Boris Johnson asks: How were London attackers allowed to slip through net?


MI5 and the police will have to explain how London attacker Khuram Butt was not stopped, Boris Johnson said today.

The Foreign Secretary said people would be wondering “how on earth could we have let this guy possibly fall through the net?” after it emerged Butt, 27, had appeared in a TV documentary on Islamist extremists.

Mr Johnson’s intervention in the growing political row over Saturday’s London Bridge attack came as:

Millions of people in London and across the UK fell silent at 11am for a minute’s to pay tribute to the victims. 

Armed police carried out a raid in Ilford in the early  hours. Detectives were continuing to trace associates and friends of the killers.

Scotland Yard was close to identifying the third terrorist hours. Officers were continuing to trace associates and friends of the killers.

The third terrorist was named in Italy as Youssef Zaghba, a Moroccan.

Australian Kirsty Boden, 28, missing since Saturday, was named as one of the seven people who died. 

Theresa May faced calls to delay Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain, due  in the autumn. The US president has caused anger by criticising Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to the attack.

It emerged that Butt worked as a trainee customer services assistant on the Tube.

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Shocking footage: Khuram Butt appeared in Channel 4’s The Jihadi Next Door (Channel 4)

MI5 and the police were urged to examine if they must focus on targeting “DIY-style terrorists” rather than more sophisticated plots.

Mr Johnson risked a row by suggesting Saudi Arabia is among countries funding extremist preachers.

There were growing calls for police to be able to detain terror suspects for up to 28 days without charge.

It emerged that the budget for the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism is being cut this year by 3.7 per cent to £824 million, although sources said the reduction was “largely” on non-counter-terrorism expenditure. 

Security minister Ben Wallace flatly rejected claims that there was a lack of funding for counter-terrorism.

A minute’s silence in tribute to the victims of the London attack

Butt, a Pakistani-born British citizen, was investigated by officers in 2015 but they found no evidence of attack-planning and he was “prioritised in the lower echelons of our investigative work”, Scotland Yard said last night.

The father of two, who appeared on Channel 4 documentary The Jihadis Next Door, was reported to the anti-terror hotline in 2015 for showing signs of “extremism or radicalisation”.

Butt and Rachid Redouane, who claimed to be Moroccan-Libyan, were two of the three men who carried out the assault in which seven people  were killed and dozens more injured.

Twelve people who were arrested in east London in the wake of the killings have been released without charge.

Perpetrators in all three of the terrorist outrages to hit Britain in just over 10 weeks — Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge — had at some point appeared on the authorities’ radar. 

After the revelations about Butt, Mr Johnson told Sky TV: “People are going to look at the front pages today and they are going to say, ‘How on earth could we have let this guy possibly fall through the net? What happened?

“How could be he on a Channel 4 programme and then committing atrocities like this?’ That is a question that will need to be answered by MI5, by the police, as the investigation goes on.” 

The ex-London mayor also said that the Government needed to look again at more restrictions on terror suspects.

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Mourners at the sea of flowers on London Bridge (Alex Lentati)

The Coalition ditched control orders, when Theresa May was Home Secretary, for weaker terrorism prevention and investigation measures.

Richard Walton, a former Met head of counter-terrorism, said: “What we are now seeing is a shortening of attack-planning  timescales, because these type of attacks require little planning, no training and nothing more technical than a kitchen knife. We need new powers.”

Lord Ricketts, who was National Security Adviser to David Cameron, said it was too early to say whether the security services had made mistakes which meant more action was not taken against Butt.

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London fell silent today for the victims (Reuters)

However, he said: “Maybe what is changing here is that the authorities have been devoting their effort in the past to preparations for more elaborate attacks where you might have more time, you might have more communications, building a bomb and so on.

“This new DIY-style of terrorism, where you can move from just expressing radical views to actually hiring a van and going and killing people in a cowardly attack, I  think that makes things even more difficult.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick yesterday said she would be pressing the Government for more resources after the election in the wake of the London Bridge attack.

Today, Mr Khan said the Met could be cut by up to 40 per cent under spending plans — meaning thousands fewer officers on the frontline. “There’s no doubt that fewer police officers means we’re in more danger,” he told the BBC.

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A woman at London Bridge in tears today as a minute’s silence was observed in the capital and across the country to remember the victims of Saturday’s terror attack (Jeremy Selwyn)

He claimed the proposal to save at least £400 million from the Met’s budget by 2020 could reduce the number of police constables by between 3,400 and 12,800, if all the savings came from officer numbers. Force levels are currently 31,000. 

But Britain’s intelligence and security services were given a huge budget increase in 2015, from £11.7 billion to £15.1 billion over the Parliament.

Mr Wallace told the Standard: “There is no lack of money for the police and security services in the space of counter-terrorism. 

“We are fighting 21st-century crime and terrorism and boots on the ground are a very Eighties way to measure our effort, which is why our funding is broader and more specialist than it would have been in the past.”

Dominic Grieve, former chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said: “The claim that there is not enough security services’ funding is ludicrous and untenable.”

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said an extra 10,000 officers “would mean that the police would be less stretched, they would be able to work with the community better”.

The Tories said Labour’s leaders, including Jeremy Corbyn, had consistently opposed powers for the police to crack down on terror. 

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said police numbers were cut after 2010 but added: “This angle that the Labour Party are very much going on … that the reducing of the numbers of policemen on the beat is somehow accountable for this attack, is simply wrong.”

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Source : http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/boris-johnson-asks-how-were-london-attackers-allowed-to-slip-through-net-a3558061.html

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