MI5 senior officer: London Bridge terror attack could not have been prevented
Affected Countries: united-kingdom;
A senior officer from MI5 on Thursday denied that the British security agency could have prevented a deadly terror attack in London, despite receiving warnings that the terrorist wanted to “die and go to paradise.”
Usman Khan, 28, killed two people and wounded three with a knife near London Bridge in November 2019 before being shot dead by police. The attack happened less than a year after his early release from a prison sentence for plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange.
An inquest into the deaths of Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner-reform event in Fishmonger’s Hall, next to London Bridge, has heard that Khan was allowed to attend the event despite concerns from some officials that he posed a security threat.
But the senior MI5 officer, referred to as Witness A for legal reasons, said the attack could not have been prevented. She said the intelligence services had been aware of Khan since 2008, when he was a member of British terror group Al-Muhajiroun, and knew he had been involved in violent incidents while in prison.
Asked by the counsel for the coroner whether there was also evidence that Khan “wanted to die and go to paradise,” Witness A said: “There was information to that effect.”
The court also heard that while in jail Khan had remained in contact with his co-defendants from the failed Stock Exchange bomb plot, and other terrorists outside of prison.
But in 2015, MI5 decided to close its investigation into him. Witness A said she felt the decision was the right one.
“We had carried out quite a significant period of investigation while he was in prison, we received a steady stream of intelligence while in prison, and we saw no activities of national security concern, therefore it was the right time to close the investigation,” she said, adding: “We cannot investigate people forever.”
She also told the court that MI5’s review of the case after the attack concluded that it “could not have taken any actions or materially changed the outcomes of this case. The investigative and operational decisions taken by MI5 in this case were sound.”
Since the attack, Britain has introduced stricter counterterrorism measures for dealing with known extremists and offenders. New laws have removed the possibility of early release for convicted terrorists, and stepped up the level of monitoring of after they are released from prison.
Source: Arab News