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UK has world's best counter-terror machine, says Indian-origin Scotland Yard chief

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The UK's Indian-origin chief of counter-terror policing, Neil Basu, praised his Scotland Yard team for having foiled 19 "murderous plots" since March 2017 in the wake on an inquest into the deaths of eight people killed in the London Bridge terror attack in June 2017.

The Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, in a statement following the inquest that concluded on Friday, welcomed a ruling by the Chief Coroner that found that the UK's police and investigative authorities had not missed clues that could have helped thwart the attacks led by Pakistani-origin ringleader Khurram Butt.

With regards to the investigation itself, and with the benefit of hindsight, we know certain things could have been done differently. But after careful consideration, the Chief Coroner found that the pre-attack investigation was nonetheless thorough and rigorous, he was not persuaded that investigative opportunities were lost which could realistically have saved the lives of those who died, said Basu.

Together they (Met Police officer) have foiled 19 murderous plots since March 2017 but despite their heroic efforts, it will never be possible to stop every plot. Nevertheless, that must always be our ambition and the reason I believe the UK has the best counter terrorism machine in the world is our absolute commitment to getting better at what we do. And we will, he said.

Basu announced that his team will be examining the full ruling of Mark Lucraft, the Chief Coroner, to determine what lessons we could learn.

We have already identified and made many improvements and this work continues, Basu said.

His statement came as relatives of the victims of the terrorist attack two years ago criticised the security authorities for not doing enough to keep Khurram Butt under surveillance.

The inquest had heard how Butt, the 27-year-old mastermind of the attack in which he and two others went on a knife rampage after ramming a high-speed car into pedestrians on London Bridge, had been investigated by MI5 since 2015 over concerns he wanted to carry out a terror attack in Britain.

The three terrorists, including Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, drove a van into pedestrians on the bridge before stabbing people with 12-inch knives in a 10-minute rampage.

But in delivering his conclusions, Chief Coroner Lucraft said: My finding is that the pre-attack investigations of MI5 and SO15 (the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism command) were generally thorough and rigorous. On all the evidence and in the final analysis, I am not persuaded that investigative opportunities were lost which could realistically have saved the lives of those who died.

He was more critical of the lack of protection on the bridge in advance of the incident, which came three months after an Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist used a vehicle to kill four pedestrians on Westminster Bridge near the Houses of Parliament in London.

"Protective security is a collective responsibility and a continuous work in progress. Counter Terrorism Policing will continue to work with our close partners, including the Home Office, to improve, Basu said.

We are not complacent. Police, along with our security service partners, have subjected ourselves to the most painstaking and at times painful examination to determine what lessons we could learn. We have already identified and made many improvements and this work continues, he added.

In his ruling, the coroner criticised Butt's family for failing to inform the authorities. The inquests heard his brother-in-law did call police but his information was mishandled and never went to teams in the counter-terrorism command and at MI5 investigating Butt.

The coroner concluded: "Khuram Butt's (other) family [members] were aware of his extremist views and behaviour, but did not report those matters to the authorities.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, June 30 2019. 19:00 IST
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