Thursday, August 21, 2014

Inspection of Russian Trucks at Ukraine Border Begins

Inspection of Russian Trucks at Ukraine Border Begins

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DONETSK, Russia — Inspectors from Russia, Ukraine and the International Red Cross on Thursday began checking trucks to confirm that they are carrying humanitarian aid destined for eastern Ukraine, a Red Cross spokesman said.
The convoy of 260 white trucks, which Russia has said are carrying water, food and other supplies, arrived in the Rostov region a week ago, but became mired in diplomatic disputes between Moscow and the Ukrainian government.
Galina Balzamova, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, would not say how long the checks would take or when the convoy could enter Ukraine.
Dozens of trucks have been moved into the border cordon between Russia and Ukraine, and sacks of foodstuffs and other supplies have been unpacked from several of the trucks. Members of the Red Cross were visible near the convoy, but not any of the contingent of 58 Ukrainian border guards waiting to inspect the trucks.
Several hundred feet past the trucks, the rebel flag of Novorossiya, which resembles the Confederate flag without stars, flew over the Ukrainian border checkpoint. Rebels in the east have seized controls of large swaths of the border region, including the border checkpoint here.
None of the trucks had entered Ukrainian territory as of 6 p.m. local time, a journalist who passed the Russian checkpoint into the border zone said.

Inspection of Russian Trucks at Ukraine Border Begins

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Teams from Russia, Ukraine and the International Red Cross began checking the convoy that is said to be carrying humanitarian aid.

IS Demanded £80m For Journalist's Release

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The US says it has "stalled" the Islamic State's advance as a manhunt continues for a militant who beheaded an American reporter.

David Cameron returns to holiday in Cornwall after emergency ISIS beheading talks

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The Prime Minister insisted he would continue to monitor the developing crisis in Iraq, but his decision to leave Downing Street will spark controversy.

National Guard to withdraw from riot-torn Ferguson, Missouri

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FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The governor of Missouri ordered the withdrawal on Thursday of National Guard troops from riot-torn Ferguson, where tensions have eased after sometimes violent protests were staged nightly since police killed an unarmed black teenager.
Peaceful demonstrations overnight were the calmest street gatherings in the small St. Louis suburb since riots erupted over the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer.
The controversial shooting by Officer Darren Wilson prompted angry demonstrations along with looting and random gunfire from largely black crowds. Police have used tear gas and heavy armored vehicles to clear the streets and the Missouri National Guard was called in to help.
But the crowds have thinned, and the mood is decidedly less tense. Police said six people were arrested overnight - far fewer than the scores detained on earlier nights of racial unrest.
Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson, saying in a statement: "We continue to see improvement."
"Things are de-escalating," said Roy Harris outside Original Reds B-B-Q, located on West Florissant Avenue where many of the protests have taken place.
The restaurant has boarded up its windows but written in large letters in red paint on the plywood planks is the promise: "We will be back!!!" and workers were selling sandwiches in the parking lot next to an outdoor meat smoker.
"We are seeing the judicial process beginning," said Harris, who works as a youth counselor in St. Louis. "Voices are actually being heard."
Ferguson is predominantly black, but its police force, political leadership and public education administration are dominated by whites. Activists and demonstrators have complained that Brown's death was the culmination of years of unfair police targeting of blacks.
In Washington, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill announced she would lead a Senate hearing next month to look at the militarization of local police departments.
A U.S. military program that sends armored cars, camouflage and other battlefield equipment to police departments has come under scrutiny as the protesters in Ferguson have been met by heavily armed police clad in body armor and driving heavy armored vehicles.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said such displays should stop. "At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message," Holder said last week.
A grand jury met on Wednesday to begin hearing evidence in the Brown case. That process could take into October before the panel releases its findings, said St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.
McCulloch, who is responsible for deciding whether to pursue criminal charges against the police officer, has held the top county prosecutor's job for 23 years and has promised an impartial investigation.
Many Ferguson residents, angry that the police officer in question is not in custody and has gone into hiding, fear that if there is no indictment, more street violence is inevitable.
CALL FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
Frustrated by the pace of the process, protesters outside McCulloch's office in nearby Clayton called for his removal from the case. They want the appointment of a special prosecutor, an expedited grand jury proceeding and the immediate arrest of Wilson, who has been placed on leave.
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed arrived at McCulloch's office to deliver petitions calling for his ouster.
"I am here to deliver a message to Bob McCulloch that the people do not have any confidence in him," Nasheed said. "The people's opinion is that he totally has no ability to do the right thing."
Zaki Baruti, a leader of the Universal African Peoples Organization, warned that Wednesday night's relative quiet did not necessarily mean crowds would remain peaceful.
"Civil disobedience is coming down the line, in a strong way, until our demands are met," Baruti said.
Outside a fast-food restaurant on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, a small contingent of angry young black men held a homemade wanted poster for Wilson, just blocks from the street where Brown was killed.
They warned there would be no lasting peace until the officer was brought to justice.
"For us he is a wanted man. It is time for calm and peace but only if they bring him to justice," said 23-year-old Dontey Carter, shirtless with a scarf wrapped around his head.
Overnight into early Thursday, a few gunshots rang out and at least one officer was hit by a bottle, but Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said: "The trend is good."
"Crowds were smaller, they were calm and orderly," said Johnson, a black officer appointed to oversee security.
Outside the Ferguson Police Department, Nick Smith stood with a small group of protesters braving the hot sun and held a sign reading: "I am black. I am a man. Respect me."
"I think things are calming down," the retired railroad worker said. But he cautioned that the community could not return to such divisiveness and hostility between residents and police.
"I am quite sure it is hard to be a policeman in this day and age, but you can't treat us like animals," he said. "It is time for a change."
Holder, the U.S. attorney general, visited Ferguson on Wednesday and met with Brown's parents. He promised a thorough investigation into the case that has fueled debate over the justice system's treatment of African Americans.
The Justice Department has launched an investigation to whether federal prosecutors can bring criminal charges against Wilson.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam and Scott Malone; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Eric Beech)
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What Cured Ebola Patients Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol?

