Online dating couple jailed in UK for Daesh-inspired bomb plot

This undated handout photo issued by Counter Terrorism Policing North East shows Sudanese asylum seeker Munir Mohammed.(AP)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Online dating couple jailed in UK for Daesh-inspired bomb plot

LONDON: A man and woman who met on a Muslim dating website were handed prison sentences Thursday for plotting a Daesh-inspired bomb attack in Britain.
Prosecutors say Munir Mohammed, an asylum-seeker from Sudan, and London pharmacist Rowaida El-Hassan met on SingleMuslim.com and bonded over their shared extremist views, exchanging videos of beheadings and other extremist material.
Prosecutors said Mohammed volunteered to carry out an attack during Facebook exchanges with a man he believed to be a Daesh commander.
He was arrested in December 2016, and police found bomb-making instructions and two of the three components for the explosive TATP at his home.
Last month, a jury at London’s Central Criminal Court found the couple guilty of preparing terrorist acts.
Judge Michael Topolski sentenced 37-year-old Mohammed Thursday to life with no chance of parole for 14 years. El-Hassan, 32, was jailed for 12 years, plus five years on probation.
The judge said Mohammed had decided to make an explosive device — either “an ordinary bomb” or one containing the poison ricin. He said Mohammed drew in El-Hassan until she “became an enthusiastic and encouraging partner.”


French police prepare for fifth wave of yellow vest protests

Updated 9 min 1 sec ago
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French police prepare for fifth wave of yellow vest protests

PARIS: France will deploy tens of thousands of police nationwide and around 8,000 in Paris on Saturday to handle a fifth weekend of ‘yellow vest’ protests, although the movement appears to be losing steam after concessions by President Emmanuel Macron.
The chief of police in Paris said concerns remained about violent groups infiltrating the protests. Anti-riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and prevent people getting close to the presidential palace.
“We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” police chief Michel Delpuech told RTL radio.
He expected businesses in the capital to be less affected this weekend after heavy disruption over the past three weeks when major stores shut, hotels suffered cancelations and tourists stayed away during the usually busy run-up to Christmas.
Nicknamed “Acte V” of the protests, the yellow vest demonstrators will take to the streets this weekend as France recovers from an unrelated attack on a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, when a gunman shot and killed three people and wounded several others.
Hundreds of police officers were redeployed to Strasbourg to search for the gunman, who was shot dead in an exchange of fire on Thursday evening.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the yellow vests to scale down their protests and accept they had achieved their aims. Police officers also deserved a break, he added.
“I’d rather have the police force doing their real job, chasing criminals and combating the terrorism threat, instead of securing roundabouts where a few thousand people keep a lot of police busy,” he said.
TOLL ON THE ECONOMY
Attractions such as the Louvre museum and Opera Garnier will be open this weekend, as will luxury department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Last Saturday they were closed as thousands of sometimes violent protesters tore through the city. The previous weekend the Arc de Triomphe was vandalized, cars were overturned and torched and businesses smashed up.
The protests have taken a toll on the economy, with output in the last quarter of the year set to be half initial projections, while Macron’s concessions are likely to push the budget deficit above an EU agreed limit.
The yellow vest movement, which began as a protest against fuel taxes and then grew into an anti-Macron alliance, appears to have calmed since the president announced a series of measures to help the working poor.
However, many people wearing the high-visibility motorists’ safety jackets which are the symbol of the protests were manning barricades outside cities on Friday.
After heavy criticism for not being seen to respond to the protesters’ complaints, Macron made a TV address this week during which he said he understood their concerns and acknowledged the need for a different approach.
As well canceling fuel tax increases that were due to kick in next month, Macron said he would increase the minimum wage by 100 euros a month from January and reduce taxes for poorer pensioners, among other measures.
Since the first yellow vest protests on Nov. 17, supporters have kept up a steady stream of dissent, although the numbers joining marches have steadily fallen. ($1 = 0.8857 euros)