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Police in #UK arrest two over possible links to #jihad in #Syria


Met police commissioner says ‘drumbeat of terrorism’ now more intense with 500 Britons believed to have travelled to Syria.

Bernard Hogan-Howe said 500 Britons were believed to have travelled to Syria.Bernard Hogan-Howe said 500 Britons were believed to have travelled to Syria. Photograph: David Fisher/DFS/ Rex Features.

Vikram Dodd reporting,

Counter-terrorism officers trying to staunch the flow of recruits travelling to Syria have made two arrests they say may be linked to the war zone.

A woman aged 25 was arrested in Kempston, Bedfordshire by detectives from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command investigating whether she had travelled to Syria, and if so, whether that trip was linked to violent jihad.

Hours later officers made a second arrest in London, detaining a 32-year-old man “on suspicion of attending a place used for terrorist training”, which they believe was in Syria.

The two operations that led to the arrests are not believed to be linked.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said five Britons a week were travelling to Syria to join up with Islamic State (Isis) extremists.

Counter-terror officials say there has been a large increase this year in operations related to Syria, amid fears that returning Britons may be so radicalised they attempt to carry out attacks here.

In the first arrest, police said the woman was arrested in Bedfordshire “on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts”. After the 25-year-old was detained, police searched two addresses in Bedfordshire as part of their inquiries.

In the second arrest, the man aged 32 was detained at an address in south-west London. Police were searching an address in south-west London and another in west London as part of their investigation.

Police said both investigations were Syria related.

Both of those arrested were in police custody in central London where they are expected to be interviewed.

On Tuesday Hogan-Howe said the “drumbeat of terrorism in the UK” was now “faster and more intense”.

He said 500 Britons were believed to have travelled to Syria: “Those are the ones that we believe have gone. There may be many more who set out to travel to another country and meandered over to Syria and Iraq in a way that is not always possible to spot when you have failed states and leaky borders.”

Last week police said there had been 218 terror-related arrests so far this year, a significant increase, as a result of police “running exceptionally high numbers of counter-terrorism investigations”.

They added that this year, 16 people have been charged after returning from Syria.


The Guardian.

Woman arrested in #UK on #terrorism charges


A Twenty five-year-old woman arrested north of London for suspected offences relating to the civil war in Syria.

Detectives said security investigations were taking place at an 'exceptionally high' pace not seen in years.Detectives said security investigations were taking place at an ‘exceptionally high’ pace not seen in years. [Reuters]

Bedfordshire, England – British police have taken a 25-year-old woman into custody on suspicion of terrorism offences related to the ongoing civil war in Syria, officials have said.

London’s counter terrorism command said on Wednesday that officers had arrested the woman in Bedfordshire, north of the capital, on suspicion of preparing terrorism acts.

The police said she had been taken to a police station in London for questioning.

Two addresses in Bedfordshire were being searched, they added.

Last week, four men were charged with swearing allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq, and preparing to launch an attack on policemen or soldiers in the capital.

On Tuesday, London police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said at least five Britons were travelling to Iraq and Syria every week to fight for ISIL, while the authorities estimate that about 500 Britons have already travelled to the region to join the fighting.

Mark Rowley, Britain’s national policing spokesman for counter-terrorism, said last week that the police had made 218 arrests so far this year, and that detectives were carrying out security investigations at an “exceptionally high” pace not seen in years.


Al Jazeera English.

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.

UK: Brighton House prices to rise by 40% over five years


House prices to rise by 40% over five yearsHouse prices to rise by 40% over five years.

Neil Vowles reporting,

House prices in Brighton and Hove will skyrocket by more than 40% over the next five years, according to a new report.

The cost of buying a home in the city is set to rise higher than anywhere else in the country according to the newly published report by property website Rightmove and financial forecasters Oxford Economics.

Brighton and Hove’s close proximity to London, which makes the city an attractive commuter destination, is considered the major factor which will see the housing market continue to flourish.

Local estate agents have described the prediction as “bold” and raised concerns about the impact on first-time buyers’ ability to get on the housing ladder without the “bank of mum and dad”.

The report says that Brighton and Hove’s property will outperform both London, predicted to rise by 33%, and the South East region in general which is calculated to increase by 37%, to join Luton and Southampton as the fastest growing markets up to 2019.

Employment rates and population growth are also considered to be major factors in Brighton and Hove’s soaring house prices in the forecast. The research is based on asking and sold prices, surveyor valuations and analytics from the Oxford Economics’ Global, Industry and Regional forecasting models.

Paul Taggart, associate director of Hamptons International in Hove, said: “It’s very difficult to predict but 40% is a very bold prediction. At the moment the housing market has gone up 8-10% this year so what happens to affordability and how do people get on the property ladder if that rise continues?”

Steve Cales, of Portslade estate agents Cales and Co, said: “I think it’s foolhardy to predict so far in advance because global events impact our domestic housing market in a way they never did before.

“It is widely anticipated that the historically low interest rates we have seen over the past five years will go up after the election and that has always impacted on the residential housing market.”


The Argus (Brighton).

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.

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