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UK Braced Up For Cyber Attack As Retaliation From Russia Over Attack On Syria |RN

Amanda Cashmore
 

Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria.

Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are on standby to hit back if the Kremlin wages cyber warfare.

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Vladimir Putin condemned the strikes as an ‘act of aggression against a sovereign state’ and accused the US and its allies of violating the ‘norms and principles of international law’© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Vladimir Putin condemned the strikes as an ‘act of aggression against a sovereign state’ and accused the US and its allies of violating the ‘norms and…

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’.

It is feared vital transport systems, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and even air traffic control could be hacked by Russia in response to the assault on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities.

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’

Intelligence sources also fear the retaliation could involve the online release of so-called ‘kompromat’ – compromising information on MPs or other public figures.

 

The Syria crisis will dominate the return of Parliament today, with Mrs May facing the prospect of MPs voting against her decision to join Friday night’s US-led strikes to punish the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons in Douma.

In a robust defence of her actions, the Prime Minister will deliver a statement to MPs insisting that Britain had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’.

This image shows areas targeted in Syria by the U.S.-led coalition in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons© Getty This image shows areas targeted in Syria by the U.S.-led coalition in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons

And she will invoke the Salisbury poisonings, saying that military action was essential to help deter any future use of chemical weapons ‘on the streets of the UK’.

On Saturday, Russia warned of ‘consequences’ after the air strikes.

Moscow has already launched repeated online assaults against the UK and intelligence chiefs fear they have the capability to hack into certain critical systems. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think we have to take every possible precaution.

a close up of a truck: Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria

‘When you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course, we have to be very, very cautious indeed.’ A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman added: ‘We are always vigilant to attacks wherever they come from and we have a full spectrum of capabilities to draw on if required.’

Intelligence experts accept that the most likely response from Russia will be through covert cyber warfare. This would be on top of an avalanche of fake news planted by Moscow-run online trolls.

Last week, Ciaran Martin, director of the cybersecurity centre, warned that Russia had already repeatedly ‘hit’ the UK’s critical infrastructure. This includes vital systems such as water supplies, electricity and gas networks, hospitals, banks and transport.

Theresa May posing for the camera: In a robust defence of her actions, the Prime Minister will deliver a statement to MPs insisting that Britain had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited In a robust defence of her actions, the Prime Minister will deliver a statement to MPs insisting that Britain had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’

He said Kremlin attacks on computer networks were ‘part of a wider campaign to destabilise’ the UK.

‘Our critical infrastructure gets hit frequently by Russia and it is not always clear for what purpose,’ he said.

‘As a government as a whole we want to counter hostile Russian intent towards the democratic system and we have got all sorts of different parts of government working on that.’

Whitehall sources said yesterday Russia was carrying out cyber attacks against the UK ‘all the time’. One added: ‘What is clear, both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities are now a reality.’

a man wearing a suit and tie: In the hours after the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ‘The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard. A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences'© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited In the hours after the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ‘The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left…

And one security source told The Sunday Times: ‘We know what’s in the Russian playbook – kompromat-type material – we’re all prepared for that.’

In the hours after the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ‘The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard. A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.

‘All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris. Insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.’ Putin condemned the strikes as an ‘act of aggression against a sovereign state’ and accused the US and its allies of violating the ‘norms and principles of international law’. Putin even accused America of having ‘staged a chemical attack against civilians’ as a ‘pretext’ for the attack.

Evacuations continue in Syria's Eastern Ghouta         © Getty Evacuations continue in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

One Russian politician even compared Mr Trump to Adolf Hitler. Alexander Sherin said he ‘can be called Adolf Hitler No 2 of our time – because you see, he even chose the same time [of night] that Hitler chose to attack the Soviet Union’.

A Russian resolution at the UN Security Council condemning the air strikes was soundly defeated on Saturday night. Moscow gained support from only two countries, China and Bolivia. Four council members – Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Peru and Equatorial Guinea – abstained, while the remaining eight members voted against.

At the same time, Mrs May has faced considerable criticism for not recalling Parliament to gain approval for joining the US-led action.

