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Police Scotland steps up security at mosques after terror attack

Armed police are being deployed amid heightened security at Scotland s mosques after a terror attack on worshippers in London. Darren Osborne, 47, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder1 after a van was driven into pedestrians near Finsbury Park Mosque in the early hours of Monday morning. Police Scotland said it would have an increased presence at the country s 84 mosques to provide reassurance to local communities. One man died in London following the attack on those leaving evening prayers after breaking the Ramadan fast. Witnesses described hearing the man, who was detained by members of the public at the scene, shout: I m going to kill Muslims. Police confirmed searches were being carried out at a residential address in the Welsh capital. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said: Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident at Seven Sisters Road and their families, friends and communities.

This is being treated as a terrorist incident and is being investigated by the counter terrorism command. The investigation is ongoing and we are working fast to know the full details of how and why this took place. All the victims were from the Muslim community and we will be deploying extra police patrols to reassure the public, especially those observing Ramadan.

Earlier in the day, security minister Ben Wallace confirmed the attacker was not known to the intelligence services. He said: What I can say on this case is this individual, so far as we know at the moment, was not known to us, but we are aware of a rise in the far right. The attacker, who is believed to have acted alone, struck as the area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at the mosque. Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the incident as every bit as sickening as the recent atrocities in London and Manchester. After meeting faith leaders at Finsbury Park Mosque, she said: The terrible terrorist attack which took place last night was an evil borne out of hatred and it has devastated a community. I am pleased to have been here today to see the strength of that community coming together, all faiths united in one desire to see extremism and hatred of all sorts driven out of our society.

There is no place for this hatred in our country today and we need to work together as one society, one community, to drive it out, this evil which is affecting so many families. Police and community leaders have praised those who restrained the van driver and stopped others from attacking him before police arrived. Imam Mohammed Mahmoud was hailed for his efforts to calm the chaotic situation in the aftermath of the attack and was said to have used his body to shield the suspected terrorist from the fury of onlookers. Witnesses said the suspect was smiling and waving as he brought carnage to Seven Sisters Road, with video posted online showing him give a nonchalant wave as police put him in the back of their vehicle. Other footage showed a scene of chaos as people could be heard shouting and screaming amid the chaos, with bloodstains visible on the pavement. One witness described being surrounded by bodies in the wake of the incident outside the nearby Muslim Welfare House.

Another witness, who wanted to be identified as Abdulrahman, which is not his real name, said: I managed to get the driver of the van. He wanted to run away and was saying I want to kill Muslims. So he came back to the main road and I managed to get him to the ground and me and some other guys managed to hold him until the police arrived. Abdulrahman claimed the driver said Kill me , as he was being held on the ground. He is also alleged to have told the injured: You deserve it. Officers were in the immediate vicinity as the attack unfolded and responded within one minute. Police declared it a terrorist incident within eight minutes. After chairing a meeting of the Government s Cobra emergencies committee earlier, Mrs May said the attack was every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life as the recent string of terror attacks apparently motivated by Islamist extremism. We will stop at nothing to defeat it, she added.

Eight people were taken to hospital, with one since discharged, while two others were treated at the scene. All of the casualties were Muslims. Police said it was too early to say if the man who died did so directly because of the attack, as he was already receiving first aid from the public at the scene when it happened. Images of the van used in the attack showed it was rented from Pontyclun Van Hire in Pontyclun, near Cardiff. South Wales Police are working with officers from London on the investigation. Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid also visited the scene and said he will seek advice from the local community as to what measures the authorities can take to give Muslims across the country maximum reassurance that they are being protected.

The perpetrator of this attack – and those terrible attacks that we saw recently in Manchester and London – their intention is to seek to divide society . My message to them is that they will always, always fail, he said. Flowers have been laid near the scene, with one card reading: This is an attack on all Londoners – and on my community. In a statement, the Muslim Council of Scotland condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms . It said: This attack was aimed directly at the vibrant Muslim community during the month of Ramadan at a time when many families would have been returning home after night time prayers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the injured and anyone affected by this tragedy .

