Cameron: Soldier’s murder is attack on UK, betrayal of Islam

Updated 31 May 2013
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Cameron: Soldier’s murder is attack on UK, betrayal of Islam

 

LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday the brutal murder of a soldier by two suspected militants on a London street was an attack on Britain and a betrayal of Islam.
“This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country,” he said.
“There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
Speaking outside his Downing Street office following a meeting with national security chiefs, Cameron said Britain was “absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror.”
“We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms,” he said, adding that this view was shared by every community in Britain.
“We will defeat violent extremism by standing together, by backing our police and security services and above all by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism.”
He added: “There is absolutely no justification for these acts and the fault for them lies solely and purely with the sickening individuals who carried out this appalling attack.”
British authorities have established that one and possibly both of the men who hacked the soldier to death was born in Britain of Nigerian descent, a source with knowledge of the investigation said yesterday.
Local media named the man who was definitely born in the country as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo and said police raided the home of his Nigerian family in a village near the eastern English city of Lincoln. Both men appeared to have converted to Islam from Christian immigrant backgrounds, British media said.
Both suspects in the attack, conducted in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon, are in custody after being shot by police.
As security experts highlighted the risk to Western cities of “lone wolf” attacks by local people radicalized over the Internet, Prime Minister David Cameron held an emergency meeting of his intelligence chiefs to assess the response to what he called a “terrorist” attack, the first deadly strike in mainland Britain since local Islamists killed dozens in London in 2005.
“We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms,” Cameron said outside his Downing Street office.
“This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
The two men used a car to run down the still formally unidentified soldier near Woolwich Barracks in southeast London on Wednesday afternoon and attempted to behead him with a meat cleaver and knives, witnesses said, before telling bystanders they acted in revenge for British wars in Muslim countries.
A dramatic clip filmed by an onlooker showed one of the men, in his 20s and casually dressed, his hands covered in blood and speaking in a local accent apologizing for taking his action in front of women but justifying it on religious grounds:
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day,” he said. “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The attack, just a month after the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon, revived fears of “lone wolves”. These may have had no direct contact with Al-Qaeda but are inspired by radical preachers and by Islamist militant Web sites, some of which urge people to attack Western targets with whatever means they have.
Chilling images of the blood-soaked suspect — who urged Britons to overthrow their government or risk having their children face a fate similar to a dead soldier lying just yards away — were splashed across the front pages of newspapers.
“I apologize that women had to witness that, but in our lands our women have to see the same thing. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you,” the man said in the video before crossing the street and speaking casually to the other attacker.
Police said they searched a house in eastern England believed to be the home of the father one of the attackers.
The grisly attack took place on the edge of London’s sprawling Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, a south London working class district which has long-standing historic links to the military.
The victim was wearing a T-shirt saying “Help for Heroes”, the name of a charity formed to help wounded British veterans. Britain has had troops deployed in Afghanistan since 2001 and had troops in Iraq from 2003-2009.
Before he was stabbed to death, the victim was knocked over by a blue car which then rammed into a lamp-post. The attackers pounced on him in broad daylight in a busy residential street.
Witnesses said they shouted “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for God is greatest — while stabbing the victim and trying to behead him. A handgun was found at the scene.
Some onlookers rushed to help the victim and one woman tried to engage one of the attackers in conversation to calm him.
“He had what looked like butcher’s tools — a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives. He said: ‘Move off the body,’” Ingrid Loyau-Kennett was quoted by local media as saying.
“He said: ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan.’”
 
 
’Help for heroes’
London was last hit by a serious militant attack on July 7, 2005, when four young Islamists set off suicide bombs on the public transport network, killing 52 innocent people and wounding hundreds. A similar attempted attack two weeks later was thwarted.
In 2007, two days after police defused two car bombs outside London nightclubs, two men suspected of involvement, a British-born doctor of Iraqi descent and an Indian-born engineer, rammed a car laden with gas into the Glasgow Airport terminal, setting it ablaze. One of the attackers died and the other was jailed.
Britain has long known political violence on the streets. In 2009, two British soldiers were shot dead outside a barracks in Northern Ireland in an attack claimed by Irish republicans.
Since the 2007 bombings, known as 7/7, security chiefs say they have faced at least one plan to carry out an attack on the level of the 2005 attacks and have warned that radicaliized individuals posed a grave risk to national security.
Peter Clarke, the former head of London’s Counter Terrorism Command who led the investigation into the 7/7 bombings, said that if the Woolwich attackers did turn out to be acting alone, it showed the difficulty the security services faced in trying to stop them.
“An attack like this doesn’t need sophisticated fund raising and sophisticated communications or planning,” he told Reuters. “It can be organized and then actually delivered in a moment.”
The bombing attacks on the Boston Marathon last month, which US authorities blame on two brothers, have raised the profile of the “lone wolf” threat in the West. A French-Algerian gunman killed three off-duty French soldiers and four Jewish civilians on a rampage in southern France last year.
Britain’s involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past decade has often stirred anger among British Muslims and occasionally made soldiers a target at home. British police have foiled at least two major plots in which Islamist suspects were accused of planning to kill members of the military.
Cameron’s office officials had welcomed the condemnation from most mainstream British Muslim groups but that the national security committee had discussed community cohesion.
In signs of a backlash after the attack, more than 100 angry supporters of the English Defense League, a far-right street protest group, took to the streets on Wednesday, some wearing balaclavas and carrying England’s red and white flag. They were contained by riot police.
Separately, two men were arrested in connection with separate attacks on mosques outside London. No one was hurt.
Fred Oyat, a 44-year-old local resident, said he witnessed the attack on the soldier from the window of his high-rise apartment overlooking the scene.
“The victim was white,” he told Reuters. “I was in my house when four shots rung out. I went to the window I saw a man lying on the ground with a lot of blood.”
 
