Posts Tagged ‘British intelligence’

Britain’s MI5 foils Islamist terror plot to kill the Prime Minister — Two men have been charged with terror offences

December 6, 2017

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Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters.

The security services have foiled an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister in Downing Street, it has emerged.

An Islamic extremist planned to use an improvised explosive device to blow up the gates of Downing Street before entering No 10 and making an attempt on Theresa May’s life.

Two men have been charged with terror offences and are due to appear in Westminster magistrates’ court.

Details of the alleged terror plot were set out to Cabinet members on Tuesday during a briefing by Andrew Parker, the head of MI5. Mr Parker revealed that British intelligence had foiled nine terror plots in the past 12 months.

Image result for Andrew Parker, MI5, photos

Andrew Parker, the head of MI5

The disclosures about the charges came just hours after an official report into the Manchester terror attack revealed that the suicide bomber had been flagged for closer scrutiny by security services and that the atrocity could have been averted “had the cards fallen differently”.

MI5 investigators misinterpreted intelligence on Salman Abedi earlier this year and it was disclosed his case was due to be discussed at a meeting scheduled for nine days after his May attack at the Manchester Arena.

Salmam Abedi

The report suggested Salman Abedi’s attack in Manchester could have been stopped CREDIT: AFP/GETTY

Internal reviews into the police and MI5’s handling of the four terrorist attacks in Britain this year also revealed one of the London Bridge attackers had been under active investigation by the Security Service.

After the Westminster attack

The Westminster Bridge attacker, Khalid Masood, had also watched suicide attack videos on YouTube in the days before he carried out his assault.

David Anderson QC, a former terrorism law reviewer asked by the Home Secretary to independently check the secret internal reviews, said they were “no cause for despair” and that most attack plots continued to be broken up.

In response to his 61-page report, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said the blame for the attacks “lies squarely” with the terrorists.

The reviews found that 22-year-old Abedi had previously been a MI5 suspect, but was not under active investigation when he blew himself up among the crowd at an Ariana Grande concert.

Tributes to the Manchester terror attack, which killed 22 people

Tributes to the Manchester terror attack, which killed 22 people CREDIT: BEN STANSALL /AFP

In advance of the attack, officers had on two separate occasions received unspecified intelligence on him “whose significance was not fully appreciated at the time” and which could have led to his case being reopened.

“In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant to the planned attack,” the report said.

Mr Anderson concluded that while it was “unknowable” if reopening the investigation would have thwarted Abedi, it was “conceivable that the Manchester attack in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently”.

Between March and June, London and Manchester experienced four attacks killing a total of 36 people and wounding another 200.

Abedi had first become an MI5 “subject of interest” in 2014, but it transpired he had been mistaken for someone else and his case was closed. It was reopened the following year on mistaken intelligence that he had contacted an Islamic State figure in Libya.

But though his case remained closed from that point, Abedi “continued to be referenced from time to time in intelligence gathered for other purposes. In two separate instances before the attack, intelligence was received that was “assessed at the time to relate not to terrorism, but to possible non-nefarious activity or to criminality”.

An automated trawl of suspects’ data designed to spot closed cases that may need re-examining identified him as one of fewer than 100 individuals “out of a total of more than 20,000 closed subjects of interest, who merited further examination”.

“A meeting (arranged before the attack) was due to take place on May 31: Salman Abedi’s case would have been considered, together with the others identified. The attack intervened on May 22.”

Mr Anderson said: “With the benefit of hindsight, intelligence was misinterpreted in early 2017.”

MI5’s internal investigation concluded that the decision not to reopen an investigation into Abedi in early 2017 was “finely balanced” and “understandable”. Reviewers decided that “on the clear balance of professional opinion, a successful pre-emption of the gathering plot would have been unlikely”.

Across all of the incidents, three of the six attackers “were on MI5’s radar”. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the report “will be a difficult read for everyone in Manchester and most particularly for the  bereaved families and those still recovering from the attack”.

