UK Counterterrorism-Measures Prevent Assassination Plot on May
In cooperation with local police forces, the British Security Service M15 put the suspect of a planned terror attack on British Prime Minister Theresa May in custody Wednesday.
The main suspect, Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, is currently in custody at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court following his first hearing on Wednesday. In addition to the assassination plot, the self-described Pakistani-Brit is also suspected to have cooperated with Mohammed Aqib Imran, who is charged with the intention of committing acts of terrorism and possible attempts to connect with IS.
According to official sources, Rahman’s plan was to detonate an improvised explosive device at the prime minister’s office on Downing Street. In the emerging chaos, a secondary attack was then to be carried out with a suicide vest, pepper spray, and knife.
The allegations were released shortly after an official security review was published on Tuesday that stated 20 Islamist-inspired terrorist plots were disrupted in Britain since October 2013, with seven of them planned in 2017. Still, the report also stated that M15 forces would have had all necessary intelligence to stop the Manchester terror attack in May, but didn’t correctly interpret it.
Thus, the prevented attack raises important questions regarding the future counterterrorism-measures the UK is willing to take. At its current state, Britain counterterrorism forces have the resources to actively investigate about 3,000 suspects within a data pool of 20,000 collected during the past years, as stated by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.
However, having lost 36 lives in five terror attacks this year, Britain’s official terrorist threat level is at severe. Andrew Parker, director general of M15, stated in a speech in October that the threat from Islamist terrorists is operating “at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before”.
In the case of Rahman and Imran, it remains to be seen how the allegations will unfold. So far, the lawyers of both men entered “no indication” as their plea which basically reflects the claim of “not guilty”. The suspects will remain in custody without bail until the next court hearing on December 20.