Monday, October 30, 2017

New '£150 million' stealth fighter pilot says critics would be "quietened very quickly" if they knew true capabilities



Critics of Britain's new '£150 million' stealth fighter jets would be "quietened very quickly" if they knew its true capabilities, according to the UK's lead test pilot.
Those who are worried about the price of each aircraft do not have a clear understanding of just how powerful the plane is, it's been said.
The UK has already committed to buying 138 of the F-35 Lightning II, which will undertake missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth, the £3 billion behemoth aircraft carrier and the nation's future flagship.
Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, a self-confessed "test pilot geek", has been putting the cutting-edge warplane with a top speed of 1,200 mph through its paces.
When pressed on what he would say to the critics of the jets and those who question their price tag, the 37-year-old said he would ask them what their alternative option is.
"It would be utterly nonsensical to not purchase and design and develop the F-35 and have it as our core staple ingredient forming our airpower," he told the Press Association.



"It is an incredibly, incredibly powerful aircraft and I am not talking about thrust, the capabilities it brings to the battle space - it is incredibly powerful.
"The disappointing thing is I can't share all the details... I do think a lot of the critics would be quietened very quickly."
The UK's £9.1 billion programme to buy 48 of the F-35s, the world's most advanced fighter jet, over the next decade, has come under fire over capability and expense.
Reports have suggested that the effective cost of each plane is as much as £150 million when logistics and support are taken into account.



But Sqn Ldr Edgell from Worcestershire said the country should be "incredibly proud and excited" about the F-35 with the UK committed to purchasing 138 in total.
During the project, he said Britain has been working alongside the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and the US Air Force to develop and design the jet.
The father-of-three, who has been trialling the jet as part of the Integrated Test Force, said it is "not an off the shelf product" and has been "customised to suit our needs".
Earlier this month the jets were cleared for take-off from the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth following successful trials using a ski-ramp design featured on the ship.












The UK currently has 12 F-35 jets in the United States being tested ahead of flight trials off the ship next year - with two more planes being delivered by the end of 2017.
Sqn Ldr Edgell said a highlight for him during testing to date was landing on USS America using its "hovering capacity" for a vertical landing, his favourite feature of the jet.
Quizzed on any issues encountered with the planes so far, he said the whole point of tests is to "identify the issues and then determine how they need to be resolved".
"Some people like to talk about all the problems of the F-35.
"But the F-35 is going through developmental tests, it is a developing jet, it is not developed," Sqn Ldr Edgell added.
He said during the 2015 trials they realised the "models weren't quite finessed" enough, and following a change to the software for this years' testing it "worked an absolute dream".
The former Harrier Jump Jet pilot said flying the plane is a "pleasure" and that it is "incredibly simple" with an "enormous amount of thrust".
"You very quickly realise when flying the F-35 that is an enjoyable task when you come back to the aircraft carrier. Flying the Harrier back to the carrier, now that was a handful," he said.
With a father who was a British Airways captain and a mother who worked as a British Airways air hostess, Sqn Ldr Edgell said aviation is running through his veins.
He also openly admitted that watching the blockbuster Top Gun was a "fantastic bit of recruitment" when it came to encouraging him to become a military pilot.
Ahead of the flight trials off HMS Queen Elizabeth, with him tipped to be first to fly off the carrier, he said the next step and preparing for it is his entire focus.
"A close up of the bottom of the tyre and the top of the deck would mean so much to so many people, and I not just talking about me," he said, stressing it will be a highlight for all involved.
Sqn Ldr Edgell said the first time a jet aircraft, the Harrier, put its wheels down through a vertical landing on an aircraft carrier was in 1963, highlighting that England have won the football World Cup since then.
"We win the World Cup more frequently than we do what we are going to do next year," he said.
"That is the magnitude of the event."



Facts and figures

  • The jet measures 15.6 metres (51.2ft) in overall length, has a wingspan of 10.7 metres (35ft) and a height of 4.36 metres (14.3ft)
  • It has a top speed of 1.6 Mach or 1,200 mph, a Max G rating of 7g, and a combat radius of 833 km
  • The F-35 will take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth via the ski jump ramp, which has been designed to optimise the launch, later this year
  • Its airframe design, advanced materials and other features make it "virtually undetectable to enemy radar"
  • But the manufacturer has confirmed that its state-of-the-art communications system cannot link up with older planes.
  • Maximum thrust tops 40,000lbs and the jet has a range of 900 nautical miles
  • The jet is capable of two types of landing - vertically onto the deck, and also through the shipborne rolling vertical landing, which using forward air speed, allows the aircraft to bring back several thousand pounds of extra weight to the ship
  • The F-35 can also execute short take-offs
  • The warplanes will carry out missions from the two Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots
  • Its flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide, enough space for three football pitches


http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/critics-britains-new-150m-stealth-11433667







UK spy centre GCHQ hit by major leak - as water supply is disrupted along with 7,000 homes

UK SPY CENTRE CAN'T FLUSH



Britain's main spy centre has been hit by a major leak - when its main WATER supply was disrupted.

A burst water main affected GCHQ and around 7,000 homes in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

But while local residents and businesses struggled and 17 schools closed today, work has carried on as normal for the spy centre which has more than 5,600 staff.

Bosses insisted they had "robust contingency plans" - although they refused to go into any more detail about them. (That's the secret service for you)

The leak came as the UK experienced it's coldest night this Autumn - and forecasters predicted temperatures of -11C to come.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/uk-spy-centre-gchq-hit-11433875

Russia test-fires ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warhead in massive military drill involving fighter jets and submarines