Our heart goes out to the people of London who have been through so much in the last few months and are still waiting for news on many friends and family in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This attack goes to show how hate and terrorism has no religion or face . The motive of these people is to spread division .

Together, as a united community, we can defeat those who seek to divide us. Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer, of Police Scotland, said: There is no specific threat to Scotland, however, Police Scotland is increasing armed patrols in response to the attack in London. We continue to engage with all communities providing reassurance and appropriate support.

Communities absolutely do defeat terrorism: if you see or hear something that could be terrorist related, act on your instincts and call the police on 101 or, in emergency 999, or in confidence on 0800 789 321.

References

  1. ^ has been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder (www.scotsman.com)

Armed police and increased security at Edgbaston cricket

There were long queues for cricket fans heading to Edgbaston this morning for the Australia v England ICC Champions Trophy. The Edgbaston road was closed this morning from 8am till 11am and will be closed again for two hours at the end of the match1 between 6pm – 8pm. Armed police were dotted along the roads as people headed into the ground and strict security checks were in place at the gates.

No change to the teams today with Worcestershire’s Moeen Ali, Nottinghamshire’s fast bowler Jake Ball and Alex Hales included. England: Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan (captain), Stokes, Buttler (wicketkeeper), Moeen, Rashid, Plunkett, Wood, Ball. Australia: Warner, Finch, Smith (captain), Henriques, Maxwell, Head, Wade (wicketkeeper), Starc, Cummins, Zampa, Hazlewood.

References

  1. ^ two hours at the end of the match (www.itv.com)

Spotlight falls on Theresa May’s mixed security record

LONDON Often frivolous and meandering, the British election campaign has found a clear focus in these closing days: It s security and Theresa May s record on it. The shock of two terrorist attacks in as many weeks is casting a spotlight on policing, intelligence and counterterrorism and May s oversight of this domain, first as the longest-serving home secretary since World War II and for the past year as prime minister . The closing arguments concern what she did or didn t do, and who s best placed to lead the U.K . into the future. Notably and somewhat incongruously, the prime minister and her opponent Jeremy Corbyn seem to see in security a winning hand for themselves .

Both can t be right, of course . But their ability to tap into the national mood in a way that resonates before Thursday s election may help decide the outcome, and shape the British approach to fighting terrorism for years to come.

Duelling press conferences

To the Tories, the prime minister s strength is her reputation as an experienced and tough securocrat, which her campaign contrasts with Corbyn s perceived weaknesses on security . His alleged associations with the IRA and past opposition to anti-terror laws leave him exposed to Tory attacks . Yet the Labour campaign has turned the attention as well to what it perceives as May s own underappreciated vulnerability: her responsibility for cuts in police funding1 pushed through by her successive Conservative governments.

Spotlight Falls On Theresa May's Mixed Security Record

Theresa May during a campaign rally on June 5, on the first day of resumed campaigning after the attacks | Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Neither May nor the Labour leader wasted any time to pivot hard to security hours after three assailants killed seven people2 near London Bridge . Early on Sunday, the prime minster made an angry and to most ears, unusually political statement outside Number 10 Downing Street that enough is enough 3 and pledged a crackdown on Islamist extremism . Later that evening, Corbyn responded4 in political kind, accusing May of shortchanging police and attempting to protect the public on the cheap. The two kept it up in duelling press conferences on Monday .

May returned to the Whitehall library where a year ago she launched her bid to lead the Conservative party5 to talk about leadership . Corbyn would have no time for learning on the job, she said . Corbyn, in turn, pointed to a fall of almost 20,000 in the number of police officers since 2010 even calling on May to resign over the issue6.

Spotlight Falls On Theresa May's Mixed Security Record

Jeremy Corbyn during a minute silence for victims of the Manchester terror attack, before making a speech on defense | Carl Court/Getty Images

Soon after, Labour gathered union leaders to highlight the cost of austerity to frontline emergency services imposed by Conservative governments . Nobody here will say: If it wasn t for this cut, that wouldn t have happened , Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, which represents the police, said at the event . It would be folly to say so . But what we can say is that the figures speak for themselves and questions need to be asked.

