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Tuesday 29 August 2017

Was Palace Terrorist An Uber Driver?

[Update at end of post]

Last weekend, in a bizarre incident outside Buckingham Palace, a man drive his car towards Police vehicles before stopping and, when approached by officers, taking a four foot sword from the car’s footwell (as you do), exclaiming “Allahu Akbar”, instigating one of those nasty fracas that ended up with two Police officers suffering minor injuries, and the idiot with the sword being CS sprayed and duly nicked.
The Super Soaraway Currant Bun was on the story like a rocket: “BUCK HOUSE SCARE … Buckingham Palace terror attack - Man, 26, wielding four-foot sword deliberately drove at police and injured three cops as they took him down with CS spray … Two officers wounded as they arrest suspect who pulled up in a car next to police vehicle”. None of the Royal Family was in residence - one tends not to be in August, dontcha know.

And the attack was soon categorised as a terrorist incident: “A 26-year-old man from Luton has been arrested under the terrorism act following the rampage at the palace … Police have said the attacker in a blue Toyota Prius ‘reached for a 4ft sword’ in front of terrified tourists as three heroic unarmed cops rushed to tackle him”. The Sun’s online copy does not identify the driver of the Prius. But the print edition did.
This is what the paper had to tell: “Police were last night guarding a house in Luton, where the arrested man was named as Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 26 … People in Luton said Chowdhury’s Dad was a taxi driver who owned a blue Prius … Police confirmed a 26-year-old man from Luton was in custody suspected of assault on Police and being held under terror laws”. And since then, further information has come to light.

It has been claimed that the Prius had a TfL Private Hire Roundel displayed - if it was used as a Private Hire Vehicle, and ventured into London, that is not unusual. But now, it seems that TfL records have a name matching the one pitched by the Sun - but only in print - as a registered PHV driver. Yes, there he is, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, and with a current TfL PHV license which runs until April 2020.
Although the Sun has removed the suspect’s name from its copy, we know the print edition of the Daily Mail from yesterday also named him, telling readers of a second arrest over the attack “Police suspect the man may have known that Mohiussunnath Chowhury was plotting a terrorist attack in central London”. Oh, and “Counter-terror detectives remained at Chowdhury’s £230,000 family home in a suburb of Luton yesterday”.

It must have been the Mail - they included the house price. But more seriously, if the attacker was a licensed TfL PHV driver, who was he working for? The Toyota Prius is used by a large proportion of Uber X drivers - so would Uber care to come forward and dispel rumours that he drove on their app? So far, no other Private Hire operator has owned up to having Chowdhury on the books. So the question stands - was he an Uber driver?

Uber might as well come clean. Because if Mohiussunnath Chowdhury was one of theirs, the information will soon be out there, with the certainty of night following day.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan talked of “one strike and you’re out”. Could get interesting.

[UPDATE 31 August 1700 hours: the BBC has now confirmed that "Mohiussunath Chowdhury, 26, of Luton, was charged under the Terrorism Act 2006 for 'engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to his intention to commit an act or acts of terrorism'".

The Beeb report has also confirmed that Chowdhury "works as an Uber driver". So perhaps Uber would like to explain how he got through their vetting process.

Meanwhile, TfL might usefully add that to the charge sheet ahead of their decision on whether to allow Uber to carry on operating in London. Just a thought]

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