Behind The News

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ISIS sends new wave of jihadis on ‘missions’ to attack Europe

Britain has been warned of a rising threat of terror from ISIS terrorists after it was revealed more and more are using fake passports to enter the country.

Earlier this week it was revealed that ISIS has been distributing fake passports in Greek refugee camps to allow its terrorists to travel within Europe on ‘clean’ identity documents.

Now, Europol’s director Rob Wainwright has told the Evening Standard the terror group has taken a ‘strategic decision’ to send fanatics to attack the continent, in the hope of distracting attention from the fighting on its own soil.

Wainwright said that some ISIS terrorists were posing as refugees but that this was a small number.

Some have used fake Syrian IDs to travel through Greece before entering Europe, with two of the terrorists behind the Paris attacks in November back on the continent.

There have been reports that ISIS leaders are attempting to radicalise the migrants at refugee camps in Greece and the Balkans.

The Europol director warned there could be more Paris-style ‘spectacular attacks’, with more than 50 counter-terror investigations under way across the continent at the moment.

According to the director, there will be challenging times ahead, as people exposed to radical ideology attempt to integrate back into European society.

He told the Standard: ‘That’s going to be a long, long struggle for us to deal with the numbers involved and how we can get them back into society, plus sort out which among them pose the biggest security threat.

‘Given the numbers involved, that’s quite an onerous security challenge the authorities will face. Some fighters will be sent back by ISIS to engage in terrorist activity.

‘We have, in the last year and a half, seen a strategic decision by ISIS to do that and carry out spectacular attacks of the type we saw in France and Brussels.

‘On the security challenges we face, we’ll have a long-term struggle to reintegrate returning fighters, some of whom will have been sent back on mission.’

Lavrov and Kerry agree concrete steps on Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that the marathon talks with US State Secretary Kerry in Geneva helped to reduce mutual levels of misunderstanding. Both countries will boost their cooperation on Syria, including on the military level, he said.

“We have agreed on concrete ways in which we will work with the sides: Russia – with the government and the opposition, that is working with us, the United States – with the opposition, which is cooperating with them,” Lavrov said.

In addition to that, the cooperation between Russia’s Khmeimim air base and representatives of the American armed forces in the US base in Jordan is going to be ramped up.

“We have agreed to intensify the bilateral contacts that have somewhat stalled in the last several weeks,” Lavrov said, adding that his is confident that “a regular dialog without any pauses is a key to the realization of all our objectives.”

It is an achievement that we have been able to reduce areas of misunderstanding and to reduce the level of mutual mistrust between the two countries,” Lavrov said.

Russia and the US have agreed on a number of issues as to how boost the peace process on Syria. According to the diplomats, experts from both states will meet in Geneva in the coming days to clarify the details of what has been agreed today.

The Russian foreign minister stressed that separation of “moderate forces from the Jabhat al-Nusra militants” is key to reducing the violence in Syria. Lavrov said that Russia briefed the US on a number of rebel groups that it considers terrorist.

“In fact, today our American partners for the first time gave us a list of rebel organizations who joined the cessation of hostilities after the US mediation,” Lavrov added.

“I don’t see any possibility of assuring a really durable, full-fledged ceasefire without the separation of healthy opposition forces from terrorists,” the minister said. “The understanding of this task between us and our American partners gets increasingly clearer.”

Kerry outlined the steps that can be undertaken to separate the terrorists from the armed opposition, reiterating that Al-Nusra should be treated like a terrorist group despite the recent rebranding.

Drawing a line between the moderate rebels and Al-Nusra remains a “complex question” because the terrorists often share the same territory with rebels, he noted, adding that other nations in the region that support some of the groups should also engage in the process.

“We believe there are actions that can be taken to deal with the current construct, some of those involve other nations that are supportive of other opposition groups. Neighbors within the region who have influence over those groups and who have an ability to help separate [Nusra and opposition],” he said.

Russia and US have been thrashing out the details on how to separate the terrorist groups from each other for the last several weeks, he added.

Both diplomats agreed that the Syrian Kurds should remain in Syria.

“We are for a united Syria. We do not support an independent Kurd initiative,” Kerry said, pointing out that the American forces have been engaging in cooperation with “a component” of the Kurdish forces on a “very limited basis.”

On his part, Lavrov said, “Kurds must remain a part of the Syrian state, part of resolving the problem, and not a factor that will be used to split Syria apart.”

