The security services1 successfully foiled more than 12 UK terror attacks2 last year, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon3 has revealed. In the aftermath of the Westminster attack4, however, the Defence Secretary also admitted that Britain now faced a new type of lone-wolf, low-tech terror threat that was much more difficult to prevent. Speaking the day after a terrorist used a car to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman outside Parliament5, Sir Michael told BBC Radio 4 s Today programme: This kind of attack, this lone wolf attack, using things from daily life a vehicle, a knife is much more difficult to forestall.
We are also dealing with a terrorist enemy that is not making demands or holding people hostage, but simply wants to kill as many people as possible so this is a new element to international terrorism.
This is a new type of attack where somebody gets hold of a vehicle and drives it into innocent people that also shows the moral vacuity of these terrorists.
But he insisted that the security services were successfully foiling terror plots, saying: The police and agencies that we rely on for our security have forestalled a large number of attacks in recent years over a dozen last year. This seems a significant increase on some previously disclosed figures. In October, Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police and the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said the security services had successfully foiled at least 10 attacks in the last two years.
Suggesting the scale of the threat faced by the UK, Mr Basu added: We continue to work at a relentless pace with our key partners, currently dealing with around 550 live cases at any one time. One attempted plot, it was revealed last August, had been thwarted in the final hours before the planned attack on a UK target. An operation run by GCHQ, the British intelligence and security organisation, used interception warrants to monitor phones owned by individuals linked to the 2015 plot, it was reported.
According to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, agents were then able to identify and intercept a would-be terrorist cell that was close to carrying out its plan. Answering questions about whether the security services had enough resources to deal with such levels of threat, Sir Michael Fallon revealed this had been reviewed at an emergency COBRA meeting chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday night. He said: We reviewed whether the Met had all the resources they need including military back up to deal with situations like this.
That is something we always review at the time.
There have been increases in the budgets of the security services over the last few years .
We will continue to keep that under review .
The police and the security agencies will have the resources they need.
- ^ security services (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ terror attacks (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Sir Michael Fallon (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Westminster attack (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ used a car to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman outside Parliament (www.independent.co.uk)
‘Complete and utter failure’ of White House security allows intruder to ‘rattle President’s back door’
The intruder1 who got into the White House2 last week managed to peer through a window and rattle a handle at the South Portico entrance known as the President s back door. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz called the incident “a complete and utter total failure” of the complex, high-tech security system. The US Secret Service put out a statement confirming the scale of the security breach which happened while Donald Trump3 was in residence, after an unnamed source leaked information to CNN.
The intruder, named as 26-year-old Californian resident Jonathan T Tran, was in the building for nearly 17 minutes before he was arrested and was seen hanging around outside hours before. Mr Tran carried a back pack with mace and a letter for the President as he scaled three fences up to eight feet high to gain access. Despite activating alarms, he was able to give secret service officers the slip at one security point by hiding behind a pillar of the East Wing entrance.
He was reportedly seen in the Pennsylvania Avenue area as early as 6pm, almost six hours before he was arrested. Mr Chaffetz, who was briefed by Homeland Security, confirmed the intruder managed to “rattle the door handle”, but he did not gain entrance and was eventually arrested at 11.38pm last Friday. He said security staff were left angry and frustrated that they had struggled to locate the man after he set off multiple security sensors.
That’s why we spend billions of dollars on personnel and dogs and technologies and fences and undercover people and video surveillance, Mr Chaffetz said.
And yet the person is able to get up close to the White House and spend 17 minutes before he’s apprehended . That’s unbelievable.
He said his committee learned of additional allegations that weren’t in the original affidavit given to the court, including triggered alarms that were ignored and that the suspect may have moved around on the White House grounds undetected for a considerable amount of time . Mr Chaffetz said the suspect also may have attempted entry into the building .
If true, these allegations raise questions about whether the agency’s security protocols are adequate.”
