Ar­rest made in ‘botched’ U.K. bombing

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By AN­TO­NIO PLANAS — an­to­nio.planas@boston­her­ald.com

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.

AP PHOTOS

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.

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