Posts Tagged ‘ Manchester ’

Khan Enjoys Early Finish

From Sky Sports

Amir Khan retained his WBA light-welterweight title after a controversial technical points decision over Paul McCloskey in Manchester.

The bout was halted during the sixth round after the challenger was deemed unable to continue due to a cut caused by a clash of heads. Khan was a unanimous victor on the scorecards, with all three judges awarding him a comfortable 60-54 win.

McCloskey’s awkward southpaw style meant the champion did not have it all his own way but there was no doubt who was on top at the time of the fight’s premature end.

But after the contest there was protestations from the McCloskey camp that the cut was not bad enough to warrant the stoppage.

The opening stages of the contest were tentative, with Khan looking to come forward but finding his fast hands matched by the reflexes of the previously unbeaten McCloskey.

Khan looked to be more settled in the second as he landed in bunches, but McCloskey stood firm and landed a left of his own at the end of the round. The challenger even had Khan on the back foot at times and caught him with another winging left hand in the third.

Khan began to fire again in the fourth, landing a sharp right and crisp left before attacking with hooks in the early stages of the fifth. McCloskey’s defences seemed to be weakening in the sixth as Khan landed an impressive flurry but the fight was soon over.

After an accidental clash of heads, referee Luis Pabon called for the doctor, who advised the official to bring an end to the bout.

On the undercard, Leicester binman Rendell Munroe made a winning return to action after his unsuccessful world title challenge by claiming a unanimous points win over Andrei Isaeu.

Craig Watson lost his British welterweight title to Lee Purdy the later claimed a fifth-round stoppage win in their contest.

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3 Arrested in Norway al-Qaida Bombing Plot

By Ian Macdougall, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman for The Associated Press

Three suspected al-Qaida members were arrested Thursday for what Norwegian and U.S. officials said was a terrorist plot linked to similar plans to bomb New York’s subway and blow up a shopping mall in England.

Officials believe the men were planning attacks with portable but powerful bombs like the ones at the heart of last year’s failed suicide attack in the New York City subway, an attack U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called one of the most serious plots since 9/11. On Wednesday, U.S. prosecutors revealed the existence of a related plot in Manchester, England.

The plots underscore al-Qaida’s interest in smaller-level attacks that don’t require the intricate planning and coordination of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in which airplanes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. And they follow a trend in which the terrorist group has used operatives inside potential target countries, rather than trying to sneak people across increasingly secure borders.

The three men, whose names were not released, had been under surveillance for more than a year. Two were arrested in Norway and one in Germany. Officials would not say what country or site was the target of the latest terror threat, or even whether they believed the men had selected a target.

Those arrested in Norway included a 39-year-old Norwegian of Uighur origin who has lived in the country since 1999 and a 31-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan who had a permanent Norwegian residency permit, said Janne Kristiansen, head of Norway’s Police Security Service. The man arrested in Germany was a 37-year-old Iraqi with a Norwegian residency permit, Kristiansen said.

She did not say exactly where the arrests took place but said all three men “had connections to Oslo.”

Norwegian and U.S. officials believe the Norway plan was organized by Salah al-Somali, al-Qaida’s former chief of external operations who is in charge of plotting attacks worldwide. Al-Qaida usually keeps its plots compartmentalized, and officials do not believe the suspects in Norway knew about the other plots. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Al-Somali, who was killed in a CIA drone airstrike last year, has been identified in U.S. court documents as one of the masterminds of the New York subway plot. Two men have pleaded guilty in that case, admitting they planned to detonate explosives during rush hour. A third man awaits trial.

Officials said the men were attempting to make peroxide bombs, the powerful homemade explosives that prosecutors say were attempted in both New York and England. Norwegian and U.S. officials said it was unclear whether the men ever perfected the recipe for the bomb and said investigators had contained the plot.

“According to our evaluation, the public has never been at risk,” Kristiansen said.

The Associated Press learned of the investigation in recent weeks and approached U.S. and Norwegian officials. Authorities told the AP that reporting on the case could jeopardize public safety and allow dangerous suspects to go free. The AP agreed not to report on the investigation until arrests were made.

“AP’s knowledge of the case was only one of several factors that was taken into consideration when deciding on the timing of the arrests,” Police Security Service spokesman Trond Hugubakken said. “It was not the decisive factor.”

