American boy, 13, voices ‘sweet relief’ of rescue from Daesh

American boy, 13, voices ‘sweet relief’ of rescue from Daesh
Matthew told the BBC ‘it’s happened and it’s done. It’s all behind me now.’ (Screengrab/BBC)
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Updated 23 November 2020

American boy, 13, voices ‘sweet relief’ of rescue from Daesh

American boy, 13, voices ‘sweet relief’ of rescue from Daesh
  • Matthew was taken to Syria via Turkey by his mother and stepfather in 2015
  • Matthew was forced to feature in a Daesh propaganda video in which he, aged 10, threatened Trump

LONDON: A boy who was taken to Syria by his mother and stepfather and forced to issue a threat of war on US soil to President Donald Trump has spoken of the “sweet relief” of being back home, one year after being extracted from a Kurdish detention camp.

While in Syria, Matthew, now 13, was taught how to disassemble assault rifles and build explosives, and was tutored by his stepfather about how to conduct a suicide attack against his would-be American rescuers.

Matthew was also infamously forced to feature in a Daesh propaganda video in which he, aged 10, threatened Trump: “This battle isn’t going to end in Raqqa or Mosul. It’s going to end in your lands … So get ready, for the fighting has just begun.”

Matthew told the BBC that it was a “sweet relief” to be back in the US. “It’s happened and it’s done. It’s all behind me now,” he said. “I was so young I didn’t really understand any of it.” Matthew is now living safely with his father Juan.

He was taken to Syria via Turkey by his mother Samantha Sally and stepfather Moussa Elhassani in April 2015.

Elhassani, who trained as a Daesh sniper in Syria, was killed in a suspected drone strike, and Sally was convicted this month of financing terrorism. She is facing six and a half years in jail.


UAE and Britain powering ahead to green energy targets

UAE and Britain powering ahead to green energy targets
Updated 10 January 2021

UAE and Britain powering ahead to green energy targets

UAE and Britain powering ahead to green energy targets
  • The UAE has shown foresight in the greentech space by laying out its ambitious Energy Strategy 2050

LONDON: With climate change and resource scarcity looming, the global green technology sector is leading the charge to create a cleaner energy future. 

Green technology (greentech) is a broad term for innovative companies that are working towards carbon-neutral solutions for a sustainable planet.

In tandem with its historically hydrocarbon-powered economy, the UAE is now a pioneer in energy diversification, launching some of the world’s most innovative solar, wind and waste-to-energy projects.

Home to a growing population and rising energy demand, the UAE is leveraging its abundant renewable resources and global technology partners to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint. Chief among its collaborators is the UK, which has a long history of greentech expertise and implementation.

According to Sarah Heineman, head of renewable energy at the UK Department for International Trade, there is vast potential for investment and cross-collaboration between the UK and UAE within the greentech industry.

“The British energy sector has one of the most advanced energy systems in the world. It is at the forefront of the transition to decarbonize power generation and has attracted significant private investment into innovation,” she said.

“Over the last five years, relative power emissions in the UK have fallen faster than in any other G10 nation,” Heineman noted, adding that Britain was the first major economy to pass laws for net zero carbon emissions.

Ambitious UAE energy vision

The UAE has shown foresight in the greentech space by laying out its ambitious Energy Strategy 2050. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, green energy has advanced rapidly in the GCC countries since 2014.

The Gulf project pipeline reached almost seven gigawatts of new power generation capacity by 2018, after record-breaking bids in renewable energy auctions in the UAE and Saudi Arabia made solar power cost-competitive with conventional energy technologies.

As well as being home to the world’s largest single-site solar park, Dubai is pioneering waste-to-energy innovation with the Al-Warsan project — which has the capacity to process 1.9 million tons of municipal solid waste per year and power around 135,000 homes.

The UAE’s transition to cleaner energy is helping Britain make the shift to net zero in the UK too. Abu Dhabi-owned energy firm Masdar is leading investment, research and development, and commercialization of renewables in the UAE, and has made multi-billion pound investments in three offshore wind farms in the UK. It has also invested millions in Britain’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Clean energy innovation

A 2018 UN report revealed that global investment in renewable energy and green technology processes surpassed $200 billion in 2017; $2.9 trillion has been invested in sources like solar and wind power since 2004.

In the UK, academia and research centres work closely with greentech companies to develop and commercialise innovative technologies to meet global demand. As the government continues to invest in the sector, Britain has inked hundreds of patents for leading environmental solutions.

“The UK — with its strong pedigree in renewables — is well-placed to help the UAE power ahead with its innovative energy vision and achieve its ambitious targets,” said Patrick Moody, British Ambassador to the UAE. 

UK greentech startups

British startups have already made significant inroads in helping to shape the UAE’s greentech sector. Northern Ireland-based Kiverco has been chosen to design and build the solution that will recycle all waste from Expo 2020 Dubai — a global event staged over six months that will see 25 million visits.

Kiverco installed the plant in early 2020, which will divert the highest percentage of landfill waste than any previous Expo. The recycling solutions will recover ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, plastic bottles, plastic film, paper and cardboard. Organic waste from the sprawling Expo 2020 Dubai South site will be converted into fertilizer, and construction material will be reused in roads.

Global sales manager at Kiverco, Con Gallagher, said: “The UAE is leading the charge when it comes to sustainable policies. Kiverco now has five active plants in the Gulf region. We are seeing more and more interest as governments turn their focus to mass-recycling strategies.”

UK-based Solar Water Plc, the world’s first carbon-neutral hydro-infrastructure dome, designed to produce clean water for municipal and industrial consumption, is in talks with the UAE government to implement its innovative glass technology.

The dome houses vast parabolic mirrors that capture the sun’s heat; this energy evaporates incoming seawater, which condenses and precipitates as fresh water, creating a constant water cycle within the dome. Salt is extracted from the brine as a by-product and sold commercially, ensuring that neither salt nor brine is returned to the ocean.

“In the last nine months, even amid the coronavirus pandemic, we have created a pipeline of projects in the Middle East,” said David Reavley, CEO of Solar Water. “I think there will be enormous demand over the next two or three decades. We are solving a big problem as the world progresses into climate change vulnerability.”

Patrick Moody, British Ambassador to the UAE, concluded: “The UK’s thriving renewable energy sector has the expertise and practical know-how to harness the UAE’s abundant renewable resources and futuristic sustainability vision. I see great potential for collaboration between the UK and the UAE.”