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Man arrested with knives outside UK parliament ‘was aboard Mavi Marmara in 2010’

27-year-old Khalid Omar Ali was on ship that attempted to run Israeli security blockade of Gaza Strip

Firearms officiers from the British police detain a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London on April 27, 2017 before being taken away by police. (AFP/Niklas Halle'n)
Firearms officiers from the British police detain a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London on April 27, 2017 before being taken away by police. (AFP/Niklas Halle'n)

A man arrested Thursday near the Houses of Parliament in London in possession of knives was aboard a ship that attempted to run the Israeli security blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2010, Reuters reported Friday, citing sources involved in the investigation.

Khalid Omar Ali, the 27-year-old suspect from London, was reportedly aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was boarded by Israeli troops that May. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the ensuing melee between IDF soldiers and armed protesters. He is also linked to other efforts to break the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which is imposed by israel to prevent the Islamist terror group from importing weapons.

Ali remains in custody after being arrested near parliament on suspicion of terrorism offenses and possession of knives, in what police confirmed had been an ongoing investigation.

The investigators who spoke to Reuters said it didn’t appear as though Ali’s role in the Mavi Marmara was connected to Thursday’s incident.

The report said Ali also features in a 2010 video on an activist’s website, in which he says he was one of a group who were trying to take aid from Libya to Gaza a few months after the Marmara incident, but were held against their will by the captain of the Greek-managed ship Strofades IV. And he speaks of planning to join another intended Gaza aid convoy, the Road to Hope, via Egypt that November.

Footage taken from Mavi Marmara security cameras, showing the activists onboard as they prepare to attack incoming IDF soldiers on May 31, 2010 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
Footage from the Mavi Marmara security cameras shows the activists on board as they prepare to attack incoming IDF soldiers on May 31, 2010. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

British police warned Friday they were facing an “increased level of terrorist activity,” the day after Ali was arrested and a woman was shot in a separate police raid.

The alert came just weeks after an attack on the Houses of Parliament that left five people dead and scores injured, and as Britain prepares for a snap election on June 8.

“Yesterday was an extraordinary day in London,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said Friday, after confirming six arrests overnight.

“I wanted to reassure the public that this increased level of terrorist activity is being matched by our action… We are making arrests on a near daily basis.”

Just hours later, armed police raided a property in north London as part of an unrelated counter-terrorism investigation, firing CS gas as they entered and shooting a woman in her 20s.

Six people have been arrested as part of that probe, while the woman — who is also suspected of involvement — remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

“Due to these arrests that have been made yesterday, in both cases I believe we have contained the threats that they posed,” Basu said.

Police officers man the cordoned off area in London's Harlesden Road Friday, April 28, 2017, after British counter-terror police shot a woman and arrested several people in raids in London and southeastern England. (Harriet Line/PA via AP)
Police officers man the cordoned off area in London’s Harlesden Road Friday, April 28, 2017, after British counter-terror police shot a woman and arrested several people in raids in London and southeastern England. (Harriet Line/PA via AP)

Britain’s national terror threat level has been at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely, since August 2014 — and remained unchanged after the attack on parliament on March 22.

Khalid Masood drove a car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the gates of parliament. He ran inside and knifed to death a policeman, before being shot.

Police have said they may never know why he did it.

The man arrested on Thursday, meters from parliament and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Downing Street residence, had reportedly been tracked by police and the domestic intelligence agency MI5.

Newspaper reports said he had been followed as he traveled into Westminster, in an investigation that originally began with a tip-off by someone close to him.

“They stopped and searched him as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation,” Basu said, without giving further details.

An AFP photographer saw firearms officers surrounding the bearded man and pinning him to the ground, before putting him in handcuffs.

Construction worker David Wisniowski, who was working on a building site next to the incident, told AFP he saw “three knives on the floor, one big one and two small.”

During an election campaign speech on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the police and security services, saying they were owed “a huge debt of gratitude.”

Terrorism has yet to feature heavily in the campaign for the June 8 vote, although May’s Conservatives have sought to exploit the anti-nuclear stance of opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed the leftist leader “seems to have no grasp of the need for this country to be strong in the world.”

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