British authorities thwarted a terror plot Tuesday to assassinate British Prime Minister Theresa May.
According to the Telegraph, Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, planned to detonate a homemade bomb at the gates of May’s Downing Street office, then, using the blast as a diversion, force his way into the building and kill the prime minister.
MI5, the United Kingdom’s counterterrorism security agency, foiled the alleged plot, which was the ninth jihadi plot that British authorities have thwarted in 2017. When police apprehended Rahman, he reportedly had two inert explosive devices in his possession.
Rahman has also been charged with “assisting another man to prepare separate acts of terrorism.” The London native appeared in court alongside co-defendant Mohammad Aqib Imran, 21, who is accused of “trying to join the Islamic State militant group in Libya.”
During a brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, prosecutor Mark Carroll detailed Rahman’s intentions.
“The secondary attack was to be carried out with a suicide vest, pepper spray and a knife,” he said. “His purpose was to attack, kill and cause explosions.”
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The news came just hours after the release of a report that British officials could have stopped the May 22 Manchester attack, when an Islamic terrorist detonated a nail bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, leaving 22 dead and 119 injured. Ten of the dead were under the age of 20. The youngest was 8 years old.
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the report “will be a difficult read for everyone in Manchester and most particularly for the bereaved families and those still recovering from the attack.”
“I accept its conclusion that there is no way of knowing whether the Manchester attack could have been stopped,” Burnham said. “But it is clear that things could — and perhaps should — have been done differently.”
The May 22 attack was the worst since the 2005 London bombings, when four Islamic terrorists coordinated explosions on underground trains, killing 52 and injuring 784.
England has faced a sharp rise in jihadi activity, with more foiled terror plots in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016.
Three of this year’s suicide bombers “were on MI5’s radar.”
During a speech in October, MI5 director Andrew Parker said the U.K. has seen “a dramatic upshift in the threat” from Islamist jihadism. “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before,” Parker said. “It’s at the highest tempo I have seen in my 34-year career. Today, there is more terrorist activity, coming at us more quickly, and it can be harder to detect.”