Tory MPs returning from recess this week have been told they have to be in the Commons today and tomorrow in case there is a vote on her handling of the Syria crisis.

Last night, however, Downing Street officials said they believed a Commons vote was unlikely to take place – although they did not rule out the possibility that Opposition parties could force one later in the week.

Mrs May will tell MPs: ‘Let me be absolutely clear. We have acted because it is in our national interest to do so.’   (The Daily Mail)

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Two Brothers Charged Over Bringing Suitcases Of Cocaine Worth £50m In A Private Jet

A suitcase containing packages of cocaine that was detained at Farnborough Airport© PA A suitcase containing packages of cocaine that was detained at Farnborough Airport  

Two British brothers are among five men charged with importing cocaine after £50m worth of the drug was found on a private jet.

Martin and Stephen Neil, from Poole in Dorset, are jointly charged with bringing the Class A drug into the UK.

Half a tonne of the substance was found during a raid on a private aircraft at in Hampshire, the National Crime Agency said.

The twin-engined jet which was carrying half a tonne of cocaine   © PA The twin-engined jet which was carrying half a tonne of cocaine  

The Britons, aged 48 and and 53, have been charged along with two Spaniards and an Italian national.

All five were held after the twin-engined jet was searched when it landed at Farnborough Airport after travelling from Bogota in Colombia on Monday.

The drug was hidden in 15 suitcases which were found on board, the Border Force said.

Border Force officers seized suitcases containing cocaine worth more than £50 million at Farnborough Airport© PA Border Force officers seized suitcases containing cocaine worth more than £50 million at Farnborough Airport  

National Crime Agency operations manager Siobhan Micklethwaite said the seizure was “one of the largest flown into the UK by plane in many years”.

The Neil brothers are due to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday morning, alongside Italian national Alessandro Iembo, 28, of Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, and Spanish nationals Victor Franco-Lorenzo, 40, and 45-year-old Jose Ramon Miguelez-Botas.  (Sky News)

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Terrorists Plotting To Bomb Abuja During Christmas Holiday, US, UK Warn |RN

Buhari
                                  President Muhammadu Buhari

Bayo Akinloye

The British and the United States governments have warned their citizens of terrorist groups’ threat to carry out bomb attacks in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, during the Yuletide.

In its latest foreign travel advice to British nationals, made available to SUNDAY PUNCH, the country’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated that it would raise the terrorism threat alert in Nigeria during the festive periods.

Around 117,000 British citizens visit Nigeria each year, according to the FCO.

The US government warned its citizens not to travel to Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe till the end of the year.

“The risk of terrorist attack increases around religious festivals; so (the threat alert) will be elevated in the run-up to and throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Terrorist groups have threatened to conduct bombings and attacks in the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) area during this period.

“You (British nationals) should avoid places where crowds gather, including religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people,” the United Kingdom said in a statement posted on the FCO website.

Last week, the United States Embassy in Nigeria issued a similar warning titled, ‘Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Holiday Security Reminder’.

“The US Mission urges all US citizens to exercise caution in and around shopping centres, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, and other places where crowds gather in and around the Federal Capital Territory, from now through the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season. Terrorist groups have threatened to conduct bombings and attacks in this area during this period.

“The US Mission remains concerned about potential attacks in the states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa and Yobe.  Travellers are urged to avoid those states through the end of the year.

“Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” the US Embassy warned. (Punch)

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Teenage Girl Arrested In London On Suspicion Of Aiding Terrorist Plot |RN

a bag of luggage                     © Provided by Independent Print Limited

A 14-year-old girl has been arrested in south London on suspicion of assisting a person to carry out an act of terrorism, Scotland Yard said.

They added that she had been taken to a station for questioning.

The teenager was detained under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) as enquiries continue, they said.   (The Independent)

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‘Most Wanted’ Fugitive Hands Himself In To UK Police |The Republican News

Ivika Todoric is on Europol's most wanted list                  © Other Ivika Todoric is on Europol’s most wanted list  

A fugitive on Europe’s most wanted list is fighting extradition to Croatia after handing himself in to British police over an alleged £127 million fraud.