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The two American Ebola patients, medical missionaries Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, have walked out of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta infection-free.
They were the first human beings to receive an experimental drug called ZMapp. But they are not the first people to have recovered from Ebola, and good hospital care is likely more responsible for their recovery than any mysterious “serum," as the charities they work for termed it.
“They are the very first individuals to have ever receive this agent,” Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, told a news conference. “There is no prior experience with it, and frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference, or even, theoretically, if it delayed their recovery.”
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Ebola has infected 2,500 people in West Africa and killed 1,350 of them. That’s roughly a 50 percent fatality rate, but experts agree the true number of cases and deaths is not yet known because of the poor healthcare systems in the three affected countries and because many people hide when they get sick.
There’s no specific cure for Ebola, but doctors with experience treating it say they have found that if people get early supportive care, including saline solution and fever reducers, they are far more likely to recover.
Ribner says three weeks of treating Writebol and Brantly have shown them something else: Just like with cholera, patients have severe diarrhea and they lose important chemicals called electrolytes. Replacing these minerals — notably potassium, magnesium and sodium — helps patients recover better, he said.
“The key to resolving Ebola virus infection was aggressive supportive care,” he said. This level of care just isn’t available in most parts of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where clinics struggle to even provide clean water and beds for patients.
“We knew certainly we could do that at a better level than the facility that they were in in Liberia,” Ribner added. The equivalent, he said, would be if “we took all of our patients in the intensive care unit here and sent them home and see how well they survived.”
The World Health Organization, the relief group Doctors Without Borders and other experts in Africa have all called on rich nations to help poorer countries, especially those hit by Ebola in Africa, to develop their health systems so they can provide better care to patients.
Brantly, who walked out of an ambulance into Emory three weeks ago and Writebol, who remains weak, according to her husband David, both started out in better physical condition than the patients they were working to help.
“And clearly for any acutely ill patient, nutritional status is extremely important,” Ribner said. “If you have somebody who's well-nourished and somebody who is poorly nourished and they suffer the same illness, infectious or otherwise, the person with better nutrition has better survival outlook.”
So did the ZMapp do nothing to help? Liberian health officials say three doctors there who received the treatment were also showing “remarkable” signs of improvement.
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The drug is a combination of three engineered immune system compounds called monoclonal antibodies. Antibodies recognize and neutralize invaders like viruses. “Monoclonal” antibodies are designed to recognize one specific invader — in this case, Ebola.
It’s among several treatments being developed. Just this week, researchers announced promising results with a drug that stops the virus from replicating itself and spreading inside the body.
But even as they celebrated their success, developers noted that most drugs against viruses should work better if they are given quickly. Brantly and Writebol were treated days into their infections.
It takes viruses a few days to really replicate and spread, damaging cells and organs in the process, and once this damage goes too far, it can be impossible to reverse.
“You just reach a critical point where no drug on the planet is going to protect you because the virus has already done so much damage,” says Dr. Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch, who tests some of the drugs.
“You just reach a critical point where no drug on the planet is going to protect you because the virus has already done so much damage."
While still in Liberia, Brantly also received an infusion of blood from a patient of his who had recovered from infection. It's a treatment that should work in theory, providing another patient's antibodies that have been "educated" to find and fight Ebola, but Geisbert says there's not enough research to show whether it might actually help.
And, of course, many people spontaneously recover from infections. The immune system does often win on its own. That’s why it takes a clinical trial to tell whether a drug is truly helping people to recover.
Dr. Jesse Goodman, a former top Food and Drug Administration official who is now at Georgetown University, notes that most drugs fail during experimental trials. “Furthermore, using unproven therapies during emergencies, without adequately evaluating their effectiveness, may result in misleading, even harmful conclusions," he writes in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
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And of you don’t even know the true fatality rate in an outbreak, how can you know if a drug is helping patients survive? Even drugs that look very successful in animals often fail to help people.
“Less than 10 percent of candidate drugs make it from pre-clinical selection to commercial launch,” says Dr. Annette Rid, of King’s College London, who wrote a commentary in the medical journal the Lancet Thursday.
“Although promising in non-human primates, there is no reason to believe that the experimental Ebola interventions will be more successful. In other words, it is more likely than not that the interventions will not improve symptoms for patients, and might even weaken them as they battle a life-threatening disease. Experimental Ebola treatments or vaccines should only be deployed in clinical trials, and if trials are done, they must meet ethical principles for research.”
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, says even though WHO supports the use of experimental drugs and vaccines to fight Ebola outbreaks, other medical support is far more important.
“Now that the global response to the Ebola outbreak is picking up, the international community needs more focus on strengthening of health systems and infrastructure and less on experimental treatments,” said Emanuel, who co-wrote the commentary with Rid.
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British man in James Foley video identified as 'John' - a London jihadis

