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British hostage John Cantlie ‘urges Government to talk to Isis’ | #JohnCantlie #ISIS


The Independent

Article appears after the MoD confirms that British soldiers would head to northern Iraq to help train Kurdish forces.

Kunal Dutta reporting,

The British hostage John Cantlie has appeared in an online article calling for the British Government to “open a channel and negotiate” with Isis.

It appeared hours after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that a “specialist” team of British soldiers would head to northern Iraq to help train Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic militant group.

The article, published in the Isis online magazine Dabiq, coincided with a fourth propaganda video featuring the 43-year-old photojournalist. In it he claimed Isis was “dug in for the fight” and that it was “conceivable” that foreign jihadists may return to their home countries to launch attacks.

Britain has stepped up its attack on Isis in recent weeks, with news emerging over the weekend that British troops are close to the frontline of the fight between Isis and Kurdish fighters in Irbil.

The team of “non-combat army trainers” will provide training for “heavy machine guns that were gifted by the UK last month,” a Government spokeswoman said.

The development will inevitably draw criticism of “mission creep” with the move marking the first time British troops have been active on Iraqi soil since May 2011. The training group will join a small UK military reconnaissance team, which has already been on the ground for several weeks, with some 12 soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, understood to be involved.

Criticism over Western hostage policy has intensified since the murder of British hostages Alan Henning and David Haines and Americans Stephen Sotloff and James Foley. All four were cellmates of Mr Cantlie, the article reveals, adding that: “If our countries had just talked to the mujahidin, our chances of survival wouldn’t have been low at all.”

The US has the starkest position on hostage negotiation and considers ransom payment akin to funding terrorism – for which it will prosecute. The UK government does not formerly pay ransoms.

The Dabiq piece also cites Bowe Bergdahl, the US infantryman held by the Taliban for almost five years and freed in May in return for the release of five Afghans from Guantanamo Bay. “Our political leaders have the power, if they choose to change things,” it concludes, adding: “Just ask our government to talk. That’s all. Open a channel and negotiate with the Islamic State like the others did. If nothing is possible to agree on, then fine, but it cannot compromise policy to open a dialogue.”

The Foreign Office would not be drawn on a response. A spokesman said last night: “We are aware of the video and the article and are investigating their contents.”

The article also refers to a failed rescue mission by elite US Special Forces earlier this summer. It reads: “Yes, America tried to rescue us, but instead of spending all those millions of dollars sending ninja commandos and risking countless more lives like it was a Hollywood action movie, wouldn’t it have been safer and wiser to have discussed options for prisoner exchange in the first place?”


The Independent.

How #London’s 2020 #Tube trains were designed


The £2 billion subway cars will replace trains on the Piccadilly, Central, Waterloo, and City and Bakerville lines, and are aimed at accommodating London’s booming commuter population for the next several decadesThe £2 billion subway cars will replace trains on the Piccadilly, Central, Waterloo, and City and Bakerville lines, and are aimed at accommodating London’s booming commuter population for the next several decades Priestmangoode

Margaret Rhodes reporting,

Descend underground into London’s subway system, and “Mind the Gap” is everywhere. It’s spelled out in tiles on the edge of the platform, it’s announced through the loudspeakers, and it’s probably splashed across a tourist’s t-shirt. But sometime around 2020, the actual gap — the dangerous space between the train and the platform that prompted the transit system in 1969 to start warning passengers — will begin to disappear.

Getting rid of the gap is one of several efficiencies that design firm PriestmanGoode will introduce in its redesign of the London Underground trains. Announced this week, the estimated $4 billion (£2 billion) trains (part of a bigger $25 billion (£16 billion) upgrade) will replace trains on the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo, and Waterloo & City lines, and are aimed at accommodating London’s booming commuter population for the next several decades. “London may well go up again twice in size, so you have to think about how these trains will evolve,” says Paul Priestman, director at PriestmanGoode. “We can’t change tunnels and platforms and stations, so how can we let people get on and off the trains more quickly?”

New Tube for London designed by PriestmanGoode.

Clever Details

To delete the gap, PriestmanGoode drafted up trains that have shorter carriages and more of them. This gives each train extra sets of joints, so it can pivot and nestle itself closer to the platform. That leads to swifter train exits for passengers. Each train will also sport larger doors (and more of them as well) to help relieve the bottleneck of commuters getting on and off at every station. The effect is similar to the shiny AirTran system used at airports.

