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Islamic terror plot to assassinate British PM Theresa May thwarted, report says

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…As Three charged in Malta with murder of Panama Papers journalist***

An Islamic terror plot to assassinate British Prime Minister Theresa May in London has been thwarted, according to a report out Tuesday.

The plan was “in essence an extreme Islamist suicide plot against Downing Street” by two men who have now been arrested, Sky News reported.

10 Downing Street is the location of the prime minister’s office.

Police believe “the plan was to launch some sort of improvised explosive device at Downing Street and in the ensuing chaos attack and kill Theresa May,” according to the report.

Scotland Yard, military intelligence security service MI5 and West Midlands Police reportedly had been investigating the plot for “several weeks.”

The two men who were arrested on Nov. 28 for the foiled plot are Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, of north London, and Mohammed Aqib Imran, 21, of Birmingham, according to a Metropolitan Police news release.

Both Rahman and Imran were charged with the intention of committing acts of terrorism and are expected to appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

MI5 has prevented nine terror attacks in the U.K. within the past year, Director Andrew Parker said Tuesday, according to The Guardian.

In the meantime, three Maltese men have been charged for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the investigative journalist who was killed by a car bomb last month.

The three suspects include two brothers, George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vincent Muscat. The suspects were also charged with criminal use of explosives, being involved in organised crime, and criminal conspiracy.

All three pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing late on Tuesday.

They were were among ten people who were arrested in dawn raids on Monday morning in connection to the police’s investigation into the killing.

Joseph Muscat, Malta’s prime minister, promised in a press conference on Monday that he would not leave any stone unturned in finding who ordered the journalist to be killed and who carried out the attack. Muscat was a common subject for Caruana Galizia, who was a relentless campaigner against corruption in Malta.

It seems that Daphne Caruana Galizia’s enemies finally decided that her courageous journalism needed to be silenced

The journalist’s murder sent shockwaves across Europe and has focused a spotlight on allegations by lawmakers in the European parliament that the rule of law has deteriorated sharply in the small Mediterranean country.

Caruana Galizia’s family has filed a legal claim against Malta’s police force and has alleged that the investigation has not been independent or impartial, because of connections between a senior police investigator and a government minister. Both were subjects of Caruana Galizia’s blog.

The police said on Tuesday night that an unspecified number of other suspects who were arrested on Monday would be released on bail.

Searches that were conducted during dawn raids had yielded a number of items that would help with ongoing investigations, the police said. The investigation was also aided by the FBI, Europol, and the National Investigations Bureau of Finland.

There were no new details about how the three suspects might be connected to the crime or the evidence that has been collected against them.

According to a report in the Times of Malta, Vince Muscat, one of the alleged killers, was known to police because of previous legal altercations. George Degiorgio was previously charged in court with possession of unlicensed firearms, drugs and tools that could be used to pick locks. The newspaper also reported that investigators had allegedly focused on the suspects because of telephone intercepts, including from a mobile phone that allegedly triggered the bomb.

The most significant investigations by the murdered journalist stemmed from the Panama Papers, a leak of documents from the archives of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Fox with additional report from Guardian UK

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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