British police confirmed they were questioning two suspects Monday over a failed bombing on the London subway, and said the immediate threat of a further attack by the alleged terror cell has now passed.
The two men – a 21-year-old named as Yahyah Farroukh, and an unnamed 18-year-old – were arrested in London and the port city of Dover Saturday on suspicion of terror offences. Thirty people sustained injuries from the blast at Parsons Green subway station, mostly from “flash burns,” and police say there would have been many fatalities if the nail-packed, homemade “bucket bomb” had worked as intended.
Here’s what you need to know about the investigation:
- Both suspects are reportedly refugees from the Middle East who had been taken in by an elderly foster couple, Ron and Penny Jones, in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey. The Joneses have housed hundreds of foster children – including refugees – over the years, receiving an official honor from the Queen for their work. The couple’s home was raided by armed police on Saturday morning, and was still being searched by counterterror police Monday.
- Farroukh was arrested outside a restaurant in west London shortly before midnight Saturday. One of the cafe owners, Suleman Sarwar, told Britain’s ITV that Farroukh, who he believed was a Syrian refugee, had just finished working a shift preparing food when he was arrested.
- According to Farroukh’s Facebook account, he is originally from Damascus, and studied English at a college now also being searched by police. Ian Harvey, a local politician in the area where his foster family live, told Britain’s Press Association that Farroukh had previously been living in the care of the Joneses.
- The other suspect was arrested early Saturday at the port of Dover, the main British ferry hub to France – prompting speculation he was attempting to flee the country. Harvey said that the suspect was an Iraqi who had come to the U.K. as a 15-year-old child refugee after his parents died, and also lived with the Joneses.
- CCTV footage obtained by ITV appears to show a person leaving the Joneses Sunbury property 90 minutes before the bombing, carrying a bag that resembled the device used in the attack.
- Police are also searching a third property, in Hounslow, in connection with the attack. The BBC reported that this property was the Middle Eastern restaurant where Farroukh was arrested Saturday.
- Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing via its Amaq channel Friday, but British Home Secretary Amber Rudd cast doubt on the claim. “It is inevitable that so-called Islamic State or Daesh will reach in and try and claim responsibility. We have no evidence to suggest that yet,” she said.
- Rudd announced in a televised statement Sunday that the country’s terror threat had been dropped from “critical” to “severe” – where it had been prior to Friday’s bombing. She urged the public to “continue to be vigilant but not alarmed.” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that the “high pace and rapid progress” of the investigation had led to the assessment that an attack was “no longer imminent.” The current threat level suggests an attack is “highly likely.” Friday’s bombing was the fifth terror attack in Britain this year.