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How MI5 and the FBI foiled plot to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May

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He knew what supplies he needed, including a black-and-gray Carbrini sports backpack and a hooded down jacket. Standard tourist provisions in Britain.

He had the timing all worked out. If he could just get past the gate, a 10-second sprint would find him at the most famous door in the world — the polished black entrance to 10 Downing Street, the emblem of the British state.

Once inside, Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman hoped to behead the building’s resident, Prime Minister Theresa May.

But Rahman was not the only one in on the plan. He shared his ambitions with a man, “Shaq,” who presented himself as a weapons fixer for Islamic State militants. The supposed extremist helper was in fact an undercover police officer working alongside MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, and the FBI, according to the BBC.

The undercover operation succeeded in nabbing Rahman, 20, who was convicted Wednesday at the Old Bailey courthouse in London of preparing acts of terrorism. He had been arrested in November 2017 and will be sentenced at a later date.

The resident of north London, who has given his nationality as Bangladeshi-British, was first flagged by authorities three years ago over concerns that the teenager, raised in an industrial town near Birmingham, was vulnerable to brainwashing by his uncle, British media reported. His uncle, who left Britain for Syria in 2014, aimed to persuade his nephew to stage an attack and had sent him bombmaking materials, according to authorities.

A coalition drone strike near Raqqa killed the uncle, Musadikur Rohaman, in June 2017. It was when Rahman learned of his family member’s death, prosecutors alleged, that he set out to take revenge. His target became the prime minister of the country where he was sleeping in the back of a car, after quarrels with his mother and other relatives had left him homeless.

The same year, a probe into allegations that Rahman had sent lewd images to an underage girl turned up evidence that he had stayed in contact with his uncle. He was never charged in the initial investigation, but a search of his phone set off concern that he had developed extremist views, the Guardian reported.

The undercover operation began when Rahman made contact with an FBI agent impersonating an Islamic State official on social media. The American intelligence officer introduced him to MI5 agents posing as fellow extremists.

“Can you put me in a sleeper cell ASAP?” Rahman asked members of the security services appearing as Islamist militants over the Telegram messaging app. “I want to do a suicide bomb on parliament. I want to attempt to kill Theresa May.”

He reaffirmed his resolve the next day, writing, “My objective is to take out my target. Nothing less than the death of the leaders of parliament.”

His planning included surveying the grounds of the British civil service and government and giving a backpack and jacket to the undercover police officer, who promised to line the items with explosives. In conversations with the officer, he also praised the Manchester bomber who had left 23 dead, including himself, at an Ariana Grande concert months earlier. The mass-casualty event was among a string of terrorist attacks that buffeted Britain in 2017, putting security services on high alert. One strike unfolded outside the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British Parliament.

Rahman seemed to draw inspiration from these attacks.

“I wanna drop a bag at the gate, so the gate blows up a bit and I can go through and then like, make a run, like I was thinking taking a human hostage until I get to the actual door,” Rahman told “Shaq,” the undercover police officer, in a recording played in court.

His intention, he said, was to “make a dash for Theresa May. She sleeps there every night.” He told the undercover agent that his intention was to “take her head off.”

Rahman’s initial aim had been to obtain a truck bomb and firearms, but he revised his planning because he knew neither how to drive nor how to fire a gun. He settled for more crude weaponry and offered up a backpack and jacket to be outfitted for an attack. At the end of November, the agent returned Rahman’s backpack and jacket with fake explosives. “Do you know? Now I’ve seen everything it feels good,” Rahman told the officer as he took back the belongings, according to the recording played in court.

Rahman was detained as he walked away from the scene, later saying, “I’m glad it’s over.”

During the trial, which began in June, prosecutors said they believed Rahman had been days away from attempting to carry out his plot on May’s life. The accused told jurors that his planning had been nothing more than fantasy, and that he had merely been trying to impress men he believed to be associates of his uncle.

Security precautions are designed to keep plans to infiltrate 10 Downing Street in the realm of fantasy. The street on which the residence sits has been closed to the public since 1989 and is heavily guarded. Defenses grew more severe after the Irish Republican Army launched mortar shells in an attempt to kill John Major, the prime minister at the time, along with cabinet members then presiding over British participation in the Gulf War.

 

This article was written by Isaac Stanley-Becker from The Washington Post

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Nashville Christmas Morning Bomber Identified As Human Remains Found At Crime Scene, Motive Unknown

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The man believed to be responsible for the Christmas Day bombing that tore through downtown Nashville blew himself up in the explosion, and appears to have acted alone, federal officials said Sunday.

Investigators used DNA and other evidence to link the man, identified as Anthony Quinn Warner, to the mysterious explosion but said they have not determined a motive. Officials have received hundreds of tips and leads, but have concluded that no one other than Warner is believed to have been involved in the early morning explosion that damaged dozens of buildings.

“We’re still following leads, but right now there is no indication that any other persons were involved,” said Douglas Korneski, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis field office. “We’ve reviewed hours of security video surrounding the recreation vehicle. We saw no other people involved.”

In publicly identifying the suspect and his fate, officials disclosed a major breakthrough in their investigation even as they acknowledged the lingering mystery behind the explosion, which took place on a holiday morning well before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate.

No motive was disclosed by investigators nor was it revealed why Warner had selected the particular location for the bombing, which damaged an AT&T building and has continued to wreak havoc on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states as the company worked to restore service.

Warner, who public records show had experience with electronics and alarms and who had also worked as a computer consultant for a Nashville realtor, had been linked to the bombing since at least Saturday when federal and local investigators converged on a home in suburban Nashville linked to him.

