France – French customs officials said on the 30 May 17 that they had intercepted 135 kilogrammes (300 pounds) of Captagon, dubbed the "jihadists' drug", at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport this year, a first for France. Captagon, a type of amphetamine, is one of the most commonly used drugs among fighters in the Syrian war. "It is the first time that this drug has been seized in France," the customs agency said in a statement. Customs officials at Charles de Gaulle discovered 350,000 Captagon pills weighing 70 kilogram’s on the 4 Jan 17 hidden among industrial moulds exported from Lebanon and apparently heading for the Czech Republic. An investigation was launched by German and Czech authorities "and it revealed that the real intended destination was Saudi Arabia, by passing through Turkey", the agency said. Another 67 kilograms of the drug were found at the airport in Feb 17 hidden in steel moulds. Captagon is classified by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as an "amphetamine-type stimulant" and usually blends amphetamines, caffeine and other substances. Fighters who have taken the drug say it helps them to stay up for days and numbs the senses, allowing them to kill with abandon.
Germany – German police have arrested a teenage asylum seeker suspected of planning a suicide attack in Berlin, Brandenburg state officials said on the 31 May 17. The suspect, 17, was arrested in the Uckermark district, Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schröter announced. But Brandenburg police say they have not confirmed reports that the teen, who entered Germany in 2015, is Syrian and was definitely planning an attack. In Dec 16 a jihadist killed 12 people with a lorry in Berlin. That attack on a Christmas market by Anis Amri, a Tunisian, put security services under intense scrutiny because of the way in which the attacker, who was later shot dead by police in Italy, evaded their surveillance and crossed European borders undetected. Special Forces arrested the teenager after police received a tip-off, Brandenburg police tweeted (in German). He had sent a message to his family saying farewell and that he was joining the "jihad", the police said. The message was sent via WhatsApp in the past week and Brandenburg authorities received the tip-off late on the 29 May 17 from two other German states, a police spokesman said. The Brandenburg interior ministry said the suspect was Syrian but police tweeted that neither the "Syrian nationality" nor "concrete attack plans" could yet be confirmed, and that investigations continued. Investigators are looking into whether the suspect may have falsely registered as a Syrian, police spokesman Torsten Herbst said. The suspect had been living in a home for unaccompanied underage refugees in Uckermark, north-east of Berlin, since 2016 and had never before come to the attention of police. He is currently being questioned and the home is being searched by the state criminal investigation office, Brandenburg police said. Details of the alleged plot cannot be released due to police operations, which are ongoing, the police added. In Apr 17, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee was convicted in western Germany for planning a bomb attack and sentenced to two years in a youth prison. The judges in Cologne said the plot was at a very early stage and did not yet pose any threat to the public.
United Kingdom – On the 22 May 17 in Manchester, United Kingdom a suicide bomber detonated himself at 2233 hours local at a pop festival held at the Manchester Arena. Witnesses claimed to have observed nuts and bolts (dockyard confetti) being part of the shrapnel. The blast occurred after the crowd was dispersing from the concert and the bomber detonated the device in the foyer of the arena. It is claimed that the singer, Ariana Grande, was encouraged to sing one more song at the end of the concert otherwise the foyer would have had more people in and the death and injury toll would have been higher. At the time of reporting the terrorist had claimed the lives of 22 people and 59 more injured, but the death toll could rise as some of the victims succumb to their injuries. The police were treating the incident as a terrorist attack and said that the terrorist died after the device was detonated. Greater Manchester police were asking those who attended the concert for any video and film footage that they had to be sent to them for scrutiny. At the time of reporting the police were unsure if this attack was carried out by a lone wolf or the bomber was part of a terrorist cell. Police issued arrest warrants in the areas of Whalley Range and Fallowfield where a controlled explosion occurred at approximately 1356 hrs. A man was reportedly arrested at approximately the same time in Chorlton shopping centre in connection with the terrorist attack. It was reported that an ID card was found near the blast and that police were following up on that but nothing has been reported at that point. Police named the bomber as 22 year old Salman Abedi who was born in Manchester in 1994, the second of four children. His parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime. Islamic State, while claiming responsibility on its Telegram account, appeared to contradict British police's description of a suicide bomber. It suggested explosive devices were placed "in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders". "What comes next will be more severe on the worshippers of the cross," the Telegram posting said. It did not name the bomber, which it usually does in attacks it has ordered, and appeared also to contradict a posting on another Islamic State account, Amaq, which spoke of "a group of attackers". That reference, however, was later removed. Islamic State supporters were celebrating the attack shortly after it happened. 