Russia has test-fired ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in a massive military drill involving fighter jets and submarines.
The Strategic Nuclear Forces exercise saw missiles fired from land, sea and air in President Vladimir Putin's latest show of force amid tensions with the West.
Projectiles were fired from a cosmodrome, by long-range strategic bomber aircraft and nuclear subs from Russia's northern and Pacific fleets.
Russia's Ministry of Defence hailed the exercise as a success, saying "all assigned targets were engaged".
It comes just days after it emerged that the country is set to test its biggest ever nuclear missile which is powerful enough to destroy the whole of the UK, Texas or France with a single strike.
Defence officials said Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3 aircraft took off from the Ukrainka, Engels and Shaikovka airfields and fired cruise missiles at ground targets located at the Kura (Kamchatka), Pemboy (Komi), and Terekta (Kazakhstan).
They also said Strategic Missile Forces fired a Topol missile from the Plesetsk State Test Cosmodrome at the Kura range.
And a Pacific fleet submarine fired two ballistic missiles from the Okhotsk Sea at the Chizha range, Arkhangelsk region, and a northern fleet submarine fired a ballistic missile at the Kura range.
The Ministry said: "The troops completed all tasks. All assigned targets were engaged."
The so-called Satan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile could deliver about a dozen nuclear warheads of 40 megatons - 2,000 times as powerful as the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
President Vladimir Putin's Defence Ministry plans to test two RS-28 Sarmat super nukes at the remote Plesetsk Cosmodrome before the end of the year, it was reported.
The 100-tonne weapons - which could enter service as early as 2019 - will make the bombs dropped on Japan look like “popguns”, experts have said.
Russia claims the missiles can "beat any defences" as it seeks to replace its arsenal of SS-18 Satan weapons.



The Satan 2 missile was displayed during a Victory Day parade in May and test-firings have been delayed several times due to problems with the missile itself and silo.
A source told the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper that two tests will take place this year, as long as the first one goes according to plan.
The source said: "The main purpose is to check the performance of the rocket's systems at the time of the exit from the silo, and the activation of Sarmat's first stage and the subsequent [flight] for about five seconds."
Last May, frightening footage of the liquid-fuelled Satan 2 being paraded through the streets was posted online.
Moscow weapons experts have said the weapon of mass destruction will be able to evade radar defences and could travel far enough to strike London or the East and West Coast of the US.
The terrifying new missile is twice as light as Russia's current ballistic missiles, the Voyevoda, with an estimated range of more than 6,000 miles.

Experimental design work "Sarmat

The missiles have an estimated speed of more than Mach 20, or 4.3 miles per second.
Military expert Aleksey Leonkov told Kommersant that when Russia adopted the Voyevoda it carried out more than 30 tests, and not all were successful.
He expects a high number of Satan 2 tests to be carried out before the weapon is deemed ready for service.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/russia-test-fires-ballistic-missile-11416060




Russians remember Stalin victims



Hundreds of people gathered in central Moscow on Sunday to honour the memory of thousands of men and women executed by the Soviet authorities under leader Josef Stalin.

Speakers read aloud the names of some 30,000 Muscovites — only a small portion of the estimated one million or more thought to have been killed in 1937-38.

Sergey Mitrokhin, former Chairman of Yabloko, the Russian United Democratic Party:

“The authorities try to flirt with this dark past. We sometimes see how in different situations, they allude to some kind of affinity with the Soviet Union, with Stalin. That is why events such as today’s are all the more important, so that the authorities will see that the people have forgotten nothing.”

“Memorial”, a widely respected civil rights group has held the ceremony every year since 2006. Germany’s ambassador to Russia, Rudiger von Fritsch, attended this time.

“The 20th Century has known so much repression. In my own country too, in Germany. So we are commemorating all the victims because only remembrance will help us to prevent such things from happening again.”

Under Stalin’s rule from 1924 until his death in 1953 millions of people were deported to prison camps or just simply disappeared.

Some rights groups have accused President Vladimir Putin of seeking to whitewash the Soviet dictator’s crimes amid a wave of patriotic fervor.

The ceremony came ahead of Monday’s Day of Remembrance for victims of political repression established by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1991.

http://www.euronews.com/amp/2017/10/29/russians-remember-stalin-victims

Thursday, October 12, 2017

US aircraft carrier drills with Japan as Air Force B-1 bombers buzz North Korea

uss ronald reagan
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan

A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan, is conducting drills with a Japanese warship in waters around Okinawa southwest of the Korean peninsula, Japan's military said on Wednesday. 

The exercise comes amid heightened tension with North Korea as the U.S. holds air drills in the region with B1-B bombers flown from Guam.

The exercise with the Reagan strike group, which began on Saturday, involves vessels sailing from the Bashi Channel, which separates the Philippines and Taiwan, to seas around Japan's southwest island nearer to North Korea, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force said in a statement.

One Japanese destroyer, the Shimkaze, is accompanying the 100,000-ton Reagan, which is based in Japan, and its escort ships, the JMSDF said.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/us-aircraft-carrier-japan-air-force-b-1-bombers-north-korea-2017-10?r=US&IR=T
 
 

Major symposium on Dutch double spy Mata Hari to take place in London

Mata Hari

 A symposium about the life, activities and legacy of World War I-era double spy Mata Hari is to take place in London this month, on the 100th anniversary of her death by execution. Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in Holland in 1876. In 1895 she married Rudolf MacLeod, a Dutch Army Captain of Scottish descent serving the Dutch colonial administration of what is now Indonesia. She eventually divorced the alcoholic and abusive MacLeod, who was 20 years her senior, and joined the circus in Paris. Eventually she became wildly popular as an exotic dancer, a position that placed her in direct and close contact with several influential men in France, including the millionaire industrialist Émile Étienne Guimet, who became her longtime lover. Several of her male devotees came from military backgrounds from various European countries. Most historians agree that by 1916 Mata Hari was working for French intelligence, gathering information from her German lovers. However, in February of the following year she was arrested by French counterintelligence officers in Paris and accused of spying on behalf of the German Empire. French prosecutors accused her of having provided Germany with tactical intelligence that cost the Triple Entente the lives of over 50,000 soldiers.

On October 28, an international symposium will take place at City University, one of 28 colleges and research centers that make up the University of London. Entitled “The Legacy of Mata Hari: Women and Transgression”, the symposium will bring together historians, museum curators, as well as intelligence and military experts who have spent decades studying the story of Mata Hari. They include her biographers from Holland, historians from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, German and French military intelligence historians, as well as a representative from the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. The symposium’s host and keynote speaker is Dr Julie Wheelwright, Lecturer in Creative Writing (non-fiction) and director of the Master’s program in Creative Writing at City University. Dr Wheelwright is considered one of the world’s foremost specialists on Mata Hari and is author of the 1992 book The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage.

