London Bridge had fallen

This is not some event involving Mike Banning as the never failing US Secret Agent, it is also not a movie involving Gerard Butler in command of a Nuclear Submarine (Cool movie though). No this is reality!

In 2017, on June 3rd an attack took place, the inquest is still going on 2 years later. 3 people ramming pedestrians and after that ran into the public in the Borough Market area and decided to stab a whole lot more people. They were wearing fake explosives, carrying knives. That pretty much sums it up. In the end 8 died and 48 were wounded, the three ‘terrorists’ were killed in the process.

According to all sources these three were ‘inspired’ by ISIS.

I took notice of it initially, but it was not high on my radar, it got my attention again last week, but i was looking into the Strait of Hormuz issue. It kept at the back of my mind. So let’s start with last week: ‘MI5 admin errors meant attackers link ‘was missed’‘, it got to me as MI-5 does a whole lot of things, errors are actually quite rare and anyone stating that there should not be any errors is an idiot. Anything involving intelligence gathering is prone to issues. The right stage, the right interpretation, the right connections and the right actions. These are all matters that influence the stage. You can check this for yourself, go to any recruiter and apply for a job, what are the chances that he/she places you wrong or gives you less useful advice, considers you not to be the ‘right’ person for the job? That chance is rather high.

So when I see the BBC article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48626134) giving me: “Youssef Zaghba was stopped at Bologna airport in 2016 after telling staff he was going to Turkey to be a terrorist“, so in the clear setting of a first, a terrorist does not tell anyone he/she is one. The more verbose version is: “Asked why he was going to Turkey, he said to be “a terrorist” before quickly changing his answer to “tourist”, the court heard“, o now we get a person who is basically an idiot and customs has to deal with hundreds if not thousands on a daily basis. This part is already numb and done for. So at best we have a video game wannabe, at worst we have a person with mental health issues. At present neither two score high on the list, at most a police chat would have been warranted.

Regarding Zaghba we also see (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40169985) In 2016, Zaghba was stopped at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport by Italian officers who found ISIS-related materials on his mobile phone. So what materials were they? He apparently was placed on a watch list, which is shared with many countries including the UK, as such is he merely watched when he travelled or 24:7? There is a difference and one does not warrant the other.

Yet now there is a clarity of optional failure that is increased with: “Witness L, who is head of policy, strategy and capability for MI5’s international counter-terrorism branch, told the court MI6 did not translate the Italian request for two months – and then sent it to the wrong person in MI5“, not only is my question:

  1. How could this be send to the wrong person and why was there no return/response on wrongful send information?
  2. Then we get: ‘The optional escalation had 1 year to find corrections and optional change in surveillance. Why was this not done?
  3. How often is the shared list vetted and checked for additional information whether the watch list is still accurate and more important useful?

Three direct questions that now put MI-5 on the radar for a few failings. In addition we also need to enlarge the scope, if SIGINT is GCHQ, how was this optionally missed twice over?

There are also serious questions regarding the Lawyer of the 6 victims. When we see that he had: ‘previously told the court there had been missed opportunities to prevent the attack.‘ It is important to see this part. In another story we get: “Gareth Patterson, the lawyer representing several victims’ families, said there was evidence the attackers had been in contact since January 2017“, here I disagree to some degree, and with ““any reasonably competent investigation” had the chance to detect the planning that was going on between the three men” I disagree even further.

You see, when we look at the elements. The fake explosives means that it could have been made in any way, for the most stuff from a toy store might have sufficed, at most a stroll through B&Q or Wickes would have sufficed. Then there is the stage of interpreting the Zaghba part, a terrorist claiming to be one is not one. I would have been able to do all the needed parts without setting off any flags or alarms. The biggest risk I run is getting a lorry, they did not get one either for mere payment issues that one element also shows that they commenced a terrorist act, but were not terrorists (or almost the worst prepared one). The absence of planning, the absence of dotting the ‘i‘ and crossing the ‘t‘ is what sets them apart. Merely three men with water bottles, pretending that to be explosives, knives that one can buy at IKEA and when we learn that the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/10/worse-terror-attack-on-london-bridge-foiled-by-chance-police-say) that the van had “13 wine bottles containing flammable liquid with rags stuffed in them, essentially Molotov cocktails” that were either forgotten, or just ignored by these three, we see a wannabe terrorist who forgot that they had options to increase the death count by a lot. These are all elements that count, because MI-5 is there for serious threats and these three were seemingly ignoring all their options even during the event. Going back to the lorry, that one might be easy when I stalk the right bars and mickey the right person, with him tied up in the back of the van I could start my spree, no flag raised at all. In my case I would have been able to get the stuff that goes boom; I merely needed to change perspective on the how. All issues that would never raise a flag; that is what MI-5 has to deal with and they have the one additional benefit that they are on an island.

