Published: 12:15 Saturday 12 August 2017
Security is under review after an amateur photographer managed to land a drone on the deck of Britain s newest aircraft carrier. The 70,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth – the largest warship in the Royal Navy – was docked in Invergordon in the Highlands when the drone was flown close to the carrier last month. The tiny aircraft then landed itself on the deck of the 3 billion vessel after sensing a high wind risk. The anonymous photographer – a member of the Black Isle Images amateur photography group – said he was surprised to have been unchallenged, even when he reported the incident to armed guards at the dock. The drone pilot told BBC Scotland: I could have carried two kilos of Semtex and left it on the deck. I could have been anybody . It was like a ghost ship.
READ MORE: 3bn HMS Queen Elizabeth vulnerable to low-cost missiles 1 The photographer took the oppportunity to take footage of the new aircraft carrier when it arrived in Invergordon last month, piloting his DJI Phantom drone from the other side of the Cromarty Firth. The drone was equiped with anti-crash sensors which automatically land the aircraft if it is in danger.
The non-slip coating of the carrier s deck allowed the drone – which usually avoids steel structures – to touch down . The drone pilot then took a photograph and managed to take off again. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: We take the security of HMS Queen Elizabeth very seriously.
This incident has been reported to Police Scotland, an investigation is under way and we stepped up our security measures in light of it.
Australia s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said security had been increased at the country s airports after police foiled a terrorist plot to bring down a plane. Four men were arrested at the weekend following raids on homes in Sydney s suburbs . Security measures were extended to all major international and domestic terminals around Australia overnight. I can report that there has been a major joint counter-terrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane, Mr Turnbull said yesterday.
The operation is continuing. Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin said details were scant on the specifics of the attack, the location and timing . In recent days, law enforcement has been become aware of information that suggested some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an improvised devise, he said.
We are investigating information indicating the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack. Mr Turnbull advised travellers in Australia to arrive at airports earlier than usual two hours before departure to allow for extra security screening. Justice minister Michael Keenan said the plot was the 13th significant threat disrupted by police since Australia s terror threat level was elevated in 2014. Five plots have been executed. The primary threat to Australia still remains lone actors, but the events overnight remind us that there is still the ability for people to have sophisticated plots and sophisticated attacks still remain a real threat, Mr Keenan said . In light of this information, it s very important that everyone in Australia remains vigilant.
The operation was carried out by the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales state police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the country s main domestic spy agency. The investigation could continue for days, Mr Colvin added Deakin University security expert Greg Barton said that the first plot to target aircraft in Australia, an aspiration of many extremists, was a pretty big threshold moment .
We believe it s Islamic-inspired terrorism, he added when asked if the Islamic State terror group was behind the plot.
The plotters were apparently making a peroxide-based explosive device similar to the bomb used at in Manchester Arena attack in England on 22 May.
U.S . Secretary of State Rex Tillerson | Alex Wong/Getty Images
US national security officials worked on the language in between meetings in a fast-moving effort to send Syria a message.
6/28/17, 5:03 AM CET
President Donald Trump s blunt, public warning to the Syrian regime late Monday night was cobbled together in a series of hurried discussions, squeezed in between meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and kept among a small, tight circle of top officials. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both arrived at the White House late Monday afternoon, ahead of the Rose Garden ceremony at which Trump and Modi each read a prepared statement . Upon the Cabinet members arrival, according to a senior defense official, they were informed of Trump s plan to issue a public warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, based on new intelligence the Syrian regime3 was preparing another chemical weapons attack on its own people. National security adviser H.R .
McMaster, who also was at the White House for meetings, had already been briefed and had weighed in on the plan, administration sources said. But no stand-alone principals meeting followed to discuss the intelligence, which Trump received Monday morning, according to two senior administration officials. Rather, over the course of the day, officials said, McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson and a few other top officials had the opportunity to work the language of the statement, in between meetings with Modi . None of them expressed any hesitation or disagreement about the decision to issue a public warning, according to one of the senior administration officials.
But a Defense Department official acknowledged that the events were fast-moving and that there were minimal deliberations about the bold move and that only a limited number of top military officials were aware of the new intelligence and planned response. The episode marked another example of ongoing frustration between administration rank-and-file and leadership, which this time could carry serious consequences if the backbiting appears to weaken the U.S . government s resolve in turning up the pressure on Assad.
It hurts American credibility, said Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official who served under Secretary of State John Kerry . When the Syrian regime sees a report that government officials have no idea, the message to them is that these guys don t have their act together . And if nobody at State knows, it hurts your ability to follow up and have a diplomatic game plan.
But one former Obama administration official shrugged off the issues of communication between the White House and lower-level agency officials.
There s a broader issue here of effective coordination and communication sometimes the president contradicts his own people, Tom Donilon, President Barack Obama s former national security adviser, said in an interview . But I don t think that s the most important issue here . If, in fact, the United States has evidence that they re preparing a chemical attack, laying down a warning that you intend to follow through on is an appropriate thing to do. The careful language of the 87-word statement which was drafted by the afternoon but not released until close to 10 p.m . was cleared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Defense Department before it was blasted out from the press secretary s office.
On Tuesday, the White House insisted that military and State Department officials were not blindsided by the statement, which warned Assad that if he launches another chemical weapons attack, he and his military will pay a heavy price.
In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies including State, DoD, CIA and ODNI were involved in the process from the beginning, the White House said in a statement released Tuesday morning . Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false. Multiple administration officials said people surprised by the statement were simply not senior enough to be clued in and some said they were frustrated that a bold move by Trump, which they believed could save lives, was overshadowed by a side story about leaks and internal disagreements.
The story seems to be about whether or not a public affairs officer on a regional desk at the State Department was notified in what they would consider to be a timely manner, vented a third White House official . If Tillerson knew and some desk officer in the Middle East section didn t know, they need to take that up with Tillerson . It s not their right to know . It s his prerogative if he wants to share the information.
The move, and the frustration were reflective of the Trump administration s approach of making key decisions within a close, inner circle unlike the deliberative, and sometimes paralyzingly inclusive, decision making that defined Obama s process. Despite the confusion and complaints over who was looped in and when, foreign policy experts lauded Trump s choice to make a public statement rather than to try to pressure the Syrian regime through diplomatic back channels. The Trump administration realizes they re being dragged into a very dangerous situation, said Jim Jeffrey, a former U.S .
ambassador to Turkey and Iraq and deputy national security adviser for President George W . Bush . He said the U.S . approach to Assad so far had been a bunch of tit for tats that seemed to have no long-term impact.
The benefit of a public statement is they re now on record as saying, this shall not happen, Jeffrey added . There was a conscious decision made by the people who realize whatever we want to do in the Middle East, we re going to look like fools if they do this again, and we blow up a few more airplanes . We have to react very strongly to them. Trump s own seeming lack of interest in the issue, though, could also diminish the message s effect on Assad.
Instead of using the megaphone of his Twitter feed to amplify the White House statement, marked by his press office as urgent, Trump took to Twitter minutes after its release to harp on one of his personal obsessions . From @FoxNews Bombshell: In 2016, Obama dismissed idea that anyone could rig an American election . Check out his statement Witch Hunt ! the president tweeted.
He s very undisciplined, said Jeffrey . He does this all the time .
That s a separate problem .
But what s clear is that in the end, he goes along with what his top advisers tell him.
Bryan Bender contributed to this report.