Ivica Todoric said he would fight being sent back to face charges related to an alleged €110million (£127m) fraud at his heavily indebted family business, Agrokor.

The 66-year-old was the owner of the food and retail group, which is Croatia’s largest privately owned company, before it was put into state administration in April.

He handed himself in at London’s Charing Cross police station just after 9am on Tuesday and was detained on a European arrest warrant issued by Croatia.

Hours before, Croatian authorities informed their British counterparts of his exact location in London after tracing his telephone calls.

Ivica Todoric was granted bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday© Getty Ivica Todoric was granted bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday

He had been on Europol’s most wanted list.

The fugitive, whose net worth is €155m (£136.5m), was granted bail by a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutor Benjamin Seifert, appearing for the Croatian authorities, told the court Todoric faces three charges in Croatia – false accounting, fraud by false representation and abuse of position.

The court heard there is a global freeze on the millionaire’s assets.

Under his bail conditions, he has to provide security of £100,000, hand over his and his wife’s passports, wear an electronic tag and report to police three times a week.

“The context in which I grant you bail is the knowledge that both in this country and throughout the world your assets are frozen and your ability to obtain money is limited,” the judge said.

Writing on his well-known blog, the millionaire denied any wrongdoing and accused top Croatian officials of plotting against him for political reasons.

An audit performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of Agrokor’s state-appointed management showed a net loss of 11bn kuna (£1.28bn) last year and 3.6bn kuna (£420m) in 2015.

Agrokor’s net worth for the two years was reduced by 22bn kuna (£2.6bn).

Suppliers, bondholders and banks, including about £969m held by Russia’s Sberbank, provided credit to Agrokor.

Timothy Otty, Todoric’s lawyer, told the court his client is an extremely successful businessman who founded the group, which has been in existence for 40 years.

A full extradition hearing will take place in April 2018.   (Sky News)

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Piccadilly Circus Billboard Lights Switched Back On After Nine Months |RN

Fiona Simpson

Piccadilly Circus lights switched back on after renovations [Press Association]

The iconic electronic billboards at Piccadilly Circus have been lit up after being switched off for the longest period of time since the Blitz.

The tourist hotspot’s six old illuminated advertising boards have been replaced with one ultra-high definition curved screen.

A digital “fly-over” of London marked the return of the lights to Piccadilly Circus at 8am on Thursday morning.

The advertising screens at Piccadilly Circus in central London are switched on for the first time in nine months© Press Association The advertising screens at Piccadilly Circus in central London are switched on for the first time in nine months

The fanfare came amid a privacy row after it emerged that the billboard will use surveillance based technology to broadcast adverts based on tourist’s age, gender and mood.

The famous billboards were turned off in January for the first extended period of time since 1949.

They have almost been constantly illuminated since the Second World War except being turned off as a mark of respect during Winston Churchill and Princess Diana’s funerals.  (Mirror)

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British Airways Chaos At UK Airports As Systems Crash Causing Delays And ‘Huge Queues’

Rhian Lubin
Credits: Getty Images Europe  © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Europe
British Airways systems have crashed at UK airport this morning, causing chaos for passengers.Passengers faced long queues at airports following a glitch with the airline’s check-in system.

Disruption was reported at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and London City.

The airline said it was having to use a manual check-in process which takes longer than the computerised system.

One passenger described the bag drop area at Heathrow Terminal 5 as “almost at a standstill”.

Credits: Getty      © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty

BA issued a statement shortly before 9 am stating that the problem had been resolved and passengers were being checked in as normal.

It went on: “We are sorry for the temporary check-in problems which caused some delays for our customers’ first thing this morning.

“This issue is now resolved and our staff are working flat out to help customers get away on their holidays.”

Passengers complained that the airport was ‘complete chaos’ this morning and some claimed to have missed their flights.

Amanda Porter tweeted BA and said: “T5 is absolute carnage with systems down!! Very unhappy customers left right and centre.”

She added that it took her nearly two hours to check in because of the holdup.

Passenger Nick Haley also reported there were delays at London City airport.

He tweeted: “Uuuuge queues at London City after @British_Airways systems crash and now a 30-45 minute grounding waiting to leave.”

