A top US security chief has warned that Islamic State militants are planning another huge terror attack on the same scale as 9/11. The acting Secretary of Homeland Security in the United States, Elaine Duke, warned that recent attacks involving knives and vehicles were to keep followers of the terror group engaged. But she said that US intelligence suggested extremists are planning an attack involving a big explosion to cause maximum casualties.
She also said it was clear terrorists want to hijack planes to target civilians, mirroring the devastating attack in the US in 2001.
Ms Duke warned of the threat at an event in London (AFP/Getty Images)
The MailOnline reported that Ms Duke, speaking at an event at the US Embassy in London, said: The terrorist organisations, be it ISIS or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11 . They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that.
However, in the interim they need to keep their finances flowing and they need to keep their visibility high and they need to keep their members engaged, so they are using small plots and they are happy to have small plots. Referring to a series of recent atrocities in which terrorists have attacked people using knives or vehicles, she said: Creating terror is their goal and so a van attack, a bladed weapon attack, causes terror and continues to disrupt the world but does not mean they ve given up on a major aviation plot.
Her warning comes after MI5 director general, Andrew Parker, said the UK faced its biggest terror threat yet.
Terror threat: Islamic state (AP)
The chief of the normally secretive organisation gave a speech warning that it was taking less time for terrorists to plan attacks as they could exploit safe spaces online to evade detection. And Ms Duke said the internet was providing the means for more home-grown terrorists in the US through the use of propaganda.
She added that one of the biggest threats to the safety of aviation travel was the free movement of goods and people between countries.
What we believe is that because of the movement of goods and people, we have to raise the baseline worldwide, we can t only consider our borders, she said. She said US officials have strong measures in place to prevent another attack but added: Terrorists are strong, they are adaptable and the terrorist threat is the highest it has been since pre-9/11 .
We have got to have every tool that s possible.
Almost 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attack when planes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
- ^ UK facing ‘worst terror threat in 34 years’ warns MI5 chief (www.standard.co.uk)
- ^ Lack of police helicopters could put lives at risk in terror attacks (www.standard.co.uk)
Revealed: hero security guard single-handedly took on smash-and-grab gang armed with sword at central London …
A hero security guard who tried to tackle a gang of armed smash and grab raiders at a West End store told today how they rushed at him with a sword. The security guard confronted the gang of six moped robbers as they launched a terrifying raid on Mappin & Webb jewellers in Regent Street using hammers to break display cabinets before snatching handfuls of high value watches. Three raiders rushed inside the store and raided cabinets while three accomplices waited outside on revved-up scooters during the three minute raid at 7.20pm last night.
The guard, who is pictured challenging the men as they fled, told the Standard: I saw them going in . I radioed through attack attack to all the other businesses.
The security guard said the men came at him with a sword
I tried to tackle them but one guy came at me with a sword . They broke in and I was fighting them . We were punching each other . They escaped on three bikes. He said the gang was armed with an axe and machetes and claimed that he recognised one of the robbers from a previous raid.
Forensic officers at the scene of the raid (Nigel Howard)
The guard added: He is not a kid he is about 35 or 36 . I have tackled him before on another attempted robbery . We looked each other in the eye and recognised each other.
They were waving a huge sword – I was just trying to make sure everyone was safe and scare them off.
When the smoke came they panicked . They ran and then got on three bikes.
The robbers fled on a single moped before police arrived (PA)
Police told how during the raid, at 7.20pm yesterday, members of the public confronted the gang, who were wielding bats, machetes and hammers, causing them to abandon the robbery . Passers-by even tried to pursue them through streets crowded with commuters and shoppers. One abandoned his moped at the scene and another appears to have crashed after reports that he collided with a pedestrian in Oxford Street.
A shop worker who saw one crash said: It careered along the road . They were carrying bags and I thought they were mugging people . One guy was chasing them and pulling at the bags and they came off . It was a chaotic scene . A cyclist swerved to avoid a moped and hit a wall, suffering minor injuries.