The organizers of the symposium say that recently unearthed personal letters by leading figures in Mata Hari’s life, as well as newly declassified government documents, present researchers with a unique opportunity to reassess the Dutch double spy’s character, motives and legacy. Another purpose of the symposium will be to explore the reality and stereotypes of the use of female sexuality in espionage, the role of women in war and intelligence, as well as the historical contribution of women spies in World War I. Several other events are planned on the occasion of the centenary of Mata Hari’s death across Europe, including a major new exhibition about her in her home down of Leeuwarden in Holland’s Fries Museum, which is scheduled to open later this month.

 Author: Joseph Fitsanakis

Israel reportedly behind discovery of Russian antivirus company’s spy links

Computer hacking

Israeli spy services were reportedly behind the United States government’s recent decision to purge Kaspersky Lab antivirus software from its computers, citing possible collusion with Russian intelligence. Last month, the US Department of Homeland Security issued a directive ordering that all government computers should be free of software products designed by Kaspersky Lab. Formed in the late 1990s by Russian cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky, the multinational antivirus software provider operates out of Moscow but is technically based in the United Kingdom. Its antivirus and cybersecurity products are installed on tens of millions of computers around the world, including computers belonging to government agencies in the US and elsewhere. But last month’s memorandum by the US government’s domestic security arm alarmed the cybersecurity community by alleging direct operational links between the antivirus company and the Kremlin.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that the initial piece of intelligence that alerted the US government to the alleged links between Kaspersky Lab and Moscow was provided by Israel. The American paper said that Israeli cyber spies managed to hack into Kaspersky’s systems and confirm the heavy presence of Russian government operatives there. The Times’ report stated that the Israelis documented real-time cyber espionage operations by the Russians, which targeted the government computer systems of foreign governments, including the United States’. The Israeli spies then reportedly approached their American counterparts and told them that Kaspersky Lab software was being used by Russian intelligence services as a backdoor to millions of computers worldwide. The Israelis also concluded that Kaspersky’s antivirus software was used to illegally steal files from these computers, which were essentially infected by spy software operated by the Russian government.

It was following the tip by the Israelis that he Department of Homeland Security issued its memorandum saying that it was “concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky [Lab] officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies”. The memorandum resulted in a decision by the US government —overwhelmingly supported by Congress— to scrap all Kaspersky software from its computer systems. Kaspersky Lab has rejected allegations that it works with Russian intelligence. In a statement issued in May of this year, the company said it had “never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis

Britain’s main threats are from Russia and jihadi terrorists – our defence policy should reflect that.

.HMS Ocean is at risk from defence spending cuts.
 HMS Ocean is at risk from defence spending cuts.

Since 2015, British defence and security policy has been defined by two words: “global reach”. Britain, said the national security strategy hastily written by the incoming Tory government, should have the ability to zap any location on the planet. Now, as the government trawls through the defence budget to try to find ways to plug a £20bn hole, the entire concept is being held up to ridicule. It is our already depleted navy that’s getting zapped.

Two Royal Navy amphibious landing ships – HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion – are being considered for the chop, together with 28 brand-new Wildcat helicopters, designed for warfare against ships and submarines. Other options include cutting 1,000 soldiers from the Royal Marines, on top of 200 lost already, and scrapping the helicopter ship HMS Ocean.

The move has prompted outrage in south-west England, where much of the Royal Navy is based and was, it emerged last week, the trigger for the resignation of the commander of the UK’s maritime forces. Predictably, even backbench Tories are now agitating to save this or that favoured segment of the military. What is needed is something much more radical: to scrap the policy of “global reach” and start afresh.

The strategic defence review and the accompanying strategy statement were hailed in 2015 as a triumph of process. Guided by the cabinet’s two least inspiring figures – Philip Hammond as foreign secretary and Michael Fallon at the Ministry of Defence – Britain managed to re-commit itself to a vast military presence east of the Suez canal without anybody in parliament seeming to notice.

On top of that, it had begun the conversion of the two army units into “strike brigades”, designed to invade other countries by land or sea. And it had committed the UK to both replacing the Trident missile submarines and deploying both of the new aircraft carriers commissioned under Gordon Brown. The only thing missing amid the flurry of maps and organograms, was a clear understanding of the evolving threats to Britain.

These, as we now understand, are the jihadi terrorism of Islamic State and the hybrid warfare being waged against all western democracies by Vladimir Putin. Even in 2015 it was clear that the major and strategic threat to the global order came from unilateral actions by Moscow. Crimea had been annexed, Ukraine for all practical purposes partitioned and the mass murder of passengers on MH17 traced to Russian backed and armed rebels. Yet the security strategy busied itself with trade issues, the aid budget, a vanity naval base in Bahrain and training missions to Malaysia and Singapore.

At the core of the strategy was the protection of a “rules-based international order and its institutions”. But since 2015, two rather big holes have appeared in that rules-based order. First, British voters decided to break up one of its vital institutions, the EU; then the Kremlin manipulated the US electoral system so effectively that a man under investigation for links with Russian intelligence is now commander-in-chief of the US military.

The rules-based order is in disarray; the UK’s place in it uncertain – and the UK’s military capabilities are being slashed piecemeal to the diktats of an austerity budget that does not make sense. As to the foreign secretary – the person nominally in charge of handling these problems – it does not seem likely that he will be around long enough to apply his mind to them.

The whole situation calls for a rethink and it looks, incredibly, as if Labour is better equipped to lead it.

Theresa May offered, in her Florence speech, a new security treaty between Britain and the EU. But she did not say what would be in it. They know what is not in it: the Tories have ruled out any participation in the EU armed forces, or EU foreign and security policy after Brexit. Yet Europe has to be the main security focus of the UK for the foreseeable future for two linked reasons. First, because Europe is where Islamist terror cells have been planning operations against British citizens, both here and abroad. Second, because Putin’s strategic aim is to disrupt Europe, rendering it “multipolar” – with some states and many opposition parties polarised towards Moscow’s interests. The mini-review going on behind closed doors in Whitehall should be halted and brought out into the open. The ships and naval helicopters being earmarked for the chop are vital components of the conventional deterrent Britain is committed to providing via Nato in the Baltic. Instead of another round of piecemeal cuts, the government has to decide how the forces and equipment specified in 2015 are supposed to work amid the new global and regional insecurity.

