Weekly News 10th – 14th October

Monday 10th

Brexit: Britain is seeking to shift the frontline of immigration controls to Ireland’s ports and airports to avoid having to introduce a “hard border” between north and south after the UK leaves the European Union, the Guardian has learned. The Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, has told the Guardian that London and Dublin will work to strengthen Ireland’s external borders in order to combat illegal migration into the UK once it leaves the European Union. In an interview, Brokenshire said there was now a “high level of collaboration on a joint programme of work” between the two states to control immigration. (The Guardian)

Germany: German police have arrested a 22-year-old Syrian man with alleged links to Islamic State who they believe was planning to carry out a major terrorist attack at a Berlin airport. Jaber al-Bakr was found by police when they stormed a high-rise block of flats in the eastern city of Leipzig in the early hours of Monday morning following a tipoff by two other Syrian men. The arrest brought to a dramatic close a 48-hour manhunt, with extra security measures put in place at airports and railway stations around the country over fears Bakr planned to carry out a bomb attack. (Liberation)

Israel: An East Jerusalem resident shot and killed a 60-year-old woman and a 30-year-old police officer on Sunday near the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem on Sunday. The drive-by shootings spanned three sites. In addition, three victims were moderately wounded, while a further three were lightly wounded by shrapnel or suffered from shock. Police eventualy shot the assailant, identified as a 39-year-old resident of the Silwan neighborhood, at nearby Sheikh Jarrah. He succumbed to his wounds shortly thereafter. (Haaretz)

Migrants: The Italy-Austria border at Brenner will “stay as it is, namely open and without major checks, also because Italy is doing an excellent job of control”, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Monday. (ANSA)

Tuesday 11th

Germany: German federal police re-opened a train station in the town of Rastatt in south-west Germany on Tuesday after finding nothing suspicious following a bomb threat. Police had evacuated and sealed off the train station in Rastatt, south of Karlsruhe, after receiving the threat at around 9.15 local time, a spokesman said. Sniffer dogs and explosive experts were involved in the search. (Reuters)

A major terrorist attack on a transportation hub in Germany was narrowly averted, the head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency said on Tuesday, after a 22-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested and more than three pounds of dangerous explosives were found at his home. Hans-Georg Maassen, who heads the federal domestic intelligence service, indicated that the likely target was a Berlin airport and that the suspect had ties to the Islamic State. Mr. Maassen said the authorities had received a “very concrete” indication about a month ago that an attack was planned on either an airport or a train station in Germany. (The New York Times)

Israel: Israel to Close Off East Jerusalem, West Bank on Yom Kippur. As in previous years, roadblocks will be erected between the capital’s eastern and western parts; Palestinian vehicles will not be permitted to pass by Jewish neighborhoods. (Haaretz)

Syria: French President Francois Hollande has suggested Russia could face war crimes charges over its bombardment of Syria’s second city Aleppo. Mr Hollande told French TV this could take place in the International Criminal Court (ICC). He also said he might refuse to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is due to visit France next week. Last week Russia vetoed a Franco-Spanish UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the bombing. (BBC)

War on terror: Islamic State on Monday confirmed the death of its propaganda chief, whom the Pentagon said was killed in a US-led air strike in Syria’s Raqqa province last month. An IS statement posted online paid tribute to Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, also known as Abu Mohammed al-Furqan. The statement just referred to him by his alias. (The Jerusalem Post)

Wednesday 12th

France: Salah Abdeslam´s lawyers, the key suspect of the terroristic attacks of November 13 in Paris, renounce defend their client, announced in an interview with BFM TV broadcast Wednesday. “We decided to give up the defense” of Abdeslam. “We believe that he will not talk and that he will apply right to silence,” said Frank Berton alongside his Belgian colleague Sven Mary. “We said from the beginning that if our client would have been silent we would give up his defense, “says Mr. Berton.”When we had the feeling of being there to make social visits to the prison, at that time we took this decision” added the Belgian lawyer, Mary. (Le Figaro)

Italy: Some school districts in England and Wales have three categories of Italians on their application forms, and the Italian embassy in London lodged a protest Tuesday. The forms currently ask applicants to identify themselves as being of Italian, Neapolitan-Italian, or Sicilian-Italian origin. “Italy has been a unified country since March 17, 1861,” the embassy pointed out. (Ansa)

War on terror: ISIS militants in northern Syria are putting up “stiff resistance” to attacks by Turkish-backed rebel fighters, Turkey’s military said on Wednesday, almost two months after it launched an incursion to drive them away from its border. Supported by Turkish tanks and air strikes, the rebels have been pushing towards the ISIS stronghold of Dabiq. Clashes and air strikes over the past 24 hours have killed 47 extremists, the military said in a statement. (The Daily Star)

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of additional German troops to Turkey to help operate NATO surveillance aircraft as part of the U.S-led fight against ISIS, government sources said. The Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft will be based at Konya air base in southern Turkey. They will be used for reconnaissance in support of air strikes against ISIS targets. (The Daily Star)

Thursday 13th

Germany: Germany’s highest-profile prisoner, a Syrian refugee suspected of plotting to detonate a suicide vest at a Berlin airport, strangled himself in his jail cell in the eastern city of Leipzig, German officials said Thursday. Jaber Albakr, 22, was found dead Wednesday night by a trainee guard, the prison’s warden, Rolf Jacob, told reporters. The detainee, who had been arrested Monday, had effectively hanged himself by tying his T-shirt to the bars of his cell. (The Washington Post)

Friday 14th

Israel: Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday after the U.N. cultural organization angered the Israeli government by adopting two resolutions on annexed east Jerusalem ahead of a final vote next week. In a letter sent to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Education Minister Naftali Bennett accused the body of ignoring “thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem.” (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Italy: Italy will send 140 troops to Latvia in the coming months to “participate in the Canadian-led NATO force” there, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Friday. Moscow blasted the announcement that Italy will station troops near to its border. “NATO’s policy is destructive,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told ANSA. “The alliance is engaged in constructing new lines of division in Europe, instead of deep, solid relations of good neighbours”. But Gentiloni said that the decision was not an act of aggression. “It is not a policy of aggression towards Russia, but of reassurance and defence of our borders as an alliance,” Gentiloni told a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. (Ansa)

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