This wouldn’t have been possible when the original cars were built: newer access to stronger, lightweight materials like aluminium and finishes used on aircrafts means that the bigger doors won’t cause subway cars to grow weak and buckle. In an attempt to cut down on delays, they’re also proposing to amp up the communications system with flashing lights that warn commuters when doors open and close. Hopefully, the idea goes, this will stop desperate passengers from shoving doors back open.

Inside, poles tilt outwards to create more breathing room around passengers' faces and upper bodiesInside, poles tilt outwards to create more breathing room around passengers’ faces and upper bodies Priestmangoode

Given all the exterior glitz, much remains the same inside the new tube cars. “Familiar is good, it’s moving forward and is still recognisable,” Priestman says. Besides the fact that the London Underground required the same number of seats, Priestman wanted to preserve a detail that’s unique to the Tube: “It’s interesting that it’s possible to have fabric, and they last,” he says of the upholstered seats, which would never fly in a city like New York. “It says a lot about the character of the design. It’s not like a jail, people have respect for it, the lighting is right. Even in Hong Kong you have steel seats on the metros.”

To keep to the thesis — make the trains as efficient as possible — PriestmanGoode adjusted the floor-to-ceiling handrails so they tilt slightly outward, away from people’s heads and upper bodies, freeing up valuable (and literal) breathing room. An even bigger change is how the cars connect: instead of disjointed carriages, these will be “through-cars” that allow for commuters to safely and easily disperse themselves, even after the train takes off.

All told, the London Underground estimates that PriestmanGoode’s trains will allow for anywhere between 25 and 60 percent more passengers, depending on the line. “We need every square inch for the passengers,” Priestman says. With these changes, “it’s almost like getting grit out of the system.”


Wired UK.

Met police continue to question four men over alleged UK terror attack plot. #ISIS #London #UK


One of the arrested men is suspected of having links to Islamic State as police chief says alleged plot is ‘quite serious case’.

A Metropolitan police spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the men remained in custody for further questioning.A Metropolitan police spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the men remained in custody for further questioning. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA.

Josh Halliday, Ewen MacAskill, Vikram Dodd and Frances Perraudin reporting,

Counter-terrorism detectives are continuing to question four men, including one suspected of having links to Islamic State (Isis), on suspicion of plotting a terror attack on Britain.

The men, aged from 20 to 21, were arrested in raids across London on Tuesday to disrupt what investigators believe could have been the early stages of a significant plot.

It is believed that one of the men arrested was Tarik Hassane, 21. Neighbours of Hassane described hearing a loud commotion as police officers raided his family’s first-floor flat at 5am on Tuesday.

“There were three bangs – it woke me up. Police were there all day stripping the place,” said one neighbour.

Another said police were searching the flat until late in the evening, with officers replacing the front door, which had been taken off its hinges during the raid.

A Metropolitan police spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the men remained in custody for further questioning.

The four were arrested “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism” in what the Met police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, described as a “quite serious case”.

The seriousness of the investigation was underlined by the presence of specialist firearms officers at one address, which counter-terrorism officials said was due to a concern that the individual had access to weapons. Another of the suspects was Tasered by police.

Hogan-Howe told BBC London: “It is a quite serious case and it’s one of a series of arrests that we’ve had over the last few weeks, which taken together for me confirm that the drumbeat around terrorism has changed. It’s a more intense drumbeat. We’re having to be more interventionist and a lot of it is linked back to Syria and Iraq.”

Hassane, a medical student, wrote on social media 10 months ago that he was offered a place to study biomedicine at King’s College London. He instead decided to study in Sudan, starting a four-year course in 2013.

Writing on an Ask.fm page, Hassane suggested that he preferred to study in Sudan but said he planned to return to London during the holidays and to seek a placement at a hospital when he graduated.

Police searched his family home at Princess Alice House, near Ladbroke Grove in west London, but neighbours said he was rarely seen at the address.

“I’ve been living here for five years and I’ve never seen a young man there, just a woman,” said one resident in the same block of flats.

Nesreen Ahmed, 31, a mother of two little girls, said she was woken at around 4am on Tuesday. She said that all the neighbours went out on to the balcony, but were shouted at to get inside by armed police. “I was very scared because of my two children.”

Assefa and Genet Negash, who live two flats above, said the Hassanes were a lovely family and very good neighbours. “The mother and the daughter are lovely women,” she said.

It is alleged that one of the four arrested men has a connection to Isis, the Islamist extremist group that has captured swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and has been responsible for the beheading of western hostages, including two Britons.

Foreign policy and security analysts have warned there could be a retaliation in the UK in response to British fighter planes joining the US and some Arab states in bombing raids on Isis in Iraq. In a video last week, an Isis member called for Muslims in Britain to rise up to cause terror in the country.

