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Russian New Year attack suspects remanded in custody


Saint Petersburg (AFP) – Russia on Monday remanded in custody two men suspected of planning an attack in Saint Petersburg during New Year’s festivities and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.

The FSB security service announced on its website that the two men had been detained Friday based on information provided from “American partners”, and that both have confessed to preparing attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday thanked US President Donald Trump for intelligence that helped foil the attack.

The men are 22-year-old Nikita Semyonov and 23-year-old Georgiy Chernyshov, the local court service said in a statement following a closed hearing Monday in Saint-Petersburg, after a judge ruled that they be held pending the investigation.

The local Fontanka news website reported, citing an FSB source, that the duo planned attacks in a central shopping centre and a cathedral that is a major tourist attraction, and had sent photos to IS to confirm the targets.

A video released by the FSB showed the arrest of two Slavic-looking men and a raid on their apartment, which contained munitions, knives, electrical cables and black clothing.

One of the men in court Monday seemed to have bruises on his face, an AFP photographer said.

A video released by the FSB to Russian news agencies showed one of the suspects, his face masked, pledging allegiance to IS in Arabic.

Although Moscow and Washington are at odds on many issues both regularly stress their mutual determination to fight terrorism.



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Malin Andersson turns to police after receiving acid attack threats


Love Island’s Malin Andersson has been receiving acid attack threats online (Picture: Getty Images)

Love Island star Malin Andersson is seeking help from the police after being subjected to acid attack threats online.

The reality star, who shot to fame on the second series of the ITV2 dating show in 2016, shared her scary ordeal on Instagram, as she called out the troll for taunting her on social media.

Highlighting just how scary trolling can be, Malin explained she has been working with police to find out who the troll in question is and told fans: ‘People don’t realise what kind these kind of threats do to people.’

‘Sick in the head,’ she wrote, while sharing a screenshot of the horrible message she had received.

It read: ‘I’ve seen you about 3times in mk and have not decided what I will do to you. you will not get away with all the sh*t you’ve done acid sounds good little bitch (sic).’

(Picture: Instagram)
(Picture: Instagram)

Malin added in a second post: ‘I couldn’t stay quiet for this one. Me and the police are going to find out who this is. I have no words.’

A source told The Sun that Malin has left her home, as a result of the threatening message, and skipped a service where she was supposed to be lighting a candle for her daughter Consy, who died earlier this year, because she feared the troll would be in the area.

‘Malin has been really shook up by the threats. She’s had the police to her house and has called in security to look after her,’ the source told the paper.

‘She’s not been back to the house since… it’s devastating and really the last thing she needs.’

Metro.co.uk have reached out to Malin’s rep.

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It’s almost a year until what would have been her 1st birthday, and I can’t express how much my heart hurts for that. Nobody deserves to go through losing a child. But what I can say is that I’m so privileged to announce that I am now @sandscharity official ambassador after an exciting meeting today. Suffering = strength – If anything she would be so proud of me right now. I am not a victim, I’m a survivor of many things. Giving back is something I’ve always wanted to do. I could have gone in a different direction and gone down a bad path but the universe knew I was strong enough to handle the pain. I won’t stop raising awareness for things I truly believe in. It’s a privilege to be part of such an amazing charity – let’s break the stigma and keep raising awareness for @babyloss @sandscharity #SandsAmbassador .. Almost a year now baby Consy – mumma loves you ❤️

A post shared by MALIN ANDERSSON (@missmalinsara) on

Malin, who is an advocate for body positivity, recently paid tribute to baby Consy, as what would have been her first birthday approaches, in a sweet Instagram post.

Sharing a series of pictures of her baby girl, before she died just four weeks after being born prematurely, Malin wrote: ‘It’s almost a year until what would have been her 1st birthday, and I can’t express how much my heart hurts for that. Nobody deserves to go through losing a child.’

In another post Malin reached out to her baby girl and called Consy her ‘forever angel’.

‘Oh baby girl this month is proving tough but I’m needing a reminder that you are my FOREVER ANGEL! For anyone else needing help please know @sandscharity are here to help,’ she said.

Malin gave birth to Consy at the end of 2018 – naming her daughter after her mother, Consy, who passed away in 2017.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk about her heartbreaking loss, Malin said she doesn’t want to let it define her and instead wants to become a ‘better person’ because of her experience.

More: Entertainment

She said: ‘You can either let it consume you, or you could just let it evolve you as a person and use it as a kind of strength.

‘When you suffer stuff or loss. If you let it kind of define who you are, it will eat you up. So it’s best to let it make you a better person.’



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MORE: Jacqueline Jossa says reuniting with her family is ‘better’ than winning I’m A Celebrity

MORE: Juice Wrld’s music floods the charts after news of his death breaks





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London Bridge: Family of Usman Khan ‘shocked’ by attack


Emergency vehicles in London BridgeImage copyright
AFP

The family of London Bridge attacker Usman Khan have said they are “saddened and shocked” by what happened and “totally condemn his actions”.

