Wednesday 28 September 2016

EU launches new unit in terror fight as Isil releases 'brutal' video

James Rothwell in Paris

Published 26/01/2016 | 02:30

A screenshot of a man referred to as ‘Abu Mujaed al-Baljiki’ is seen in this image taken from a video released by Isil
A screenshot of a man referred to as ‘Abu Mujaed al-Baljiki’ is seen in this image taken from a video released by Isil

The European Union launched a new law enforcement centre to co-ordinate the fight against violent extremism, saying Europe faces the most significant terrorist threat in more than 10 years.

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The European Counter Terrorism Centre in The Hague, Netherlands, was officially opened as a part of Europol, the EU's agency for law enforcement co-operation.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the unit would be staffed by 40-50 experts in counter-terrorism and deal in intelligence-sharing, tracking foreign fighters and sources of illegal financing and firearms, and assisting EU countries in counter-terrorism investigations.

Hostages

More than 5,000 EU nationals had been radicalised by fighting with Muslim extremists in Iraq and Syria and many had returned home, Mr Wainwright said.

"The current threat demands a strong and ambitious response from the EU," said Europol's chief.

Meanwhile, the gunmen behind the Paris terror attacks have appeared in a newly released Isil video in which they behead several unidentified hostages.

The footage was shot before the attacks took place in November 2015 but was only published on Sunday evening.

It is unclear when exactly the footage was filmed.

Among those who carry out the beheadings in the video is Bilal Hadfi, who was killed during the Paris attacks.

"You destroy our homes and kill our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and our children," he says into the camera during the footage.

The video also features Abu Qital al-Faransi, his nom-de-guerre, who is believed to have been one of the gunmen who opened fire in the Bataclan Theatre.

"Whoever stands in the ranks of the kuffar (enemy), will be a target for our swords," the video warned, showing pictures of Tower Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral in London, claiming they were ready to strike "any time, anywhere".

A few minutes later the face of John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, appears on the screen with a crosshair over his face.

Then the footage ends with the message, "Whoever stands in the ranks of kuffar will be a target for our swords and will fall in humiliation", which is superimposed over an image of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

It appears to be an account of the attackers' last words before they travelled to France to carry out the attack.

The film is more brutal than previous propaganda videos as it does not cut away before the victims are beheaded.

The primarily French-language footage released on Sunday was apparently filmed in Isil territory before the attackers slipped back into Europe.

The 17-minute Isil video shows seven of the militants, including a 20-year-old who was the youngest of the group, were filmed standing behind bound captives, described as "apostates", who were either beheaded or shot.

"Soon on the Champs-Elysees," says Samy Amimour, who was raised in a Paris suburb near the French national stadium, as he holds a captive's head aloft.

French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said the government was studying the video.

The video was filmed before the men sneaked back into Europe and contains no footage shot by the attackers during the days of terror that ended only on November 18 with the death of Abdelhamid Abbaoud, believed to be the leader of the attacks.

Message

It was assembled from material shot before the men left for Paris, news video and amateur video. The video finishes with an encrypted message dated November 16, 2015, which they say reveals the location of their next attack.

Meanwhile, in Paris yesterday, President Hollande said France would not allow threats to weaken its resolve against terrorism. He said it was because of the threat that he was asking to keep France in a state of emergency.

Mr Hollande imposed the state of emergency just after the November attacks that left 130 dead in the capital, allowing border checks, warrantless searches and house arrest without a court order.

Irish Independent

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