There is a big opportunity here for Labour. Having buried the issue of Trident renewal, it could bury concerns about its commitment to national security with a clear commitment to stop and reverse defence cuts.

The changed pattern of terrorist attacks in the summer has prompted a scramble to centralise intelligence resources and rethink counter-terror tactics. That’s good. But ask “What are we doing about Putin’s attempt to dismember Europe?” and the most honest answer you’ll get is: helping him.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Tories implemented real defence spending cuts totalling 13%. Even if the government meets in full its obligation to spend 2% of GDP on defence, with GDP growing slowly and sterling depressed against the dollar, that is already delivering fewer resources than intended.

Nobody can predict how threats to the UK will evolve. But when you see Spain wracked with civil unrest and some parts of Germany voting 20%-plus for the far-right, it is rational to believe those threats will evolve in Europe. All we can ask of the military technocrats is that they design forces and commission equipment flexible enough to meet the evolving challenge.

What we can ask of government is strategic clarity and money. But there is none.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/09/britains-main-threats-are-from-russia-and-jihadi-terrorists-our-defence-policy-should-reflect-that



Al Qaeda Spinoffs Rise from Syrian Ashes

Al Qaeda in Syria


One of the most worrisome trend lines in the Syrian civil war has been the accelerated growth of al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which seized control of Syria’s northwestern Idlib province over the summer and has transformed into the de facto face of the country’s anti-Assad campaign.

Throughout the six-year-old Syrian civil war, numerous militias, such as the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham, have taken up arms against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they attempt to force the loathed leader from power.

Other rebel factions, however, including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, have prioritized ousting ISIS from its strongholds in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa as well as in Syria’s eastern Deir e-Zour province.

As different groups gain or cede territory over the course of the conflict, HTS’ power and prestige among the Syrian people has only increased.

“HTS is emerging as the most formidable fighting force in Syria and is attracting more and more jihadists – foot soldiers and leaders – from other groups inside the country,” says Emile Nakhleh, Cipher Brief expert and a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. “HTS’ three-pronged strategy of appearing more Syrian, more focused on Assad, and more anti-Shia is enhancing its credibility and legitimacy, and propelling it to the forefront of the anti-Assad jihad in Syria.”
Last month, while speaking at an event at the New America Foundation, former White House counterterrorism director Joshua Geltzer called the threat posed by al Qaeda in Syria billed the jihadist group as the al Qaeda network’s “largest global affiliate,” with an estimated force of at least 10,000 fighters.

Al Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot developed in 2011 against the backdrop of Syria’s civil war. The group, then known as Jabhat al-Nusra or the al-Nusra Front, quickly emerged as one of the most potent rebel movements fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In January 2012, it released its first video outlining its objectives: overthrow Assad and institute an Islamic government in Syria based on Sharia law.

The U.S. State Department designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization in December 2012, and the organization continued to serve as al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria until last summer when its leader, Abu Muhammad al-Julani announced that his group was “splitting” from the al Qaeda network and rebranding itself as Jabhat Fateh el-Sham (JFS).

Counterterrorism experts immediately dismissed the idea that a real separation had occurred.  Pointing out that just a few months prior, al Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri had issued a statement in which he offered his blessing for al-Nusra to break away from al Qaeda and unite with other jihadi factions fighting in Syria, many saw this simply as a means of procuring new partnerships and additional sources of financing from individuals and organizations hesitant to support an overt al Qaeda branch. Moreover, during his video announcement, Julani declared his reverence for Osama bin Laden and his intention to establish an Islamic state in Syria, further indicating his continued adherence to al Qaeda’s doctrine.

This January, JFS merged with four smaller Syrian jihadist factions to form an umbrella organization called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which now dominates the two million people living in Idlib province, the most populous area held by rebels.

Since the group’s latest rebranding, it has accumulated strength at an alarming rate, managed to essentially push its main rival, the Turkish-backed Ahrah al Sham, out of Idlib province, and worked to present itself as an anti-Assad force fighting on behalf of the Syrian people instead of a purely jihadist movement – all while likely retaining its clandestine ties to al Qaeda, according to counterterrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.

Earlier this month, HTS faced a minor setback after two of its significant fighting factions, Nour el-Din al-Zinki and Jaish al-Ahrar, broke away from the alliance. Then last week, HTS announced a change in leadership as Julani was appointed to head the organization in place of Abu Jaber al-Sheikh, who was selected as leader when the groups merged in January. HTS gave no reason for the resignation, adding in a statement that al-Sheikh had been appointed head of its Shura Council.

Nonetheless, by emphasizing its anti-Assad campaign, HTS has managed to tighten its grip on Idlib province and galvanize support under the radar while ISIS bears the blunt of U.S. and international force.

“Jihadist groups have a tendency to intermingle the local with the transnational, so we should not take its current local prioritization as unchangeable,” Gartenstein-Ross told The Cipher Brief. “But,” he said, “the group is currently emphasizing the local, while its overarching objectives remain transnational.”

And despite its targeted, anti-Assad messaging in Syria, HTS’ long-term objectives still align with al Qaeda’s desire to attack the “far enemy,” the United States.

“If HTS believes that American forces and military operations in Syria aim at thwarting HTS’ goal of toppling the Assad regime and establishing a Sunni emirate, the group will begin to engage American troops in Syria,” Nakhleh explains.

“Once it achieves its short-and medium term objectives, the threat to the U.S. becomes more real.”

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/al-qaeda-spinoffs-rise-syrian-ashes

British IS recruiter Sally Jones killed in Syria drone strike

British jihadi Sally Jones, one of Islamic State's top recruiters, is alive and trying to escape from the Syrian city of Raqqa
Jones became known as the White Widow after the death of her husband
 
The former punk rocker from Kent fled to Syria with her son in 2013 and became a leading recruitment officer for Islamic State.
The Government was informed by CIA chiefs in June that US forces had killed Jones, 50, in a missile strike close to the Iraq/Syria border, The Sun reports.
However, it was kept secret on both sides of the Atlantic over fears her 12-year-old son Jojo may have also died in the blast.