He said the report was obviously the result of “a lot of soul searching” on behalf of MI5 and the police. He said: “I accept its conclusion that there is no way of knowing whether the Manchester attack could have been stopped.

“But it is clear that things could – and perhaps should – have been done differently.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/05/mi5-foils-islamist-terror-plot-kill-prime-minister/

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G7 to focus on foreign fighter fallout from rout of IS

October 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Ella IDE | A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walks through a heavily damaged a street in Raqa, Syria on October 18, 2017

ISCHIA (ITALY) (AFP) – The threat of fresh attacks on the West by foreign fighters fleeing the fallen Islamic State stronghold of Raqa is set to dominate a G7 meeting of interior ministers in Italy.The two-day gathering, which kicks off Thursday on the Italian island of Ischia, comes just days after US-backed forces took full control of the jihadists’ de facto Syrian capital.

Most foreign fighters are believed to have fled over the past few months. Experts say those who stayed are now likely to head for Turkey in the hope of travelling on to Europe to seek revenge for the destruction of the “caliphate”.

Tens of thousands of citizens from Western countries travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the group between 2014 and 2016, including extremists who then returned home and staged attacks that claimed dozens of lives.

France, whose some 1,000 nationals were among the biggest contingent of overseas recruits to join IS, stated frankly this weekend that it would be “for the best” if jihadists die fighting.

While border crossings have since tightened making it more difficult for fighters to return, security experts have warned of renewed possibilities of strikes as the pressure on IS intensifies.

“With an Islamic military defeat in Iraq and Syria we could find ourselves facing a return diaspora of foreign fighters,” Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti told a parliamentary committee last week.

“There are an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries. Some of them have been killed of course, but… it’s possible some of the others will try to return home, to northern Africa and Europe,” he said.

– Catching boats to Europe –

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said a group of 130-150 foreign fighters, including Europeans, had turned themselves in before the end of the battle in Raqa.

Other reports suggested a convoy of foreign fighters had been able to escape the city towards IS-held territory, a claim denied categorically by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officials.

The SDF is expected to contact the home countries of any foreign fighters it holds, to discuss the possibility of turning them over to face prosecution.

But captured fighters could prove a legal headache, with questions raised over what evidence, collected by whom, would be used in a domestic court. Jihadists also become security risks in jails for their potential to radicalise.

French European lawmaker Arnaud Danjean said Wednesday there would be “negotiations with the countries concerned” over what to do with returners.

Minniti warned fighters could take advantage of the confusion and “use the human trafficking routes” to return home — raising the spectre of extremists embarking on the migrant boats which regularly head to Italy.

It meant controversial efforts currently spearheaded by Italy to close the land and sea trafficking routes which cross Africa into Libya and on across the central Mediterranean sea to Europe were “essential”, he added.

– Intelligence war –

The Seven, from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, will also tackle the hot issue of terrorism online, with analysts warning IS’s loss of territory will turn street-to-street fighting into an intelligence war.

The ministers are due to arrive Thursday afternoon at a medieval castle on the volcanic island off Naples, before retiring for an informal dinner and knuckling down to working sessions on Friday.

They are set to be joined by the EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, European safety commissioner Julian King, and Juergen Stock, secretary general of the international police body Interpol.

In a G7 first, representatives from Internet giants Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter will also be taking part.

by Ella IDE
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MI5 boss Andrew Parker warns of ‘intense’ terror threat

October 19, 2017

BBC News

MI5 chief Andrew Parker: ‘Over 3,000 extremists in the UK’
Video:
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41655488

The UK’s intelligence services are facing an “intense” challenge from terrorism, the head of MI5 has warned.

Andrew Parker said there was currently “more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly” and that it can also be “harder to detect”.

The UK has suffered five terror attacks this year, and he said MI5 staff had been “deeply affected” by them.

He added that more than 130 Britons who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with so-called Islamic State had died.

MI5 was running 500 live operations involving 3,000 individuals involved in extremist activity in some way, he said.

Speaking in London, Mr Parker said the tempo of counter-terrorism operations was the highest he had seen in his 34-year career at MI5.

