Taliban bomb-maker convicted of UK terrorism plot against MPs, police

During the trial of Khalid Ali, prosecutors said only the intervention of armed officers prevented a "murderous assault on politicians, police or the military." (AFP/Getty)
Updated 26 June 2018
0

Taliban bomb-maker convicted of UK terrorism plot against MPs, police

LONDON: A British man who had made bombs for the Taliban in Afghanistan and was plotting an attack near London’s parliament was convicted of terrorism offenses on Tuesday.
Khalid Ali was carrying three knives when he was arrested by armed police in April last year.
Only just over a month earlier, a British-born convert to Islam had plowed a car into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing a policeman to death in the grounds of parliament.
The Old Bailey court heard Ali, 28, had intended to kill a police officer, a member of the armed forces or even a Member of Parliament, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
Five days before he was stopped, Ali visited potential targets such as Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall.
His fingerprints matched those found on bomb-making components recovered in Afghanistan in 2012 and held on an FBI database, the CPS said in a statement.
Some of the prints were on the sticky side of adhesive tape used in their manufacture which the prosecution argued indicated he had made the devices and was not merely handling them.
The court heard Ali had left Britain in 2011 and spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he joined the Taliban and became a bomb-maker. He claimed he had gone to the region to learn more about Islam and go hiking in the mountains.
Ali returned to Britain in 2016 and gave the impression that he had returned to his former life training and working as a gas fitter and plumber but by March 2017 he was planning a terror attack in London.
“Khalid Ali planned to carry out a vicious knife attack in London that could have injured many and endangered life,” said Sue Hemming from the CPS.
He will be sentenced at a later date.


Trump picks ambassador to Canada for UN post

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft takes part in a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 3, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 33 min ago
0

Trump picks ambassador to Canada for UN post

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump announced Friday that he has selected Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to Canada, as his nominee to serve as the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump said in a pair of tweets that Craft “has done an outstanding job representing our Nation” and he has “no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level.”
Two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters had told The Associated Press that Trump had been advised that Craft’s confirmation would be the smoothest of the three candidates he had been considering to fill the job last held by Nikki Haley.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had backed Craft for the post, and she also has the support of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, the people said. Trump’s first pick to replace Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew over the weekend.
Craft, a Kentucky native, was a member of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly under President George W. Bush’s administration. She is also friends with McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and thanked Chao for her “longtime friendship and support” at her swearing-in as ambassador.
As US ambassador to Canada, she played a role in facilitating the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump had also considered US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and former US Senate candidate John James of Michigan for the post.
Nauert’s withdrawal from consideration came amid a push within the administration to fill the position, given a pressing array of foreign policy concerns in which the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council, is likely to play a significant role. From Afghanistan to Venezuela, the administration has pressing concerns that involve the world body, and officials said there had been impatience with the delays on Nauert’s formal nomination.
Trump said Dec. 7 that he would pick the former Fox News anchor and State Department spokeswoman for the UN job, but her nomination was never formalized. Notwithstanding other concerns that may have arisen during her confirmation, Nauert’s nomination had languished in part due to the 35-day government shutdown that began Dec. 22 and interrupted key parts of the vetting process. Nauert cited family considerations in withdrawing from the post.
With Nauert out of the running, officials said Pompeo had been keen on Craft to fill the position. Although Pompeo would like to see the job filled, the vacancy has created an opportunity for him and others to take on a more active role in UN diplomacy. On Thursday, for example, Pompeo was in New York to meet with UN chief Antonio Guterres.
Trump has demoted the UN position to sub-Cabinet rank, in a move backed by both Bolton and Pompeo, according to three other officials. Grenell had suggested he wasn’t interested in a non-Cabinet role. The officials were not authorized to discuss internal personnel deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Haley had been a member of the Cabinet and had clashed repeatedly with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others during the administration’s first 14 months. Bolton was not a Cabinet member when he served as UN ambassador in President George W. Bush’s administration, and neither he nor Pompeo is eager to see a potential challenge to their foreign policy leadership in White House situation room meetings, according to the officials.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said Craft was appointed ambassador to Canada because of her financial contributions to the Trump campaign, but said that’s not unusual as past ambassadors have also contributed to presidents who have appointed them.
“I think Ottawa has regarded Craft as a light weight, partly because of her background and partly because the sense is that Trump, unlike his predecessors, doesn’t listen to his ambassadors or care what they think,” Wiseman said.
Craft is married to billionaire coal-mining executive Joe Craft, and they are major Republican donors.
Craft has been ambassador during a low point in relations. Last year Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weak and dishonest, words that shocked Canadians.