Britain foiled 22 attacks since March 2017, top counter-terrorism officer says

Armed police officers in Manchester, Britain, May 27, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 09 September 2019
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Britain foiled 22 attacks since March 2017, top counter-terrorism officer says

  • Seven related to “suspected right wing terrorism,” Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told a conference o

British authorities have foiled 22 attacks since March 2017, three more than previously reported, Scotland Yard’s most senior counter-terrorism officer said on Monday.
Seven related to “suspected right wing terrorism,” Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told a conference on international terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, according to the text distributed by Scotland Yard.
Basu said attacks were becoming easier to carry out and harder to detect. He promoted the merits of “Prevent,” a British counter-terrorism program involving several government agencies, including social services, which is designed to spot and deter people who might be vulnerable to recruitment or indoctrination by violent radicals.
“Prevent is designed to break the cycle of extremist violence by empowering communities and individuals — to make them resilient to radicalizers and able to spot the vulnerable that radicalizers target and manipulate,” Basu said.
“A recent study showed that in the time before most lone-actor attacks, someone close to them knew about their growing ideology and violent intent. Mostly they chose not to report it,” Basu said.
In March 2017, in an attack police said was motivated by Islamist extremism, a man drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and then fatally stabbed a police officer. Later that year, there were three other attacks police described as terrorism, including one on Muslim worshippers near a London mosque.
Potential threats that most concern British officers include returning foreign fighters, lone actors, mentally ill people and a “rising threat” of right-wing terrorism.
Referring to the attacks on mosques in New Zealand by an Australian far-right militant last March, Basu said that while right-wing terrorism was once largely a local threat, it had now become a “global phenomenon as adept at using social media as Daesh,” a term police and some militants use for the Daesh group.
“Christchurch (New Zealand) is the most recent example,” Basu said. “Seven of the 22 attacks we have stopped since March 2017 relate to suspected RWT (right wing terrorism),” Basu said.
He said he could tell stories of 400 people in England and Wales who, “in the same year we were most attacked,” got support from the Prevent program which “changed their story.”
He added that research by Spanish experts using MRI technology found that people with extremist views were “more likely to be moved to violence when they felt excluded.” The lesson was that “effective social integration could help stop extremist violence,” Basu said.


Clooney calls for global action as he unveils South Sudan corruption report

Updated 56 min 53 sec ago

Clooney calls for global action as he unveils South Sudan corruption report

  • Clooney called on the US and EU to target those involved and their networks with tougher sanctions as his Africa-focused investigative project The Sentry released its latest findings
  • The report accuses Dar Petroleum Corp, the largest multinational oil consortium in South Sudan — led by a Chinese state-owned oil company — of providing support to deadly militias

LONDON: Hollywood star George Clooney on Thursday urged the international community to “step up” as he unveiled a report alleging links between global corporations, tycoons and governments and rampant corruption in South Sudan which has extracted billions of dollars in profits.
Clooney called on the United States and European Union to target those involved and their networks with new and tougher sanctions as his Africa-focused investigative project The Sentry released its latest findings on webs of corruption in the country.
“I believe they should do much more,” he told a news conference in London with his prominent human rights lawyer wife Amal Clooney seated in the front row.
“I don’t know if they can stop it but they can sure make it a lot harder,” said Clooney, a longtime campaigner for human rights in the region, best known for his advocacy in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.
The actor and activist co-founded The Sentry in 2015 with former US official John Prendergast.
Its 64-page report — “The Taking of South Sudan” — accuses multinational corporations and individuals of being “war profiteers” complicit with South Sudanese politicians and military officials in “ravaging the world’s newest nation.”
“Nearly every instance of confirmed or alleged corruption or financial crime in South Sudan examined by The Sentry has involved links to an international corporation, a multinational bank, a foreign government or high-end real estate abroad,” it stated.
Clooney said the profiteers include “Chinese and Malaysian oil giants, British tycoons, and American businessmen.”
“Without their support these atrocities could never have happened at this scale,” he added.
The report accuses Dar Petroleum Corp, the largest multinational oil consortium in South Sudan — led by a Chinese state-owned oil company — of providing “direct support to deadly militias.”
Meanwhile Chinese investors formed a company with South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s daughter and acquired several mining licenses in the country just weeks before the military reportedly drove thousands of people from the land where they held a permit, the research claims.
AFP sought comment from the consortium and the government, but they declined to comment, noting they had not read the report.
The probe also alleged an American arms trafficker tried to sell a trove of weapons to a South Sudanese warlord, and two British citizens formed an oil company with a warlord accused of forcibly recruiting thousands of child soldiers.
It said a $65 million scandal involving a South Sudanese general and a British tycoon illustrated “the impunity enjoyed by kleptocrats and their international collaborators.”
The Sentry is composed of financial investigators, international human rights lawyers, and regional experts as well as former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, policymakers, investigative journalists and banking professionals.
It has previously reported on corruption and human rights abuses by South Sudan’s civilian and military leaders, but Clooney said its new strategy was to “follow the money.”
“If you can’t shame them (officials), then you can shame the people who do business with them,” he told reporters.
“You can make it difficult for certain financial institutions to look the other way.
“That can be an effective tool — a much more effective tool than trying to shame a warlord.”