DID PO­LICE KNOW TUBE BOMBER?

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By John Ing­ham, Cyril Dixon and John Twomey

DON­ALD Trump sparked a fu­ri­ous row yes­ter­day by claim­ing the Par­sons Green Tube bomber had been “in the sights” of Scot­land Yard. The US Pres­i­dent also in­fu­ri­ated Yard chiefs by

say­ing “Must be proac­tive!”, sug­gest­ing they are slack­ing in the war on ter­ror. Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­ments in a trade­mark Twit­ter mes­sage earned him a sharp re­buke from Theresa May.

Se­nior Yard of­fi­cers, who tra­di­tion­ally avoid pub­lic po­lit­i­cal wran­gling, joined the spat and dis­missed the Pres­i­dent’s tweet as “un­help­ful spec­u­la­tion”. But last night the ques­tion re­mained – does the US Pres­i­dent know some­thing the Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties refuse to tell us?

The Is­lamic State ter­ror group claimed “a de­tach­ment” of its fight­ers had car­ried out the at­tack. And with the bomber on the run, there were fears he or ac­com­plices could launch fur­ther at­tacks.

The Pres­i­dent made his com­ments just hours af­ter the ter­ror­ist tried to slaugh­ter com­muters on a packed Tube train with a crude bucket bomb. The sus­pect is be­lieved to have been cap­tured on CCTV shortly be­fore an ex­plo­sion sent a fire­ball rip­ping through a crowded car­riage.

The blast on a Dis­trict Line train at Par­sons Green, west Lon­don, at 8.20am left 29 peo­ple in­jured, mostly with flash burns. The youngest vic­tim is be­lieved to be 10.

Luck­ily, the home-made bomb in a white plas­tic bucket only par­tially det­o­nated and none of the vic­tims is in a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion.

It was the fifth ter­ror­ist out­rage in Bri­tain this year and the threat level was de­scribed last night as “se­vere to crit­i­cal” – mean­ing an­other at­tack is highly likely.

The at­tack also re­vived mem­o­ries of the 7/7 sui­cide bomb­ings which claimed the lives of 52 vic­tims on Tube trains and a bus in 2005.

Sick

Just hours af­ter the ex­plo­sion, Pres­i­dent Trump posted his in­flam­ma­tory Twit­ter mes­sage. It read: “An­other at­tack in Lon­don by a loser ter­ror­ist. These are sick and de­mented peo­ple who were in the sights of Scot­land Yard. Must be proac­tive!”

Af­ter chair­ing a meet­ing of the Co­bra emer­gency com­mit­tee, Mrs May slapped down the leader of Bri­tain’s clos­est ally, say­ing: “I never think it’s help­ful for any­body to spec­u­late on what is an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If any­one has got any ev­i­dence or in­for­ma­tion, please con­tact the anti-ter­ror­ism hot­line.”

Ini­tially, the Yard de­clined to com­ment. Later a spokesman said: “The com­ments are un­help­ful and pure spec­u­la­tion.”

Asked about his com­ments at the White House, Pres­i­dent Trump said he would call Mrs May “right now”.

Dur­ing the call the Prime Min­is­ter raised her con­cerns over the com­ment di­rectly with him.

A Down­ing Street spokesman said: “Pres­i­dent Trump called the Prime Min­is­ter ear­lier to­day to of­fer his con­do­lences over this morn­ing’s cow­ardly at­tack in Lon­don.”

It is un­der­stood his “Must be proac­tive!” line in his tweet par­tic­u­larly ran­kled with se­nior of­fi­cers.

Work­ing round-the-clock, po­lice and MI5 have thwarted 19 plots since 2013, in­clud­ing six since the West­min­ster atroc­ity in March.

Ter­ror­ism ar­rests are run­ning at more than one a day and there are 500 in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­volv­ing 3,000 in­di­vid­u­als be­ing car­ried out at any one time. On top of that ex­tra­or­di­nary work­load, there are also 20,000 for­mer “sub­jects of in­ter­est” whose risk must be kept un­der re­view. In the past some ter­ror­ists who were “known to the au­thor­i­ties” have gone on to carry out at­tacks. They in­clude Khu­ram Butt, the ring­leader of the Lon­don Bridge at­tack­ers who mur­dered eight peo­ple in June.

Butt had been un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion but in­quiries were down­graded be­cause there was “no ev­i­dence of at­tack plan­ning”.

The diplo­matic row comes af­ter po­lice tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended in­tel­li­gence shar­ing with the US in the wake of the Manch­ester Arena bomb­ing in May fol­low­ing a series of leaks to US me­dia. CBS even re­vealed the name of the bomber, Sal­man Abedi. At the time, po­lice were ask­ing the Bri­tish me­dia to with­hold the in­for­ma­tion.

The New York Times pub­lished de­tailed pho­tos of the bomb scene which had been passed to the US au­thor­i­ties by Bri­tish in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” had al­ready come un­der strain ear­lier in the year when then White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer re­peated claims that GCHQ, the UK sur­veil­lance agency, had been in­volved in bug­ging the Trump elec­tion cam­paign on be­half of Barack Obama. His com­ments drew a rare pub­lic state­ment from GCHQ de­nounc­ing the al­le­ga­tion as “ut­terly ridicu­lous”.

Foren­sic of­fi­cers were last night still work­ing to dis­cover traces of the bomber’s DNA and fin­ger­prints from the scene of yes­ter­day’s at­tack.

Oth­ers were scour­ing CCTV to find out where the bomber boarded the train and trace his move­ments.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Mark Row­ley, head of counter-ter­ror­ism polic­ing, said: “We urge the pub­lic to re­main calm but alert. If they see or hear any­thing sus­pi­cious con­tact the con­fi­den­tial hot­line on 0800 789 321.”

IT COULD have been far, far worse. The crude bomb in a bucket that ex­ploded on a Lon­don Un­der­ground train in Par­sons Green was in­tended to do much greater dam­age, prob­a­bly fur­ther down the line when there would have been many more pas­sen­gers on board in the morn­ing rush hour. It det­o­nated pre­ma­turely and failed to ig­nite the ex­plo­sive.

For­tu­nately there has been no loss of life but the in­ci­dent brought back mem­o­ries of the 2005 atroc­ity on the Un­der­ground which caused many deaths and cat­a­strophic, life-chang­ing in­juries.

There were in­juries yes­ter­day too and there was panic. It was an or­di­nary morn­ing in early au­tumn, with chil­dren on their way to school and com­muters on their way to work. And sud­denly they were con­fronted with ter­ror – the fourth ter­ror at­tack this year fol­low­ing West­min­ster, Manch­ester, Lon­don Bridge and Fins­bury Park.

Boris John­son has urged the pub­lic to “stay calm and go about your lives”. And that is ex­actly what the pub­lic will do. As it al­ways does. We are now du­bi­ous about the clichéd re­sponse that if we change our be­hav­iour then the “ter­ror­ist wins”. But in re­al­ity there is noth­ing else we can do but carry on with our nor­mal lives and hope that the po­lice and the au­thor­i­ties have all the help and re­sources they need to track down the bombers.

A heav­ily armed of­fi­cer runs to­wards the sta­tion yes­ter­day

Foren­sic of­fi­cers at Par­sons Green...the train was pulling in as the bucket bomb ex­ploded

Paramedics, po­lice and fire of­fi­cers out­side the sta­tion en­trance af­ter the rush hour blast

Trump at White House yes­ter­day

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