361 COMMENT: With an ongoing investigation into the Manchester attack information will be slow when released to press and media outlets. Where other attacks have occurred in Europe such as Paris in Nov 15, Belgium in Mar 16 and St Petersburg, Russia in Apr 17 information is always slow due to the police uncovering information about the terrorist and following up on it. Investigation teams will not allow any information to be released in case the press or media report it as an exclusive and tip those who the authorities seek to ask questions. The police will be looking at several areas; did the bomber teach himself how to build a device and if so how? Was he taught if so by whom and how? Was he given the device which would indicate there is a bomb maker still in operation which may imply that he did not act alone and he was part of a cell structure and not a lone wolf. The attack was aimed at children and young adults with a conciseness of when, where and how to create the most damage and chaos. Although security, as usual, came under review the security apparatus that was in place appeared to have done its job as nothing happened before or during the concert. It’s possible that the bomber or whoever was behind the attack would have been aware of this and left it until people left the event to detonate the device. However, as with all social events no one takes any notice with security after the concert or other big event fixture. When people leave an event it’s a free-for-all as everyone wants to get away as soon as possible. As we have seen with this attack the terrorist or terrorists have identified this and used it to their own advantage. This appears to be the first of its sort and as we have seen with the terrorist use of vehicles this style of attack will no doubt be attempted again in the future. Corporations who field these types of events have no doubt paid lip service to these events, paid minimum wages and not given thought to much else apart from entry to the event and policing it whilst it goes on. There will be some who have some form of follow up action to those who are leaving but not many. It will be time to look at all events before, during and after now in order to ensure that it will not happen again, but large events bring in large crowds it will be difficult. One other point that will be looked at closely is the logistics to this well planned operation. To obtain all the material that is required to make up a suicide device there will be a trail of evidence for the authorities to follow. That will give them further evidence as to whether he was alone of had assistance. COMMENT ENDS
United Kingdom Manchester Bombing Follow-on Report – Britain deployed soldiers to key sites 24 May 17 and raised its terror alert to the maximum after the Manchester suicide bombing by a local man of Libyan origin who may have been radicalised in Syria. Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the attack. Interior minister Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the massacre late 22 May 17. Investigators were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Manchester-born man of Libyan descent whose parents had reportedly fled the now fallen regime of Moamer Kadhafi. After arresting a 23-year-old man (Abedi’s brother) on the 23 May police said they had taken three more men into custody on the 24 May 17 in south Manchester, where Abedi lived. Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the bomber had "likely" been to Syria, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris. Collomb told French television the suspect "grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalised and decided to carry out this attack". "In any case, the links with Daesh are proven," he said, using a term for the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attack. In light of the Manchester attack, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance had to "step up and agree to do more in the fight against terrorism" at summit talks set for the 25 May 17. The summit is to be joined by US President Donald Trump, who has lambasted NATO for not doing more against Islamist extremism and who called those responsible for the Manchester bombing "evil losers". Rudd declined to give any further information about Abedi but told BBC radio: "It was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we've seen before, and it seems likely, possible, that he wasn't doing this on his own." The minister said she was "not surprised at all" that Islamic State jihadists had claimed the attack but said there was no information yet to confirm the extremist organisation's active direction. British Prime Minister Theresa May placed the country on its highest level of terror alert, "critical", for the first time since June 2007, when it was sparked by an attack on Glasgow airport. Around 1,000 troops were deployed at sites such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster and foreign embassies in London to free up armed police for anti-terror duties. May said a new attack "may be imminent" and stressed that the soldiers would remain under police command. The Changing of the Guard, a military ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace popular with tourists, was cancelled on the 24 May 17 and the Houses of Parliament suspended all public events. The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London's transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people. A total of 59 people were taken to hospital, many with life-threatening conditions. Twelve of them were aged under 16. Twenty people are still in critical care, officials said on the 24 May 17. The plan for this type of troop deployment, codenamed Operation Temperer, was first revealed after the November 2015 Paris terror attacks and is believed to allow up to 5,000 troops to be deployed. The last time troops were deployed on British streets was after a suspected airliner plot in 2003.