Twenty attacks had been foiled in the last four years, including seven in the last seven months, he said – all related to what he called Islamist extremism.

The five attacks that got through this year included a suicide bomb attack after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May, killing 22.

Five people were also killed in April during an attack near the Houses of Parliament, while eight people were killed when three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and launched a knife attack in Borough Market.

A man then drove a van into a crowd of worshippers near a mosque in north London in June, while a homemade bomb partially exploded in tube train at Parsons Green station last month, injuring 30 people.

In some cases, individuals like Khuram Butt – who was behind the London Bridge attack – were well known to MI5 and had been under investigation by the security services.

People leaving flowers in Manchester city centre one week after the Manchester Arena attack
People left flowers in Manchester city centre after the Manchester Arena attack. PA photo

Mr Parker was asked what was the point of MI5 surveillance when someone who had made “no secret of his affiliations with jihadist extremism” had then been allowed to go on to launch a deadly attack.

He said the risk from each individual was assessed on a “daily and weekly basis” and then prioritised “accordingly”.

“One of the main challenges we’ve got is that we only ever have fragments of information, and we have to try to assemble a picture of what might happen, based on those fragments.”

He said the likelihood was that when an attacked happened, it would be carried out by someone “that we know or have known” – otherwise it would mean they had been looking “in completely the wrong place”.

And he said staff at MI5 were deeply affected on a “personal and professional” level when they did happen.

“They are constantly making tough professional judgements based on fragments of intelligence; pinpricks of light against a dark and shifting canvas.”

‘Not the enemy’

Mr Parker said they were trying to “squeeze every drop of learning” from recent incidents.

In the wake of attacks in the UK, there had been some, including some in the Home Office, who questioned whether the counter-terrorist machine – featuring all three intelligence agencies and the police, and with MI5 at its heart – was functioning as effectively as previously thought.

However, there was no indication of a fundamental change in direction in his remarks, with a focus on the scale of the threat making stopping all plots impossible.

“We have to be careful that we do not find ourselves held to some kind of perfect standard of 100%, because that is not achievable,” he said.

“Attacks can sometimes accelerate from inception through planning to action in just a handful of days.

“This pace, together with the way extremists can exploit safe spaces online, can make threats harder to detect and give us a smaller window to intervene.”

Troops from the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) marching past a ruined building in Raqqa, Syria
Many Britons still fighting in Syria and Iraq may not now return, Andrew Parker said. Reuters photo

He renewed the call for more co-operation from technology companies.

Technology was “not the enemy,” he added, but said companies had a responsibility to deal with the side effects and “dark edges” created by the products they produced.

In particular, he pointed to online purchasing of goods – such as chemicals – as well as the presence of extremist content on social media and encrypted communications.

Assassination risk

He said more than 800 individuals had left the UK for Syria and Iraq.

Some had then returned, often many years ago, and had been subject to risk assessment. Mr Parker revealed at least 130 had been killed in conflict.

Fewer than expected had returned recently, he said, adding that those who were still in Syria and Iraq may not now attempt to come back because they knew they might be arrested.

Mr Parker stressed that international co-operation remained vital and revealed there was a joint operational centre for counter-terrorism based in the Netherlands, where security service officers from a range of countries worked together and shared data.

This had led to 12 arrests in Europe, he added.

In terms of state threats, Mr Parker said the range of clandestine activity conducted by foreign states – including Russia – went from aggressive cyber-attack, through to traditional espionage and the risk of assassination of individuals.

However, he said the UK had strong defences against such activity.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41655488

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Iran to blame for cyber-attack on MPs’ emails – British intelligence

October 14, 2017

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Evidence points to Iran, says unpublished report, after initial suspicion of Russia and North Korea dismissed

The houses of parliamentThe emails of dozens MPs were hacked, partly as the result of weak passwords, according to a parliamentary spokesman. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

Iran is being blamed for a cyber-attack in June on the email accounts of dozens of MPs, according to an unpublished assessment by British intelligence. Disclosure of the report, first revealed by the Times but independently verified by the Guardian, comes at an awkward juncture. Donald Trump made it clear on Friday that he wants to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. But European leaders, including Theresa May, want to retain it.

