Trump irks UK in midst of at­tack

‘Loser ter­ror­ists known to Bri­tish po­lice’

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASHINGTON, Sept 16, (Agen­cies): Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sparked fury in Lon­don and yet an­other pointed re­buke from Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May Fri­day af­ter he claimed “loser ter­ror­ists” be­hind a botched train at­tack were known to Bri­tish po­lice.

Trump took to Twit­ter to con­demn an at­tack on a packed Lon­don Un­der­ground train that in­jured 22 peo­ple, but also ap­peared to sug­gest that Bri­tish author­i­ties had dropped the ball.

“An­other at­tack in Lon­don by a loser ter­ror­ist,” the US pres­i­dent tweeted.

“Th­ese are sick and de­mented peo­ple who were in the sights of Scot­land Yard. Must be proac­tive!” Trump added, ap­pear­ing to re­veal undis­closed in­tel­li­gence from the head­quar­ters of Lon­don’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan po­lice force.

That on­line broad­side brought a terse public re­sponse from May, who warned the US pres­i­dent and oth­ers not to spec­u­late.

“I never think it’s help­ful for any­body to spec­u­late on what is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” May told jour­nal­ists in Lon­don.

Trump later tried to smooth over the rift, de­scrib­ing May as a “won­der­ful woman.”

Com­ments

But his com­ments were de­scribed as “un­help­ful” by Lon­don’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice, as well as by Nick Ti­mothy, May’s former chief of staff.

“True or not -- and I’m sure he doesn’t know -- this is so un­help­ful from leader of our ally and in­tel­li­gence part­ner,” Ti­mothy wrote on Twit­ter.

Af­ter his tweets, and with ties ap­par­ently un­der strain, Trump spoke with May to con­vey “his sym­pa­thies and prayers” for vic­tims of the Lon­don at­tack, the White House said in a state­ment.

“The pres­i­dent pledged to con­tinue close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the United King­dom to stop at­tacks world­wide tar­get­ing in­no­cent civil­ians and to com­bat ex­trem­ism.”

Trump’s keen­ness to un­der­line a se­ries of ter­ror at­tacks in Bri­tain, vir­tu­ally in real time, has led to re­peated out­cry across the At­lantic that has helped in­def­i­nitely de­lay his much­vaunted state visit to the coun­try.

In May, Bri­tish of­fi­cials were fu­ri­ous af­ter their US coun­ter­parts leaked shared ma­te­rial about an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a bomb at­tack at a con­cert by pop star Ari­ana Grande in Manch­ester which left 22 dead.

The bomber’s iden­tity and details of the probe leaked to US me­dia be­fore Bri­tish of­fi­cials felt ready to dis­close them.

Po­lit­i­cal

Trump’s do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal mes­sage risked fray­ing decades old trans-At­lantic ties, a day af­ter US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, speak­ing in Lon­don, hailed a re­la­tion­ship that is “as spe­cial to­day as it has ever been.”

Af­ter an at­tack in Lon­don in June, Trump had lashed Lon­don’s Mus­lim mayor Sadiq Khan for telling the public there was “no rea­son to be alarmed” over armed po­lice on the streets.

On that oc­ca­sion, May was forced to up­braid the US leader, say­ing “I think Don­ald Trump is wrong in what he said about Sadiq Khan” af­ter the Lon­don Bridge at­tack.

In March, the White House left Bri­tish spooks apoplec­tic when it cited un­proven me­dia re­ports that pres­i­dent Barack Obama had asked Bri­tain’s sig­nals in­tel­li­gence agency, GCHQ, to mon­i­tor then-can­di­date Trump in or­der to “make sure there were no Amer­i­can fin­ger­prints.”

The nor­mally tight-lipped agency called the al­le­ga­tions “non­sense,” adding that “they are ut­terly ridicu­lous and should be ig­nored.”

Trump also used Fri­day’s Lon­don train at­tack to re­new calls for his con­tro­ver­sial ban on trav­el­ers from sev­eral pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries -a ral­ly­ing cry of his right-wing base who have re­cently been an­gered by his sup­port for an amnesty for some il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Ban

“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more spe­cific -- but stupidly, that would not be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect,” the pres­i­dent said in a se­ries of tweets.

Later in the White House Rose Gar­den, Trump ex­pressed ex­as­per­a­tion at how ter­ror­ism “just keeps go­ing and go­ing,” and sig­naled he wanted harsher penal­ties for ter­ror­ists.

“We have to be very smart, and we have to be very, very tough,” he said. “We’re not nearly tough enough.”

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster sug­gested later that Trump was speak­ing gen­er­ally. Not­ing that law en­force­ment has been work­ing to com­bat ter­ror­ism for years, McMaster said, “If there was a ter­ror­ist at­tack here, God for­bid, that we would say that they were in the sights of the FBI.”

“I think he means gen­er­ally that this kind of ac­tiv­ity is what we are try­ing to pre­vent,” McMaster said.

The White House said Trump and May spoke Fri­day. White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said Trump’s tweet “may have come up” but gave no fur­ther de­tail.

At an event at Joint Base An­drews in Mary­land, Trump said he of­fered prayers for Lon­don and said “rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism it will be erad­i­cated, be­lieve me.”

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