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Scotland Yard Makes New Arrest in Parliament Terror Case | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police and intelligence services remained on the scene into the evening as they continued their investigation into the Westminster attack. (Reuters)

London – British Scotland Yard announced that a man has been arrested in Birmingham by police investigating last week’s Westminster terror attack in which four people were killed.

The Metropolitan Police said that the man, in his 30s, was held on Sunday on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts, adding that another man, 58, who had been arrested in Birmingham on Thursday, remains in custody.

With this arrest, the Met Police have detained 12 people in connection to the attack, while nine have so far been released without charge.

The police released on bail until late March a 32-year-old woman who was arrested in Manchester.

Khalid Masood, 52, killed three people when he drove a car into pedestrians on Wednesday. He then rushed towards the parliament and fatally stabbed policeman Keith Palmer before police shot him dead.

The entire attack on Westminster Bridge and in the grounds of parliament was over in around 82 seconds.

On Saturday, police said they believed Masood acted alone, but they were also “determined” to find out whether he had been inspired by terrorist propaganda. However, Scotland Yard said it was possible they would “never understand why he did this”. The ISIS group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Investigations revealed that Masood used messaging app WhatsApp two minutes before his attack. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said there should be no place for terrorists to hide.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman said the company was “horrified at the attack” and was cooperating with the investigation.

“We are horrified by the attack carried out in London earlier this week and are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their investigations,” she said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said authorities already had “huge powers”, and there should be a balance between the “right to know” and “the right to privacy”.

The police was unable to review the messages exchanged on WhatsApp because the application has an end-to-end encryption, meaning messages are unreadable if they are intercepted by anyone.

Major-General Jonathan Shaw, formerly in charge of cyber security at the Ministry of Defense, said there was “a lot of politics at play” in the current debate because the tech companies were already cooperating with governments in other areas.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday she plans to ask tech firms to find ways to give security services access to messages on phones, but was leaving it up to companies to sort out how.

“If there are circumstances where law enforcement agencies need to be able to access the contents, they should be able to do so. How that is achieved, I think, is a matter for the talks later in the week,” May’s spokesman said.

The spokesperson stressed that tech firms “should be helping us more” to prevent terrorism, adding that the ball is now in the companies’ court.

Meanwhile, May began a visit to Scotland on Monday to set out what she believes are significant areas of agreement with Scottish authorities.

“The PM will be pointing to significant areas where there is agreement on what we want to secure from the Article 50 process,” the spokesman told reporters, adding that she will address how to move forward together to secure the “best deal” for the whole of the United Kingdom.