 
 


As comedian eyes presidency, Ukraine braces for uncertain future

Presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a policy debate with his rival, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (unseen), at the National Sports Complex Olimpiyskiy stadium in Kiev, Ukraine April 19, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 53 min 18 sec ago
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As comedian eyes presidency, Ukraine braces for uncertain future

  • Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old comic actor, is best known for his TV portrayal of a schoolteacher who becomes Ukrainian president after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral

KIEV, Ukraine: A comedian who plays the role of Ukraine’s president on television is set to take on the job for real, pushing out the man who currently holds the office, according to public opinion surveys ahead of Sunday’s election.
Saturday was a so-called “day of quiet,” on which electioneering is forbidden, a respite from a campaign of heated statements and unexpected moments.
Dismayed by endemic corruption, a struggling economy and a five-year fight against Russia-backed insurgents in the country’s east, Ukrainian voters appear poised to strongly rebuke incumbent Petro Poroshenko and replace him with Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Despite never having held political office, Zelenskiy could get more than twice as many votes as Poroshenko, polls suggest.
Since Zelenskiy and Poroshenko advanced to Sunday’s runoff in the first round three weeks ago, the campaign has been marked by jockeying for dominance, including a dispute over holding a debate that left Poroshenko standing next to an empty lectern bearing his opponent’s name and Zelenskiy’s challenge for both of the candidates to undergo drug testing.
Zelenskiy has run his campaign mostly on social media and has eschewed media interviews; Poroshenko has called him a “virtual candidate.” Poroshenko in turn was criticized for a video linked to his campaign that showed Zelenskiy being run over by a truck.
The two finally held an actual debate on Friday evening, just hours before campaigning was to end. They harshly criticized each other and engaged in the melodrama of both kneeling to ask forgiveness of those who lost relatives in the eastern fighting.
In an unexpected move less than 10 hours before polls were to open, a Kiev court heard a suit demanding that Zelenskiy’s registration as a candidate be canceled. The court rejected the case, which was filed by the head of an organization that conducts election observation and claimed that Zelenskiy committed bribery by offering tickets to the Friday debate.
Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old comic actor, is best known for his TV portrayal of a schoolteacher who becomes Ukrainian president after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral. The name of the show, “Servant of the People,” became the name of his party when he announced his candidacy in January.
Like his TV character, the real-life Zelenskiy has focused his campaign strongly on corruption. Although criticized as having a vague platform, Zelenskiy has made specific proposals, including removing immunity for the president, parliament members and judges, and a lifetime ban on holding public office for anyone convicted of corruption. He also calls for a tax amnesty under which someone holding hidden assets would declare them, be taxed at 5% and face no other measures.
He supports Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO, but only if the country were to approve this in a referendum.
Zelenskiy has proposed that direct talks with Russia are necessary to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where fighting with Russia-backed separatist rebels has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. The Kremlin denies involvement there and says it is an internal matter. Zelenskiy says Russia-annexed Crimea must be returned to Ukraine and compensation paid.
Zelenskiy’s image has been shadowed by his admission that he had commercial interests in Russia through a holding company, and by persistent speculation about links with oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who owns the television station that airs “Servant of the People.”
A Ukrainian court this week ruled that the nationalization of a bank once owned by Kolomoyskyi was illegal, leading to new concern about Zelenskiy’s possible ties to him.
Poroshenko, who entered politics after establishing a lucrative candy-making company, came to power with a pragmatic image in 2014 after mass protests drove the previous, Russia-friendly president to leave the country.
Five years later, critics denounce him for having done little to combat Ukraine’s endemic corruption. The war with Russia-backed separatists in the east grinds on with no clear strategy for ending it. And while his economic reforms may have pleased international lenders, they’ve left millions of Ukrainians wondering if they can find the money to pay their utility bills.
After his weak performance in the election’s first round, in which Zelenskiy got nearly twice as many votes, Poroshenko said he had taken voters’ criticism to heart. He has since made some strong moves, including the long-awaited creation of an anti-corruption court. He also ordered the dismissal of the governor of the corruption-plagued Odessa region, and fired the deputy head of foreign intelligence who reportedly has vast real estate holdings in Russia.
Poroshenko, 53, has positioned himself as a leader who will stand up to Russia. He has scored some significant goals for Ukraine’s national identity and its desire to move out of Russia’s influence.
He signed an association agreement with the European Union — which predecessor Viktor Yanukovych turned away from, setting off the 2014 protests. Ukrainians now can travel visa-free to the European Union, a significant perk. He has also pushed relentlessly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be recognized as self-standing rather than just a branch of the Russian church.