Taliban bomb-maker jailed for 40 years for UK parliament plot

In this file photo taken on April 27, 2017 firearms officers from the British police detain a man, later named as Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Taliban bomb-maker jailed for 40 years for UK parliament plot

  • The FBI in the United States subsequently matched his fingerprints to caches of explosives recovered by Afghan forces in 2012
  • The court heard Ali admitted involvement in making explosives in Afghanistan

LONDON: A 28-year-old man was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 40 years in jail for making explosives for the Taliban and for plotting a knife attack at the Houses of Parliament in London.
Khalid Ali, from north London, was dramatically arrested by armed police on a street outside parliament in April 2017 with three blades tucked into his clothes.
He was moments from launching an attack on police, politicians or the military, England’s Old Bailey central criminal court in London heard during his trial last month.
The plumber was on Tuesday found guilty of preparing terrorist acts in Britain and two charges of possessing explosive substances with intent abroad.
On Friday, judge Nicholas Hilliard handed Ali three life sentences, to run concurrently: one for each charge.
He gave a minimum of 40 years for making improvised explosive devices for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan in 2012 and 25 years for the plot to kill in Britain.
“I am absolutely sure you were in Afghanistan. You were a valued member of a team making IEDs that were detonated in combat before January and July 2012,” Hilliard said.
The judge said the plotted attack in London was designed to attract “maximum publicity and instil terror.”
“I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a very considerable risk of your committing offenses of violence in the future and cause death or serious injury as a result.”
During the trial, prosecutor Brian Altman told jurors that Ali, who had returned to Britain from Afghanistan in late 2016, planned a “deadly terror attack at the very heart of this country’s democracy.”
Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon said he was “an incredibly dangerous individual.”
He had returned from a training camp in Afghanistan “with a determination to kill,” he added.
In police interviews, Ali said he wanted to deliver a “message” to British authorities.
“Jihad is what we do,” he told officers.
During his trial, the court heard Ali admitted involvement in making explosives in Afghanistan, even bragging he detonated more than 300 devices.
In November 2016, he was stopped at Heathrow Airport, interviewed by police and his fingerprints and DNA samples were taken.
The FBI in the United States subsequently matched his fingerprints to caches of explosives recovered by Afghan forces in 2012, and Ali was placed under surveillance in Britain.
The Old Bailey heard he was seen conducting reconnaissance at various sites around London in March and April last year, before making several purchases of knives.
Police moved in to arrest Ali on April 27 not far from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Downing Street office.


Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

Updated 21 March 2019
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Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

  • Philippines being investigated for extrajudicial killings
  • Anti-drug campaign signature policy of president

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he wanted to finish his war on drugs in three years, defying an international probe into his controversial and deadly campaign to rid the country of narcotics.
Duterte, who came to power in 2016, has made a ‘war on drugs’ the hallmark of his administration. 
But it has been reported that 20,000 people have been killed in what rights groups call a wave of “state-sanctioned violence.”
The firebrand president remains unfazed by the condemnation, and the cases filed against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his crackdown.
He insisted he would assume full responsibility for any consequences due to his decision to enforce the law, telling a military audience his goals.
“I’d like to finish this war, both (with the) Abu Sayyaf (a militant group) and also the communists, and the drug problem in about three years … we'd be able (to) ... reduce the activities of the illegal trade and fighting to the barest minimum.
“I’m not saying I am the only one capable (of achieving these goals) ... I assume full responsibility for all that would happen as a consequence of enforcing the law — whether against the criminals, the drug traffickers or the rebels who’d want to destroy government.”
Earlier this month, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC, citing the global body's interference in how the country was run as the reason.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines would continue despite its exit.
But the government has said it will not cooperate with the ICC, and has even warned its personnel about entering the country for the investigation.
There are Filipinos who support Duterte’s campaign, however, and believe it works. Among them is former policeman Eric Advincula.
He said there had been an improvement in the situation since Duterte came to power. 
“For one, the peace and order situation has improved, like for example in villages near our place where there used to be rampant drug peddling,” he told Arab News. 
“The price of illegal drugs is now higher, an indication that the supply also went down. Also, it was easy to catch drug peddlers before because they were doing their trade openly. But now they are more careful, you can't easily locate them.”
Official data from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in February indicated that 5,176 ‘drug personalities’ were killed in the anti-drugs war between July 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2019.
More than 170,000 drug suspects have been arrested during a total of 119,841 anti-narcotics operations in the last two and a half years.