Campaigners renew IRA Docklands bomb compensation call on blast anniversary

Michael McHugh, PA

Victims have marked the 25th anniversary of the IRA London Docklands bombing with a vow to keep fighting for compensation.

A tiny number of socially-distanced survivors released doves at the spot as they commemorated the February 1996 blast which killed two people and injured scores of others.

Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi armed the IRA with the powerful plastic explosive used in the bombing of Harrods in 1983, the Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen in 1987, Warrington in 1993, and London’s Docklands.

Ihsan Bashir has been trying to keep the family business alive since his brother Inam’s death in the bombing. His parents have since died.

He said: “We are fighters.

“I have been fighting to keep their memory alive.”

The Government collects £5 million a year in tax from frozen Libyan assets.

Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism report
Ihsan Bashir outside his family’s business in London’s Docklands (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

In the years after the attack, Mr Bashir was focused on the unfulfilled task of getting justice and said it was never about getting money.

His business was left in debt following the explosion.

“I had to start over, I had no help,” he added.

A memorial garden is to be developed for victims.

Aazim Ihsan, a victim’s relative, next to a plaque commemorating the attack during the 25th anniversary memorial service of the London Docklands bombing (Aaron Chown/PA
Aazim Ihsan, a victim’s relative, next to a plaque commemorating the attack during the 25th anniversary memorial service of the London Docklands bombing (Aaron Chown/PA)

Joyce Brown, 64, was cleaning in the Midland Bank building when the blast happened.

She said: “The doors were off their hinges and the ceiling had come in.

“There was water pouring from the ceiling, there were sirens, all the blinds were swaying in the wind and there was this constant alarm.”

Those bereaved and injured by the attack have long been pressing for government support for their bid for compensation paid out of the £12 billion of assets linked to the toppled Gaddafi regime which were frozen in the UK in 2011 under UN sanction.

Scene of the 1996 bombing
Scene of the 1996 bombing (David Giles/PA)

Jonathan Ganesh, president of the Docklands Victims Association, organised Sunday’s ceremony.

He said: “Sadly Covid-19 has prevented us from physically being together today but I feel overjoyed that so many people have virtually attended online.

“I feel very emotional as we have lost victims due to Covid-19 during this dreadful pandemic.”

Mr Ganesh, who helped deliver aid parcels to the severely disabled, added: “However, I feel immensely comforted and strengthened as our humanity continues to prevail against this deadly virus.”

He spent a significant time in hospital being treated for injuries he suffered in the blast.

Aazim Ihsan, Ihsan Bashir whose brother was killed, and Docklands Victims Association president Jonathan Ganesh during the anniversary memorial service
Aazim Ihsan, Ihsan Bashir whose brother was killed, and Docklands Victims Association president Jonathan Ganesh during the anniversary memorial service (Aaron Chown/PA)

Authorities in the US, Germany and France have already secured compensation for terror attacks allegedly directed by the Libyan government, such as the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The UK Government recently appointed William Shawcross as a Special Representative for UK Victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism. One of his tasks is to calculate the amount of compensation due.

The victims are pressing the Government to publish the Shawcross Report.

The Berkeley Group will be constructing a special landscape memorial garden within its development of South Quay, Mr Ganesh confirmed.

From Our Partners