan Bashir (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ihsan Bashir said: “A lot of questions have never been answered. All we know is that two people lost their lives, it happened while we were still in peace.

“Everyone let their guards down.”

He said money was never the issue for survivors, and they were initially only interested in justice.

The IRA sent him a letter saying it did not realise his brother was still in the shop but suggesting he should understand – citing the experience of the Indian subcontinent – how the Irish republican organisation felt about imperialism, Mr Bashir said.

His added that father died from a broken heart and his mother had a mental health breakdown.

The bereaved are still waiting for compensation.

Mr Bashir said: “It is a shame about our Government. If we had an American or French or German passport, they got their closure, they got their money, they can live on – we cannot.

“The people injured quite severely are still suffering.”

He said victims’ relatives would have coped better if they had received money to pay for care.

He is aged 54 and not well, having spent 10 years with cancer and running a business.

The bomb devastated the newsagents, but he is running a delicatessen on the same spot.

Ihsan Bashir outside his family’s business in Docklands
Ihsan Bashir outside his family’s business in Docklands (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“I have fought hard and made it work, supported the community – clearly it is in their memory that the business is running and it is the only living memorial site which is still going.

“It has created jobs and I have an ethos that it is for local people around the area.”

He said he had to start again in debt after the blast.

“I had no help, I was in debt in the 1990s, I had to reopen it, I was in debt again, we never had any help.

“The only people who have benefited out of it are the politicians.”

He criticised Tony Blair and his record since the former prime minister left office.

“We are fighters, I have been fighting, I have fought to keep their memory alive.”

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