Chapter 117: On The Shelf For A While

"Who was responsible? And how was it done?"
Mycroft finally started asking about 9/11.
"Mycroft has been thinking," I said, changing the subject yet again.

"He was supposed to be sleeping," replied Sherlock.

"You know how it is, Holmes," I continued. "People wake up. He dropped in and asked me some difficult questions."

"Such as?"

"He said, 'If the attack of September 11 wasn't carried out by 19 Muslim fanatics with box-cutters under the direction of Osama bin Laden, then who was responsible? And how was it done?'"

"Two very good questions," said the detective. "I told you he was an excellent thinker. I'm glad he has finally started asking. And I would love to know the answers."

"You don't already?" I asked.

"I have some ideas," he said, "but too little definite knowledge. Certainly the official 'investigation' was nothing of the sort. It was obviously a contrived coverup. But what did it cover?

"Perhaps Mycroft would like to help me -- or perhaps I should say us -- to investigate the matter in our own way. It would be an enormous challenge. Are you game?"

"I suppose so," I replied. "And if there's no chance of new information in the Gareth Williams case --"

"I didn't quite say that," he interrupted. "I said I don't expect a public inquest anytime soon. We may get a bit of information from time to time, through the press or by other means. But the odds against valuable news appearing soon appear to be quite high. So we may need to leave the Gareth Williams investigation on the shelf for a while."

And so it proved.

Despite the occasional flutter in the press, news about Gareth Williams remained scarce. And although we stayed alert for new developments, we devoted the bulk of our energies to other matters. Perhaps in the future I may "burden the public," as Holmes would say, with chronicles of our research.

Holmes wrote a short letter to William Hughes,
but did not mention Slate and Robinson.
Holmes wrote a short letter to William Hughes, saying that we had made some progress, but not enough to consider the case solved. He promised to remain attentive to the matter, but at the same time he tried not to raise any expectations.

"To give the family false hopes would be far too cruel," I remember him saying. "We still have a long way to go."

The letter hinted that the investigation had been dangerous, but it avoided any mention of Slate or Robinson. Holmes showed no further sign of brooding, but I knew that their deaths had hurt my friend deeply. I respected his decision not to burden the family with further bad news. But I never doubted that he was still on the hunt for their killers.

While digging through a stack of recent newspapers, I found something we had previously overlooked. From Gordon Thomas and James Fielding in the Express of October 10 came a piece calling Gareth Williams a "death mystery spy" as well as a "terror plot hero," and claiming that
Gareth Williams helped thwart a Mumbai-style gun rampage in ­Britain.
It seemed incredible, but according to the authors, Williams
uncovered the plot in a secret eavesdropping ­mission in Afghanistan
He played a pivotal role in intercepting phone calls from British jihadists at a training camp before matching their voice prints to those on a data bank.
More amazing details followed hard on the heels of these amazing details.

For instance,
Mr Williams made several trips to Afghanistan as one of a 10-strong team of specialists from GCHQ, the Government’s listening post and the NSA, the US equivalent.

He was “cherry-picked” for the job because of his specialist skills using voice analysis software. The codebreaker, on a year’s ­secondment to MI6 in ­London from GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucs, could identify ­accents picked up in phone conversations with terror suspects from the Midlands, Manchester and Rochdale, Lancashire.
He pinpointed at least one voice print to Pakistani-born Briton Abdul Jabbar, who was known to UK security services. Jabbar was killed in a US drone strike earlier this month after GCHQ alerted the US to his whereabouts.

Information gleaned by Mr Williams also led to the arrest of the ­suspected ringleader, Admed Sidiqi, captured in Kabul in July.
When I showed the piece to Holmes, he could barely suppress his laughter. "This is disinformation of a remarkably low standard," he said, "even for the British papers."

Was Gareth Williams a terror plot hero?
Or was this more disinformation?
He pointed to the paragraph that said:
Details of the Al Qaeda threats emerged last weekend ...
and said, "Mark my words, Watson. New details of new threats will emerge again and again, and Gareth Williams will turn out to have been involved in thwarting a very wide variety of evil-doers. So when the 'sex game gone wrong' story finally implodes, as it must, there will be plenty of suspects on hand to draw attention away from the culprits.

 "'Terror plot hero' indeed -- I wouldn't be surprised if Gareth Williams is portrayed as a 'terror plot superhero' before this investigation is finished. 'If at first you don't succeed,' as they say.

"The other details in this report are equally astounding -- too good to be true, one might say, and perfectly timed for diversion. All my instincts are against believing any of it.

"In any case," said Sherlock Holmes, "if this were true, it would be an outrageous breach of security to divulge it. Keep it in the file, Watson. And by all means, keep your eye open for something more substantial."