Britain’s domestic counterintelligence agency MI5 foiled a terror plot to assassinate British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Met Police revealed Wednesday.
Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, from north London will appear in Westminster Magistrates Court Wednesday charged with preparing acts of terrorism, including plans to bomb Downing Street and assassinate May with a knife.
A second suspect, Mohammed Aqib Imran, 21, from Birmingham, will also appear in court charged with preparing acts of terrorism related to plans to travel overseas and join Islamic State.
The two men were arrested on Nov. 28 in a joint operation carried out by MI5 and counterterrorism police.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Multiple reports claim Rahman was planning to blow up the gates protecting Downing Street using an improvised explosive device hidden inside a bag. Security forces believe that in the ensuing chaos, he was going to use pepper spray to force his way inside Number 10 while wearing a suicide vest, and kill May with a knife.
- Rahman is also accused of assisting Imran, who is thought to have been planning to join the Islamic State group by obtaining a fake passport in the hopes of reaching Libya.
- Rahman is reported to have had two IEDs on his person when police arrested him last week.
- The details of the assassination plot emerged after MI5 chief Andrew Parker briefed May’s Cabinet Tuesday about the threat from terrorist attacks. He revealed that MI5 had prevented nine terror attacks in the U.K. since March.
- It also emerged that the intelligence community had received some new information about Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi in the months before the bombing, which left 22 people dead. However, the information’s “significance was not fully appreciated at the time,” an official report by David Anderson QC concluded.
- A total of 36 people have been killed in five terrorist attacks in London and Manchester so far this year.
- Britain’s official terrorist threat level is at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. However, Anderson, the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said that no matter what measures are put in place, “no free society can offer immunity from terrorism, or any other kind of crime.”