Tag Archives: Rachid Redouane

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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How to get yourself killed

On the edge of the elections, we see new developments in a few areas. The issue is not the people trying to keep others safe; it is now to some extent the law that is aiding people getting killed. Here we see the first of a few issues, that first one being the Human Rights Act 1998. Now, let’s be clear! I am not against the HRA. The issue is that it is now protecting terrorists in completing their goals, which was not what it was intended to do. That issue is seen at the very beginning of article 2.1. Here we see: ‘Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

This gives us that Terrorists cannot be hunted down; the first rule is to capture them alive, whilst knowingly endangering the lives of many. In addition we see articles 6, 7 and 8 messing things up (in light of terrorism); still it is not a failure of the law.

The issue is that these laws were never designed with the abundance of terrorism to the amount we see nowadays. The fact that any armed police action, aimed on capturing terrorists is placing them in harm’s way, but in an unrealistic and unacceptable way. A policeman’s life is set to a higher degree of danger, whilst giving the terrorist a prolonged time to act out the acts of terrorism. It is in this light that we should see ‘May: I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/06/theresa-may-rip-up-human-rights-laws-impede-new-terror-legislation). There is a growing concern that the laws of our nations have been a hindrance in dealing with acts of terrorism. In addition we see another return with “It is possible May’s plans could involve seeking further derogations from the ECHR. This is the way the government is seeking to prevent human rights claims against soldiers in future military situations“, the question is not just in the laws, the issue we see with “May was then repeatedly challenged about how the Home Office, police and intelligence services dealt with the information relating to the attackers, after Boris Johnson, her foreign secretary, said MI5 had questions to answer. One of the attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, had been reported to the anti-terror hotline in 2015 and a third attacker, Youssef Zaghba, 22, had been detained by Italian authorities in 2016”, there are questions for MI5 to answer, yet it is not just them. The UK needs to establish to with level SIGINT (GCHQ) has been missing the ball.

Now there are two problems with that assumption of mine. The first is whether the European intelligence services have been keeping its allies and NATO partners up to date on movements. The second is how some allies classify certain people of interest (Youssef Zaghba). Without that knowledge we end up kicking both MI6 and GCHQ without actual cause. So it is not just MI5. We can wonder how certain borders were passed as well as how we will stop certain events from happening. So Boris Johnson is correct that there should be questions and answers, yet in the first only to the smallest degree and in the second, I would want to ask GCHQ a few questions before knocking on the door of Andrew Parker. The fact that he goes straight to the door of MI5, gives an implicit lack of knowledge on the address of Boris Johnson which is not the way we know him, so I wonder what he is playing at, at present. This now gets us to ‘Police and MI5 face further scrutiny after third attack since March’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/police-and-mi5-face-further-scrutiny-after-third-attack-since-march). The part that matters here is “MI5 has a staff of 4,000, with up to 1,000 more promised by 2020, to keep tabs on a list of 3,000 people classified as “subjects of interest”, who included Butt, and to engage in other activities. Counter-terrorism accounts for just over 60% of what MI5 does”. We can hide behind the numbers to some extent as we consider that 1650 keep tabs on 3,000 people. This implied two people to watch per agent, this in a situation where it is about resources. In addition when we consider “Another of the London attackers, Rachid Redouane, was not known to the police or MI5, the police said”. The numbers show the impossibility of the task. In opposition we get that either the UK becomes an unlivable police state, or we take the war to them and prune the HRA to a larger extent. Weirdly enough, that gives us the headache that the HRA is losing potency, something that none of the players want. We basically move a nation into a place where we end up getting ourselves killed. As Richard Barrett, former director of global counter-terrorism operations at MI6 states: “I do not want to live in a state like that”. So even the agencies want a non-police state system, as such we need to consider other evolutions.

So how to go forward?

Until we get an actual union of interest in the Intelligence industry there will be an age of uncertainty. As SIGINT departments unite to set forth the first need of identifying the dangers and replicate that knowledge we are at an impasse. If this reads weird, then let me explain it. The function of GCHQ is to monitor and report to the UK agencies. This is how it should be in the past. In this age of ISIS/ISIL we need to consider that SIGINT agencies set the data in one common database when it concerns terrorists. So basically GCHQ forwards Intel directly to NSO (Netherlands), DGSE (France), SAIC (Germany) and so on. After that (or actually at the same time) the obtained data goes to MI5 and MI6. As filters are removed the whole gets more and quicker intelligence on movements. There is no issue with Brexit or Bremain, this is about European security, and as Europe becomes safer, so will the UK be safer. This path has never been walked because the trouble is with containing intelligence going into the open. In this setting we have intelligence filters this is not a bad thing, but the need in light of the attacks require us all to rethink the issues. There is an additional benefit that the union of data could give additional clusters of information, clustering’s we did not have in the past. It gives voice to not just paths of interests, but a path of people that are a justifiable target in this situation. A path that is partially hindered by the Human Rights Act in a way that was never the intent of the Human Rights Act in the first place.