The contacts with the Kurdish minority in Syria were made in a “close cooperation” with Turkey, Kerry said. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG militia, which is part of the US-backed SDF rebels, one of the targets of its ongoing incursion in Syria.

“We understand the sensitivities of our friends in Turkey with respect to this,” Kerry added.

Weighing in on the Turkish “Euphrates Shield” operation in Syria, Lavrov reminded that all countries that had sent military forces to Syria, save for Russia and Iran, are doing so in violation of Syrian sovereignty.

“Many countries are represented by their military and army elements on the ground in Syria, but only the Russian and Iranian contingents are staying there upon consent from Damascus,” Lavrov said. “Such is the reality.”

Close all mosques and ban the Koran – Dutch Freedom Party launches ‘de-Islamization’ manifesto

Geert Wilders, the wild-haired head of the right-wing Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), launched a new manifesto that calls for the “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands as he leads in the polls to become the next prime minister.

Titled, “The Netherlands is ours again,” Wilders published the one page, 11 point manifesto on Thursday, highlighting the party’s hard-line positions on Islam.

The document, published ahead of a general election in March, calls for the closure of all mosques and Islamic schools, a ban on the Koran, and “no more immigrants from Islamic countries.”

A ban on “Islamic headscarves” in public is also proposed, as well as the prohibition of all “Islamic expressions which violate public order.”

All these measures will, Wilders argues, save the country €7.2 bn (US$8bn).


“The PVV is fighting Islam, wants to close the borders of the European Union and all the billions we thus save giving back to the people,” Wilders said in a statement. “My message to Netherlands: Netherlands must again be ours.”

It also targets the European Union with the party promising to hold a referendum on the country’s membership in the EU.

The PVV is also calling for spending to be increased in the areas of policing and armed forces while they want “no more money for foreign aid, windmills, art, innovation, public broadcasters.”


Wilders’ plans have been described as “utterly bizarre and unbelievable” by the leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, Sybrand van Haersma Buma.

“The program will further polarize Dutch society,” he said.

Wilders, who has twice appeared in court for inciting hatred in both 2011 and in March 2016, will emerge as the biggest party following March’s elections, if the opinion polls are to be believed.

There is a catch though, with most parties stating they won’t go into coalition with Wilders.

Wilders, who has often been compared to US Republican presidential Donald Trump for both their shared hair styles and immigration policies, attended the four-day US Republican Party convention in July.

“I wish we had political leaders like this in the Netherlands who defend their own country… and forget the rest,” Wilders said of Trump’s bid for the US presidency.

In 2009, Wilders was banned from the UK on public security grounds after his film “Fitna” branded the Koran a “fascist book” and linked it to terrorism, causing much controversy. An immigration tribunal ruling overturned the ban shortly after, however.

The following year, the PVV supported a minority government led by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). This relationship ended in 2012, however, when the PVV pulled their support over austerity measures VVD wanted to introduce.

UK: 5 terrorists arrested in Birmingham; bomb squad called

Five Muslim terrorists have been arrested by West Midlands counter terrorism police with the army bomb squad called in to one city center address.

Two of the terrorists, aged 32 and 37, were arrested in the Stoke area of Staffordshire with another two terrorists, aged 18 and 24, arrested from their homes in Birmingham.

Police said another 28-year-old terrorist was arrested at another location in Birmingham.

The five terrorists are all being held by counter terrorism detectives in the West Midlands on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Police confirmed the Army Bomb Disposal Team were called in as a “precautionary measure” to the Leak Bank area near Birmingham city center as a result of one of the arrests.

Officers are also searching a number of properties in the Stoke and Birmingham areas as part of the investigation.

This afternoon, an Army Bomb Disposal Team van and a robot could be seen on Florence Street in Birmingham city center.


A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: “The arrests were intelligence-led and part of an on-going investigation.”

West Midlands Fire Service also tweeted: “Fire crews have been supporting police colleagues with an ongoing operation in the Lea Bank area of Birmingham.”


Black gown is transformed after being submerged for months in the Dead Sea

A 19th century black gown has transformed into a glittering ‘wedding dress’ after being submerged in the Dead Sea.

Israeli artist Sigalit Landau placed the plain black dress several metres underwater in 2014 and photographed it as the salt-rich waters caused a stunning change to occur.

Over three months, salt crystals formed on the gown and gave the dress the appearance of being covered in diamonds.

They also rendered the dress unwearable by turning it rock hard.

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Landau said the dress soon appeared ‘like snow, like sugar, like death’s embrace’.

