Anti-terror unit almost closed Parsons Green case days before attack

Government anti-terror programme considered closing case on Parsons Green tube bomber 10 days before he injured 51 in terror attack

  • Agency monitoring potential terrorists nearly let Ahmed Hassan slip under radar
  • Home Office today disclosed it had nine formal panel discussions about him 
  • Hassan’s last review was in September 2017,  10 days before he injured 51 people 
  • Channel is an arm of the Government’s Prevent scheme which identifies people ‘vulnerable to being drawn in to terrorism’
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A government anti-terror programme considered closing its case on the Parsons Green bomber 10 days before his attack on a tube train, it has emerged.

The agency, which assesses the risk of potential terrorists, nearly let Ahmed Hassan slip under its radar less than a fortnight before he tried to blow up a District line train, injuring 51 people.

Authorities faced questions after it emerged the attacker had come to the attention of a host of bodies and was being watched by Channel, an arm of the Government’s Prevent scheme. 

A government anti-terror programme considered closing its case on Ahmed Hassan (pictured), now 19, ten days before he planted a homemade nail bomb on a packed District Line carriage

The bucket bomb, wrapped in a Lidl cool bag, was cooked up at Hassan’s foster home in Surrey

Hassan was found to have tried to kill 93 people – 51 people suffered burns in the blast. Pictured: A female victim

Following internal reviews by police and the local council, the Home Office today disclosed that there were a total of nine formal Channel panel discussions about Hassan between June 2016 and September 2017.

The final discussion took place on September 5 2017.

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Hassan’s explosive device partially exploded on a District line train, injuring 51 people, on September 15.

A letter from Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam to Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘Considering the ongoing vulnerability assessment and intelligence update, the Channel Panel was in the process of considering closure of AH’s case.’

Commuters ran from the train after a bright flash and flames swept through one carriage

Hassan crisscrossed London and the South East, disposing of his phone and changing his clothes, as he made his way to the Port of Dover after the bomb went off

The kitchen timer used as an initiator mechanism, in addition to a battery and a halogen bulb

The ‘Mother of Satan’ bomb was packed with nails, screws and drill tips to maximise injuries

These household knives were also found inside it after Hassan viewed a YouTube bomb video

Following his arrival in Britain in 2015, Hassan, an Iraqi asylum seeker, told Home Office officials he had been trained to kill by Islamic State, his trial at the Old Bailey heard.

Police concluded that Hassan was suitable for Prevent support, and the first formal Channel panel took place in June 2016.

What is Channel?

Channel is a Government programme which focuses on providing support to people identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

The programme uses a multi-agency approach to protect vulnerable people by: 

– Identifying people at risk

– Assessing the nature and extent of that risk 

– Developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned 

The programme aims to protect  vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background and tries to intervene at an early stage before they become involved in terrorism.

Consent for the teenager to take part in the Channel process was given by Surrey County Council.

According to Sir Philip’s letter, police Channel practitioners spoke with Hassan on two occasions, in August and November 2016.

These meetings did not raise any additional concerns about Hassan’s risk of becoming involved in terrorism, although concerns were raised about his ‘demeanour and behaviour’ by a Channel panel member in January 2017.

Sir Philip said there was an apparent lack of a formal, documented plan to manage and mitigate Hassan’s vulnerabilities and associated risks.

He added: ‘AH’s positive progress at college was the main focus of the Channel Panel, and was considered a significant protective factor.

‘Other concerning events and behaviour involving AH (such as AH going missing from home, and ongoing mental health issues) in some instances were not clearly shared or picked up on by the wider Channel Panel members for further exploration, challenge or intervention.

‘There was a consensus that the case should remain in Channel. However, no violent ideology was confirmed.

Hassan had been taken in by foster parents Penelope and Ronald Jones after coming to the UK as a child refugee

‘The Channel Panel were unable to establish a holistic overview taking into account the entirety of AH’s turbulent background, mental health concerns, and ongoing behaviour and remarks.’

Security minister Ben Wallace said ‘swift action’ has been taken to address the issues raised.

He said: ‘The Home Office and partner organisations have accepted the majority of the recommendations and following this case we had already put in place processes to ensure better communication between immigration and Prevent partners, as well as reviewing how Channel procedures are monitored.

The Home Office today disclosed that there were a total of nine formal Channel panel discussions about Hassan between June 2016 and September 2017. Pictured: The aftermath of Hassan’s attack

‘We should not allow this case to undermine all the good work taking place across the country to stop terrorism and our work to help those who are legitimately in need.

Timeline of Ahmed Hassan’s movements 

2006 – While a young boy in Iraq, he says his father was killed by a bomb. He grew up blaming ‘Britain and America’, the Old Bailey heard in March.

2014 – ISIS begin to take over parts of Iraq and Syria. Hassan said he was taken into one of the group’s training camps, but he later denied he had contact with the terror group and said he lived elsewhere in Iraq.

2015 – He crosses into Turkey, then comes to Britain via Italy and Calais’ jungle camp. He got across the border in the back of a lorry.

2016 – His first immigration interview is carried out. He tells officers he was in an ISIS camp. He later claimed he made this up to avoid deportation.

2017 – He plants bomb on the London Underground then gets back to Dover where he planned to escape to France.

‘Through Channel, 332 individuals were supported in 2016/17 with interventions to divert them away from radicalisation.’

Surrey County Council said it was a ‘difficult case in tough circumstances’.

A spokesman for the authority said: ‘Our work with other agencies in this case wasn’t as good as it should have been and we’re sorry for our part in that.

‘We knew before the terrible incident at Parsons Green that we needed to make changes and had already begun to do so.

‘Since then we have made further improvements and continue to focus on ensuring our work in this area is as good as it can be. Our thoughts remain with everyone affected.’

Hassan, now 19, was convicted of attempted murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 34 years in March.

Prevent, which has an annual budget of around £40 million, has repeatedly attracted controversy.

But ministers and police insist it is a crucial plank of counter-terror efforts, and earlier this month Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he supports the scheme ‘absolutely’. 

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