The issue becomes a larger issue when we see certain media. Now as we exclude the tabloids on mere grounds of inferior intellect and increased factors like being clueless and greed driven through the expanse of emotion, we do get some media that should have known better. So when we see “Dame Stella Rimington, the first female director general of the agency, spoke out this week (6 June) during a keynote speech at 2017’s Infosecurity conference. The former spymaster took the time to urge for a calm response in the wake of recent London terror attacks” (at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/former-mi5-chief-nobody-really-knows-how-deal-cyber-espionage-1625025), we see in addition “We are facing a world where there’s cyber-espionage now, which nobody really knows how to effectively deal with. We are facing a world of very complex communications which make it very difficult [for] our intelligence services to keep pace with changes taking place.

This is a path that has a few additional repercussions. The first repercussion is seen in the need of new technology to meet the challenges. The second repercussion is seen in combined need to evolve HUMINT, FININT and GEOINT. As money can be transferred through alternative means in faster ways and new methods we see that the terrorists are equipped and given new means to which several intelligence paths have no way to counter at present. The simplest issue of funding terrorist infrastructure through international debit cards is a nightmare to get through. Ordering these debit cards with up to 5,000 euros is getting easier and payment via web becomes increasingly easy. Getting these cards in Western Europe and dispense them to the dangerous elements in the UK is an increased danger as we now have a situation where HUMINT and FININT walk two very different paths. If we do not get an evolved SIGINT solution, we will see an escalation of events whilst the intelligence will fail. At present when a student is found with 2,000 euro a flag is raised (not always), yet when a student is seen with a debit card and 300 Euro, no flag will ever be raised. The cyber path is intervening on several levels increasing the dangers of a successful attack as they just get what they need at their destination. Nowadays a student goes into a car rental place, has his international student ID, picks up a van, pays with the prepaid card and he is off to load it up with explosives. At this point, when properly done, SIGINT, HUMINT and FININT will all have failed to stop this. This is the danger that Dame Stella Rimington is warning us about. And whilst the tabloid jokes are all about the emotions and the blame game towards the intelligence service, we see that failure after failure stacks up, mainly because what the intelligence agencies need is not coming their way. It’s like giving Jenson Button the task of winning the F1 trophy whilst giving him an Edsel to get the job done, which seems a little too unfair on the poor lad.

The world evolved too fast in too many directions and in this terrorists, especially lone wolves could use the system to remain largely invisible until it is too late. It is a collection of what we used to perceive as unrealistic elements ion danger assessment that is now stopping police and agencies in finding the targets trying to hurt innocent civilians. The game has become too unbalanced, and for the most I agree with Richard Barrett. Yet, in equal measure, we see a lack of evolution in technology that the seekers need to classify disseminated information as well as being able to cluster a multitude of databases each filled with variable information to find that needle, hoping that you are even near the right haystack. Consider the scenario I just painted. Finding that person would be near impossible if the Lone Wolf kept to the ground. So where is the validation of blame? There is none and the people actually realise this. It does not change the job, or the challenge. It merely increases the pressure. So when I read: “The third attacker was named as Youssef Zaghba, an Italian national of Moroccan descent, who was living in east London” there is no concern to be elevated into some danger status, yet when we see in addition “is said to have told Italian authorities “I’m going to be a terrorist”, while officers reportedly found Islamic State-related material on his mobile phone when they intercepted him” makes it a different issue (apart from any person proclaiming to become a terrorist to the police). How long until that news reached the UK? In addition, what did the Italians do to stop this possible extremist? When we see a file on Youssef Zaghba in the areas of FININT and SIGINT, what do they reveal? You see, we might not stop all events, yet there is an increased chance that any previous success by these lone wolves will leave us with information that potentially stops the next attack. That will leave us with increased options when SIGINT will start sharing the data internationally.

We are in a phase where we get ourselves killed, not because of the failing of the agencies, but with our complacency regarding human rights and thinking that the agencies did not need certain elements. As we are bragging on Facebook and demanding the government does not collect data, we place ourselves in harm’s way, which is increasingly stupid.

Yet in equal measure spending irresponsibly (read: Jeremy Corbyn’s lame promise) is equally dangerous. You see we need to work on actual solutions, not buy 1000 staff members, 15 servers and hope it will work itself out. That is a recipe for a political pork pie that leaves us with indigestion.

There is a lot that requires doing, let’s not get ourselves killed whilst doing that.

 

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