Initial suspicion for the attack fell on Russia, but this has now been discounted. The evidence amassed is pinpointing Iran, according to the assessment. A spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre, the government body responsible for helping to counter attacks, said: “It would be inappropriate to comment further while inquiries are ongoing.”

The cyber-attack on parliament on June 23 hit the accounts of dozens of MPs, including Theresa May, the prime minister. and senior ministers. The network affected is used by every MP for interactions with constituents.

A security source told the Guardian at the time: “It was a brute-force attack. It appears to have been state-sponsored. The nature of cyber-attacks means it is notoriously difficult to attribute an incident to a specific actor.”

MPs contacted by the Guardian said the immediate suspicion had fallen upon foreign governments such as Russia and North Korea, both of which have been accused of orchestrating previous hacking attempts in the UK. The attackers sought to gain access to accounts protected by weak passwords. The parliamentary digital services team said they had made changes to accounts to block out the hackers. A spokesman said those whose emails were compromised had used weak passwords, despite advice to the contrary.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said at the time that such an attack “absolutely” could leave some people open to blackmail. “Constituents want to know the information they send to us is completely secure,” he said.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, connected the news to reports that cabinet ministers’ passwords were for sale online. “We know that our public services are attacked, so it is not at all surprising that there should be an attempt to hack into parliamentary emails,” he said. “And it’s a warning to everybody, whether they are in parliament or elsewhere, that they need to do everything possible to maintain their own cybersecurity.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/14/iran-to-blame-for-cyber-attack-on-mps-emails-british-intelligence

Encourage children to spend more time online, says former head of British Intelligence — “The country is desperately short of engineers and computer scientists, and lacks the broad ‘cyber skills’”

August 8, 2017

The Guardian

Robert Hannigan says children developing cyber skills could ‘save the country’ as UK was falling behind competitors

Image may contain: 1 person, suit
 Robert Hannigan, in 2015, when he was director of GCHQ. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Parents should be encouraging their children to spend more time online in order to “save the country,” the former head of GCHQ has said.

Robert Hannigan, who was head of Britain’s surveillance agency between 2014 and 2017, said that the UK was struggling to keep up with competitors when it came to cyber skills.

He said parents should not feel guilty if teenagers spend hours of their summer holidays in front of a screen.

“The assumption that time online or in front of a screen is life wasted needs challenging,” Hannigan said. “It is driven by fear.”

The call comes days after the children’s commissioner warned parents that they should intervene to stop their children overusing social media and consuming time online “like junk food”.

In an interview with the Observer, Anne Longfield said that parents should “step up” and be proactive in stopping their children from bingeing on the internet during the summer holidays.

Writing in the Telegraph, Hannigan disagreed. “If you are spending a disproportionate amount of your holiday unsuccessfully attempting to separate your children from wifi or their digital devices, do not despair.

“Your poor parenting may be helping them and saving the country.”

The opinions come after a report said that children in all age groups are spending ever-longer periods online, according to Ofcom. Children aged five to 15 are spending 15 hours a week online.

Hannigan argues that young people need to explore the digital world just as they explore the physical world, in order to fully develop the kinds of skills both the country and they as individuals will need in the future.

He said: “This country is desperately short of engineers and computer scientists, and lacks the broad ‘cyber skills’ needed now, never mind in the next 20 years. The baseline of understanding is too low and often behind our competitors.

“If we are to capitalise on the explosion of data that will come through the ‘internet of things’, and the arrival of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need young people who have been allowed to behave like engineers: to explore, break things and put them together.

“Arguably that is what children always did in their summer holidays. The difference today is that they will want to explore, experiment and break things digitally.”

He also said that parents should attempt to catch up and improve their own cyber skills, suggesting they buy a Raspberry Pi.

