This article titled “London tube bombing: 18-year-old man arrested in Dover – live updates” was written by Damien Gayle and Nicola Slawson, for theguardian.com on Saturday 16th September 2017 11.50 UTC
The motivation for the attack on morning rush hour commuters on Friday is believed by counter terrorism investigators to be Islamist.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, but they have done so after other attacks which they had nothing to do with.
While Saturday morning’s arrest is significant, investigators are keeping an open mind as to whether anyone else was involved in placing the bomb on the tube train at Parsons Green, or helping to make it.
Investigations will continue and the questions about whether there were other conspirators will be put to the 18-year-old arrested on Saturday. Detectives will also be scouring the reams of CCTV footage they have secured, from before and after the attack to track movements of those they suspect of involvement.
Any computer and phone owned by a suspect will be examined for clues, plus the remnants of the smouldering improvised explosive device left on the tube train will also provide forensic clues.
On the surface, little appeared to have changed in the London neighbourhood of Parsons Green a day after the terror attack that injured commuters on Tube train which rolled into the local underground station.
Save for few dozen camera crews loitering outside the station, and the free artisan coffee being handed out as a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ gesture from District, the cafe next door, the area’s well kept streets were filled with the sight and sound of its significantly cosmopolitan local population embarking on their weekend.
Inside the cafe, which was evacuated yesterday, its Australian-British co-owner Chelsea Finch said that the coffee was a way of saying “thank you” to customers.
All our usual regulars are here today, so it’s business as usual. To be honest I didn’t think that we would be open so soon. With all the police activity and forensics yesterday we were under the impression that it would take longer, but then when the station was re-opened this morning we thought ‘why not?’
Other locals included Richard Bent, who was passing the station with his dachshund Reggie, and insisted that life continued as normal in what he described as the area’s “village community”.
I live on the Fulham Road and was getting ready for work yesterday when I saw four police armed response cars roar past. I also saw the police stop and board the number 14 bus a bit later on. We thought it was something to do with the local school.[On Monday] I’ll probably leave the earphones off and take a bit more notice of what is around me to be honest.
Investigators believe the suspect may have been in the port area of Dover to try and board a ferry to leave Britain, The Guardian has learned.
Islamic State are believed to have identified security at Dover and on the ferries as weak, and have used the port in Kent to get people in and out of Britain previously.
The improvised explosive device, which partially detonated at around 8:20am on Friday, was believed by police and the security services to have been intended to kill. It was detonated by a timer. The timing device used was not a mobile phone, which has been used in previous terrorist attacks to trigger a bomb. The device at Parsons Green contained fairy lights, which may have been used as an initiator, to set off the main explosive charge.
The UK’s terrorism threat level is being reviewed “hour by hour” as developments in the investigation unfold, sources say. The decision by Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JATC) to raise it to its maximum level of critical on Friday was based on fears that whoever was behind the attack, and the materials used to make the device, were unaccounted for.
Following the arrest of the teenager at Dover, JTAC will be assessing on Saturday whether there can be greater confidence that whoever was behind the attack and whatever was used to make the homemade bomb are now accounted for.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has released a statement via his Facebook page regarding this morning’s arrest. He also expressed his gratitude to police and intelligence services for “doing everything possible to keep Londoners safe”.
This morning police have made a significant arrest as part of the investigation into the terrorist attack at Parsons Green station yesterday morning.
An 18-year-old man was arrested in Dover under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
The police investigation is ongoing and there will still be significant activity today and over the days ahead. I am sure I speak for London when I say we are incredibly grateful to the police and intelligence services for doing everything possible to keep Londoners safe.
I would urge anyone with any information at all relating to the investigation to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321, to help the police with their extremely difficult job. In an emergency, always call 999. If you see anything suspicious, please report it.
It is important we all remain alert and vigilant. There will be an increased police presence across London today and over this weekend, including additional armed officers. They are there to keep us safe.
London will never be intimidated by terrorism. We will always defeat those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.
Armed police are on duty across the country after the Parsons Green bomb attack prompted Britain to be put on the highest terror alert, PA reports.
Military personnel have been deployed to free up officers for patrols over the weekend following the decision to raise the threat level to critical, meaning another attack is expected imminently.
Robin Smith, assistant chief constable for the British Transport Police, urged the public to be “alert but not alarmed” and report any suspicious behaviour.
Code critical is a well-rehearsed plan now, regrettably of course. What the public can expect to see is a lot more officers, a lot more police officers, a lot more armed officers, throughout the stations.
Not only in London – although we are focusing on the London underground – but also across England, Scotland and Wales.
He urged the public to remain vigilant, adding: “I think people know when things are suspicious. They should be alert but not alarmed.”
Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said on Friday that extra officers would be on patrol and security would be reviewed at events across the country over the weekend.
Military personnel have been drafted in to protect national infrastructure sites, allowing additional armed police officers to carry out patrols.
Communities across the UK can expect to see more officers, both armed and unarmed, on patrol by foot and in vehicles over the weekend. In particular, they will be patrolling at crowded places, iconic sites, transport hubs and ports.