However, the arrests are not connected to the Isis member with a British accent shown in footage of the beheadings. Although the man was masked in the videos, the FBI claims he has been identified.

The four, who are being held at police stations in central London, will be questioned again later by counter-terrorism officers. Police can usually hold suspects for up to 24 hours before deciding whether to charge or release them, but suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act can in the most serious cases be held without charge for 14 days.

The raids followed a planned operation, with at least some of the men having been subject to monitoring by counter-terrorism investigators for some time.

After a meeting between SO15 and MI5 at an executive liaison group, the decision was made to disrupt any plot. Counter-terrorism investigators believed they had enough material to stage arrests.

The decision to disrupt a suspected plot is usually taken because it is believed there is too great a chance of an attack or because investigators believe they have enough evidence to test their suspicions through the courts.

However, some past high-profile terror arrests have been based on intelligence that turned out to be inaccurate, and have led to accusations that police and MI5 have ramped up the nature of possible plots.

The fear of a terrorist attack being carried out by people with connections to Syria or Iraq led the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) to recommend raising the terrorist threat level in August to severe, its second-highest warning.

Announcing the decision to change the threat level, the home secretary, Theresa May, said it was “related to developments in Syria and Iraq, where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the west”.

Counter-terrorism investigators in the police and MI5 have faced an increasing workload as they assess and investigate potential threats from people with connections to several hotspots around the world.

The threat from Isis extremists is the main source of concern, but there remains anxiety about those with connections to alleged violent extremists in Syria and al-Qaida-linked groups there, as well as al-Shabaab in Somalia, and also al-Qaida-inspired terrorists with links to Pakistan.

The security services assess how dangerous terror suspects are, but in the two instances in the modern era during which people were murdered – the July 2005 attacks in London and last year’s attack on the soldier Lee Rigby – the violent jihadis responsible had slipped through the net.

After Tuesday’s arrests the terrorist threat level remained unchanged. This means that JTAC, which is housed within MI5, has advised ministers that an attack is highly likely.


The Guardian.

British Muslims Unite For Eid Prayers Of Remembrance For Alan Henning | #BritishMuslims #ISIS


As Muslims around the U.K. begin their Eid celebrations, Shaukat Warraich, editor of Imams online, calls for special prayers of peace for the family of Alan Henning, following the British humanitarian worker’s brutal killing by ISIS. See his message that these un-Islamic actions are appalling the British Muslim community as one.

Find out more about Imams Online on:

Website: http://www.imamsonline.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/imamsonline
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ImamsOnline

British Isis fighter calls David Cameron a ‘despicable swine’ in online video | #ISIS #IslamicState #Britain


Western governments challenged to send ground troops after UK air strikes on Islamic State.

A still from the Isis propaganda video in which an apparent British Islamic State fighter calls the prime minister a ‘despicable swine’.A still from the Isis propaganda video in which an apparent British Islamic State fighter calls the prime minister a ‘despicable swine’.

Jamie Orme reporting,

An apparent British Islamic State (Isis) fighter has appeared unmasked in a video posted online in which he calls the prime minister, David Cameron, a “despicable swine”.

Dressed in camouflage fatigues and with a bandaged right arm, the bespectacled man challenges western governments to “send all your forces on the ground” in the high-quality footage.

Sitting in front of a wall with an AK-47 rifle propped up beside him, he said: “This is a message to that despicable swine David Cameron. You along with all the other western governments have decided to bomb the Islamic State.

“If you were real men, you would send all your forces down on the ground. You would not bomb us from the sky – you would send them all on the ground fighting us one by one. But you know in the hearts of your men, they’re cowards.”

The video appears after the RAF carried out a series of strikes on Isis forces, following parliament’s authorisation for British involvement in the international military campaign.

In the latest video to appear online, the fighter takes the unusual step of appearing without a mask or balaclava. In other Isis films, including footage of the beheadings of the US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and the British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, the men in them are masked.

He attacks the US for calling on “40 other nations” to join in the attacks on Isis, adding: “You’re fighting people who love death more than you love life.

“So send all your forces, send them all, send all your reserves, send all your backups, because we’ll send them all back in coffins,” he said.

He then asks “all the brothers in the UK” why they remain in the west, urging them to join the jihad overseas.

But the militant then appears to urge supporters in the west who are unable to travel to Iraq and Syria to commit acts of terrorism in their home countries.

“You can cause terror from right within. So unlike us you can cause damage, you can cause real damage,” he says.


The Guardian.

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