“You could build it with your children and learn at least the concept of computer coding; there are plenty of free guides on the web,” he said.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/08/encourage-children-to-spend-more-time-online-says-former-gchq-head

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Children should be allowed to explore the digital world just as they explore the physical world, says Robert Hannigan

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By Ben Farmer
The Telegraph

Parents should encourage their children to spend more time online to improve their cyber skills and ‘save the country’, the former head of GCHQ declares today.

Rather than allowing youngsters to ‘mooch around on the streets’ during the holidays, it is families’ patriotic duty to encourage more screen time, according to Robert Hannigan.

Writing for the Telegraph today, the former head of the Government’s electronic spy agency, warns that Britain is struggling to keep pace with its digital rivals.

Without giving children more time to embrace and master the virtual world, the UK will fall further behind, he says.

His call comes just days after the children’s commissioner argued that children are already too attached to online devices.

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/07/british-children-must-spend-time-online-can-save-country-spy/

Russian hackers attacked UK energy networks — Russians hacked energy companies on election day, GCHQ claims

July 19, 2017

Russian hackers are thought to have attacked the UK’s national grid sparking fears that electricity supplies could be cut by cyber terrorists.

Security analysts say that a group backed by Vladimir Putin‘s Kremlin targeted the Republic of Ireland’s energy sector and tried to infiltrate control systems.

Senior engineers at the country’s Electricity Supply Board were hit with a ‘phishing’ email last month that tried to trick staff into downloading malicious software, according to The Times.

While no evidence of disruption has been uncovered, analysts fear that the hackers could have stolen sensitive information including top-secret passwords that could later be used to access systems.

Russian hackers are thought to have attacked the UK's national grid sparking fears that electricity supplies could be cut by cyber terrorists (stock photo)

Russian hackers are thought to have attacked the UK’s national grid sparking fears that electricity supplies could be cut by cyber terrorists (stock photo)

Experts said that the attackers are using Ireland to test out their cyber weaponry with the country hosting the offices of a number of major corporations including Apple and Facebook.

Some of the fake emails sent to engineers reportedly contained inside technical knowledge about the plants that the hackers were trying to access.

It is now feared that similar attack bids could be launched on other parts of the UK’s critical infrastructure.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4699896/Russian-hackers-attack-UK-s-national-grid.html#ixzz4nFvOKyWM
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Russians hacked energy companies on election day, GCHQ claims

 Hackers tried to exploit ways into computer networks possibly using a similar method to the one that hit the NHS in May
Hackers tried to exploit ways into computer networks possibly using a similar method to the one that hit the NHS in May CREDIT: ALEXANDER RYUMIN 
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By Cara McGoogan and 

Britain’s energy companies were hacked on the day of the General Election by computer criminals believed to have been backed by Russia.

The Government’s electronic spy agency GCHQ said in an official report sent to the energy sector that companies “are likely to have been compromised” in the wake of the attack launched on June 8.

Britain’s energy companies were hacked on the day of the General Election 
Britain’s energy companies were hacked on the day of the General Election  CREDIT: PA

The report accuses “state-sponsored hostile threat actors” of being responsible for the cyber attack, which may also have targeted water companies and the manufacturing industry.

The document does not name Russia but experts have told The Telegraph that they believe the Kremlin was behind the attack and that it targeted engineers working in power plants and in the electricity supply network.

The attempt to infiltrate Britain’s energy network and other parts of the UK’s “critical national infrastructure” is not thought to have caused any disruption.

But intelligence…

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/18/russians-hacked-energy-companies-election-day-gchq-claims/

Trump, G7 Leaders Seek Deals on Terrorism, Trade, Climate

May 26, 2017

TAORMINA, Sicily — The differences are well-known: climate change, trade and migration threaten to throw a summit of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies off its consensus game, with U.S. President Donald Trump cast as the spoiler-in-chief. But it may not play out exactly that way, according to long-time G7 observers.

“It is a forum made for Donald Trump’s particular style. It is highly informal, highly interactive and they speak in very colloquial language to each other,” said John Kirton, director of the G7 Research Group at the University of Toronto. “It is the ultimate lonely hearts club. No one understands how tough it is to have the top job except the peers with the top job in other countries.”