Elisa Coassin, 19, who was working nearby, said: There was a stampede of people running towards us . We were so scared . People were screaming, Something s happening, there is someone with a machete.
Six men reportedly smashed open cabinets with a hammer and machete (PA)
I saw two motorbikes waiting and I think they saw me looking so I started running away . The whole shop was full of smoke . I thought it was a terrorist attack when I saw the look on everyone s faces. Ed Kelsey, 34, who was refurbishing the HSBC bank opposite, said: We heard a lot of shouting and I came to the window and saw a couple of mopeds with passengers on the back holding baseball bats shouting and trying to keep people away . It was very organised and professional, like something out of a heist movie .
They were in and out in three minutes.
Police investigate the incident at the Mappin & Webb store on Regent Street (PA)
The gang threatened customers and security guards when they stormed into Mappin & Webb . One staff member said: They came in with helmets on and waving machetes around . We have procedures, so all staff managed to get off the shop floor . Everyone is shocked but no one was hurt. Detective Inspector Mike Nolan, of the Met s Flying Squad, said: Members of the public were running at the people waiting on bikes, shouting things like, Get them.
“Some members of the public chased after them . Thankfully, no one was injured . The actions of the public and the security guards prompted them to run out .
They panicked and rode recklessly in different directions.
He appealed for people who filmed the raid on phones to contact police .
The raiders wore dark clothing and helmets .
Anyone with information should call 0208 785 8655 or Crime-stoppers on 0800 555111.
Natural History museum crash sparks call for heightened security to protect visitors and tourist from boss of the V&A
The director of the Victoria and Albert Museum today said action was needed to protect visitors outside the attraction after a car crash left 11 people injured and sparked fears of a terror attack. Tristram Hunt said the incident highlighted the confusing and dangerous situation on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, which is shared by both pedestrians and traffic. The former Labour MP, who took the helm at the V&A in February, told the Standard: The safety and security of our visitors, staff and volunteers is paramount, and the current arrangements are confusing, dangerous and unsatisfactory.
Saturday s incident has made it clear that we need a solution, and we will be working together with our neighbouring organisations, residents and the council to address this.
Empty tables in a restaurant near the Natural History Museum in South Kensington (EPA)
Armed police swarmed Exhibition Road after a black Toyota Prius mounted the pavement and ploughed into pedestrians outside the museum at about 2.20pm on Saturday. The driver of the car, reported to be a minicab, was pinned down by passers-by before being arrested . Scotland Yard has since confirmed it is treating the crash as a road traffic collision and not terror-related.
Police and ambulance vehicles inside a police cordon after a serious incident in South Kensington (Darryl Hannah)
Nine people were taken to hospital mostly with minor leg and head injuries, London Ambulance Service said. Some 11 million people a year use Exhibition Road, which also runs past cultural attractions including the Science Museum and the Natural History museum.
A 30 million scheme to transform the boulevard into a kerb-free shared space was completed in 2012 after three years of construction work. Despite winning plaudits from architecture critics, the scheme has faced criticism from safety campaigners who believe the layout is dangerous for pedestrians.
Incident: Police outside the Natural History Museum in South Kensington (@damohack)
A 2015 report commissioned by former Paralympic swimmer Lord Holmes of Richmond, who is blind, described such shared spaces as frightening and intimidating . In June Mr Hunt revealed his desire to ban cars completely from Exhibition Road in an attempt to pedestrianise Albertopolis , a 19th century nickname for the area inspired by Queen Victoria s husband Prince Albert.
Mr Hunt today said everything should be on the table to make the area safer, including banning traffic entirely or limiting access to certain times of the day. He added: We believe that reviving the original vision for Albertopolis as an open, civic space and shared cultural quarter will greatly improve the experience for all visitors to one of the world s great cultural destinations.
Most people agree the current template isn t working . We ve been in contact with the borough . They understand it s an issue.
We think the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea should work with us, the museums and the community to find a way forward.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit at Merton Traffic Garage on 020 8543 5157, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A 47-year-old man was released yesterday under investigation after being arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.