More arrests over London Bridge attack

New CCTV images have emerged which appear to show the moment that armed officers shot the attackers dead in a volley of gunfire. Be warned – there are distressing images in this report by Assed Baig.

How was Jamal al Harith was radicalised and what happened to the money?

Mental health: schools struggling to help support children

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Depression and anxiety were once thought of as illnesses which only affected adults but mental health problems affect around one in ten children and young people.

But schools are struggling to help them, according to a new survey. The charity Place to Be said more than half of head teachers said it was “difficult” to find the right services for their pupils, with the worst provision in the west midlands and south west England.

The research also shows that pupils are under far more stress than they were five years ago – and they’re bringing their worries into the classroom, as Assed Baig reports.

The Taliban: Islam, opium and the current conflict in Afghanistan. Understanding why the Taliban fight

By Moneeb Hafeez

This research is an attempt to understand the cause of the current insurgency in Afghanistan. The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic movement, are fighting a foreign occupation on what is perceived as a war on religious grounds. However when analysing the Taliban’s beliefs and actions such a notion does not hold.

Firstly the Islam versus the West paradigm that forged the theoretical underpinning of the War on terror is not as applicable to the Taliban. The idea the Taliban is an anarchistic movement that is a threat to Western civilisation is short-sighted. Understanding the group’s beliefs and ideology reveals their true objective.

Secondly the Taliban are involved with the Opium economy of Afghanistan this given the Islamic ideology of the Taliban seems rather contradictory. Many theories support the idea that the cause of conflict is often motivated by economic benefit and not ideology. As well as being motivated by economic benefit, the other aspects of war given the breakdown of legitimate sources of funds is the need to fund the war. Hence insurgents resort to criminality to fund their activities.

After analysing the Taliban to find the Taliban are a hybrid unique group motivated by a combination of beliefs and self interests these cannot be categorised amongst broader Islamic movements.

The Taliban: Islam, opium and the current conflict in Afghanistan – Understanding why the Taliban fight

We were defending British values, say Syria Britons

Exclusive: two British men who have returned from the Syria conflict say they went to the Middle East on a humanitarian mission “against a brutal regime” – and insist they are not terrorists.

Think about the conflict in Syria today and the headlines dominated by

Think about the conflict in Syria today and the headlines dominated by the savage acts of so-called Islamic State or Isis,writes Assed Baig.

Now rewind to 2013. Back then all anyone could talk about were the thousands of civilians being slaughtered by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. As Syrians demanded their right to freedom and democracy, the government there was using chemical weapons to kill its people.

Meanwhile the government here was considering military action to stop the massacres. Parliament decided not to intervene, but it’s within this context that the two British men I’ve spoken to took it upon themselves to do, they say, what the government couldn’t, to defend the people of Syria. Now they’re back in the UK and living in fear of arrest.

‘British values’

Their mission was a “humanitarian” one, say Ibrahim and Musa, whose names have been changed due to their fear of the security services. They claim they were inspired by images of dying civilians being broadcast on their television screens. Ibrahim explains that he sees it as part of “British values, to stick up for the weak, against the oppressor”.

Channel 4 News could not independently verify the men’s stories. But their separate accounts seem to touch on common themes. Their experience of the conflict was very different to what they saw in movies and YouTube videos.

The men talk of ill-equipped and untrained fighters, very little action, and the dynamics of the conflict changing drastically with the rise of so-called Islamic State. Both men say they don’t approve of the group’s notorious practices, including mass executions and beheadings.

‘Mad men’

“These are mad men who have found a political ideology to cling on to to somehow justify their madness,” says Ibrahim. “The [Syrian] people have had enough.”

They returned to the UK disillusioned. Not with Britain, but with the revolution itself. Ibrahim fought with the Islamist group Ahrar Al-Sham. Musa did not wish to reveal which group he fought alongside, but says he is opposed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

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In fact both claim they are deeply suspicious of Isis’ motives. Despairing that Islamic State had split the opposition into warring factions, Ibrahim tells me: “These would be the last guys I’d ever give allegiance to”.

But the presence of Isis appears to have triggered a change in government policy toward Syria. Ministers no longer talk about providing “non-lethal” military support to opposition fighters. The focus is now stopping fighters returning and committing terrorist atrocities here.

Both men spoke to me before the attacks in Paris. However, in the wake of those events which left 17 people murdered, fighters returning from Syria are more than ever seen as a threat to the UK.


Both men say they have no ill intentions toward the UK, and Musa is pragmatic about the government’s proposed measures aimed at halting the return of dangerous extremists. “The security of the UK is very important,” he tells me. “I think it would be very difficult to have them back in the UK after explicitly saying that they oppose UK citizens, and that they will commit violent actions in the UK.”

But he says anyone who returns should be assessed individually and perhaps be put through a rehabilitation period.

When I asked Ibrahim if he was a threat to the UK, he scoffed: “Absolutely not, this is my country.” But he warns that the government’s plan to introduce temporary exclusion orders was flawed.

He told me: “If this government keeps saying, ‘You’re an enemy, you’re an enemy, you’re an enemy’, then there’s going to become a point when one of these guys says, ‘Fine, I’ll be your enemy.’ You’re forcing them into a corner.”