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15 December 2017 Last updated 18 minutes ago

British police foil plot to assassinate May: MI5

Prime Minister Theresa May File photo Prime Minister Theresa May

Two men are in police custody in Britain after authorities foiled their plan to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May, according to the country's counter-terrorism security service.

The men had plotted to kill May by detonating a bomb disguised as a bag to blow off the gates of Downing Street and then attack the prime minister with knives, MI5 head Andrew Parker revealed to the Cabinet on Tuesday.

They were detained on November 28 during raids in London and Birmingham by MI5 and police.

Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, from north London, and Mohammed Aqib Imran, 21, from south-east Birmingham, are due to be tried in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

They were charged “with the intention of committing acts of terrorism” and with “engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to that intention,” according to the Metropolitan police.

Meanwhile, a Scotland Yard spokesperson refused to confirm to The Independent that the arrests were linked to a plot to attack May.

MI5 also said Tuesday that security services had foiled eight other terrorist attacks in the UK during the last year.

May’s spokesman said, “Cabinet ministers heard that while Daesh suffered major defeats in Iraq and Syria, this did not mean the threat is over. Rather it is spreading to new areas, including trying to encourage attacks in the UK and elsewhere via propaganda on social media.”

It was also released Tuesday that a suicide bombing that killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena in May could have been thwarted by MI5.

The agency had intelligence but did not correctly interpret the secret data, according to reports.

This comes against a backdrop of claims by security officials that the UK is facing a severe terrorist threat.

May has been criticized over her disproportionate attention to what she calls the threat from “Islamic extremism” while failing to notice the rise in the far-right terrorism threat.

UK Home Office figures have shown that nearly one third of people being monitored under the Channel anti-terror program leaned towards extreme right-wing ideologies and were vulnerable to radicalization.