Rowley, the UK’s most senior anti-terror police officer, also urged communities around the UK to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.
“Please do not hesitate, no matter how insignificant you may think the information you have is – please let us decide. It could be crucial,” he said.
There has been some speculation as to why Scotland Yard has not yet released any CCTV images of the suspected attacker.
On Radio 4’s today show, Ben Wallace was asked by presenter John Humphrys if this was surprising given how useful footage is to jogging people’s memories. The security minister said he had no doubt that images would be released at some stage, however the police have said they have no plans to hand out any footage of the attacker.
The underground network, including the train in question, and London generally are well covered by CCTV, while buses passing the area will also have video cameras that may provide information.
Investigators will have been scrutinising the footage but it is not yet known if this intelligence led to the recent arrest in the Dover port area.
The security minister said on the radio programme:
I totally agree that CCTV footage is extremely useful and I have no doubt at some stage that will come but the conduct of the investigation I leave to the police and security services, and why and what they do with that information.
I’ve had my briefings today and I had more last night and they are at the moment doing those follow-ups. All the resource of government and their organisations is on tracking these people down.
For those of you who weren’t up early enough this morning to hear Ben Wallace, the security minister, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, we have transcribed some of his comments to the broadcaster.
In this first section, he explains why Theresa May initially said the threat level wouldn’t rise but then it did later on Friday evening:
The threat level in this country is set independently of politicians by the Joint Terrorist Aanalysis Centre and they look at a range of things. They look at the intelligence at their fingertips; they look at changes in perhaps people we are currently watching to see if they are inspired by an attack to maybe copy things; and they look at the pace of the investigation; and if they feel as a result of all those factors an attack is likely to become imminent then that’s why they raise it to critical, as they then did later in the day. I think it’s a perfectly logical way and we do it so politicians can’t interfere with threat levels and manipulate them for any means. It is done entirely at arm’s length of government and that’s why they did it.
In this case imminent means that we know there was an attempted attack on a tube yesterday morning, it used the type of explosive similar to that used in Manchester. It didn’t go off. The sort you can buy with certain ingredients in high street shops although there has been a lot work to now prevent that.
Unlike Manchester, where the bomber obviously killed himself along with all the innocent people he murdered, there was no obvious bomber attached to this so there is effectively a man hunt. We are trying to track down who did it, whether it’s a bomber or bombers, and all those other issues we need to answer and in this case, we think that’s what imminent means, that you know there are potentially very dangerous individual or individuals out there and we need to track them down.
Rudd to chair Cobra meeting at 1pm
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, is due to chair a meeting in the Cabinet Office briefing room A- aka a Cobra meeting – at 1pm about the latest developments in the investigation into the Parsons Green attack.
We have been in touch with the Home Office to find out more details and will share what we are able with you as soon as we can.
Londoners seem to be handling any anxieties over the heightened terror threat level quite well, according to this tweet from Ben Quinn, our colleague on the Observer.
There is speculation that the bomb used in the Parsons Green terror attack was made with a substance called triacetone triperoxide (TATP) that, reports claim, has the dramatic moniker “Mother of Satan”.
The nickname, according to a PA report, comes from the instability of the explosive, which can be ignited by heat, friction, static or even simple movement. The Daily Mirror has highlighted this line on its front page this morning.
TATP was the substance used in the 7 July 2005 series of coordinated suicide attacks that killed that killed 52 people and injured more than 700 when four terrorists detonated three bombs on tube trains and a fourth on a bus.
Former counter-terrorism chief Maj Gen Chip Chapman, speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, said the chemical had more recently been used by the Barcelona terror plotters, when it detonated prematurely.
Failure of the device to realise its explosive potential on Friday morning could be credited to a similar malfunction, he said in comments carried by the Press Association.
It’s quite volatile, it can have a lot of friction and the pre-explosion in Barcelona was caused because of its volatility.
Either the chemical mix from TATP, if it was TATP, was wrong or there wasn’t enough boost from a detonator via the timer to make this function properly.
The shockwave effect from a full explosion could have been deadly, while the subsequent blast effect could have killed more, Chapman told the broadcaster.
“This absolutely didn’t function properly because … one ounce of TATP is enough to blow car doors off.”
Commenting on this morning’s arrest of a suspect in connection with the Parson’s Green attack, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said:
We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical.
The public should remain vigilant as our staff, officers and partners continue to work through this complex investigation. We are not, at this time, changing our protective security measures and the steps taken to free up extra armed officers remain in place.
This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers. For strong investigative reasons we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage.
18-year-old arrested in Dover in connection with attack
Detectives investigating the terrorist attack at Parsons Green on Friday have made an arrest in connection with the investigation, police say.
The 18-year-old man was arrested by Kent police in the port area of Dover this morning, Saturday, 16 September, under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.
The man remains in custody at a local police station. He will be transferred to a south London police station in due course.
