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Saturday, 24 February

A Week of Terror Arrests and Convictions

The week ending May 5 saw substantial activity from Officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command (SO15). Below, under Previous Reporting, we have stories that appeared elsewhere (See News; and Security sections). We start with updates on arrests.

The evening of Thursday May  4 saw a 30-years-old man arrested at London Heathrow Airport as he disembarked a flight from Istanbul, Turkey.

He has been detained on suspicion for preparing for terrorist acts and terrorist training. He has been taken to a south London police station. Officers are at present searching a residential address in east London.

 

Update on arrests related to the Harlesden Road counter terrorism operation

Warrants of further detention have been granted for six women arrested by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command: a 21-year-old woman arrested on 30 April, having been discharged from hospital, a 20-year-old arrested on 27 April at the address in Harlesden Road; a 43-year-old arrested on 27 April in Kent; two 18-year-olds and one 19-year old arrested on 1 May at an address in east London.

All were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist acts and detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Two men - aged 21 and 28  - and a 16-year-old boy, all arrested on the 27 April either in or close to the Harlesden Road address, have now been released without charge.

 

A man arrested in Whitehall remains in custody

The 27-year-old man who was arrested in Whitehall on Thursday, 27 April, in Parliament Street by armed officers from the Met's Specialist Firearms Command remains in police custody, with a warrant of further detention granted on Wednesday. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Knives have been recovered from him. The man is being detained under the Terrorism Act and remains in custody at a south London police station.

 

PREVIOUS REPORTING

Wham, Bam, It's Jail for Sam the Cufflink Man

As reported by much of the mainstream media on the morning of Tuesday May 2 (and first by ThisWeekinFM on March 22) a Cardiff man has pleaded guilty to five terrorism offences. He has now been sentenced to eight years' imprisonment

 

Cufflink USB

The judge sentenced 34-year-old Samata Ullah, from Cardiff to: four years' imprisonment for membership of a proscribed organisation, namely ISIS; eight years, with a five year extension period, for terrorist training and a separate charge of preparation for terrorism; six years' imprisonment for possession of an article - namely a USB cufflink - for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism; six years' imprisonment for possession of articles - namely a book about guided missiles and a PDF version of a book about advanced missile guidance and control - for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.

All sentences will run concurrently.

 

Details

The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command - supported by MI5, the National Digital Exploitation Service and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU) - launched an investigation into Ullah after receiving intelligence from the Kenyan Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Police who had arrested a man in Kenya on 29 April 2016 and analysed his electrical devices. The analysis showed he was in regular contact with someone of a similar extremist mindset and the pair had discussed developing the specialist skills to assist ISIS in their campaign of terror.

The Met and its partners worked together to establish that Ullah was the man communicating with the Kenyan suspect.

Upon arresting Ullah at his home on 22 September 2016, they seized around 200 pieces of evidence, including 150 digital devices. From these devices, they retrieved eight terabytes of data - equivalent to more than 2.2million copies of the War and Peace eBook.

Around 100 detectives worked on the investigation into Ullah's activities, establishing that Ullah was not just a supporter of ISIS but an active member. They found evidence that he assisted others who shared his mindset, teaching them how to keep their actions and communications secret.

He assisted in the development of a website with the purpose of helping people prepare for acts of terrorism - specifically hacking into computers. Numerous documents and videos found on his devices and his own communications revealed his radical mind-set. Items found by officers when they searched Ullah's home included 30 USB cufflinks - and on one of these he had saved infamous ISIS publications.

 

Attacks on crowded places

Commander Dean Haydon, MPS Counter Terrorism Command, said: "Just because Ullah's activity was in the virtual world we never underestimated how dangerous his activity was. He sat in his bedroom in Wales and created online content with the sole intention of aiding people who wanted to actively support ISIS and avoid getting caught by the authorities.

"This is just the sort of information that may have helped people involved in planning devastating, low technical level, attacks on crowded places as we have seen in other cities across the world.

"This conviction is a success, but we need to keep succeeding, which makes it important that we all remain vigilant and people act at the earliest opportunity by calling us confidentially if they are concerned about any suspicious activity."

 

Bank Holiday Monday - More Terrorism Arrests

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command arrested three young women on terrorism charges on Bank Holiday Monday.

Two of the women are aged just aged 18. The other only 19. They have been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist acts under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. They are currently in custody at a police station outside of London.

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing operation in connected to an address in Harlesden in London where six people were recently arrested - a seventh (a woman who was shot at the scene) has now also been arrested following her discharge from hospital.

 

Previous arrests

An address in Harlesden Road, NW10, was the scene of a shooting of a 21-year-old woman by armed counter terrorism officers on April 27. She was taken to hospital and on the afternoon of Sunday, April 30, arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. She has been taken into custody at a south London police station.