Another passenger claimed he had missed his flight because his boarding pass “could not be printed”.

Travellers also claimed they were stuck on the runway for over an hour.

The disruption comes around two months after more than 670 flights were cancelled due to a power failure over the spring bank holiday weekend.  (The Mirror)

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Cardiff imam jailed for 13 years after abusing girls during mosque Quranlessons, Mohammed Haji Saddique sexually touched the girls as they were reading from the holy book — Zeepertje.com – Facts Fun

An imam who sexually touched four young girls during Quran lessons at a mosque has been jailed for 13 years. Mohammed Haji Saddique, 81, would call the pupils to sit next to him and read in Arabic from the Muslim holy book. He sexually touched the girls in front of his class and slapped students […]

via Cardiff Imam jailed for 13 years after abusing girls during mosque Quran lessons, Mohammed Haji Saddique sexually touched the girls as they were reading from the holy book — Zeepertje.com – Facts Fun

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Brexit: Minister Appointed To Negotiate Britain’s Withdrawal Wants EU ‘Wholly Torn Down’

Joe Watts, Tom Embury-Dennis

         © Provided by Independent Print Limited

The newest member of Theresa May’sBrexit negotiating team has been filmed calling for the destruction of the European Union, The Independent can reveal.

In a speech to a right-wing think tank, minister Steve Baker said the EU should be “wholly torn down”, before branding it an “obstacle” to world peace and “incompatible” with a free society.

Tory MPs warned Mr Baker’s appointment could now risk the UK’s ability to secure good Brexit terms, while Labour said it was “extraordinary” and raised a major question about the Prime Minister’s judgement.

The comments are likely to prove embarrassing for Ms May as she heads into meetings with European leaders this week, including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

In the video, Mr Baker tells a cheering audience: “I think Ukip and the Better Off Out campaign lack ambition. I think the European Union needs to be wholly torn down.”

Filmed at an event by The Libertarian Alliance in 2010, he goes on to argue that the EU has “succeeded in raising economic nationalism to a continental scale”.

The Wycombe MP, who played a lead role in the Leave campaign, adds: “It was meant to defeat economic nationalism, it is therefore a failure in its own terms.

“If we wish to devolve power to the lowest possible level, make it accountable and move on into a free society, then it’s clearly incompatible.

“What I want is free trade and peace among all the nations of Europe as well as the world and in my view the European Union is an obstacle to that.”

The cabinet and wider Tory party is split over the EU, with many MPs pushing a weakened Prime Minister for a more jobs-focussed approach to withdrawal, while Brexiteers are said to have threatened resignations if she changes tack.

Backbench Tories have also said they are working with other parties to try and soften the hardline approach to Brexit Ms May took into the election.

After seeing the video, one Conservative MP told The Independent: “It just reveals what the extreme Brexiteers have been about all along.

“It’s not enough to take the UK out of the EU. They want the entire thing to fall apart.

“How is it possible to negotiate a ‘deep and special relationship’ with the EU, when you have ministers who want the institutions they are negotiating with to disintegrate?”

Another MP said: “This is only going to further embitter relations. It doesn’t help our chances of getting a deal.”

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, who has called for a more co-operative approach to Brexit, said: “there should be no place” for Mr Baker’s views at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

He added: “It is extraordinary that Theresa May has put such an extreme Brexiteer at the heart of the Government.

“This poses real questions about her judgement and the Government’s desire to build the collaborative, cooperative future partnership we need with the EU.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake attacked Ms May for appointing a Brexit minister “dedicated to destroying the EU”.

The issue will hang over the Prime Minister as she meets German Chancellor Ms Merkel and French President Mr Macron at the G20 in Hamburg on Friday, whom she has both assured the UK wants a “deep and special relationship” with the EU.

On the same day Brexit Secretary David Davis is inviting jittery business leaders to Chevening in a bid to convince them discussions are in good hands and EU withdrawal will not damage their hope of future trade with the bloc.

A spokesman for Mr Baker said he now “supports the Government’s position and that is why he was happy to take up a ministerial position.”

He was taken on in the post-election reshuffle as Ms May desperately attempted to shore up her position with MPs livid that she had botched the election campaign and lost her party’s majority.

