The boss of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit insisted ‘we are not trying to scare-monger’ as the security services prepare for a ‘highly likely’ attack.
The Trafford Centre, The Arndale Centre, United’s Old Trafford and City’s Etihad stadiums have been told be on alert over a possible pre-Christmas terror attack.
Other popular visitor attractions including the Printworks, Piccadilly and Victoria railway stations, and major cinema complexes are also among the venues counter terrorism police have warned to be on guard.
It has led to allegations of scare-mongering.
But Detective Chief Superintendant Tony Mole, the head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, insisted police were simply ‘being realistic’.
So far this year 271 people have been arrested nationally on suspicion of terror-related offences, 104 of them connected to the continuing tensions in Syria where the so-called Islamic State have taken a stronghold.
Of those 271 arrests, some 29 were held in the north west.
Dozens of would-be jihadists are believed to have travelled to join ISIS from Manchester, including Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, from Chorlton.
Security experts believe such radicalised Britons will pose a threat when and if they return to the UK.
The threat level from terrorists is currently assessed as ‘severe’ meaning an attack is considered ‘highly likely’, one below the highest rating of ‘critical’ when an attack is ‘imminent’.
The M.E.N. understands that the Trafford Centre is among the city’s most likely targets for a pre-Christmas attack.
Last night bosses at the centre said they were receiving regular intelligence updates from security services and that staff had been given regular security training.
And Metrolink said it was sharing intelligence with GMP while ‘remaining vigilant on the ground’.
The security manager at The Printworks in the city centre added that its staff had received updated ‘counter terrorism awareness training’.
Mr Mole told the MEN: “We’re not trying to scare-monger. We are being realistic. But the threat is severe. We’re trying to be honest. That’s what it is, an attack is highly likely. Lee Rigby is just one example.
“Just look at the number of arrests and you can see our workload has gone up. But I have no intelligence to say that in the morning there will be another attack.”
The M.E.N. revealed last month how police seized £250,000 in cash from travellers suspected of trying to fly out of Manchester to fund terror group Islamic State. The bulk of the haul was confiscated from Syria-bound passengers intercepted before boarding flights from Manchester Airport.
French police have arrested about 10 people in an operation to dismantle a network sending would-be fighters to Syria.
Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said four of those detained on Monday were already jailed for unrelated minor crimes and that most of the arrests occurred in the south of France.
The prosecutor’s office said it does yet not know how many people the network had recruited.
European officials fear that radicalised fighters will return from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq and attack at home, and France has made it a crime to recruit or be recruited for fighting abroad.
Earlier in June, a Frenchman linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group was accused in adeadly shooting at a Brussels Jewish museum that killed three people.
Authorities estimate around 1,000 French nationals have taken part in the conflict. According to figures published in the French Le Monde newspaper in November, about a quarter of those who left to join armed groups were converts to Islam. France holds Europe's largest Muslim population.
France is currently using nine Rafale jets based in the United Arab Emirates as part of a US-led coalition to provide air support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the ISIL.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has said it would be absurd and facile to ban interrogators from torturing terror suspects.
His controversial declaration comes amid outrage over a Senate report into CIA torture tactics, which found no life-saving information was extracted using brute force.
Speaking to a Swiss radio station, Scalia, 78, said American and European liberals who say such tactics may never be used are being self-righteous.
He said: 'Listen, I think it's very facile for people to say, "Oh, torture is terrible". You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people.
Reports on Sky News suggest that there is a 'credible security threat' and a 'fast-moving situation'
West Midlands Police has refused to deny reports that officers were ordered back to their bases due to a security threat.
Sky News said “officers have been called back to return to base, and also that they’ve been asked to watch out for each other when they are actually out on patrol.”
It added that police were involved in a “fast-moving situation” after receiving a “credible security threat”.
West Midlands is the country’s second largest force with 7,442 officers.
ITV News political reporter for the northwest Daniel Hewitt said on Twitter: “Being told West Midlands Police officers got call around 10pm to return to stations. No officers being allowed to go home but not told why.”
West Midlands Police refused to comment.
ITV News later reported that West Midlands Police officers had been stood down and allowed to return home.
It added that officers were back responding but have been told not to use public transport to go home tonight.
Beirut (AFP) - Nearly 300 sites of incalculable value for Syria and human history have been destroyed, damaged or looted in almost four years of war, the UN said Tuesday, citing "alarming" satellite evidence.
From prehistoric settlements and ancient markets to world-famous mosques and Crusader castles, Syria is home to countless treasures.