U.S. and Norwegian counterterrorism officials worked closely together to unravel the Norwegian plot, officials said. Kristiansen traveled to the U.S. this spring to discuss the closely held intelligence gathered in the case.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg urged Norwegians not to judge large groups of people because of the arrests.

“These are separate individuals that are responsible for criminal acts,” Stoltenberg said. “It is always bad to judge a whole group of people from what individuals are doing and that is independently of what group these people belong to.”

Even though it was not clear if Norway was a target, Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called for attacks on Norway, among other countries.

Magnus Norell, a terrorism expert at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, said Norway’s 500 troops in Afghanistan could be a factor, as could the 2006 controversy sparked by a Danish newspaper’s publication of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Norell said the controversy has extended to neighboring Norway and Sweden after newspapers there republished the cartoons and later published similar cartoons. Images of Muhammad, even favorable ones, are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.

British police and security officials have never provided details of the alleged target of the purported English plot, but said it was likely focused on a major shopping center in northern England. Media speculation centered on Manchester’s Arndale shopping center.

A judge said last year the gang was plotting a “mass casualty” attack in northern England.

Pakistani Student Britain Couldn’t Deport was ‘Involved in Planning Attack in US’

By Duncan Gardham for The Daily Telegraph

A suspected terrorist who Britain is unable to deport has been arrested on suspicion of plotting to bomb New York’s underground system. A US warrant was issued for Abid Naseer, who is accused of helping an al-Qaeda cell planning suicide bomb attacks in the city. Naseer was arrested on Wednesday in Middlesbrough, sources said, and the US authorities have requested he is extradited for trial.

He was among a group of 12 men arrested in Manchester last year accused of plotting to blow up shopping centres, but was never charged. Naseer, 24, was subsequently released and is thought to have been put under a control order and electronically tagged. In May the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission ruled that he was connected to al-Qaeda but could not be deported back to Pakistan on human rights grounds.

However, US authorities believe he stockpiled July 7-style bomb making materials for the planned attack in Manchester. The same type of material was to be used in the thwarted bomb attacks on the New York Metro.

He is also believed to have been in touch with the same senior al-Qaeda commanders.

The US Department of Justice (USDoJ) said the American plot was “directly related to a scheme by al-Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United Kingdom.”

Naseer is accused of providing material support to al-Qaeda and conspiracy to use a firearm in New York and elsewhere. According to a US statement, “large quantities of flour and oil were found” when Naseer’s address in Cheetham Hill, Manchester was raided by police.

The operation, codenamed Pathway, had to be brought forward 24 hours after Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick was photographed entering Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister with details of the raids visible.

Two members of the US cell, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have pleaded guilty to planning to conduct suicide bombings in New York using improvised explosive devices made from supplies such as hydrogen peroxide, acetone, flour and oil – ingredients similar to those used in the July 7 attacks five years ago.

In other addresses, Greater Manchester Police allegedly found surveillance photographs of public areas in Manchester – thought to be the Arndale shopping centre – and maps of Manchester’s city centre posted on the wall with one of the locations from the surveillance photographs highlighted.

Another student called Tariq ur-Rehman who returned to Pakistan after he was released from British custody, was allegedly recruited at the same time. The US Department of Justice said ur-Rehman was not in custody.

A US indictment says Naseer and ur-Rehman were members of a terrorist cell coordinated by Rashid Rauf – a British al-Qaeda commander who was also involved in the July 7 attacks of 2005.

Rauf is thought to have been killed in Pakistan by a missile from a US drone in November 2008 but according to the indictment the plot was also allegedly directed by Adnan el-Shukrijumah, known as “Hamad”, a 34-year-old Saudi citizen with a $5m price on his head from the FBI, and Saleh al-Somali, another al-Qaeda commander.

All three were said by the US to be leaders of al-Qaeda’s “external operations programme”.

The students were allegedly recruited in Peshawar, Pakistan in November 2008 along with the leader of the US plot, Najibullah Zazi.

After returning to Britain, Naseer allegedly sent emails to the same account that a man calling himself Sohaib, but also known as Ahmad and Zahid, was using to communicate with the US cell on behalf of al-Somali.

The Daily Telegraph previously reported that MI5 tipped off the FBI about the US plot and published the emails that used the names of girls as code words for bomb-making ingredients and a wedding to refer to the planned attack between April 15 and 20 last year.

Zazi had agreed a similar code, the Americans say, and emailed Sohaib that the “marriage is ready” just before he left Colorado for New York City in early September last year.

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