The Dead Sea, a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel to the west, is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean.

Landau is used to working with its salt-filled waters to create art after growing up on a hill that looked out over the northern part of the sea.

One of her most famous projects is a video portrait of herself floating in the lake with a string of 500 watermelons wrapped around her. They slowly unravel in the colourful video.

Her performative art practice explores the landscapes of Israel and has involved creating salt sculptures of bicycles, violins and fishing nets.

Her latest project forms an eight-part photo series called Salt Bride and was inspired by S. Ansky’s 1916 play titled Dybbuk.

The play is about a young Hasidic woman who becomes possessed by the spirit of her dead lover, and Landau’s salt-encrusted gown is a replica of the one worn in the dramatic production of the 1920s.

Landau collaborated with photographer Yotam From to take the pictures.

He had to wear over 10 stones of weight just to submerge himself in the saline water and fight its natural buoyancy.

The photographs Landau took will be on display at London’s Marlborough Contemporary gallery until September 3.


ISIS propaganda video shows kids executing ISIS prisoners in Syria

A chilling new video from ISIS shows a British boy and four other children executing prisoners in cold blood in Syria.

The grotesque nine-minute video is believed to have been recorded recently in the ISIS capital of Raqqa, a city in Syria, and shows the organisation is becoming even more brutal as it retreats into its heartland.

The video shows five boys – believed to be from Britain, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia and Uzbekistan, wielding handguns and wearing the desert camouflage.


One of the youngsters makes a blood-curdling shriek in Arabic before killing one of the terrified captives in front of them.

The Sun reported the British boy was identified only as Abu Abdullah al-Britani.


He and the other children copy five older jihadists who execute prisoners in orange jumpsuits and butcher them with knives.

Dozens of British jihadists are believed to be fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq under the nom de guerre al-Britani, which simply means British in Arabic.


Last year Assad Uzzaman, 25, from Portsmouth, was killed in Syria while using the name al-Britani.

ISIS has been increasingly using child soldiers – known as the ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’ amid speculation it is running low on manpower as it retreats from positions in Syria and Iraq and falls back on its stronghold, around Raqqa.


The Quilliam Foundation reported this year that around 50 British children are ‘growing up on jihad’ and being groomed to become ISIS fighters.

France’s top administrative court overturns burkini ban

The controversial burkini ban has been overturned France’s highest administrative court.

In a ruling, the court said the ban on the full-body burkini swimsuits were ‘seriously, and clearly illegally’.

The State Council heard arguments from the Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group which are seeking to reverse a decision by the southern town of Villeneuve-Loubet to ban the Islamic garment.

The ruling will likely to set a precedent for around 30 French towns which have banned the burkini, mostly along the southeast coast.

A court in the Riviera resort of Nice upheld the Villeneuve-Loubet ban this week.

The court said in a statement the decree to ban burkinis in Villeneuve-Loubet ‘seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom’.

Under the French legal system, temporary decisions can be handed down before the court takes more time to prepare a judgement on the underlying legality of the case.

The ban, which spread to more than a dozen coastal towns, had exposed cracks within the Socialist government’s unity as Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended it on Thursday while some ministers criticised it.

The issue has shone a light on secular France’s difficulties responding to homegrown jihadists and foreign militants following Islamist attacks in Nice and a Normandy church in July.

The burkini bans have triggered a fierce debate about the wearing of the full-body swimsuit, women’s rights and the French state’s strictly-guarded secularism.

President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that life in France ‘supposes that everyone sticks to the rules and that there is neither provocation nor stigmatisation’.

The court’s ruling will be watched closely abroad as well.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe director, said the French justice system should overturn ‘a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance’.


‘French authorities should drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women,’ he said.

Anger over the issue was further inflamed this week when photographs showed police surrounding a woman in a headscarf on a beach in Nice as she removed a long-sleeved top.

The office of Nice’s mayor denied that the woman had been forced to remove clothing, telling AFP she was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her top, over a pair of leggings, when the picture was taken.

The police fined her and she left the beach, the officials added.


Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday condemned any ‘stigmatisation’ of Muslims, but maintained that the burkini was ‘a political sign of religious proselytising’.

‘We are not at war with Islam… the French republic is welcoming (to Muslims), we are protecting them against discrimination,’ he told BFMTV.

But in a sign of the divisions within the Socialist government on the issue, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the ‘proliferation’ of burkini bans ‘was not a welcome development’.