Federal agents could be seen looking around the property, searching the home and the backyard. A Google Maps image captured in May 2019 had shown an RV similar to the one that exploded parked in the backyard, but it was not at the property on Saturday, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

On Sunday morning, police formally named Warner as being under investigation.

Officials said their identification of Warner involved several key pieces of evidence, including DNA found at the explosion site. Investigators from the Tennessee Highway Patrol also recovered parts from the recreational vehicle where the bomb was detonated among the wreckage from the blast, and were able to link the vehicle identification number to an RV that was registered to Warner, officials said.

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Whitmer says Trump ‘inciting’ domestic terrorism

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called out President Donald Trump on Sunday for incendiary comments he made about her during a weekend campaign rally, saying the President’s heightened rhetoric just days after authorities foiled a plot by extremists to kidnap her is “inciting this kind of domestic terrorism.”

But as Whitmer, a Democrat, pleaded with Trump to “bring down the heat,” the President’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump described the President’s calls to jail the governor as him “having fun,” during an interview with CNN on Sunday.

“You know, it’s incredibly disturbing that the President of the United States, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial and execute me, 10 days after that was uncovered, the President is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism,” Whitmer said in an interview on NBC.

“It is wrong. It’s got to end. It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans. People of goodwill on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out and bring the heat down,” she added.

During a rally Saturday in Michigan, Trump accused Whitmer, whom he has previously called “a dictator,” of unnecessarily locking down her state as she fought the coronavirus pandemic. That led his crowd to break into a chant of “Lock her up!” a little more than a week after federal authorities revealed a plot by extremists to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow the government.

Rather than condemning the derailed plot — which led to terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges against more than a dozen men — or discouraging that kind of divisive language, Trump responded to the cheer by saying, “Lock them all up” — drawing on his authoritarian rhetoric about jailing his political opponents by adding Hillary Clinton and the Biden family into the mix.

Asked about the chants by CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union, Lara Trump, who serves as a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, downplayed the comments and dismissed concerns about their potential impact.

“Well, look, he wasn’t doing anything, I don’t think, to provoke people to threaten this woman at all,” she said, referring to Whitmer. “He was having fun at a Trump rally.”

During his rally Saturday, Trump also complained that Whitmer said publicly that his refusal to denounce White supremacists, extremists and hate groups has emboldened activists like those who allegedly planned the foiled attack against her.

“I guess they said she was threatened, right?” Trump said, seeming to doubt the specifics of the case and underplaying the violence it could have entailed. “She was threatened, and she blamed me — she blamed me, and our people were the ones that worked with her people, so let’s see what happens.”

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware called Lara Trump’s comments “troubling” during an appearance on “State of the Union” later Sunday, telling Tapper that the President’s language creates a clear contrast between him and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“If that means that for our President ‘fun’ is fueling division and encouraging folks to say and do things that are threatening and completely inappropriate, well that’s a reminder of what kind of president we currently have, in sharp contrast to Joe Biden, someone who can and will bring our country together,” Coons said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also criticized Trump for his rally comments, saying in an interview with ABC on Sunday that he was being “irresponsible” with his rhetoric.

“The President has to realize the words of the president of the United States weigh a ton. And in that political dialogue, to inject fear tactics into it, especially (about) a woman governor and her family, is so irresponsible,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat.

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London police shocked by rare fatal shooting of officer

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A police officer in London died after being shot in the early hours of Friday by a man who was being detained in a rare fatal shooting of a UK police officer.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday at Croydon Custody Centre in south London, the city’s Metropolitan Police Service said.

Fellow officers and paramedics treated the officer at the scene, according to a police statement. However, he later died of his injuries at the hospital.

Later on Friday, the police service identified the slain officer as 54-year-old Sgt. Matt Ratana.

“This is a truly shocking incident in which one of our colleagues has lost his life in the most tragic circumstances. My heart goes out to his family, direct colleagues and friends,” said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

A 23-year-old man was detained at the scene, police said. He is in hospital in a critical condition from a gunshot wound. The Metropolitan Police Service has launched a homicide investigation.

The fatal shooting of a police officer is an unusual event in the United Kingdom, where police do not routinely carry guns.

No police firearms were discharged during the incident, the police statement said.

Dick said Ratana was originally from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, and moved to London in 1989. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1991 and was captain of his recruit training class.

According to the UK Police Roll of Honour Trust website, no officer lost his or her life in a shooting incident last year. The last Metropolitan Police officer to lose his life in a violent attack was Keith Palmer, who was fatally stabbed in a terror attack in the British capital in 2017.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country owed a “huge debt” to police officers who risk their lives to keep the community safe.

“My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night,” he said on Twitter. “We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “shocked and saddened” by the news. “My thoughts today are with his family, friends, and policing colleagues in London and across the country,” she said in a statement.

Patel said she had offered her condolences to Dick and offered whatever support was needed as the shooting was investigated.

“This is a sad day for our country and another terrible reminder of how our police officers put themselves in danger each and every day to keep the rest of us safe,” she said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “devastated” by the shooting.

“My heart goes out to the family of this brave officer, who has paid the ultimate price for helping to keep Londoners safe. Tragic incidents like this are terrible reminders of the dangers our police officers face every single day,” Khan said on Twitter.

“My thoughts are also with the entire Metropolitan Police family, who I know will be deeply mourning their colleague at this extremely difficult time. I remain in close contact with the Commissioner to offer her and our Met officers and staff my support.”

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