Police cut, MI5 protected

If facts matter, Labour s attack line on cuts is well-founded insofar as the police are concerned . Government figures show the total number of officers in England and Wales fell from 143,734 in March 2010 to 124,066 in March 2016 . In the same time period, the number of armed officers fell from 6,653 to 5,639.

The commissioner of London s Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, was careful not to wade into a political row when she appeared BBC Radio 4 s Today program7 Monday, but did say that the police and security services had to step up their game in countering terrorism and that included the need to look at resourcing. But in defending her record during her press conference, May pointed out that despite the wider cuts, counter-terrorism budgets had been protected . The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that the Met is well-resourced, and they are, and that they have very powerful counter-terrorism capabilities, and they do . We have protected counter-terrorism policing budgets, she told journalists gathered at the headquarters of the Royal United Services Institute.

The same goes for the domestic intelligence services, said Malcolm Rifkind, a former Conservative foreign secretary and ex-chair of Parliament s intelligence and security committee . The resources for the security services have increased dramatically over the last 10 years since the 2005 London bombings, he said.

Conservative government cuts to police showed a callous disregard for our safety Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union that represents British Transport Police staff

According to government figures, spending on the security and intelligence agencies domestic security service MI5, foreign intelligence service MI6 and surveillance agency GCHQ increased from 1.93 billion in 2010/11 to 2.6 billion in 2015/16. Praising May s record at the Home Office, Rifkind said that the security services would be deeply disappointed they had been unable to prevent the recent attacks, but said there was a limit to what additional resourcing of police and security services could do.

The real practical issue is not the number of police, he added . The practical problem is that MI5 and the intelligence agencies have literally thousands of individuals on their books who are known to have radical opinions Even when they have reason to suspect such individuals to be moving in that direction, the law does not allow the security services to take action and you can never have sufficient manpower to have 24-hour surveillance of thousands of people, or hundreds of people. David Wells, a former intelligence officer at GCHQ, said that it was too early to pin any blame on the intelligence services, but warned that the next government, of whichever stripe, would find no quick fixes to the terror threat facing Britain.

As of the London Bridge attack it s too early to determine if it was a failure of security services Yes, you could hire new personnel but it would take time to train and vet them, he said.

Dereliction of duty

While chinks is May s armor are hard to find with regards to the security services, she may be more vulnerable to questions about the austerity agenda s impact on frontline public services during her years at the Home Office. The strategy of linking the attacks to austerity is not universally backed within Labour. In his first speech after the attack, Corbyn on Sunday night attempted to capture the mood8 of gratitude to the police and other emergency services by reminding voters that he was the candidate promising to give public sector workers a pay rise .

They cannot just get warm words for their heroism, they deserve our respect every day, he said. The strategy of linking the attacks to austerity is not universally backed within Labour, with one senior party figure with expertise in security matters saying that if it weren t for the election campaign, police cuts would not be on the agenda . We just don t know enough about it, said the former Labour parliamentarian who asked to remain unnamed.

But at the union event Monday Serwotka, the union chief, was clear that it would be a dereliction of duty for him and his colleagues not to speak out and Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, which represents British Transport Police staff, said the cuts had shown a callous disregard for our safety. Such attacks on May s record from the Labour party and its backers are familiar . Whether or not they have more cut-through in the wake of recent tragedies will be clearer Friday morning when the vote tally comes in.

Related stories on these topics:

References

  1. ^ cuts in police funding (www.politico.eu)
  2. ^ killed seven people (www.politico.eu)
  3. ^ enough is enough (www.politico.eu)
  4. ^ Corbyn responded (www.politico.eu)
  5. ^ a year ago she launched her bid to lead the Conservative party (www.politico.eu)
  6. ^ May to resign over the issue (www.politico.eu)
  7. ^ when she appeared BBC Radio 4 s Today program (www.politico.eu)
  8. ^ attempted to capture the mood (www.politico.eu)