While Trump has met all of the leaders one on one, this will be the first time all seven are around the same table, including also newcomers Emmanuel Macron of France, Theresa May of Britain and the Italian host, Paolo Gentiloni — forging a new dynamic after a year of global political turmoil amid rising nationalism.

Climate policy promises to be the real buzzkill at the G7 party. Endorsing measures to combat terror is expected to find easy agreement, especially after the attack on an English pop music concert killed 22 people Monday night. But some of the trust that fuels such meetings was undermined by a leak of British intelligence in the Manchester attack blamed on a U.S. official, prompting the Britain to decide not to share further intelligence in the case. Trump is also going against the grain on trade with more protectionist stand

His pending review of U.S. climate policies and decision not to make up his mind before Taormina has braced environmentalists for the possibility of bland language that says little after years of increasingly stronger commitments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and emissions of in greenhouse gases under the Paris Agreement.

“What we do not want to see is a false compromise on nothing,” said Tobias Muenchmeyer, a political expert for Greenpeace. “We want to see determination and commitment over unity,” with the other partners going ahead without the United States.

Trump’s attempts to impose a U.S. travel ban on some Muslim countries contrast with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s position that immigration is a source of strong, sustainable inclusive growth. Sicily is on the front lines in Europe’s migration crisis, the first landfall for most of the more than 180,000 migrants who arrived in Italy last year — and the reason the Italian government chose Sicily as the backdrop for this summit.

Kirton said Trump has demonstrated the ability to come to bilateral agreements, and it is possible that Taormina will yield deals for which he can claim credit at home. But his volatile style could upend even summit decisions.

“It is always possible the president will change his mind even before he lands in Washington and fire off some more tweets,” Kirton said.

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ABC News

President Donald Trump will continue his marathon of meetings with world leaders Friday on the fifth stop of his overseas trip in Taormina, Italy, when he attends his first Group of Seven(G7) summit.

The annual meeting convenes the leaders of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Canada to discuss and promote solutions for major world issues.

But in contrast to the collaborative and at times even playful demeanor leaders would assume during the eight years President Barack Obama was in office, Trump’s emergence so far on the diplomatic circuit has shown his willingness to use the meetings to confront world leaders and openly express his grievances.

Trump’s speech at the opening of a new NATO memorial Thursday aimed to publicly call out countries who may not have paid their full share in recent years. It also rattled some diplomatic experts over the president’s decision to not explicitly express the U.S. commitment to NATO’s Article 5 collective defense treaty.

A key issue expected to be on the summit’s agenda is Trump’s weighing of whether to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, a decision that several leaders of the G7 countries have expressed could significantly undermine global efforts to combat climate change.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday that the president would make his decision whether to exit the treaty upon his return to the U.S.

Also under the microscope during Trump’s meetings have been his body language and interactions with other heads of state. In particular reporters and social media have pointed out his lengthy handshake with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, his alleged “shove” to move in front of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and his face-to-face with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who expressed dismay over an alleged U.S. leak of British intel from the investigation into the Manchester bombing.

In the evening following his meetings, Trump and the first lady will attend a G7 concert by La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra before the leaders and their spouses sit down for dinner.

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Donald Trump Needs To Launch an FBI Investigation into Leaks, After New York Times Publishes Manchester Bomb Photos Leaked from Intelligence Community

May 25, 2017

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OPINION

Sources in the UK tell Peace and Freedom that Her Majesty’s Government is angry that the New York Times published photos from the Manchester bomb investigation even though they are still classified.

The UK first threatened and then apparently did stop intelligence sharing with the U.S. because of this leak.

President Donald Trump first needs to learn to keep his own mouth in check. Then the Commander in Chief needs to launch an anti-leak investigation by the FBI to determine the source of the leak to the New York Times — and other Trump administration leaks — before they U.S. suffers real consequences from its leak-happy bad behaviour.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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The bomber in the Manchester terrorist attack appeared to have carried a powerful explosive in a lightweight metal container concealed either within a black vest or a blue Karrimor backpack, and may have held a small switch in his left hand, according to preliminary information gathered by British authorities.

