Second arrest over London Tube bomb attack
Counter-terrorism police yesterday arrested a second man over the chemical attack on London’s District line Tube, following raids on a property suspected of being a bomb factory.
The 21-year-old was arrested late on Saturday night, British time, in Hounslow, 6km from Sunbury where police raided a property on Saturday in connection with the attack. Police were last night continuing to seek more associates. Counter-terrorism officers had arrested an 18-year-old man in Dover on Saturday morning as he tried to board a ferry for France. Police said the arrest was significant.
The 18-year-old is believed to be a Middle Eastern refugee well known to the police. He is thought to have exploited the generosity of an elderly couple, living with them in Sunbury-onThames, an hour from the bombing attempt.
The “amazing’’ foster carers Penelope Jones, 71 and husband Ronald, 89, had been in despair about an 18-year-old, believed to be a Syrian or Iraqi refugee, who had been in trouble with police a fortnight ago.
One neighbour whose home backs onto the Joneses’ property said the “awful’’ 18-year-old had been arrested by police at Parsons Green two weeks ago but was returned to the couple, prompting Mrs Jones to express doubts about her ability to care for him.
Mr and Mrs Jones were awarded MBEs by the Queen eight years ago for their work with children after opening their home to more than 250 foster children across almost half a century of community contributions.
Despite the threat level being set at critical — meaning another attack is believed imminent —
police have refused to release images of the bombing suspects. This could be because none of the faces of those involved is visible, or to avoid a potential anti-Muslim backlash.
Scores of heavily armed police raided the Sunbury property five hours after the arrest at Dover. Fearing the house may have been a bomb factory, they evacuated a large area, and neighbours were ordered to spend the night elsewhere.
Several victims of the bomb, which only partly exploded at 8.20am, remain in hospital receiving treatment for burns.
Witnesses described people badly burned with their hair coming off. One woman was burned “from top to toe’’, while an elderly man took the brunt of the explosion in his face.
The part of the bomb that exploded created a fireball that spread through the rear carriage of the Tube train, causing a stampede for the station exit.
Security experts say the bomb, which contained the ‘‘mother of Satan’’ chemical TATP, would have killed dozens of people and injured hundreds if not for a faulty timer.
Police are investigating whether the intended target was the Tube stop near Westminster after messages between Islamic State supporters on private messaging sites the previous day crowed “London this is just the beginning’’, with pictures of Big Ben in crosshairs and Tower Bridge in flames.
Metropolitan Police are under increasing pressure to reveal more details about what they knew of the arrested man.
US President Donald Trump tweeted early in the investigation that the bombing had happened under the noses of Scotland Yard, a comment strongly rejected by police and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it appeared the bomber was not a lone wolf but it was “too early to reach any final conclusions on that”. Asked if she could give any information on claims by Islamic State that there were other unexploded devices, she told BBC: “We don’t. “It is inevitable that socalled Islamic State, or Daesh, will reach in and try and claim responsibility. We have no evidence to suggest that yet.”
She added that Mr Trump’s suggestion that the terrorist behind the attack was “in the sights of Scotland Yard” was “pure speculation”. “It’s never helpful to have speculation about an ongoing operation and I would include the President of the United States in that comment,’’ she said.
There is also concern it took 12 hours from the attack for Mrs May to announce the increased threat level. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, none of London’s other Tube or train lines were shut down, nor were there warnings to commuters.
On Saturday Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick left the investigation to walk through central London to “reassure’’ the public. The terror attack was the fifth in Britain this year and police say seven significant plots have been foiled.
A forensic officer in Sunbury