Results tagged “United Kingdom”
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The government raised the terror alert level to "severe," the second highest level, due to concerns that terrorists in Syria and Iraq are planning attacks against the West. Urging vigilance, the head of national counterterrorism police said, "[I]t is highly likely that a terrorist attack could happen in the UK."
The head of Scotland Yard warned that about 250 militarized UK jihadists have returned home after fighting in Iraq and Syria, and said most of the estimated 600 who have traveled to those conflict zones were from London. He called for tougher counterterrorism measures, including revocation of citizenship for jihadist fighters and the reintroduction of some type of control orders, as well as a crackdown on hate preaching.
British ambassador Peter Westmacott warned that among the 70 UK jihadists arrested after returning to Britain, a number were carrying "very specific" instructions for terrorist missions in the UK. British intelligence is coming close to identifying the Islamic State jihadist who beheaded American journalist James Foley; among those being investigated is UK rapper-turned-jihadist Abdel Majed Abdel Bary. The UK plans to send non-lethal equipment to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State; Westmacott also indicated that given the IS' record of seizing weapons and other support intended for the moderate Syrian opposition, the UK and US' caution about providing weapons to the Syrian rebels "was perhaps well-founded." Last year, 3,527 illegal immigrants likely entered the UK despite failing border checks; authorities located 846 of the absconders, but about 2,700, or 76 percent, remained at large. Shadow home secretary David Davis criticized proposed new antiterrorism laws as insufficient, and said British jihadists should be stripped of UK citizenship and be banned from returning to the UK.
Lord Dannatt, the former Chief of General Staff, said the UK must work with Bashar al Assad to defeat the Islamic State. Defense Secretary Hammond disagreed, saying it would not be "practical, sensible or helpful." The head of Parliament's intelligence committee observed that sometimes you have work with nasty people to get rid of even nastier ones. A current counterterrorism official said he was recommending tougher application of Tpims (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) on terror suspects, but a former official said no Tpims are currently in place. A former MI6 officer said investigators are closing in on the identity of the jihadist who murdered US journalist James Foley.
The Islamic State militant shown beheading US journalist James Foley in a recent IS propaganda video is said to be a Londoner called "John" who guards IS' Western hostages in Raqqah, Syria; UK authorities are working with the FBI in tracking him down and have asked Londoners to help identify him. Khadijah Dare, 22, a Lewisham woman married to a Swedish IS fighter who calls himself Abu Bakr, has reportedly vowed to become the first woman to behead a British or US prisoner; she is thought to be in Syria with her husband and three-year-old son. Brustchom Ziamani, 19, a Congolese convert to Islam, was arrested in Camberwell on Aug. 19 while carrying a bag with a hammer and a knife wrapped in an Islamic flag; he has been charged with preparing terrorist acts. The suspect had told another person he intended to commit a Lee Rigby-type attack on military or government personnel.
Foreign Secretary Hammond said the Islamic State jihadist whose videotaped murder of US journalist James Foley was published yesterday appears to be British, and warned that "there are a significant number of British nationals in Syria and Iraq operating with extremist organisations" and accordingly the Islamic State presents "a direct threat to the UK's national security." The regional officer for the national head teachers' union said individuals involved in the Trojan Horse plot to impose Islamist teaching in Birmingham schools may still be operating in the schools despite recent efforts to remove them.
Defense Secretary Fallon said the RAF's efforts in Iraq against the Islamic State could last weeks or months, as it "is not simply a humanitarian mission," but vowed that the British Army would not have boots on the ground in Iraq. Prime Minister Cameron issued a statement on Aug. 16 asserting that the fight against the Islamic State is "a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology," and said it calls for a tough military response, an intelligent political course, and fortitude.
Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said about half of the estimated 500 British jihadists in Syria and Iraq are from London, and warned that the task of addressing the threat posed by their return to the UK should not be underestimated. UK jihadist Nasser Muthana, an Islamic State fighter, posted photos of IEDs he made in Syria on social media. British police are investigating the distribution of leaflets on London's Oxford Street urging Muslims to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.
British authorities said RAF planes will soon begin dropping food rations to Iraqi refugees threatened by the Islamic State; they also indicated that the UK will support the US with surveillance and refueling in its planned airstrikes on the militants in Iraq. The Prime Minister's office said the UK is not planning a military intervention in Iraq. Abu Abdullah, British Muslim convert of Eritrean origin, claimed to have fought for the Islamic State in Ramadi. New UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan plans to announce that teachers who expose children to religious extremism will be fired without appeal, and that even nursery schools will be stripped of government funding if they "promote extremist views."
Following the sudden resignation yesterday of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet, over the government's Gaza policies, Baroness Anelay was named to replace her. The Old Bailey court heard that Afsor Ali, who is accused of possessing terrorist literature, appeared in Muslims Against Crusades videos promoting extremism, had bomb-making instructions on his computer, and was personally tutored by hate preacher Omar Bakri.