But since the country's brutal war erupted in 2011, heritage sites have been plundered by all sides -- regime loyalists, anti-government rebels, jihadist fighters and even desperate residents.
After a major survey, the United Nations said that detailed analysis of satellite images from several hundred sites had unearthed the full scale of the damage.
Of the 290 sites, 24 had been destroyed, 104 severely damaged, 85 moderately damaged and 77 possibly damaged.
The UN said the report was "alarming testimony of the ongoing damage that is happening to Syria's vast cultural heritage", and called for efforts to scale up their protection.
The satellite images were put together by UNOSAT, a Geneva-based UN institute.
They focused on 18 areas, six of them listed as UNESCO world heritage sites: the Old City of Aleppo, Bosra, Damascus, the Dead Cities of northern Syria, the Crac des Chevaliers castle and the Greco-Roman oasis of Palmyra.
"It is very sad for Syria as well as the world that this is happening," UNOSAT director Einar Bjorgo told AFP. "Humankind is losing hundreds and thousands of years of heritage."
Aleppo, Syria's former commercial hub where settlements date back 7,000 years, has been especially hard hit in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The 11th century Great Mosque of Aleppo saw its minaret reduced to rubble in fighting, and the famed Carlton Hotel has been pulverised, leaving behind a huge crater, the images show.
- 'An immeasurable loss' -
"Every time the regime or the rebels would take the mosque, they would deploy a sniper in the minaret. In the end, it was hit by an air raid," Cheikhmous Ali of the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology (APSA) told AFP.
Ali added that Aleppo's ancient souk, the largest market of its kind in the world, had been seriously damaged as well.
The UN images also show serious damage to Palmyra, known for its spectacular Roman colonnade, with the Syrian army building a road that cuts through the necropolis, damaging several tombs.
Ali said the road is used by tanks and that their firing is also weakening the site's structures.
In the city of Raqa, a bastion of the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, the Sufi Muslim Uwais al-Qarni Mosque and a shrine to Ammar ibn Yasir, one of the companions of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, have mostly been destroyed.
Ali said IS has also destroyed ancient Assyrian statues in the northwestern province of Hasakeh.
In Dura-Europos, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the UN said looting has rendered "unrecognisable" a site previously known as the "Pompeii of the desert".
Byzantine statues, pots and beads have been stolen from the site, APSA said.
The magnificent Apamea site near Hama in central Syria -- a Roman archaeological jewel -- has also been largely looted.
APSA has documented some 14,000 illegal excavation sites across Syria.
In Homs province, the once rebel-held Crac des Chevaliers has lost some of its facade and roof after coming under regime bombardment.
Rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib have also turned Ebla, seat of one of ancient Syria's earliest kingdoms, into a training site.
"The danger in Syria is even greater than in Iraq. Here, sites have been turned into military barracks and battlefields," Ali said.
"It's a catastrophe, an immeasurable loss for humanity."
BRITISH taxpayers are footing the bill for training “spin-doctors” to peddle propaganda for North Korea’s ruthless dictator Kim Jong-un.
A group of 46 North Korean “journalists” are on a UK study course in media skills funded by the Foreign Office.
Critics say they are propagandists who risk execution if they publish anything critical of their tyrant ruler. Lord Alton of Liverpool, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, accused the Foreign Office of “investing in people who are official mouthpieces of the regime”.
He added: “In our parlance they’re spin-doctors. They’re there to promote the public relations of the government. It’s a pointless exercise.”
Andy Silvester of the TaxPayers’ Alliance told the Sunday Express: “Even if these journalists receive a damascene conversion to the merits of a free and fair press, they’re unlikely to have many chances to practise their new skills when they get home.”
The project, thought to be costing around £70,000, began with a 10-day workshop in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, in October.
The 46 North Koreans are being taught “international reporting practices and the development of technical skills to build websites, using a variety of international sources,” Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay revealed in a Lords written answer.
The participants will arrive here early next year “to see how multimedia websites work at British media companies”.
The Foreign Office, which claims the scheme will help open up the country’s brutally repressive political system, is paying the Thomson Foundation, an independent UK charity, to run the training sessions, based around “international standards of journalism”. A United Nations commission of inquiry report earlier this year found that in North Korea “the exercise of the right to express facts and opinions critical of the state or its official ideology is not tolerated”
(CNN) -- Can you take non-Muslim women and children captive? Yes, says ISIS. Can you have sex with them, even prepubescent girls? Yes, according to the Islamist extremist group. Can you sell them or give them as gifts to others? The answer is yes, once again. People in Mosul -- the Iraqi city now under control of the group calling itself the Islamic State -- got these and other messages loud and clear after sunset prayers Friday, when armed men handed out a color-printed pamphlet "Question and Answers on Female Slaves and their Freedom," three residents told CNN.