United Kingdom, The Manchester Bomber – The Manchester Arena suicide bomber had made trips to Libya as intelligence agencies combed his connections with al-Qaeda and Islamic State in his parents’ homeland. Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week. A school friend told The Times: "He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago. Abedi born in Manchester and grew up in tight-knit Libyan community that was known for its strong opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He had become radicalised recently - it is not entirely clear when - and had worshipped at a local mosque that has, in the past, been accused of fundraising for jihadists. Abedi’s older brother Ismail had been a tutor at Didsbury mosque’s Koran school. The imam last night said that Salman Abedi, who wore Islamic dress, had shown him “the face of hate” when he gave a talk warning on the dangers of so-called Islamic State.
Born in 1994, the second youngest of four children, Abedi’s parents were Libyan refugees who fled to the UK to escape Gaddafi. His mother, Samia Tabbal, 50, and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Tripoli but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Whalley Range area of south Manchester where they had lived for at least a decade. Abedi went to school locally and then on to Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out. His trips to Libya, where it is thought his parents returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow, are now subject to scrutiny including links to jihadists. A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range. Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda. Azzouz, 48, an expert bomb-maker, was accused of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making.
Another member of the Libyan community in Manchester, Salah Aboaoba told Channel 4 news in 2011 that he had been fund raising for LIFG while in the city. Aboaoba had claimed he had raised funds at Didsbury mosque, the same mosque attended by Abedi. The mosque at the time vehemently denied the claim. “This is the first time I’ve heard of the LIFG. I do not know Salah,” a mosque spokesman said at the time. At the mosque, Mohammed Saeed El-Saeiti, the imam at the Didsbury mosque yesterday branded Abedi a dangerous extremist. “Salman showed me the face of hate after my speech on Isis,” said the imam. “He used to show me the face of hate and I could tell this person does not like me. It’s not a surprise to me.” Salman visited the mosque on a number of occasions to pray, but the imam insisted “he was not my friend, he is not close. I could understand that he was not happy with me because I did combat ISIS in that Friday sermon sometimes”. The imam added: “When he passed by me, we Muslims greet each other and you know he is not happy with me if he doesn’t greet you.”
At the Abedi family home in Elsmore Road, a non-descript red-brick terrace, neighbours told how Abedi had become increasingly devout and withdrawn. Lina Ahmed, 21, said: “They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely. A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic. “He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’ A family friend, who described the Abedis as “very religious”, said most of the family had returned to Libya, leaving only Salman and his older brother Ismail behind. “They have not been there for quite a while. Different people come and go,” said Alan Kinsey, 52, a car-delivery driver who lives across the street. Mr Kinsey’s wife, Frances, 48, a care worker, said she believed that the parents had left before Christmas and just one or two young men had been living in the property. Mr Kinsey said a huge flag, possibly Iraqi or Libyan, had been hanging from their house. “There was a large Iraqi flag hanging out the window but we never thought anything or it,” added Mr Kinsey, “We thought it was about football or a protest at home or something.”
Neighbours woke up to the reality that the quiet young man next door had blown himself up, murdering at least 22 innocent victims. Police blasted down the door of the family home at 1130 hrs. According to locals, two helicopters and at least 30 police officers in camouflage, riot gear and shields arrived for the raid. “The police were very heavily armed. All of them. It was like something out of a war scene,” said Mr Kinsey. “It was terrifying. About thirty of them arrived in camouflage and riot gear and removed the wooden fence between two properties. “Then they attached a black strip to the door and there was a loud explosion. The door came off its hinges. The windows were shaking. The whole operation lasted about 90 seconds. “I didn’t see them leading anyone out of the house. I believe it was empty.”