The White House has a complex web of security in its different zones, with the system mostly relying on infrared and microwave technology to trigger alarms but these can be subject to malfunction and false activation. More than 50 interviews have so far been conducted as part of the ongoing investigation which has included scrutiny of video footage and radio transmissions.
The Secret Service statement said immediate steps had been taken to tighten up security, including additional posts, technology enhancements and response protocols.
The men and women of the Secret Service are extremely disappointed and angry in how the events of March 10 transpired, the statement said. When approached by a Secret Service officer on the south grounds and asked whether he had a pass authorising him to be in the restricted area, Mr Tran replied, No, I am a friend of the President . I have an appointment, according to a Washington DC police report. Asked how he got there, he said he jumped the fence.
After the incident, the Secret Service insisted the President was never in danger . Mr Trump said the intruder was a troubled person and praised the service, saying it had done a fantastic job in apprehending the individual. Mr Tran was charged with entering or remaining in restricted grounds while using or carrying a dangerous weapon, and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s office.
No hazardous materials were found in the intruder’s backpack and a search of the north and south grounds complex found nothing of concern according to reports. Standard practice in dealing with White House intruders is for security to hand them over to the local police department, as happened in this case. This was the first known security incident since Mr Trump took office, although there have been a number of incidents of people gaining access to the White House grounds over the past few years.
In 2014, 42-year-old Omar Gonzales, from Texas, made it through the north portico doors with a three-and-a-half-inch folding knife in his pocket before he was apprehended, according to the Secret Service . The Obama family was not at the White House at the time. Four sitting presidents have been assassinated, the last being John F Kennedy in 1963, and there have been more than 20 known attempts to kill sitting and former presidents.
A swathe of the London Bridge1 area was evacuated as police investigated a security alert sparked by a suspicious vehicle. Office workers were told to stay indoors and away from windows and the bus station and part of the train station were cleared of passengers after officers were called to a security alert in London Bridge street on Tuesday afternoon. The road bridge was also closed to traffic and some buildings including a gym and a cocktail bar were evacuated.
A police disposal robot was deployed at the scene as part of the ongoing investigation. Security alert: Police stand guard at a cordon outside London Bridge bus station (@ElizabethArgyll)
Photos posted on social media show police guarding several cordons. Witnesses described seeing a swarm of emergency services vehicles descending on the area.
The incident was stood down at 3.30pm after the vehicle was found to be no suspicious, police said. A bomb disposal robot was deployed (@CloJo26)
A woman, who was evacuated from a nearby gym, told the Standard: “The bus station just outside is closed – someone mentioned a suspicious vehicle but that was a bystander rather than a police officer.
“Looks like some of the office buildings may have been evacuated . The rail station is apparently open if you access via the escalator under the Shard.
“There are lots of police vehicles and at least two fire engines are onsite.”
Police cleared the area (@ayoungmarketer)
In a series of tweets, Elizabeth Argyll, a photographer who was caught up in the evacuation, said: “Police are clearing the area . Trains have been moved out of London Bridge station.
“It’s now no longer calm . Police rushing people to get away . Only one exit so gridlock.”
She later added: “They’re extending the evacuation area.”
Journalist Anila Dhami tweeted: “#LondonBridge station evacuated . Loads of security services including police and fire .
Large area cordoned off with more police arriving.”
Lizzie Pook, a freelance journalist, was evacuated from cocktail bar London Grind. She wrote: “Just been evacuated from #LondonGrind in #London bridge . Being shouted at a lot by police to hurry up across the bridge.”
Paul Vanston wrote: “Best avoid area: Full security alert for #LondonBridge
“King William St sealed off to traffic . Bridge closed to pedestrians #Blackfriars open.”
A Met Police spokesman said: We were called to a security alert in London Bridge street at 1.40pm . The bus station and part of the rail station were evacuated as a precaution.
“The incident is was stood down at 3.30pm.
British Transport Police wrote on Twitter: “Specialist officers from BTP are assisting @metpoliceuk investigate a security alert at London Bridge .
Station is currently closed.”