The Sun says Britain's most wanted woman, Sally Jones, has been killed in a drone strike
The CIA informed No 10 about the attack in June, according to The Sun
 
It remains unclear if he was killed and sources said the attack would have been aborted if it was known he was close by, the newspaper added.
Sky's Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said: "UK Defence sources have told Sky News they believe the strike was successful but question some of the detail being reported in the media.
"The UK and US military has been working closely together on a number of high-profile targets in recent months and Jones is believed to have been on that list."
Jones became known as the White Widow after her British jihadist husband Junaid Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in August 2015.
Before fleeing to Syria, computer hacker Hussain admitted publishing Tony Blair's address in 2011 and was jailed for six months after making hoax calls to a UK counter-terror hotline a year later.


IS recruiter Sally Jones is known to be alive in Raqqa
IS recruiter Sally Jones fled to Syria in 2013


At the time of his death, the 21-year-old from Birmingham had allegedly been planning "barbaric attacks against the West", including terror plots targeting "high profile public commemorations".
In an exclusive report in 2015, Sky News revealed the couple used online messaging services to urge British would-be recruits to carry out "lone wolf" attacks in the UK.
In one conversation with an undercover journalist, Jones detailed the materials needed to make a bomb and said she could help construct a device remotely.
Following the death of Hussain, Jones was reportedly placed in charge of the female wing of IS' Anwar al-Awlaki batallion - a foreign fighter unit formed with the purpose of planning and executing attacks in the West.
The 50-year-old used her Twitter account to recruit women and shared pictures of herself with weapons.

 Junaid Hussain

Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in August 2015


She also posted comments such as: "You Christians all need beheading with a nice blunt knife and stuck on the railings at Raqqa ... Come here I'll do it for you."
Despite this, Sky News was told in June that the jihadist was not happy in Syria and wanted to return to Britain.
The wife of another immigrant to the so-called Islamic caliphate said she knew Jones and described her as "very cute".
She added: "(Jones) was crying and wants to get back to Britain but ISIS is preventing her because she is now a military wife. She told me she wish to go to her country."
Major General Chip Chapman, the former MoD head of counter terror, told Sky News that Jones was a "significant" target for the US and UK.

Former punk rocker Jones became a leading IS recruiter
 Former punk rocker Jones became a leading IS recruiter


He said: "Recently IS have said women should get involved in jihad - that's a sign of weakness.
"If you take out those who are high value target women it is going to have an impact at the operation level of IS."
Asked about reports Jones' son was killed in the strike, Maj Gen Chapman added: "It is a difficult one because under the UN Charters he is under the age of what we would classify as a soldier."
He continued: "Even if he got up to really bad things, he shouldn't have been targeted. We don't know for sure whether he was with her or not."

http://news.sky.com/story/british-is-recruiter-sally-jones-killed-in-syria-airstrike-the-sun-reports-11076814

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

French police officer charged in complex spy case involving Morocco, Algeria

Paris Orly Airport

A French police officer has been charged with illegally sharing secret government documents in an espionage case involving France’s border police and diplomats from Morocco and Algeria. According to information published by the French daily Libération, the police officer supplied Moroccan intelligence with classified information about France’s border-control policies and procedures. He also gave the Moroccans information about the movements in France of Moroccan nationals and senior Algerian government officials.

According to the report by Libération, the police officer, identified only as “Charles D.”, was charged on May 31 of this year with corruption and violating secrecy rules. Court documents state that Charles D. gave away classified documents belonging to the Direction centrale de la police aux frontières (DCPAF), a directorate of the French National Police that is in charge of immigration control and border protection across France. He reportedly gave the documents to another man, identified in court documents as “Driss A.”, who worked at Paris’ Orly Airport. It is believed that Driss A. worked as director of the Orly branch of ICTS International, a Dutch-based company that provides security services in several European airports. It is also believed that Driss A. —a Moroccan-born French citizen— was secretly employed by the Deuxième Bureau, Morocco’s military intelligence service. It appears that the Moroccans compensated Charles D with free holidays in Morocco in exchange for his services.

Interestingly, when French counterintelligence officers raided Driss A.’s home in Paris, they found documents detailing the activities of senior Algerian government ministers during their official trips to France. The officials are identified in the documents as Algeria’s former Deputy Prime Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, Higher Education Minister Tahar Hadjar, and Telecommunications Minister Hamid Grine. The documents appear to have been produced by Algerian intelligence and given initially to the embassy of Algeria in France. No explanation has been given about how these documents fell in Driss A.’s possession. Some observers assume that Driss A., acting as a Moroccan intelligence operative, must have acquired them from a source inside the Algerian embassy in Paris.

https://intelnews.org/2017/09/07/01-2171/

Alleged Israeli spying device concealed inside fake rock found in Lebanon

Cyprus, Israel, Syria, Lebanon

A sophisticated spying device disguised as a rock, which was allegedly planted by Israeli intelligence, was found by Lebanese Army troops on a hill located a few miles from the Lebanese-Israeli border. The discovery was reported early on Saturday by several Lebanese news websites, including Al-Mayadeen and Al-Manar, which are closely affiliated with Hezbollah. Al-Manar said that the spy device had been found in the outskirts of Kfarchouba, a predominantly Shiite Lebanese village, located in Arkoub, 100 miles southeast of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Kfarchouba’s location is extremely strategic, as the village overlooks northern Israel on the south and the Golan Heights on the east. It has been bombed by Israel several dimes between the 1970s and today, and is remains heavily militarized.

Reports from Lebanon said that a Lebanese Army patrol found the device hidden inside a fake rock, which had been placed on a hill outside Kfarchouba. The device had been placed in direct view of a major Lebanese military outpost, known as Rawisat. As soon as the device was detected, the patrol reportedly called in the Lebanese Army’s intelligence corps for support. Technical experts soon examined the discovery and determined that it contained a sophisticated thermographic camera. Also known as infrared or thermal imaging cameras, thermographic cameras capture images using infrared radiation, instead of using visible light, as is the case with commonly used cameras. This allows them to capture relatively clear images in the darkness, and are thus used for military operations that require night vision. Some Lebanese websites published photographs showing parts of the alleged spy device, which appear to bear writing in Hebrew.