Vallaud-Belkacem, who is of Moroccan origin, took issue with the wording of the ban in Nice which linked the measure to the jihadist truck attack in the resort last month in which 86 people were killed.


‘In my opinion, there is nothing to prove that there is a link between the terrorism of Daesh and what a woman wears on a beach,’ she said, using another term for Islamic State.

But Valls contradicted his minister’s claims, saying the bans were necessary to maintain ‘public order’.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy who this week launched his bid to regain the presidency, has described the burkini as a ‘provocation’.

The administrative court in Nice ruled on Monday that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was ‘necessary’ to prevent public disorder after the Nice attack and the murder of a Catholic priest by two jihadists in northern France.


The so-called burkini bans never actually mention the word burkini, although they are aimed at the garment which covers the hair but leaves the face visible and stretches down to the ankles.

The vague wording of the prohibitions has caused confusion.

Apart from the incident in the photographs in Nice, a 34-year-old mother of two told AFP on Tuesday she had been fined on the beach in the resort of Cannes wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.

‘I was sitting on a beach with my family. I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,’ said the woman, who gave only her first name, Siam.

France firmly separates religion and public life and was the first European country to ban the wearing of the Islamic face veil in public in 2010.

700-year-old hand grenade used in the Crusades is found off the coast of Israel

The crusades saw Christian soldiers wield a terrifying array of medieval weaponry, including powerful crossbows, wickedly spiked maces and swords large enough to cleave a man in two.

But in the bloody battles over the Holy Land, the crusaders faced, and perhaps also used, weapons that were far ahead of their time – hand grenades.

Now one of these early explosive devices has been pulled from the sea in northern Israel.

The clay device, which would have been filled with a flammable liquid with a burning fuse poked through a hole in the top, is thought to be about 700 years old.


These grenades were flung at enemy ships in an attempt to burn the wooden vessels.

Diego Barkan, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, told MailOnline: ‘These hand grenades were being used in the Byzantine and early Islamic period right up until the Ottomans.

‘It is made of a heavy clay and would have been used much like a Molotov cocktail.

‘Inside they would have put alcohol and lit a fuse poked in a hole in the top before throwing it towards the enemy ships.’


The grenade was recovered from the sea, along with a haul of other ancient artefacts, over several years by Marcel Mazliah, a worker at the Hadera power plant in northern Israel.

His family handed them over to the Israel Antiquities Authority following his death.

The oldest of the objects in the collection include a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age knife head and a toggle pin.

Metal mortar and pestles, along with fragments of candlesticks dating to the 11th Century AD – known as the Fatimid period – were also among the collection.


The hand grenade is similar to those used during the Crusades between the 11th to 13th Century and until the Mamluk period from the 13th Century to the 16th Century.

However, some experts believe these fist sized vessels were actually used to carry perfume.


Barkan said: ‘There are some scholars who believe these were ornaments or used to simply carry liquid. There is no agreement about what they were used for.’

The one found in the sea by Mr Mazliah is carefully shaped like an acorn and decorated with a series of straight lines and tear-drop shapes.


Ayala Lester, a curator at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said it appears many of the objects in the collection had probably fallen overboard from a medieval metal merchant’s ship.

She said: ‘The items were apparently manufactured in Syria and were brought to Israel.

‘The finds are evidence of the metal trade that was conducted during this period.’

Response to BDS: New website to buy goods from Judea and Samaria

The Yesha (“Judea, Samaria and Gaza”) Council intends to soon launch a shopping website to allow consumers to purchase products made in Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, including dates, soaps, textiles and prepared foods. This is in part in response to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

According to the plan, the new website will use the same software that other leading shopping websites, such as Amazon and eBay, use.

The Yesha Council is promoting the new initiative as a “boycott detour,” referring to the BDS movement’s calls to boycott the very products that they will offer to sell.


Oded Revivi, the mayor of Efrat and the head of the Yesha Council’s foreign desk, is behind the initiative. He commented, “We quickly understood that we have to think outside the box…so we developed this model, which allows us to reach the customer’s house abroad without going through the whole route of delegitimization that products from Judea and Samaria go through in the world.”

In addition to selling products, it will also sell travel packages to Judea and Samaria. Religious tours will also be offered in an attempt to meet a need for groups that want to visit historical sites and incorporate religious themes, which will include faiths beyond Judaism.

The initiative is currently in the final stages of development. They are currently seeking the seed money to begin operating the site. In the coming weeks, the Yesha Council intends to send invitations for business owners to join the site.

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