Ben Farmer and Martin Evans, Telegraph, December 6, 2017
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 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 Theresa May.
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 Islamic State.
Rahman, of north London, and Imran, of south east Birmingham, were arrested by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command on Tuesday, November 28.
Both men appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 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 Home Secretary 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 61-page report, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, 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 when he blew himself up among the crowd at an Ariana Grande concert.
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 Islamic State 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 was “assessed at the time to relate not to terrorism, but 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”.
“A meeting (arranged before the attack) was due to take place on May 31: Salman Abedi’s case would have been considered, together with the others identified. The attack intervened on May 22.”
Mr Anderson said: “With the benefit of hindsight, intelligence was misinterpreted in early 2017.”
MI5’s internal investigation concluded that the decision not to reopen an investigation into Abedi in early 2017 was “finely balanced” and “understandable”. Reviewers decided that “on the clear balance of professional opinion, a successful pre-emption of the gathering plot would have been unlikely”.
Across all of the incidents, three of the six attackers “were on MI5’s radar”. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the report “will be a difficult read for everyone in Manchester and most particularly for the bereaved families and those still recovering from the attack”.
He said the report was obviously the result of “a lot of soul searching” on behalf of MI5 and the police. He said: “I accept its conclusion that there is no way of knowing whether the Manchester attack could have been stopped.
“But it is clear that things could – and perhaps should – have been done differently.”