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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Woolwich Attackers Were Known to UK Security Services

The two men accused of killing a soldier yesterday in Woolwich, south London, were known to British security services. It has emerged that both suspects had featured in “several investigations” done by the MI5 and the MI6 in recent years, but that it was concluded that they were not thought to be planning an attack. The security services are likely to face questions of whether the incident could have been pre-empted. According to the BBC, one of the suspects had been intercepted last year while leaving the country to reportedly join al Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s Islamist group in Somalia. British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to comment on the reports that the MI5 had “files” on the suspects before yesterday’s attack, but said that the Intelligence and Security Committee would undertake an investigation on whether there were internal failings by the security services. One suspect has been named by media as Michael Adebolajo, a 28-year-old Muslim-convert of Nigerian descent. He and the other suspect are being treated in hospital after being shot by police. Footage of bloodstained Adebolajo, taken by witnesses after the assault, has emerged in which he claims to have carried the attack because British soldiers killed Muslims every day in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.

Israeli Military Leaders Warn of ‘Surprise War’ with Syria

The head of the Israeli Air Force has told a conference on the country’s national security that the threat of a “surprise war” with Syria was real. “A surprise war could be born today in many forms. Lone incidents can escalate very quickly and obligate us to be prepared within hours to act to the edge of the spectrum, meaning using the full abilities of the Israel Air Force”, said Major General Amir Eshel. He also pointed to the Assad regime’s recent purchase of advanced Russian air-defense weapons as an operational threat to Israel, saying Syria was “changing before our eyes. If it collapses tomorrow, we could find its vast arsenal dispersed and pointed at us”. The Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, agreed with Eshel, saying that the chance of a conflict breaking out in the region was “substantial” and that Syria would “bear the consequences” if the attacks on IDF soldiers stationed in the Golan Heights escalated any further.

Barred Iranian Candidate Calls Leaders ‘Ignorant, Incompetent’

Former Iranian President Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has criticised the country’s leaders for being ignorant and incompetent days after the Guardian Council barred him from contesting the upcoming presidential elections. Opposition website Kaleme reported on Thursday that Rafsanjani addressed members of his campaign team after the decision saying that he didn’t think “the country could have been run worse, even if it had been planned in advance” and that he didn’t “want to stoop to their propaganda and attacks but ignorance is troubling”. He also wondered if the members of the council understood the consequences of their actions, saying that the country’s population needed to stay calm. “In no instance should people despair. There will be a day when those who must come, will come”, apparently referring to reformist candidates barred from standing. Rafsanjani also said that Iran could use his experience of rebuilding the country after the Iran-Iraq war, when he was quick to attract foreign investors. “The foreigners called me “easy man” because it took no time before the doors opened. Now that experience could be easily used again, except back then, people were sympathetic”, said the former president.

Net Migration Down by a Third in the UK

The number of immigrants arriving in the United Kingdom has fallen by over 80,000 in the last year, a “significant” drop according to a report issued by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The net migration, the difference between those arriving and leaving, decreased by a third, from 242,000 in the previous year to 153,000 in the twelve months to September 2012. The figures show that the number of people arriving fell from 581,000 to 500,000, while the number of migrants leaving Britain increased from 339,000 to 347,000. Immigration Minister Mark Harper hailed the numbers and said that the government had “cut out abuse” from the system. According to the ONS, there was a “significant” decrease in immigration from the New Commonwealth countries, such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Kenya and Malawi, as well as fewer international students arriving in the country. The government has welcomed the continuing reduction in immigration numbers. The Conservatives have pledged to reduce net migration to below 100,000 by 2015, when Britain holds its next general election.

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