This is not the first time that alleged Israeli spy devices have been found in southern Lebanon. In September of 2014, one person was killed when a mysterious device found near the Lebanese village of Adloun suddenly exploded as Hezbollah troops were examining it. It was later suggested that the device had been attached by Israeli troops to the Hezbollah-owned telecommunications network that spans southern Lebanon. Hezbollah said that the device had been remotely detonated by an Israeli drone in order to prevent it from being reverse-engineered. Two other devices found by a Lebanese Army patrol in the same region in October of 2009 suddenly exploded, as Lebanese security personnel were approaching. A Lebanese Army official said on Sunday that the device found in Kfarchouba will be dismantled by Lebanese Army engineers.

Ex-spy chef jailed as elite power struggle widens in oil-rich Kazakhstan

The Tengiz oil refinery in Kazakhstan

 A former director of Kazakhstan’s feared intelligence agency has been given a lengthy prison sentence, as a ruthless power struggle between rival factions surrounding the country’s president widens. From 2001 to 2006, Nartai Dutbayev directed the Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB), a direct institutional descendant of the Soviet-era KGB. Founded in 1992, the KNB is today directly controlled by Kazakhstan’s authoritarian President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Many officials serving in senior KNB positions are members of the president’s family, or close friends.

For many years, Dutbayev enjoyed unchallenged power, which was afforded to him by way of his close links to the presidential palace. But in 2006, he resigned from his top KNB post in the aftermath of the murder of popular Kazakh opposition politician Altynbek Sarsenbaev. Ten members of a specialist commando unit within the KNB were found guilty of Sarsenbaev’s murder. He was killed soon after he announced his decision to compete electorally against President Nazarbayev. But Dutbayev was never personally censured by the government. Then, in December of last year, Dutbayev was arrested on charges of “divulging government secrets”. The former spy chief’s trial began in July of this year, but was conducted in its entirety behind closed doors.
This past Monday it was reported that Dutbayev was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison for espionage on August 24. It is not known why Dutbayev’s sentence was announced to the country’s media more than two weeks after it was formally imposed by the court. Additionally, Kazakh authorities have said nothing about who Dutbayev is believed to have divulged government secrets to, or why. Three alleged accomplices of Dutbayev, including former senior KNB officials Erlan Nurtaev and Nurlan Khasen, were also sentenced to between three and five years in prison for espionage.
Many observers believe that the jailing of the KNB officials is part of a broader power struggle that is currently taking place between rival factions competing to succeed President Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan’s leader has ruled the former Soviet Republic with an iron fist since before its independence from the USSR in 1991. The KNB appears to be a central player in the unfolding power struggle between the country’s governing elites. Almost exactly nine years ago, a Kazakh intelligence officer tried unsuccessfully to abduct another KNB former director, Alnur Musaev, who was living in self-imposed exile in Austria at the time. Many believe that he was acting under Nazarbayev’s direct orders. In 2014, two Kazakh men, believed to be KNB officers, tried unsuccessfully to abduct Viktor Khrapunov, Kazakhstan’s former Minister for Energy and Coal, who also served as mayor of Almati, before leaving Kazakhstan for Switzerland.
Dutbayev is reportedly already in prison. He is believed to be sharing a cell with Serik Akhmetov, Kazakhstan’s former prime minister, who is serving 11 years for alleged corruption.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Photos show US, South Korean, and Japanese aircraft on mission to flex on North Korea after ICBM test

us air force b-1b
A US Air Force B-1B Lancer prepares for takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to conduct a mission with South Korean F-15, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets, July 7.


Three days after North Korea demonstrated its ability to hit the US with long-range nuclear missiles, the US, South Korea, and Japan put on a display of air power expressly meant to frighten Kim Jong Un.

Flying 10 hours from Guam to the Korean peninsula, US B-1 Lancer bombers joined up with South Korean F-15s and dropped dud bombs at a range near the demilitarized border between North and South Korea. On the way back, Japanese F-2 fighters escorted the US heavy bombers.

"North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland," Gen. Terrence O’ Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said in a statement. "Let me be clear, if called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces."

In the pictures below, see how the US and its allies train to respond to North Korea.

The B-1 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons but is no longer able to. But it can carry more conventional bombs than any US Air Force plane and fly at mach 1.2.

The B-1 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons but is no longer able to. But it can carry more conventional bombs than any US Air Force plane and fly at mach 1.2.
US Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger
 

Due to tensions in the Pacific, the US maintains a constant bomber presence in Guam.

Due to tensions in the Pacific, the US maintains a constant bomber presence in Guam.
US Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Skovo
 

Here's the US and South Korea sending a strong bilateral message to Kim Jong Un.

Here's the US and South Korea sending a strong bilateral message to Kim Jong Un. 
 
US Air Force B-1B Lancers fly with South Korean F-15 and US Air Force F-16 fighter jets over the Korean Peninsula, July 7.Republic of Korea air force
 
The US frequently flies over Korea with heavy bombers to signal resolve, but this time the Air Force stepped it up by dropping inert bombs near the DMZ.
Inert weapons dropped from US Air Force B-1B Lancers practicing attack capabilities land on the Pilsung Range, July 7.US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Schneider

On the way back, Japanese F-2s escorted the B-1s.

On the way back, Japanese F-2s escorted the B-1s.
Two US Air Force B-1B Lancers fly with a Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-2 fighter jet over the East China Sea, July 7
 

Russian security firm Kaspersky denies spy agency work

Eugene Kaspersky
Eugene Kaspersky founded Kaspersky Lab in 1997  

Moscow-based security company Kaspersky Lab has denied working with Russian intelligence agencies, following US media and government suspicion.

News website Bloomberg said it had seen emails showing Kaspersky had developed tools for Russia's intelligence agency.

And, on Tuesday, the US government's General Services Administration removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved vendors.

But the company has now insisted it has "no ties to any government".

Kaspersky Lab is known for its anti-virus software and provides cyber-security products to businesses.

Bloomberg reported it had seen emails between chief executive Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, outlining a secret cyber-security project apparently requested by the Russian intelligence service FSB.