Counter-terrorism detectives are appealing for anyone with information about the Parsons Green terrorist attack to contact them. As of 9pm last night they had spoken to 45 witnesses and received 77 images and videos uploaded online.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, head of national counter-terrorism policing, said:
Our investigation is continuing at speed and our priority is to identify, locate and arrest those responsible.
Hundreds of police officers are pursuing numerous lines of enquiry, trawling through hours of CCTV footage and speaking to witnesses.
The device and remnants left at the scene have been taken away and are being examined by forensic experts. While this work is ongoing, there is no doubt in my mind that those responsible intended to cause great harm and injury.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or, in an emergency, always call 999.
Anyone with footage or images from the incident is urged to upload them at www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk where they will be looked at by investigators.
Ben Wallace, the security minister, is doing the rounds of broadcasters today. Most recently he has appeared on Sky News where he recited the now well-known refrain that technology firms “can do more” to tackle online extremism.
Wallace said the government would continue to “put pressure” on companies to invest in technology which could quicken the take down of terrorist material, according to comments reported on PA.
Yesterday’s terror attack has once again raised concerns over the availability of terrorist material, including bomb-making tutorials, on the internet. Wallace told Sky News:
We are constantly trying to build that pressure, explaining to them that we think that they can do more and where we need to, we get tougher on them.
They cannot be removed from some of the responsibility they carry and we think there is technology out there that could make these take downs quicker.
He added: “It is a 21st century phenomena. We have to deal with it. On the internet people can learn how to make bombs, they can learn how to use weapons.”
Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, will hold a meeting at the United Nations next week “to talk about what more we can be doing to ensure that we deal with the terrorist propaganda, with the extremist propaganda, with the hatred that is put out across the internet”.
It follows a visit to San Francisco by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, last month, where she told representatives of Silicon Valley to “unite” and warned that terrorists are using their platforms to “weaponise vulnerable people in their homes”.
Here is the full text of the prime minister’s statement last night announcing the decision to raise the UK’s terror threat to critical.
I have just been updated on the investigation into this morning’s cowardly terrorist attack in London.
A major covert and overt investigation is taking place, involving police and security officials.
I said earlier today that the national threat level was being kept under review.
The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre – that’s the independent organisation which is responsible for setting the threat level on the basis of available intelligence – has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical.
This means that their assessment is that a further attack may be imminent.
Following JTAC’s decision, the police have asked for authorisation from the secretary of state for defence to enact part of the first phase of Operation Temperer.
This is a well-established plan to provide military support to the police and for this period military personnel will replace police officers on guard at certain protected sites which are not accessible to the public. The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection.
This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses.
The public should go about their business in the normal way and as usual be vigilant and co-operate with the police.
I said earlier that terrorism is a great challenge of our times. But by standing together we will defeat it.
A potential network of terror plotters behind the Parsons Green bombing is being hunted by police as the country braced for a further attack, PA reports.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, suggested on Friday night that more than one suspect could have been involved in the attempt to kill commuters in a tube carriage. He said police were “chasing down suspects”.
The improvised device – reportedly containing the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and packed with nails – was dumped on a busy District line train during Friday rush hour.
Parsons Green station re-opened in the early hours of Saturday, shortly after Theresa May announced the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre set the terror threat at its highest level.
It was the second time this year the country was placed at “critical”, meaning an attack “may be imminent”, the prime minister said – the other occasion being the Manchester Arena bombing which killed 22 people in May.
Ben Wallace, the security minister, told the BBC on Saturday: “We haven’t been able at the moment to catch the bomber. The bomber is still out there – or bombers – and we have to get to the bottom of that and follow up the leads.”
Wallace suggested CCTV images of the bomber could be released as part of the hunt for those responsible, but Scotland Yard subsequently denied there were any plans to do so.
S7 trains such as the one involved in Friday’s incident have video cameras installed inside all seven carriages and there are more than 12,000 cameras across London Underground’s stations and trains.
Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme if it was surprising that no CCTV had yet been released, Wallace said: “I totally agree that CCTV footage is useful and no doubt at some stage that will come but the conduct of the investigation I leave to the police and the security services.”
A total of 21 patients remain in hospital following the blast, according to the latest NHS England figures, with another eight discharged. Most had suffered “flash burns”, police said.
The number of those hurt could have been much higher and the severity of their injuries much worse had the bomb fully detonated.
It is not yet known whether the bomb went off at its intended target. The train – bound for Edgware Road – was just pulling into the District line station in south-west London when the device exploded, in the rear carriage, sending rush-hour passengers fleeing to safety.
Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of the latest developments in the investigation and response to yesterday’s botched terrorist attack on a tube train in west London.
Twenty-nine people were injured when the a bomb made out of a bucket partially detonated on the westbound District line train at Parsons Green station at 8.20am on Friday morning. It was the UK’s fifth terrorist attack in less than six months.
The UK’s terror threat has been raised to critical and soldiers have once again been deployed to key locations around the country as police continue to hunt the bomber. It is understood that officers have tracked down images of the suspect as he boarded the train carrying the device inside a Lidl supermarket bag.
The Islamic State terror group, which is currently being routed from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency.
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