In a statement, they expressed their condolences to the victims’ families

Khan, who was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012, killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner rehabilitation event on Friday.

Separately, a porter who tried to fight Khan said he was coming to terms with the incident.

Lukasz, who works at the Fishmongers’ Hall venue where Khan began his attack, said he “acted instinctively” by grabbing a pole to try to stop Khan.

Usman Khan’s family said in a statement issued through the Met police: “We are saddened and shocked by what Usman has done.

“We totally condemn his actions and we wish to express our condolences to the families of the victims that have died and wish a speedy recovery to all of the injured.

“We would like to request privacy for our family at this difficult time.”

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Media captionWhat happened at London Bridge?

Lukasz, who was among those praised for his bravery during the attack, also issued a statement through Scotland Yard.

“When the attack happened, I acted instinctively. I am now coming to terms with the whole traumatic incident and would like the space to do this in privacy, with the support of my family,” he said.

  • ‘Heroes’ praised for confronting bridge attacker

The statement confirmed Lukasz was stabbed by Khan and taken to hospital but has now returned home.

“I would like to express my condolences to the families who have lost precious loved ones. I would like to send my best wishes to them and everyone effected by this sad and pointless attack,” he added.

Lukasz said, contrary to some reports, that he had used a pole to tackle Khan while someone else used a narwhal tusk in an attempt to stop the attack.

Two women were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – the women remain in a stable condition in hospital.

Image copyright
West Midlands Police

Image caption

Usman Khan had been jailed in 2012

Khan, 28, was arrested in December 2010 and sentenced in 2012 to indeterminate detention for “public protection” with a minimum jail term of eight years after pleading guilty to preparing terrorist acts.

He had been part of an al-Qaeda inspired group that considered attacks in the UK, including at the London Stock Exchange.

But in 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year-fixed term, and ordered Khan to serve at least half this – eight years – behind bars.

Since his subsequent release in December 2018, Khan had been living in Stafford and was required to wear a GPS police tag.

He was armed with two knives and was wearing a fake suicide vest during the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall on Friday.

He was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

  • London Bridge: What we know
  • What we know about the London Bridge attacker

It comes as Leanne O’Brien, the girlfriend of Cambridge University Mr Merritt who was killed, paid tribute to her partner on Facebook writing: “My love, you are phenomenal and have opened so many doors for those that society turned their backs on.”

Ms O’Brien was seen breaking down in tears as she and Mr Merritt’s family gathered at a vigil in Cambridge on Monday to remember the victims.

Mr Merritt’s father, David, also wrote a piece in the Guardian dedicated to his “absorbingly intelligent” and “fiercely loyal” son.

Also killed was Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, who was a volunteer on the Learning Together programme, which was holding an anniversary event where the event took place.

She has been described as a “lovely, lovely woman” who was “fearless” by her former tutor.

Image copyright
Met Police

Image caption

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were both involved with the Learning Together programme, which was holding an event when the attack took place

Friday’s attack sparked a political row over the release of Khan and a debate over the criminal justice system.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of “trying to exploit” the attack “for political gain”.

He blamed Khan’s release on legislation introduced under “a leftie government”, and called for longer sentences and an end to automatic release.

Mr Johnson denied claims he was politicising the attack, saying he had campaigned against early release for some time, having previously raised the issue during his 2012 campaign to be mayor of London.

He said he felt “a huge amount of sympathy” for the relatives of the victims.



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Memorial in San Bernardino marks four years since terrorist attack



The more than 1,400 days since Yvette Velasco died at the hands of two terrorists in the San Bernardino attack hasn’t buffered the grief for the family she left behind. They said it’s actually worse.

Every time there’s another mass tragedy, Velasco’s mother and sister say they live through the pain again. When Velasco’s mother, Marie, watched news coverage of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., and the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in August, she heard of other mothers searching for their children, only to learn they were killed. That mentally transports her back to where she was four years ago, she said.

“When you hear parents on TV saying, ‘I can’t find my kid,’ I know what that felt like,” she said. “We know that nightmare because we’ve lived it. It’s indescribable.”

There are ways to cope with the pain even though it is permanent, the family said. On Monday, the four-year anniversary of when Velasco and 13 others were killed, Cal State San Bernardino held a memorial for the victims. Speaking before the crowd, Velasco’s sister, Erica Porteous, said these moments help her family though hard times.

“For our family, not a day goes by that we don’t feel the loss,” Porteous said. “But this brings us comfort.”

On Dec. 2, 2015, a San Bernardino County employee and his wife marched into an office holiday party at the Inland Regional Center; they were clad in black and armed with assault rifles and pistols. They killed 14 people and injured 22 others. Authorities killed them in a shootout.

Velasco, who worked as an environmental health specialist, was 27.