In the emails Mr Kaspersky describes tools to "protect against attacks" and also engage "active countermeasures".

Bloomberg suggested that the tools not only deflected cyber-attacks, but also captured information about the hackers launching them, to pass on to Russian intelligence services.

In the emails, Mr Kaspersky said the software could one day be sold to corporate customers worldwide.

Refuting the claims, Kaspersky Lab said: "The communication was misinterpreted or manipulated to try to make the media outlet's narrative work.

"Kaspersky Lab is very public about the fact that it assists law enforcement agencies around the world with fighting cyber-threats, including those in Russia, by providing cyber-security expertise on malware and cyber-attacks."

However, the US General Services Administration said it had removed Kaspersky Lab from its list of government-approved suppliers "after review and careful consideration".

In a further statement, Kaspersky Lab said: "The company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber-espionage efforts.

"Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations."

In the statement, Mr Kaspersky offered to meet US government officials and provide his company's software code for audit.

"Kaspersky Lab, a private company, seems to be caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight where each side is attempting to use the company as a pawn in their political game," the company said.

The Trump administration has been fighting allegations that it had contact with Russian officials during the US election in 2016.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-40580896

The US had a clear shot at killing Kim Jong-un on 4 July - here's why it didn't strike

kim-jong-un.jpg

When North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile in the early-morning hours of 4 July, US military and intelligence personnel watched for a full 70 minutes, a source told The Diplomat's Ankit Panda.

During that time, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smoked cigarettes and strolled around the launchpad under the US's gaze.

The US knew North Korea was in the final stages of building an ICBM after a recent rocket-engine test. The US knew North Korea liked to test missiles on the American Independence Day to send a message. The US knew this missile was different from any it had seen before, and the US knew it could destroy it with a variety of precision-fire platforms in the region. Importantly, the US also had Kim in its crosshairs for over an hour — and did nothing.

Those facts speak volumes about the security climate in the Koreas.
While it's “fairly standard that the US didn't strike the missile ahead of the launch,” Rodger Baker, the lead analyst of Asia Pacific and South Asia at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm, told Business Insider, “the unusual aspect may be saying they were watching, or at least allowing that to leak.”

Video of the launch clearly shows Kim on-site, sometimes feet away from the missile. The next day, the US and South Korea put on a blistering display of precision-guided firepower demonstrating they could have both killed Kim and stopped the launch. But they didn’t.

By letting North Korea know it watched Kim as he prepared for one of his country's most provocative missile tests ever, Baker says, the US may have sent two powerful messages.

The decision fit with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement that the US wanted “to bring Kim Jong-un to his senses, not his knees” and that regime change was not the US's ultimate goal.
But regime security is the reason North Korea wants long-range nuclear weapons in the first place.
If the US demonstrates it's not intent on killing Kim, that could communicate that there's “no need to continue” the missile programme, according to Baker.

But “if the program is continued,” Baker said, the US showed it could “strike it and Kim.” Though North Korea varies and tries to hide its launch points, the US tracks them vigorously, and footage of the launches always shows Kim nearby.

Perhaps rather than kill Kim and trigger a North Korean response, which could be massive, the US elected to signal that the best path to regime security would be to stay indoors and not play around near dangerous rocket engines, which have a habit of blowing up.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/north-korea-kim-jong-un-us-assassination-4-july-missile-launch-testing-a7837176.html

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Armed SAS troops are posing as beggars and road sweepers in UK cities amid fears of more terror attacks




With fears of more terror attacks still gripping Britain, SAS troops have taken to our streets in a bid to prevent any further bloodshed.

Special forces soldiers armed with Heckler and Koch MP7 are disguised as beggars and road sweepers at key at key positions in cities and poised to strike at a moment’s notice.

It is hoped the troops can stop any repeat of the London Bridge or Manchester attacks or at least try to restrict casualties.

One source said: “The view is there are so many homeless people out there undercover operators will remain safe and anonymous.

“Anyone trying to pick on them would be extremely foolish and the public should feel reassured that a lot is being done to minimise the effect of another attack.”

A military source added: “The armed units have been deployed for some time now and it is unlikely the operation will be brought to a halt.

“The threat level is still assessed by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre as severe and that means an attack is highly likely so we must be ready.


Special forces soldiers armed with Heckler and Koch MP7 are disguised as tramps and road sweepers

"These soldiers provide a very good layer of immediate response at least to ­minimise casualties or stop injuries or deaths if they react quickly.

"The operation is police-led but the director of special forces is kept in touch with ­developments and is in touch with his men at all times.”

SAS soldiers from the regiment’s G-Squadron and Counter ­Revolutionary Warfare Wing have been drafted in for the operation.
Soldiers from the G-Squadron and Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing have been drafted in
They were deployed alongside police from the Counter Terrorist Firearms Officer unit when the terror threat level went to “critical” after the Manchester attack when Salman Adebi killed 23 people, including seven children, at an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester.

The troops and police are stationed around transport hubs and in ­shopping centres.

They are fed by comrades dressed as members of the public who on rotation pass by and drop ­take-aways and drinks for them to keep up the pretence.

As well as carrying the MP7 rifle the troopers and police officers also have an ­emergency medical kit to help victims of an attack.

The police-led drive was inspired by previous armed operations such as the Millennium Dome robbery in East London which was smashed by officers who used undercover ­observation posts.

SAS troops in the past have helped in large-scale surveillance ­operations, joining forces with MI5 and the police.

But in this latest role they are there specifically to open fire on terrorists targeting civilians.

Ordinary police units are either told to avoid areas where there are undercover teams or they steer clear of them if they are nearby.

An MoD spokesman said: “We do not comment on matters relating to special forces.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/armed-sas-troops-posing-beggars-10618574






Sunday, June 4, 2017

London Bridge terror: Seven killed in van and knife attack, three attackers shot dead


At least seven people have been killed and 48 injured in central London after attackers drove a van into pedestrians before stabbing others nearby.

The vehicle was driven at high speed into people on London Bridge just after 10pm on Saturday and then continued to Borough Market.

There, the attackers, reportedly armed with foot-long knives, jumped out of the white van and stabbed people, including a British Transport Police officer who has serious but not life-threatening injuries to his face, head and leg.