Six other people who were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist acts remain in custody: A 21-year-old man arrested near Harlesden Road; A 20-year-old woman arrested at the address in Harlesden Road; A 43-year-old woman arrested in Kent; A 16-year-old boy arrested at the address in Harlesden Road; A 28-year-old man arrested at the address in Harlesden Road; A 28-year-old woman arrested at the address in Harlesden Road.

Warrants of further detention were granted at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday, April 29. These allow the six suspects to be detained until dates between May 2 and May 4. They are currently in custody at a south London Police station.

The address in Harlesden Road and persons connected with it had been under observation by counter terrorism officers as part of an ongoing operation. Searches at the address are ongoing, as well as two further searches at linked addresses elsewhere in London.

Speaking on April 28, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said: "Due to the arrests made, I believe we have contained the threats that they posed."

 

Minutes from Canary Wharf Devastation

Twenty-year-old student Damon Joseph Smith, has been found guilty at the Old Bailey of leaving a rucksack ball bearing and shrapnel bomb on a Jubilee Line Tube Train.

 

Bomb discovered

On October 20 2016, officers from the British Transport Police (BTP) were called to North Greenwich Underground Station after train staff reported finding a rucksack containing a suspicious device in the front carriage of a train travelling eastbound on the Jubilee Line.

The device had originally been discovered at Canary Wharf Station one of the busiest stations serving the massive London Docklands commercial area. The driver of the train was instructed to continue to North Greenwich Station which was evacuated at 11:00am. The device was later found to have been set to go off at 11:02am.

North Greenwich is just beyond Canary Wharf. However, the device had been left on the train at London Bridge - and so took several minutes to travel to its point of discovery. The Jubilee Line carries thousands of commuters each day in to one of the busiest commercial areas of London. If the bomb had gone off, it would have caused devastation.

North Greenwich station was evacuated while specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and BTP attended and made the item safe. It was taken away for forensic examination and subsequently found to be an improvised explosive device comprising of almost 153g of low explosive material and shrapnel, including ball bearings.

An investigation was immediately launched by detectives from the Met's Counter-Terrorism Command. As a result of extensive CCTV analysis, Smith was quickly identified as a suspect. He was captured on camera carrying a holdall shortly after 10:30am that morning as he entered Surrey Quays Station where he caught an Overground train to Canada Water before switching to a westbound Jubilee Line train. He got off at Southwark before boarding a train in the direction he had just come from.

Smith got off this tube train at London Bridge, leaving the rucksack - which had been concealed in the holdall - behind. There were at least 10 passengers in the carriage. 19 minutes had passed since he first entered Surrey Quays.

A passenger saw the abandoned bag and reported it to the driver at Canary Wharf. The driver, having noticed wires and a clock, radioed ahead and continued to North Greenwich.

As events developed, several miles away Smith casually made his way to university. He was arrested on October 21. He was taken to a south London police station where he was interviewed about his actions the previous day.

During a search of his home, officers found a blank firing pistol, a BB gun, a knife and knuckleduster. When officers examined his social media accounts they discovered that Smith had 'liked' a number of videos relating to explosions and had shared articles, on social media, about the current threat level.

More significantly, officers discovered a number of shredded documents. These were carefully reconstructed by a forensic scientist and found to be pages from an online magazine that gave instructions on bomb-making.

A 'shopping list' of bomb materials - created on 2 September 2016 - was recovered from his iPad. Components to make an IED were also found at the house.

Smith was charged on October 26 2016.

 

Harmless prank

Commander Dean Haydon, the head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "Throughout this investigation and subsequent trial, Smith claimed that his actions were meant as a harmless prank and that the object was nothing more than a smoke bomb.

"It is hard to believe that leaving what has been described as an improvised explosive device on a tube train, on a weekday morning, can be construed as anything but an attempt to endanger life. It is fortunate that the device failed to work and that no one was injured.

"At a time when the threat level remains at severe, I find it unlikely that anyone would consider his defence as an appropriate excuse for his actions. The jury rightly disagreed with him and I expect that Smith will now face a significant prison sentence."

 

Passengers alert

Assistant Chief Constable Alun Thomas, head of BTP’s Specialist Operations, said: “Smith’s unattended bag was spotted by a passenger who brought it to the attention of staff, who in turn contacted police. This highlights the importance of being vigilant when travelling on the railway network, and reporting anything suspicious.

“British Transport Police, along with our partners at the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police, regularly train and prepare for incidents such as this and were able to respond swiftly with their specialist skills.

"It is very fortunate that in this incident the device failed to work, was safely contained, and no one was injured. We are pleased that the jury returned a guilty verdict and hope the sentence will demonstrate that actions like Smith’s have very serious consequences and are never ‘a harmless prank’.”

 

Charge

The official charge was 'unlawfully and maliciously making or having in his possession or under his control an explosive substance with intent by means thereof to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the United Kingdom, contrary to the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

Smith will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on a date to be confirmed.

Picture: It's been a busy week ending May 5 for the Met's Counter Terrorism Command

 

 

 

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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