Remnants of backpack

The initial analysis of the bomb, based on evidence photographed and collected at the crime scene and distributed by British authorities, does not specify the size or type of explosive used in the bomb’s main charge but suggests an improvised device made with forethought and care.

Possible switch located in suspect’s left hand

Law enforcement images of metal nuts and screws propelled by the blast, and of damage nearby, show that the bomb’s makeshift shrapnel penetrated metal doors and left deep scuffs in brick walls.

Nuts and screws used as shrapnel

And the authorities’ review of the blast site shows that many of the fatalities occurred in a nearly complete circle around the bomber, Salman Abedi, whose upper torso was heaved outside the lethal ring toward the Manchester Arena entrance.

All of these are indicators of a powerful, high-velocity charge, and of a bomb in which its shrapnel was carefully and evenly packed.

The location of the bomber’s torso, and the apparent absence of fatalities in a line between the blast site and where his remains landed, was said by one explosive disposal technician who examined the images to indicate that the explosive charge was more likely in a backpack than in a vest, and propelled the bomber away from the blast.

Certain details of the bomb further suggest a desire by a bomb-maker to reduce the risk of a dud.

The authorities found a mangled Yuasa 12-volt, 2.1 amp lead acid battery at the scene, which is more powerful than batteries often seen in backpack bombs or suicide vests. The battery, used for emergency lighting and other applications, can be bought for about $20.

12-volt battery that was possible power source

A possible switch to initiate the explosion, carried in the bomber’s left hand, was also unusual in a suicide device, in that it appears to have contained a small circuit board soldered inside one end.

It is not clear from the law enforcement images if the object was a simple plunger switch, or included a timer or a receiver that could be operated remotely via radio signal – or some combination, or something else.

Such redundancy, if the object was the switch, could give the bomber or a cell more than one option for deploying the device, and suggest that the bomb was not as simple in design as many terrorist devices, which often are crude and prone to failure or haphazard effect.

One independent analyst of improvised explosive devices, Michael C.L. Johnson, suggested that the object might be an electronic cigarette and unrelated to the bomb’s detonation – an understandable case of investigators focusing on a crime-scene detail early in a case.

Western bomb disposal technicians who reviewed the images for The New York Times said that a more thorough analysis of the device is difficult without more information, and that assessments of the bomb could change as the authorities analyze it further and if they collect more evidence. But its apparent overdesign, including the more powerful than usual battery, could flow from a bomb-maker’s difficulty in building a reliable detonator.

Manchester bombing latest: 18 terror plots foiled since 2013, including five since Westminster attack, source says

May 25, 2017

© AFP | A soldier patrols outside 10 Downing Street, the official residence of Britain’s Prime Minister, in central London on May 24, 2017

By 
The Telegraph

The security services have foiled five attacks in the past two months since the Westminster attack, a senior Whitehall source has said.

Defending against accusations that MI5 had been repeatedly warned the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was dangerous, the source outlined the scale of the job facing counter-terrorism officials.

The bombmaker who provided Salman Abedi (pictured) with the explosive device used to cause carnage at Manchester Arena may still at large, police have revealed

Salman Abedi,

The source said MI5 is currently managing 500 active investigations, involving 3,000 subjects of interest at any one time.

The source said: “Where former subjects of interest show sufficient risk of reengaging in terrorism, MI5 can consider reopening the investigation, but this process inevitably relies on difficult professional judgments based on partial information.”

Bomb squad on the scene in Manchester

Bomb squad on the scene in Manchester CREDIT: TWITTER/LUKE SANDERSON

Meanwhile, a suspicious package which prompted an alert in Hulme has been deemed safe, Greater Manchester Police said.

An army bomb disposal team was sent to the scene and several roads were closed, including Linby Street and Jackson Street.