Army head General Peter Wall said UK forces may have to return to Afghanistan "if the Taliban were to be resurgent and al Qaeda was again establishing sanctuaries." There are now about 4,100 UK troops in Afghanistan. A former British judge warned that the social media boasts of British jihadist Reyaad Khan, who has claimed participation in Islamic State executions in Syria, could serve as a basis for prosecution in the UK. The UN's war crimes commission is also "collecting information on perpetrators from all sides including non-state armed groups and ISIS," according to UN official Paul Pinheiro.
Al Qaeda's black flag was displayed by protesters who blocked an east London tunnel last week shouting "Free Palestine" and leaving motorists temporarily trapped. An organization that tracks attacks on the UK's Jewish community noted that antisemitic incidents had risen 36% between January and June, to a total of 304, and that there have been 130 more incidents in July alone.
HSBC Bank notified the Finsbury Park Mosque, where convicted terrorist Abu Hamza held forth, and other Muslim organizations including the think tank Cordoba Trust and the Bolton-based charity Ummah Welfare Trust that it is closing their accounts as they are beyond the bank's "risk appetite." In 2012 the bank paid out nearly $2 billion in a US settlement of money-laundering claims. After being given new evidence relating to the Trojan Horse plot to inject Islamist extremism into area schools, the West Midlands Police began investigating whether any crimes have taken place. Razwan Faraz, the deputy head at one of the schools, was suspended; he is a brother of Ahmed Faraz, a Birmingham bookseller who distributed extremist literature.
A leaked draft government report on the "Trojan Horse" investigation of Birmingham schools found "coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city." It also found that "extremism went unchecked because the council 'disastrously' prioritised community cohesion over 'doing what is right'." Birmingham City Council head Sir Albert Bore apologized for the council's failure to address the problem due to a "fear of being accused of racism," but noted that governors at the two of the schools schools have not acknowledged any wrongdoing. An Ofsted report stated that a Bradford school did not sufficiently protect students against extremism.
Prime Minister Cameron said new laws to help track Internet and telephone records will be implemented next week as part of emergency measures due to the "grave" terrorist threat to national security posed by extremists in Iraq and Syria. The new laws restore powers that were invalidated by a European Court of Justice ruling last year.
Authorities are trying to track down Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, twin girls from Manchester who are thought to have traveled to Syria; one of their older brothers is said to be in Syria fighting for the Islamic State. Some 500 UK Muslims are thought to have gone to Syria to fight. Regarding an alleged Islamist plan to take over Birmingham schools, Ofsted head Michael Wilshaw told Parliament that school inspectors found the promotion of a culture that could lead to extremism; he said they are now looking at schools in Bradford and Luton as well.
Birmingham residents Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, both 22, who had fought in Syria for jihadist groups and were arrested on their return to the UK, pled guilty to terrorism charges. Although police believe the two fought for the Al Nusrah Front, they had initially said they were planning to join the Emigrant's Army, and both had images of Islamic State flags among jihadist literature on their computers. Twin 16-year-old girls of Somali origin from Manchester are thought to have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State. In a recent interview in Iraq, Sheik Qais al Qazali, leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), said that although he was "sorry" for the deaths of four British hostages kidnapped in 2007, he held the UK government responsible for their deaths. Qazali, whose group had kidnapped five UK hostages and killed four of them, was released by the US military in a swap for remaining hostage Peter Moore in 2009.
About 100 British imams issued an appeal for UK Muslims to support those affected by the crisis in Syria and Iraq "from the UK in a safe and responsible way," not by traveling to the region. A news report claimed that in 2012, the UK military was considering plans to train and equip a 100,000-strong rebel army in Syria but the plans were abandoned as too risky. A British jihadist named Abu Osama who claimed to be fighting with the Al Nusrah Front in Syria said he would not return to the UK until "the black flag of Islam" is waving over Buckingham Palace and Downing Street.
Amid reports that 500 Britons are now fighting abroad with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, Sir Peter Fahy, the police lead for the government's anti-radicalization Prevent program, said parents, not police, are responsible for the actions of young Muslims who turn to extremism. The Home Office is planning to ban the Islamic Dawah Association, an extremist group based in Wales that is considered to be a front for the banned group Al Muhajiroun; other banned groups in the UK include Need4Khilafah and The Shariah Project. Community groups in Cardiff joined together to denounce Islamic extremism. Three water cannon ordered by London's mayor are due to arrive next week.
Home Secretary May said "many hundreds" of Britons have traveled to fight in the ranks of Syrian rebels and "some will represent a real danger to us." Ensuring that security forces have stronger Internet surveillance powers is now "a question of life and death, a matter of national security," she said. The father of Ali Kalantar, of Coventry, who is believed to be fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham in Syria, said his son was radicalized at a local mosque. Humza Yousaf, Scottish government minister for external affairs, acknowledged "the enormity of the challenge" of addressing radicalization in the UK and abroad. Due to government pressure, some 15,000 items promoting jihad have been taken down from the Internet since December 2013.