United Kingdom Manchester Bombing Follow-on Report – Fears were mounting that the Manchester suicide bomber may have built a second device that is now in the hands of jihadists it was reported on the 26 May 17. Police who searched Salman Abedi's home earlier this week allegedly discovered a huge stash of explosive chemicals and other components.
The quantity of material has led to fears that he could have built more than one device and has distributed them to other British-based extremists. Intelligence officers also believe the 22-year-old may have had an accomplice who watched him as he entered the Manchester Arena foyer on the night of the 22 May 17. Another concern is that the bomber may have been given the improvised explosive device and security officials are probing the possibility the bomb maker has fled overseas. It comes as officers raided the Fade Away barber shop, which was regularly visited by Abedi, in the Moss Side area of the city on the morning of the 26 May 17. Before they searched the property, officers made another arrest in Moss Side - bringing the total number of those detained to 10. Eight men remain in custody. Police have also raided fast food outlet Lorenzo Pizza in St Helens, Merseyside, in connection with the attack which killed 22 people - including nine teenagers. Byron Gibbs, 79, who owns the hardware store next door, told The Guardian he had seen the bomber visit the barber shop.
He described the owners as 'Muslim men of Middle Eastern appearance' and added he recognised Abedi in photographs. Mr Gibbs said: 'He (Abedi) spends time with the people. I've seen him walk past the shop window lots of times. He was heading towards the barber's next door. Meanwhile, evidence from the crime scene leaked in the US apparently pointed to a remote mobile-phone detonator with built-in redundancies to enable someone else to set it off. It suggests another jihadist would have watched Abedi and was ready to blow up the explosives remotely if he backed out of the attack at the last minute. Initial analysis points to the fact Abedi did blow himself up.
The latest developments come as:
· US President Donald Trump linked terror attacks to the migration of 'thousands and thousands', lecturing NATO leaders over open borders
· It emerged that Theresa May will today urge world leaders to crack down on social media giants that refuse to co-operate on terror
· A Libyan anti-terror official said bomber Salman Adebi phoned his nuclear scientist mother hours before his deadly attack and said 'forgive me'
· An NHS chief wrote to 27 major trauma teams across the country urging them to prepare for a possible terror attack over the weekend
· Britain announced it would resume information sharing with US intelligence service following the fallout over details of the investigation being leaked to the US media
· A series of raids saw the number of arrests since Monday rise to ten, and a bomb squad was last night called to an address in Wigan
Abedi could have been planning the attack for up to a year, and made at least two trips to B&Q and Screwfix stores in Manchester to buy materials used in the attack, The Times reports. The newspaper states that he opened a bank account a year ago but did not use it until he used it to buy shrapnel used in the device which he set off on the 22 May 17. Meanwhile, MI5 revealed it is currently probing 500 active investigations which relate to 3,000 people. It added that it has foiled five terror plots in the last eight weeks. It comes as a rented property in the city centre was used by Abedi to create the bomb he used to kill innocent concertgoers. The explosives in the bomb were also the same as those used in the Paris and Brussels attacks, a US lawmaker said. He pointed to a possible link to the same terrorist network. He is thought to have assembled the device on the 22 May 17 at a one-bedroom flat in Granby House, which is close to Manchester Piccadilly Station. The property was raided by police on the 24 May 17 and police are believed to have found traces of bomb components. Bomb disposal experts have searched an underground car park of Granby House after two men were spotted throwing a bag away just more than an hour before the attack. Police have asked local businesses to provide them with their CCTV footage from that evening. The chair of the US House of Representatives' homeland security committee, Mike McCaul, said Abedi's backpack was loaded with TATP, the explosive used in Paris and Brussels. One line of inquiry is that the bomber made the bomb while at a terror training camp in a conflict zone. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that he travelled to Syria where he met up with Islamic extremists. They may have taught him how to develop improvised explosive devices (IEDs) - used by jihadists in the war-ravaged region. However it is thought he had a 'degree' of co-operation from someone else, who is now thought to have left the country. Sources said there were fears the extremist who helped him fled the UK prior to the 22 May 17 explosion. Investigators are working around the clock to try and hunt him down. Intelligence experts are understood to be checking CCTV footage at key ports going back 48 hours from the time of the attack to see if anyone they have files on flags up on their databases. As they work their way through uncovering the network of Libyan-linked extremists, the security agencies are finding out more details about the different roles jihadists have played. Seven members of a suspected Middle England Libyan terror cell were being held by police during the night of the 25/26 May 17 after a series of dramatic raids in connection with the Manchester atrocity. They included relatives from the extended family of suicide bomber Salman Abedi and other individuals thought to be of Libyan descent. But detectives fear further key figures of the gang are still at large – and could be preparing more atrocities. Following a series of raids across Manchester, Wigan and Nuneaton in Warwickshire, police said they had made 'significant' arrests and seized 'very important' items. Bomb disposal experts on the evening of the 25 May 17 were called to an address in Wigan which was raided in connection with the atrocity, and homes surrounding it were evacuated. Greater Manchester Police said 'potentially suspicious items' were found at the terraced house, which locals say was raided by armed officers at around 0130 hrs. A man had been arrested on the 24 May 17 in Wigan, with dramatic footage showing him being marched away after being wrestled to the ground. As counter-terrorism detectives stepped up their efforts to track down other suspects, witnesses described the dramatic moment armed officers detained a suspect at gunpoint in Nuneaton – ordering him to stay still or be shot. The man, who was placed in a protective forensic suit before being taken away, was arrested near a block of flats after police began detailed searches of a nearby house. Residents described how the suspect, thought by witnesses to be in his 20s or 30s, was taken away after a highly-controlled police operation lasting half an hour. As the suspect was detained and Tasered, police half a mile away also raided the home of a Libyan dissident who survived a mysterious murder attempt during a recent visit to the north African nation. The operation targeting the residence of the 47-year-old man began on the evening of the 24 May 17. Specialist officers continue to search the £250,000 semi-detached home, which sits in a smart Nuneaton street. The man's 20-year-old son – one of three brothers – briefly appeared outside the family home on the night of the 25 May 17. He denied that any of his relatives had been arrested, and said he did not know why his house had been targeted. He said the family were being put up in a local hotel but declined to answer further questions. In the early hours of the 26 May 17 counter-terror police carried out a controlled explosion at a property in the Moss Side area of Manchester, although no arrests were reported by officers. Police also carried out searches at an address in the Withington area of Manchester yesterday morning and arrested a man. Meanwhile, detectives raided the Greater Manchester home of a family related to Abedi. A neighbour said he saw the father of the family being taken away in handcuffs at 0230 hrs. He said: 'There was a lot of shouting and the father was put in handcuffs. The rest of the family were walked out and they were all taken away. The Libyan terror connection deepened after it emerged earlier this week that the Abedis reportedly once shared a Manchester house with a man who had a £20million FBI bounty on his head as one of the world's most wanted terrorists. President Donald Trump yesterday told leaders of the NATO alliance that the Manchester bombing that killed 22 earlier this week demonstrates the depths of the evils of terrorism.
SO FAR FOLLOWING ATTACK
· Ismael Abedi, 23, bomber Salman Adebi's older brother, was arrested outside a Morrison's in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy at around 10.30am on Tuesday morning, 12 hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena.
· A further three men were arrested in Fallowfield, Manchester, at around 2.30am on Wednesday morning.
· A suspect was detained in Wigan on Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly approached a bus with a suspicious package. Footage showed him being being led away by officers.
· A woman was arrested in another raid in Blackley at around 6.30pm on Wednesday, but was later released without charge.
· Hashem and Ramadan Abedi, Salman's younger brother and father respectively, were detained in Libya. The country's police claimed knew Hashem knew his brother was going to carry out the atrocity more than a month ago.
· Just after 9pm on the 23 May 17 police raided a property in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and pursued a man who attempted to flee. He was Tasered to the floor by officers and has been taken to Manchester for questioning.
· Police arrested a man in Egerton Crescent, Withington, following a raid in the early hours of Thursday morning. Another man was arrested in a separate raid in an unknown location in Manchester.
· Greater Manchester Police arrested a man in Moss Side in the early hours of Friday morning - bringing the total number of those arrested to 10.