Five of the victims — Robert Adams, Juan Espinoza, Shannon Johnson, Michael Wetzel and Velasco — were Cal State alumni. Three years ago, the university created a “Peace Garden” to honor the victims. It was built just steps away from the College of Natural Sciences, where the five alumni graduated.

At the beginning and end of Monday’s service, a faculty member rang a bell in the center of the stone-accented garden 14 times, once for each of the fallen. It remains silent for the rest of the year.

Sastry Pantula, dean of the college of natural sciences, joined the university in 2018. Though he didn’t know the victims, he said they are always on his mind.

The garden, he said, has become important to the campus. His faculty and students sometimes hold meetings there. Occasionally, he will eat lunch there and meditate. Pantula said it’s imperative to remember the lives lost, not just on the anniversary.

“When you Google San Bernardino, the first thing you read about is the shooting,” Pantula said. “But you can’t live in fear, and it is good that we are promoting peace.

“The biggest worry for me is seeing people reading the news and becoming immune, saying ‘That’s just another shooting.’ People are getting thick skin and aren’t paying attention to the violence around us.”

Dressed in dark clothes with sunglasses covering her eyes, Porteous held a picture of her sister with her black graduation tassel dangling from the frame. After the ceremony, which included brief remarks from Pantula, Porteous and William Vandyke, who works in the college, family members of Velasco and other victims laid white roses at the base of the bell. Porteous said she wants the public to know that her sister was a loving person, and she is thankful that her memory is being kept alive.

“I think that this garden and the fact that the Cal State community continue to remember the alumni, and that their deaths were not in vain, can hopefully bring a sense of awareness,” Porteous said.





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Review underway after Cambridge alumni confirmed as London attack victims



Independent.ie Newsdesk

An urgent review of terrorists released from prison has been launched after a knife attack by convicted terrorist Usman Khan killed two former University of Cambridge students.

The 28-year-old, who was released halfway through his 16-year sentence, fatally stabbed 25-year-old Jack Merritt and another Cambridge alumnus who is yet to be named.

The attack on Friday afternoon left three other people injured, one of who was a member of staff, the university’s vice-chancellor Stephen Toope said.

Khan was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he attended a conference on prisoner rehabilitation hosted by Cambridge University scheme Learning Together at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge.

“I am sad beyond words to report that a course co-ordinator, Jack Merritt, was killed, as was a former student not yet named by the Metropolitan Police,” said Mr Toope.

“Among the three people injured, whose identities have not been publicly released, is a member of university staff.

“Our university condemns this abhorrent and senseless act of terror.”

The attack has prompted the Ministry of Justice to review the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison, which Boris Johnson says is “probably about 74” people.

The Prime Minister told BBC One’s the Andrew Marr Show that the other individuals were now “being properly invigilated to make sure there is no threat”.

“I think it is ridiculous, I think it is repulsive, that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years and that’s why we are going to change the law,” he said on Sunday.

Pushed on what action is being taken, Mr Johnson said he did not want to go into the “operational details”, but said: “I’m sure people can imagine what we’re doing to ensure that 74 other individuals who’ve been let out early on the basis of this Labour change in legislation, they are being properly invigilated to make sure there is no threat.”

Mr Johnson said Khan was under “various conditions”, adding: “He had mentors, he had restrictions on his mobile phone, he had restrictions on internet access.”

The medical director for the NHS in London, Dr Vin Diwakar, said on Sunday that one of the three people injured in the attack had been allowed to return home while the other two remain in a stable condition in hospital.

A line of police officers were seen on their hands and knees performing fingertip searches on the bridge on Sunday, which remained closed with vehicles and buses still stranded.

Khan, who was living in Stafford, was given permission to travel into the heart of London by police and the probation service. He had also been allowed to travel to Whitehall earlier in the year.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, Khan was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police on London Bridge.

Footage posted online shows Khan being taken to the ground as one man sprays him with a fire extinguisher and another, reportedly a Polish man who worked at the Hall, lunges towards him with a narwhal tusk believed to have been taken from the wall inside the building.

Khan was part of an al Qaida-inspired terror group – linked to radical preacher Anjem Choudary – that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and build a terrorist training camp on land in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir owned by his family.

A list of other potential targets included the names and addresses of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, then London mayor Mr Johnson, two rabbis, and the American Embassy in London.

In February 2012, Khan, who had been based in Stoke-on-Trent, was handed an indeterminate sentence for public protection, with a minimum term of eight years – meaning he could have been kept in prison for as long he was deemed to be a threat to the public.

The sentence was quashed at the Court of Appeal in April 2013 and he was given a determinate 16-year jail term, with a five-year extended licence period, under legislation which meant he was released automatically halfway through the sentence.

Sentencing law changed later in 2012, and if Khan was given the same sentence today he would have had to serve at least two-thirds and be released only if the Parole Board agreed.

Despite the law change coming into force before Khan’s appeal, he could only be sentenced under legislation in force when he committed his offences.

The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Khan was one of its fighters, but did not provide any evidence.

No-one else is being sought over the attack.

PA Media





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