UK thwarts plot to kill PM May

TERRORISM::Two men were allegedly planning to blow up security barriers outside the prime minister’s office and then stabbing her to death, security officials said


Thu, Dec 07, 2017 - Page 6

Two men have been charged with a plot to kill British Prime Minister Theresa May and a hearing was held at Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, British media reports said.

Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, and Mohammed Aqib Imran, 21, planned to blow up security barriers outside May’s Downing Street office and then stab the British leader to death, they said.

The two men were arrested on Tuesday last week following a joint operation involving MI5 investigators and counterterrorism police officers from Scotland Yard and the West Midlands.

The reports came a day after British Home Secretary Amber Rudd told parliament that 22 Islamist terror plots had been thwarted since the killing of a British soldier on a London street by two Muslim extremists in 2013.

Nine of the plots have been uncovered following an attack outside the British parliament in March in which five people were killed, Rudd said.

“The UK is facing an intense threat from terrorism, one which is multidimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we have not seen before,” London’s Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday.

The police said there were now 500 counterterrorism investigations involving 3,000 people and more than 20,000 other people have been investigated in the past.

Britain has seen five terror attacks this year, which killed 36 people and injured more than 200 others. Four of them were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Three of the perpetrators were known to security services, according to an internal review which said opportunities to stop the Manchester Arena bombing attack were missed by security services.

That review of the counterterrorism performance by British police and intelligence services was released on Tuesday and suggested that the Manchester attack might have been prevented if information had been handled differently.

The review by lawyer David Anderson, ordered by Rudd, said the May 22 attack that killed 22 people might have been thwarted “had the cards fallen differently.”

Nonetheless, he credits police and the MI5 domestic intelligence service with stopping most attacks at a time when Britain faces an unprecedented level of extremist activity.

“MI5 and counterterrorism policing got a great deal right — particularly in the case of Manchester, they could have succeeded had the cards fallen differently,” Anderson said.

Some of these details had been known before, but Anderson raised the tantalizing prospect that MI5 might have been able to prevent the most lethal atrocity — the concert attack — had it handled information differently.

The reports says Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was not being actively investigated when he detonated a suicide device, although he had been scrutinized in the past.

However, Anderson says MI5 obtained unspecified intelligence in the months before the attack that might have led to an active investigation of Abedi “had its true significance been properly understood.”

He said it is not clear whether such an investigation would have led to Abedi’s plan being prevented and that MI5 believes it would not have thwarted the bomber.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Ian Hopkins and other officials said they welcome Anderson’s report.