Arrest made in ‘botched’ U.K. bombing
British police made an apparent breakthrough arrest yesterday in connection with a “botched” subway bombing in London Friday that left 29 people injured and highlights how far the Islamic State has fallen as it continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, one local expert said.
“A savvier, more sophisticated terrorist group wouldn’t take credit for a botched attack,” said Max Abrahms, a political science professor and terror expert at Northeastern University. “Your typical Islamic State operative in the West isn’t particularly sophisticated — he’s just a Joe Schmo who is committing violence.”
The Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the homemade bomb, which only partially detonated on a rush-hour train Friday morning, shows the barbaric terror group “is really desperate to claim any sort of attack,” Abrahms said.
“It’s important to stress that the Islamic State is not doing well,” he said. “This is not a healthy terrorist group. This is a group that has seen better days.”
Abrahms’ comments came as British police announced the arrest of an 18-year-old man in the port of Dover — the main ferry link to France — before launching a massive armed search in the southwestern London suburb of Sunbury. The investigation prompted officials to evacuate neighboring residents, establish a huge cordon and impose a no-fly zone above the property as it was searched.
Police did not say that they had nabbed the man believed to have planted the bomb, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the arrest was of major importance.
The man, whose name was not released last night, is being held under the Terrorism Act and has been brought to London for questioning.
Authorities would not say if they thought the man was trying to flee to France on a Dover ferry.
It’s clear that Britain’s police and security services are still worried. Hundreds of soldiers patrolled public areas yesterday, freeing up police for the bombing investigation. Rudd said the country’s terror threat level — which was raised Friday night to the highest possible level — will stay there until the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Center is convinced the threat of imminent attack has eased.
Rudd, frustrated by the string of terrorist attacks in recent months, said officials will have to work harder to make bomb components more difficult to obtain.
“(We must) make sure to take all steps that we can to ensure the sort of materials that this man was able to collect” are harder to find, she said.
The Islamic State claimed one of its units planted the bomb.
Security at seaports and airports had been increased after the attack and officials hinted yesterday that there may be more than one person involved.
Three of the 29 people injured in the blast remained hospitalized last night.
ON THEIR GUARD: Armed police stand guard, above, outside Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday, a day after a bomb detonated in a London subway. Police probe an area in southwest London, below.