Within eight minutes, armed police confronted three male attackers, shooting them dead in Borough Market.

Eight minutes of terror: What happened where

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick condemned the atrocity as "appalling" and "ghastly". She said police believe all attackers had been "neutralised".

Referring to the speed with which officers were able to respond to the incident - in just eight minutes - she said: "We were already at a very high level of alertness.

"Severe means that an attack is highly likely and the threat level was at severe. We were prepared potentially for an incident as we have been for some considerable time."

Appealing to Londoners and visitors "to remain calm, be very vigilant", she also warned: "The last thing we need is people overreacting or take out there frustrations on other people in other communities".

Asking people to contact police if they see anything out of the ordinary, even if insignificant, she said where possible "people should carry on with their normal lives".

The injured were taken to five hospitals across London, according to the city's ambulance service. More were treated at the scene for less serious injuries.

France's President Macron said two of the victims were French citizens, with one in a serious condition.

:: Witnesses tell of gunfire and stabbings

A man on the ground with canisters attached to his chest. Pic: Gabriele Sciotto
Image: A man on the ground with canisters attached to his chest. Pic: Gabriele Sciotto
:: The moment police took down terrorists
The Premier Bankside hotel was evacuated and three hospitals - Guy's, St Thomas' and Evelina London Children's - went into lockdown "to keep patients, relatives and staff safe".

Police also responded to an incident in Vauxhall at 11.45pm but later said this was a stabbing unrelated to the two terrorist incidents.

People leave the area with their hands up after an incident near London Bridge in London
Image: People were told by police to leave the area with their hands up
:: Trump uses London attack to promote travel ban
Prime Minister Theresa May has returned to Downing Street for security briefings and will chair a meeting of the Government's emergency response committee - Cobra - later today.

She said the "terrible incident" was being treated as a "potential act of terrorism".

National campaigning in the General Election has been suspended by the Conservatives and Labour in the wake of the attack, with the PM likely to come under pressure to cancel or postpone Thursday's poll.

But London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who described the atrocity as a "barbaric act", has insisted he is not in favour of delaying the election.

He said: "One of the things we can do to show we are not cowed is to vote in the General Election on Thursday."

Police attend to an incident on London Bridge
Image: Police attend to an incident on London Bridge
Spectator journalist Will Heaven was at London Bridge shortly after the incident and wrote on Twitter that he had seen casualties - one on the pavement and one on the edge of the road.

He told Sky News: "It was about 10.15pm. I was in the back of an Uber cab driving over London Bridge...there was somebody down on the pavement with a small crowd around them clearly very concerned.

"It looked like someone had collapsed. We drove a bit further and noticed there was another person on the right hand side of the bridge who was also not on the pavement but in the road itself.

Was it a mistake to lower the UK terror threat?
"The penny dropped something quite serious was happening. Suddenly the traffic came to standstill. The driver said something bad is happening here.

"We could hear sirens coming and the suddenly ahead of us we noticed another casualty in the road."

He added that "it did not look like an accident", adding it was clear that police "thought they were responding to something far more serious than a road traffic accident".

A witness who gave his name as Jamie was in a restaurant near London Bridge. He said: "We heard a fight and everyone got up and everyone rushed out of the restaurant and we heard a massive, massive bang.

"Then we hid under the table and people came into the restaurant and knocked a bunch of stuff over, like the till.

"And then we ran into the restaurant into the kitchen, where there was a bunch of other people and a guy had been stabbed and he was cut and he was bleeding quite a lot."

Emergency services attend to an incident near London Bridge in London
Image: Emergency services attend to an incident near London Bridge in London
:: Stars to sing at concert 'with greater purpose'
A female companion said: "We were in the restaurant and we just saw three guys come into the restaurant, stabbed someone in the face and someone in the stomach.

"One of them had a big knife, then he came in and walked around the restaurant, I guess they just kind of stabbed anyone that they saw and knocked things on the ground and then we just hid."

Police asked people to avoid the areas affected, with London Bridge being closed in both directions.

London Bridge, Bank, Vauxhall and Borough stations were closed, although Bank and Vauxhall have since reopened.

The attacks come less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester.

Ariana Grande, who had been performing that night, tweeted: "Praying for London".

:: Anyone concerned about friends or relatives who may have been caught up in the attacks can call the police casualty bureau on 0800 096 1233 or 020 7158 0197.

http://news.sky.com/story/knife-attack-after-car-mounts-pavement-in-london-reports-10903580 


UPDATE
Raids taking place across the Barking region of London, 12 arrests made at one apartment block. More raids are going on.









Saturday, May 20, 2017

UK terror plot: Met Police arrest four men in east London on suspicion of planning attack

metropolitan-police.jpg

Four men have been arrested on suspicion of plotting a terror attack in the UK as part of an investigation by MI5.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police's counter terrorism command detained the suspects during raids on their homes.
The men, aged between 18 and 27, remain in custody while searches continue at five homes in east London and a nearby business address.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said they were detained “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”.
“These arrests were pre-planned as part of an ongoing investigation by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command and MI5,” he added. “The arrests are linked to activity in the UK.”
Investigators gave no further details on the operation, which follows a series of stings targeting alleged Isis supporters in Britain.
Security has been intensified in the capital since alleged Isis supporter Khalid Masood killed five people in a car and knife attack in Westminster in March.
Last month, a man was arrested while carrying several knives in Whitehall. Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, 27, has since been charged with preparing a terrorist act and two explosives offences dating back to time spent in Afghanistan in 2012.
In an unconnected case that emerged on the same day, three women have been charged with preparation of a terrorist act and conspiracy to murder following a police raid in Willesden that saw one of the women shot.
Rizlaine Boular, 21, her mother Mina Dich, 43, and Khawla Barghouthi, 20, remain in custody ahead of a hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday.
Separately, 24-year-old Sabbir Miah pleaded guilty to spreading Isis propaganda videos on Tuesday.
British security services have prevented 13 potential terror attacks since June 2013, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley revealed.
Intelligence agencies have been monitoring suspected extremists, as well as tracking the return of some of around 800 Brits who went to fight for Isis in Iraq and Syria.