We agree that steps were missed on Zaghba, but none of this is still evident that it would have prevented the attack. The higher part is Khuram Shazad Butt, he has enough flags that warrant consideration, his presence is a real issue, yet how much flags did he raise before the attack? We seem to blame after the effect, yet in the UK we see more whingers and whiners on freedom and privacy than in most other places in the world, well, congratulations! If MI-5 had that data this might have been prevented, they did not. You wanted the Data Protection Act 2018, you got it, you wanted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and it was handed to you, you also face additional dangers because of it, so stop crying!

Back to the attack! I see Rachid Redouane as the actual fuse here. An illegal immigrant, a failed asylum seeker and he remained under the radar, also implying he could get a lot of stuff done whilst not being noticed, not getting noticed and working as a pastry chef, so how did he get that job? He was the part that Butt needed, and as such MI-5 had optionally even less to work with.

You see, when we look after the event, we might see issues to blame MI-5 (optionally GCHQ) with, but there are a lot more markers making at least 1 out of the three a dud from the start. And in all this, no one seems to realise that a failed Asylum seeker was hopping back and forth between the UK and Ireland, there is a larger failing in all this, yet I am stating that MI-5 was not it.

Yesterday

The Guardian yesterday (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/17/communication-issues-left-london-bridge-attack-casualties-without-first-aid) gives us the larger failing, but not in regards to the attack. When we see: ‘police waited for help that wasn’t coming‘ we feel anger and frustration, yet in which direction?

The first is seen with: “police and members of the public being left to treat victims of the London Bridge terror attacks and not knowing why paramedics were not coming to their aid“, as well as “when paramedics were told to evacuate the area, the officers in the courtyard were left treating the casualties on their own awaiting help that did not arrive” we get the first gist of it. You cannot send paramedics in a dangerous situation, we get it we understand it and we accept it. I believe that an alteration to the armed response unit is required. I believe that any armed response unit requires a trained medic to give first aid like in a metropolitan war zone. Yes, it would be great to send in the paramedics, but let’s be honest how would you feel when a police officer tells you: “Look, there are three terrorists over there somewhere, can you go into that place ad see if you can treat some of the wounded people?” I get it, plenty of them medics would, but it is optionally super reckless and highly irresponsible. The fact that the police was not properly warned on the spot could have been for several reasons, all unintentional. This is a situation that is not merely fluid, it involves a lot of people thinking on their feet, whilst running trying to scope the size of the issue in absence of reliable information. These are not mistakes made, they are to some extent coming from experience and actual successful attacks have been really rare, besides that at some point you cannot just call for boy scouts (SAS) at any point, time is a factor. So when I see: “Five people died in or around the courtyard, one of whom, Sebastian Belanger, 36, a French chef, could possibly have been saved if he had received swifter, higher-quality medical attention“, I accept the stage and I accept the premise, but the score on getting ‘higher-quality medical attention‘ is optionally not a realistic one, not in a location of armed conflict and so there we see the stage of time versus location versus available intelligence. We can jump high and low, but reality is a factor and I feel that the after the fact Monday morning quarterbacks are now feeding an inquest of what ‘might have been done’, and I accept I am in this view a Monday morning quarterback as well.

For the larger view we need to go to the actual inquest and I noticed something in day 20 (at https://londonbridgeinquests.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/LBI-Day-20.pdf). The transcript gives us a side that was not part of the actual attack, yet it does involve Khuram Butt, it is actually a lot more important than you think for two reasons on opposite sides of the scale. The transcript gives us:

Witness M, you will appreciate that the investigation that you are here to help us with lasted for something in the region of two years, so I ’ ve got a fair amount to cover but I ’ ll try to be as concise as I can be.

You were asked questions by Mr Hough about the Transport for London employment and you told us that there came a time when you and your team learnt about this job that Khuram Butt obtained working at Westminster underground station.

A: That is correct , yes.

Q: So can I be clear : you learnt about this after he had begun working at that station ?

A: I cannot recall at what stage we learnt about him either seeking out employment or having that employment.

Q: Was that something that you – –

A: But we were aware of the fact that he was working at London Underground.

Q: So it wasn’t something that you learned at the application stage before the decision had been made as to whether they should give him the job?

A: I cannot answer that.

Q: Were arrangements in place at the time for the counter terrorism police to be notified by Transport for London of the names of people applying to be employed by Transport for London in vulnerable locations ?

A: I ’m not aware of any such arrangement. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist , but it ’ s not something I’m aware of .

Q: So to this day can Transport for London receive applications by people who might be terrorist suspects, the subject of ongoing investigations , and then a decision made to employ them without you or your partner agency being notified ?

A: So, again, I can’ t categorically say whether that process exists . That sounds to me that it’s something, if it did exist , would be more in the ”protect” side of our business.

