Thursday 19 July 2018

Man (20) charged with plotting to kill May in Downing Street attack

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons yesterday. Photo: PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons yesterday. Photo: PA Wire

Ben Farmer

A man has been charged with planning to use an improvised explosive device to blow up the gates of Downing Street before entering No 10 and making an attempt on British Prime Minister Theresa May's life.

Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman (20) allegedly planned to launch a bomb attack on the security gates outside Downing Street before detonating a suicide vest in Number 10 in a bid to kill Mrs May.

Mr Rahman has been charged with preparing acts of terrorism and will appear in court alongside Mohammed Aqib Imran (21), who is accused of trying to join Isil.

Mr Rahman, of north ­London, and Mr Imran, of south-east ­Birmingham, were arrested by ­officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism ­Command on Tuesday, ­November 28.

An artist’s sketch of Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman (right) and Mohammed Aqib Imran in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA
An artist’s sketch of Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman (right) and Mohammed Aqib Imran in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Both men ­appeared at ­Westminster Magistrates' Court ­yesterday and were remanded in custody. Details of the alleged terror plot were set out to Cabinet members on Tuesday during a briefing by Andrew Parker, the head of MI5. Mr Parker revealed that British intelligence had foiled nine terror plots in the past 12 months.

The disclosures about the charges came just hours after an official report into the Manchester terror attack revealed that the suicide bomber had been flagged for closer scrutiny by security services and that the atrocity could have been averted "had the cards fallen differently".

MI5 investigators misinterpreted intelligence on Salman Abedi earlier this year and it was disclosed his case was due to be discussed at a meeting scheduled for nine days after his May attack at the Manchester Arena.

Internal reviews into the police and MI5's handling of the four terrorist attacks in Britain this year also revealed one of the London Bridge attackers had been under active investigation by the security Service.

The Westminster Bridge attacker, Khalid Masood, had also watched suicide attack videos on YouTube in the days before he carried out his assault.

David Anderson QC, a former terrorism law reviewer asked by the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd to independently check the secret internal reviews, said they were "no cause for despair" and that most attack plots continued to be broken up.

In response to his report, Ms Rudd said the blame for the attacks "lies squarely" with the terrorists. The reviews found that 22-year-old Abedi had previously been a MI5 suspect, but was not under active investigation.

In advance of the attack, officers had on two separate occasions received unspecified intelligence on him "whose significance was not fully appreciated at the time" and which could have led to his case being reopened.

"In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant to the planned attack," the report said.

Mr Anderson concluded that while it was "unknowable" if reopening the investigation would have thwarted Abedi, it was "conceivable that the Manchester attack in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently".

Between March and June, London and Manchester experienced four attacks killing a total of 36 people and wounding another 200. Abedi had first become an MI5 "subject of interest" in 2014, but it transpired he had been mistaken for someone else and his case was closed. It was reopened the following year on mistaken intelligence that he had contacted an Isil figure in Libya.

But though his case remained closed from that point, Abedi "continued to be referenced from time to time in intelligence gathered for other purposes. In two separate instances before the attack, intelligence was received that related to "possible non-nefarious activity or to criminality".

An automated trawl of suspects' data designed to spot closed cases that may need re-examining identified him as one of fewer than 100 individuals "out of a total of more than 20,000 closed subjects of interest, who merited further examination".

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News