Inmate attack on UK prison officer treated as terrorism

Inmate attack on UK prison officer treated as terrorism
There has been a sharp increase in prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the past few years, sparking growing concerns that other inmates may become radicalized. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Inmate attack on UK prison officer treated as terrorism

Inmate attack on UK prison officer treated as terrorism
  • Two prisoners wielding improvised bladed weapons slashed the officer’s head and neck in Thursday’s attack
  • Four other prison staff were injured as they stepped in and detained the attackers, and were taken to hospital alongside the original victim

LONDON: A knife attack on a British prison officer by two inmates wearing fake suicide belts is being treated as a terrorist attack, police said Friday.
Two prisoners wielding improvised bladed weapons slashed the officer’s head and neck in Thursday’s attack at the maximum security Whitemoor prison in eastern England.
Four other prison staff were injured as they stepped in and detained the attackers, and were taken to hospital alongside the original victim. All five officers have now been released.
One of the suspects was named by media as Brusthom Ziamani, 24, a follower of radical preacher Anjem Choudary who was convicted in 2015 of plotting to behead a British soldier.
The other suspect was reported to be a Muslim convert jailed for a violent offense.
“The matter is being treated as a terrorist attack and the investigation continues at pace,” said London’s Metropolitan Police, which leads on national counter-terrorism matters.
“The incident itself was quickly contained and dealt with by prison staff.
“From our enquiries thus far, there is nothing to suggest any continuing threat inside or outside of the prison system linked to yesterday’s incident.”
The suspects remain in prison and no arrests have been made, police said.
There has been a sharp increase in prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the past few years, sparking growing concerns that other inmates may become radicalized.
The government has trained almost 20,000 staff in extremism awareness training, and employs multi-faith chaplaincy teams in all prisons.
It also opened two Separation Centers where individuals considered to pose the biggest risk are kept away from the main prison population.


Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal

Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) arrives with the government delegation during a visit in Herat province on January 21, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2021

Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal

Kabul hails Biden plan to review Taliban deal
  • Violence has worsened since signing of peace accord, critics claim

KABUL: Officials in Kabul have welcomed the new US administration’s plan to review a peace deal between Washington and the Taliban that paved the way for a complete withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan by May.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Saturday told his Afghan counterpart, Hamdullah Mohib, that Washington will review last year’s agreement — an issue long demanded by Kabul — in a sign of a possible policy shift in the White House under its new leadership.

The accord, signed in Doha in February 2020, followed secret talks between the previous US government of Donald Trump and Taliban leaders. It committed the militants to reducing conflict in Afghanistan and engaging in negotiations with the Afghan government.

However, violence has intensified since the signing of the deal that also forced Kabul to release thousands of Taliban prisoners, souring President Ashraf Ghani’s ties with Washington. 
“We welcome the US intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement,” Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan deputy interior minister, said in a tweet following Sullivan’s conversation with Mohib.

“The agreement has not delivered the desired goal of ending the Taliban’s violence and bringing a cease-fire desired by Afghans. The Taliban did not live up to its commitments.”

Mohib’s spokesman, Rahmatullah Andar, told Arab News that Afghan security leaders had emphasized “a cease-fire, just peace, democratic Afghanistan and protecting the past 20 years of gain.”

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the arrival of US-led forces in 2001. 
Andar said that Afghanistan remained committed to its “foundational partnership with the US,” and will work closely with Washington on security, peace, counterterrorism and regional engagement.

Meanwhile, the Taliban say that they expect the new US administration to stick to the February deal.

“The demand of the Islamic Emirate from the new administration in America is full implementation of the Doha accord,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News. 
“The Doha agreement is the best prescription and only roadmap for ending the war in Afghanistan and for the withdrawal of US forces. The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement,” he said.

Under the deal, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with “terrorist groups” and halt attacks on US-led troops.

Trump administration officials claimed that there have been no strikes by the Taliban against US troops since the signing of the deal. 
Thousands of US soldiers have left since February, and only 2,500 remain in the country along with 30,000 foreign contractors. 
Afghan analysts are divided on the implications of the US administration’s announcement.

Tamim Asey, a former deputy defense minister, said the reassessment of the deal may lead to a slowing of the US withdrawal.

“I am now confident that the US will slow its troop drawdown until a policy review is complete,” he said.

Toreq Farhadi, a former government adviser, told Arab News there are likely to be only “minor changes in the reassessment” since the US wants to end the war.

However, Taj Mohammad, said that a review of the deal may lead to a “new wave of fighting.”

“The Taliban and some in the region oppose this because it could be seen as furthering the presence of US forces,” he said.