But GMP later said the incident “has now been deemed safe and the cordon has been removed”.

It followed a minute’s silence held in memory of the victims and the arrival of The Queen to a hospital where medics battled to save the lives of children caught up in Monday’s suicide bomb.

 armed police ukArmed police stand outside Manchester Central in Manchester, England, in 2015. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

She met victims at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and staff who worked tirelessly through the night in the aftermath of Monday’s atrocity.

Earlier it was revealed police hunting the terror network behind the Manchester Arena bombing have stopped passing information to the US on the investigation as a major transatlantic row erupted over leaks of key evidence in the US, according to a report.

The police, Downing Street and the Home Office refused to comment on the BBC report, but Theresa May will confront Donald Trump about the leaks – including crime scene photographs – when she meets him at a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The leaks included suggestions that bomber Salman Abedi’s family had warned security officials he was dangerous.

There were also reports Abedi’s parents were so worried about him being radicalised in Manchester that they got him to join them in Libya and confiscated his passport. It was apparently returned when he said he wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has admitted Abedi, 22, was known to the security services “up to a point”.

But further details have emerged about the UK-born bomber’s radicalisation, and the warnings that were sounded, which will raise questions about why he was not more closely monitored.

Responding to the leak in the New York Times of crime scene photos showing bomb fragments and the backpack used by Abedi to conceal his device, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said it “undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families”.

But in the US, politicians were openly briefing the media on what they had been told about Abedi and his “cell of Isis-inspired terrorists”.

Read the rest (Includes videos):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/25/manchester-arena-bombing-latest/

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FBI monitored former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Russia

April 12, 2017

Updated 12:53 PM ET, Wed April 12, 2017

Washington (CNN)The FBI obtained a warrant to monitor President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page, last summer on suspicions he knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, The Washington Post is reporting.

The FBI and Justice Department obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to monitor the communications of Page, who has called himself a junior member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory team, as part of their investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, the newspaper says, citing unnamed law enforcement and other US officials.
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The FBI and Justice Department obtained the warrant after convincing a FISA judge there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign government (Russia), the report says. The warrant presents the strongest information to date that the FBI had reason to believe a Trump adviser was in touch with Moscow and met with foreign operatives during Trump’s presidential campaign.
FBI Director James Comey has acknowledged that an investigation was opened last year into Russia’s efforts to influence the election and the question of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin. But Comey stopped short of naming anyone working for the campaign who may have been involved.
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CNN is working to confirm The Washington Post’s story.
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Page, however, called the FISA warrant “unjustified” in a statement to CNN’s Manu Raju.
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“There have been various reports [about FISA documents and FBI surveillance of him],” Page said. “But I was so happy to hear that further confirmation is now being revealed. It shows how low the Clinton/Obama regime went to destroy our democracy and suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy. It will be interesting to see what comes out when the unjustified basis for those FISA requests are more fully disclosed over time, including potentially the Dodgy Dossier — a document that clearly is false evidence, which could represent yet another potential crime.”
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Page was referring to a leaked dossier of unverified information compiled by a former British intelligence official for Trump’s political opponents. Then-President-elect Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier before Trump’s inauguration, CNN reported.
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When asked in March of last year to list members of his foreign policy team in an interview with The Washington Post, Trump included “Carter Page, PhD.”
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Page has said he sent policy memos to the campaign and participated in conference calls as well as gatherings that included Trump, but also said he never personally briefed Trump or was in “small meetings” with him during the election. But Trump said at a White House news conference in February that he doesn’t think he ever met Page.
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“I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him,” Trump said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don’t think I ever met him. Now, it’s possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don’t think I ever met him.”
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Page told CNN he had never shaken Trump’s hand and that by saying he had met with Trump, he had meant meetings in the “Russian sense,” which he said meant he had attended rallies Trump spoke at.
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In recent interviews, Page described himself as a “junior member” of Trump’s foreign policy team, and has denied working on any Russia-related policies for the campaign. He also said in February that he is still in contact with some people in the Trump orbit.
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