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Intelligence service & police warned about Manchester and London attackers multiple times

23rd Jun 2017
Intelligence service & police warned about Manchester and London attackers multiple times

London attackers Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were all known and reported to authorities in the case of Manchester bomber Salman Abedi  (far-right) he was reported to the police on five different occasions 

Nadine Osman

Scotland Yard and MI5 have been accused of allowing both the Manchester and London Bridge attackers to slip through the net after it emerged members of the Muslim community, as well as other intelligent services, had flagged three of the four men to authorities.

Eight people were killed and 48 were injured on June 3 when Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, all wearing fake explosive vests, mounted the London Bridge pavement hitting pedestrians before crashing their van on Borough High Street running to Stoney Street where they stabbed random people in the Borough Bistro Pub.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, condemned the “barbaric acts” he described it as a “deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night”.  Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi, condemning the terrorist attacks, said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this extremely difficult time. I was shocked to hear of the terrorist attacks on London Bridge and nearby Borough Market.”

Three days after the attack it has emerged that Italian authorities had warned their UK counterparts about Zaghba while Butt, 27, who was found to have links with the banned Al-Muhajiroun group.

Zaghba, who was the last of the men to be named by police, was in March 2016 interrogated by Italian police who told UK intelligence he was at risk of radicalisation. The 22-year-old Italian national of Moroccan descent had been stopped at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport by Italian officers who found ISIS-related materials on his mobile phone; he was stopped from continuing his one-way journey to Istanbul.

Another Italian official said that Zaghba had been added to a Europe-wide watch list. Italian authorities said Zaghba was monitored continuously while in Italy and that the UK was informed about him. Giuseppe Amato, an Italian prosecutor, said “We did our best. We could just monitor and surveil and send a note to British authorities, that’s all we could do. And we did it. Since he moved to London, he came back to Italy once in a while for a total of 10 days. And during those 10 days, we never let him out of our sight.”

Scotland Yard had already confirmed, Butt had been investigated two years ago for his ties to Al-Muhajiroun and in 2016 he appeared in a Channel 4 documentary The Jihadis Next Door, which showed him arguing with police over the unfurling of an ISIS flag in Regent’s Park.

It also emerged that Muslim leaders reported Ummah Fitness Centre in Ilford frequented by Butt to police two years ago, but no action was taken or investigation opened.

A trustee at one local mosque, who was involved with the complaint to police, told the Financial Times, “We had concerns about the gym. If one of our young people had started going we would have been concerned.”

In Barking, east London, neighbours told the BBC that Butt had been reported to police for attempting to radicalise children; he had also expressed disgust at the way women dressed at Transport for London. Prime Minister, Theresa May, confirmed that MI5 would review its handling of the attacks.

Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, acknowledged that Butt could perhaps have been stopped, saying the public would be wondering “how on earth could we have let this guy possibly fall through the net”.

Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations in the Metropolitan Police, made it clear that the latest attack calls for a rethink of investigative methods, “In nine weeks, we’ve had five plots foiled and three successful attacks. That is completely different to anything we have seen for a long time . . . we’re going to need to do some things differently. ”

MI5 launched an internal inquiry into its handling of the warnings it had received about the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi, 22, after it emerged security services received at least five tip-offs over five years from Muslim community leaders and family members that the 22-year-old could become a killer.

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