It is important, and let us look at both sides of this equation. On the one hand if there was stronger vetting there was a chance that Khuram Butt might have been stronger on the radar, yet the attack would not have been prevented as the London Underground was not a stage and was not used to set the stage, more importantly there was a chance to set off alarms within Khuram Butt making him a lot more cautious, optionally resorting to a different style of attack. On the other hand, we see that this path would have given MI-5 up to 1500% more work, so a lot less resources to deal with optional more serious threats.

We see more in Day 20 (on page 4, paragraph 9, 10). Here we see the flags issue I raised earlier and the questioning party who is seemingly not all up to date on intelligence, more on finding a part to blame. When we see:

Q: In September 2016 the categorisation was downgraded to P2M, so the risk is now a medium risk, you told us?

A: That is correct. Yes, it was categorised down to a P2M.

Q: And when you dealt with this in your report at paragraph 5.9, you linked this decision to the fact that there had been no indications of actual steps to plan an attack.

A: That’s correct, that is in my report.

Q: But as you’ve accepted a number of times, from the very start, this is somebody who had, throughout, exhibited a degree of operational security.

A: We see that across the entire range of individuals we investigate.

Q: Yes. But an ordinary member of the public with nothing to hide is unlikely to be taking steps to avoid surveillance or to hide their activities; would you agree?

A: He’s not an ordinary member — he was not an ordinary member of the public; he was under investigation.

Q: But that of itself rings alarm bells, doesn’t it , if he is positively taking steps to disguise what his activities are?

A: It’s concerning, but it becomes more concerning when it is attached to other intelligence around other activity. And that will elevate the risk and elevate our posture and our response.

Q: After that decision to recategorise as medium risk, he then re-engaged, you told us, with ALM in the autumn of 2016.

A: So that – – that’s correct, that was the assessment at the time that he started to re-engage with other ALM individuals.

Q: He was also identified as having an inflammatory presence around other extremists, wasn’t he?

A: How do we know that?

Q: Well, you confirmed yesterday that you were aware of that and that’s information that reached you via MI5. We see it in the report of Witness L at paragraph 116.

A: Okay. So I can’t say with any certainty I was aware of that before that time, but just the mere presence — the mere fact that he was associating with other ALM individuals or becoming further engaged is of concern

I see this as an issue. The issue is not the interview, the issue is the available resources and the questioning party seems to live in la la land as there is the consideration that at any time all resources are available, that one clear failure makes the inquest a problem to some extent and that is merely looking at one day, merely Day 20. The focus on Khuram Butt being an ‘inflammatory presence‘, we could argue that this is a good thing, we could argue that pushing other extremists before they are ready is one clear sign to botch attacks (MI-5 will be pleased), the two parts in the transcript give rise to a larger failing, in part the inquest is set to a stage it does not comprehend, it does not facilitate a stage of comprehension where it concerns lone wolves and wannabe’s. In the second degree we see the push regarding re-engagement and the consideration of a medium risk person. Even as there is no valid intelligence giving us that direct action was called for (implied at least). So when I see ‘there had been no indications of actual steps to plan an attack‘, my less diplomatic view towards the barrister would be ‘move the fuck onwards barrister‘, if there is no indication of actual steps, there is no indication for acceleration of increasing profile surveillance, the resources are just not there.

It is the largest failing, not merely the fact that there is no SIGINT working on data that could have been worked on, the stretch on resources, what is available, its definition and the stage of recognising on how to use resources are in the wind and that failing matters, because that recognition is essential to stop attacks by an actual terrorist, a lone wolf or a wannabe, and as long as that part is not clearly in play, there will be more successful attacks and here I regard the premise of a successful attack any attack where more than 5 lives were lost.

We need to accept that choices have impact, we need to see that the attacks will continue and until we find a better way to register dangers this is how it will be and we need to see that the failing was larger, but there is no one to actually blame.

Consider blaming customs for allowing a failed asylum seeker (Rachid Redouane) going back and forth between the UK and Ireland, getting other places to live, is that landlord to blame? There are cogs that are not working for numerous reasons and when we realise that ‘the machine‘ is off its mark by a decent amount, we do not get to blame MI-5 (or GCHQ for that matter). When we consider that Youssef Zaghba might have made a claim and if GCHQ had a right at that point to capture all data regarding that person, there might have been a chance that together with the Khuram Butt data there was a decent chance that this could have been stopped (in theory), but that was not an option was it? Here the Data Protection Act 2018, as well as the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stopped GCHQ from getting essential results to report to MI-5, you wanted this so from my point of view you have to accept the dead people too. You cannot get it both ways, it is just not on.

There is, as I personally see it a larger failure in play, it is not MI-5, it is not GCHQ, it is not the police, it is us and the bullshit setting of privacy whilst we hand over all of our private lives to Facebook and mobile game data collectors, we are doing this too, we ourselves. We can optionally argue that there needs to be a better direct action armed response unit with a trained medic in these teams, but that is an optional investigation for another day, one that is far far away.

 

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