He brought with him the backing of a large swathe of the Tory backbenches – he was chair of Conservatives for Britain, a 50-strong group of Tories who fought Leave, and then went on to run the European Research Group, a pro-Brexit backbench organisation.

The reshuffle which brought him in saw half the ministerial team at Dexeu replaced, with one sacked and another, George Bridges, walking out after it was claimed he became “convinced Brexit couldn’t work”.

Earlier this year, Mr Baker compiled a list of 27 Tory colleagues he claimed were considering voting for changes to Ms May’s Brexit plans, accusing them of seeking to overturn the referendum.

At the time, Mr Baker said: “This is a time to unite behind a democratic result, not plot to repudiate it. Any vote to amend this simple bill is a vote against implementation of the referendum result.”

Mr Baker is also under pressure to reveal his links to a group that donated £435,000 to the DUP to campaign for Brexit during last year’s referendum.

The MP was handed £6,500 by the obscure Constitutional Research Council, the body which used a legal loophole to channel the money to the DUP. (The Independent)

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Buhari’s Illness Stops 10 Foreign Envoys From Assuming Duty In Nigeria |RN

President-Buhari
                           President Muhammadu Buhari

Olalekan Adetayo and Adelani Adepegba

The medical vacation of President Muhammadu  Buhari has prevented no less than 10 foreign ambassadors from resuming duties at their respective embassies in the country.

Findings by SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday indicated that the envoys had been unable to present their letters of credence at the Presidential Villa due to the absence of the President, who has been out of the country for about two months.

However, a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told one of our correspondents that the Acting President is available to take up any assignment on behalf of the President.

“I am not aware of any ambassador not being able to start work. The Acting President is available to take on any assignment on behalf of Mr President,” he said

However, Sunday PUNCH gathered that the ambassadors-designate affected include those of the Republic of Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam, Republic of Benin; Mexico; Greece; Togo and Thailand. It was gathered that their letters of credence were specifically addressed to Buhari hence the inability of the ambassadors-designate to present them to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

The letter of credence is the instrument by which a head of state exercises his power to appoint ambassadors and ministers to other countries and it is signed by the sending head of state and is usually addressed to the receiving head of state.

The letter is handed over by the diplomatic representative at his first audience with the head of state.

Sources said that one of the envoys, the Egyptian Ambassador-designate to Nigeria, Mr. Assem Hanafi, had been unable to present his credential to Buhari since February 2017 when he came into the country.

It was gathered that his Mexican counterpart, Mr Alejandro Elizondo, has also not been able to present his credential to Buhari several weeks after he arrived in the country.

It was learnt that the ambassadors-designate had not been given any appointment for the presentation of their credentials to the President on account of Buhari’s vacation in London.

Our correspondents learnt that the inability of the envoys to present their credentials had made it impossible for them to carry out their responsibilities.

A senior official in government confirmed the development but begged for anonymity. He said, “The affected ambassadors-designate have been unable to perform their responsibilities since many of them arrived the country many weeks ago.

“They cannot attend any official programme or speak on behalf of their countries. With their current status, they cannot even use the diplomatic pennant on their official cars because they are not full-fledged ambassadors yet; they are literally stranded.”

But the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said he had directed the envoys to resume.

He, however, did not say when he gave the directive.

“We have informed them, they may resume duty,” the minister said in an SMS last night.

When confronted with the names of the affected envoys, a source in the Presidency urged our correspondents to cross check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if all the processes leading to the presentation of letters of credence to the President had been concluded in the cases of the ambassadors.

“We all know that there are processes involved. It is only when you cross check with the ministry and discover that the processes have been completed that you can start looking at the direction of the Presidency as the possible cause of the delay.

“As it stands, you may need to confirm this in the ministry first,” he explained further.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has deployed 45 non-career ambassadors-designate in their countries of accreditation.

They would, however, not resume until the countries of assignment send the letter of consent accepting their nomination.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olusola Enikanolaiye said the ambassadors-designate would soon resume at their respective countries of assignment once the necessary diplomatic and administrative processes were completed. (Punchng.com)

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