Abdel Hakim Belhadj, an Islamist militant fighter, says he was subjected to ‘extraordinary rendition’ to Libya on the basis of MI6 intelligence and tortured with the help of British spies.
He would settle for a token payment of £1 along with an admission and apology, but Government lawyers have spent £372,632 trying to stop the case coming to court.
They argue that a full hearing could damage relations with the US. Campaigners reject this, saying the Government simply wants to conceal its involvement in the case.
Ministers lost the argument at the Court of Appeal, which ruled in October that a British judge could consider the case even if it covered alleged wrongdoing by government agents.
They are appealing against that judgement, meaning the legal bill will rise even further next year when the case comes before the Supreme Court.
If the case does eventually come before a judge, ministers face having to reveal in full the extent of Britain’s involvement with Mr Belhadj and his wife Fatima Bouchard, who is also claiming compensation.
Legal campaigners said it was indefensible for the Government to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to stop the public hearing the facts of the case.
Donald Campbell, of Reprieve, which is representing Mr Belhadj, said: ‘Surely a case involving such serious issues as rendition and torture deserves its day in court.
‘Mr Belhadj and Miss Bouchard have even offered to drop their case in return for an admission, an apology, and a token payment of £1 from each defendant.
‘Yet instead, the Government is spending staggering amounts of public money trying to ensure it is never heard at all. Sadly, this is all part of a bigger picture of obfuscation by the Government, which only emphasises the importance of holding a proper, independent inquiry into UK involvement in torture.’
As many as 400 critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are expected to be arrested today in sweeping raids across the country after a well-known but anonymous Twitter user, who is thought to be a government official, warned his followers of the imminent raids.
They are believed to be the first British family to be stripped of their citizenship since Theresa May (shown) took over in 2010. The Newcastle-born father said the decision was 'tearing our family apart'.
Police have been given more time to question five terror suspects, the Metropolitan Police has said.
Two men, aged 33 and 43, were held as they tried to leave the UK at Dover port on Sunday.
A further two men, aged 24 and 40, were arrested in east London early on Monday, and a 28-year-old man was held in Dover later that same day.
All five are being held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
It is understood the police operation is in connection to Syria-related terrorism.
Four addresses in east London and one in south London are also being searched as part of the investigation, as are a further two addresses in north Wales.
The news came as another man arrested at Dover on Sunday was charged with people-trafficking offences.
Substantial to severe
The 37-year old, whose name was given by police as Laurentia-vasilica Zahria, of no fixed abode, was charged with facilitating non-European Union travel to a member state, the Met Police said. He has been remanded in custody to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.
At the same time as Mr Zahria's arrest, a further 12 men and one woman who were also stopped in the same vehicle, were also arrested on suspicion of immigration offences by Home Office immigration enforcement officers.
The Home Office said the group were believed to be from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria and Morocco, and have been detained pending further inquiries.
The terror threat level in the UK was raised from substantial to severe in August.
Fears of a terrorist attack on the UK have been heightened in the wake of the rise of Islamic State (IS), the extremist group that has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
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Gilli Rosenberg,the Canadian- Israeli woman who joined the ranks of Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State earlier this month has been kidnapped by the organization that she went to fight, Syrian jihadi websites reported on Sunday. The blogs and websites are associated with the Islamic State.
One of the sites, thought to be a mouthpiece for IS, said several female fighters were captured along with the Israeli. The site reported that the IS fighters carried out three suicide attacks before capturing the women.
Rosenberg, 31, from Tel Aviv, said in an interview with Israel Radio earlier this month she had decided to join the fighters for humanitarian and ideological reasons and “because they are our brothers” who are fighting the evil of Islamic State.
Rosenberg, on Facebook last week, wrote that she was no longer updating her page because she was headed to an area without internet.
Earlier on her Facebook page she posted several pictures, including of Tel Aviv and the Old City in Jerusalem, that she took prior to leaving for Kurdish Iraq and Syria.
“My last day in Israel – seems like way more than a week ago. YPG [Kurdish army] uniform pics coming soon! Once the tailor finishes my customized uniform,” she wrote on one of the pictures.
Israel Radio said Sunday that Kurdish rebels told one of its reporters that Rosenberg was not in Kobani, so they doubted that she was captured and thought it was likely IS propaganda.
The Shin Bet has no details about Rosenberg's capture.