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  • Jihadist 'John' filmed murdering James Foley in Islamic State video
  • Security services are close to establishing extremist Londoner's identity 
  • Former MI6 chief said he will be identified and grabbed by special forces 
  • Didier Francois - former ISIS hostage - says he can see who killer is in film
  • Also witnessed mock execution where Foley was 'crucified against wall'
  • James Foley was regularly beaten because his brother was in U.S. Force  
  • U.S. and Britain accused of putting citizens at risk by refusing ransoms  
Published: 23:26 GMT, 20 August 2014 Updated: 19:59 GMT, 21 August 2014
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A Frenchman who was held captive with murdered American journalist James Foley for months said today he has a ‘rough’ idea who his executioner is. 
Didier Francois said a video of the suspected British jihadist stirred painful memories of being chained up in the dark with Mr Foley and other ISIS hostages in Syria.
It came as a former MI6 chief said the British jihadist will be identified and the SAS will be sent to Syria to 'bring him to justice'. 
The suspect accused of murdering the reporter has been named as 'John' - one of a gang of British jihadis known as ‘The Beatles’ who are guarding western hostages for ISIS.
Mr Francois, a 53-year-old reporter with radio station Europe 1, said: ‘Recognised is a very big word, but I see roughly who it is.’ 
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Manhunt: Face of the masked British killer from the IS video who is now considered the world's most wanted man
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Didier Francois, former French hostage and journalist, as he was freed in April
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Manhunt: The face of the masked British killer from the IS video, who Didier Francois, a Frenchman held captive by him and pictured on his release in April, says has a 'rough' idea of who he is
For two-and-a-half months, Mr Francois was chained to fellow French hostages, Nicolas Henin, Edouard Elias, and Pierre Torres. They were released in April after France paid a ransom.
Mr Henin said today that Mr Foley was beaten more than any other hostage because he was an American and ISIS knew his brother was in the U.S. Air Force, and in one incident he was 'crucified against a wall', it has emerged.
The killer spoke in a distinctive English accent and his eyes and build are clearly visible in a propaganda video in which he cuts Mr Foley’s head off.
Mr Francois spent eight months with Mr Foley as a captive in Syria, enduring most of that time in underground cells with no natural light. 
Mr Francois said he had never spoken publicly about James Foley or the remaining American hostage, Steven Sotloff, before because of threats of reprisals.
Mr Francois said he was told by his captors: ‘If you make public the fact they are being held or that you were together, reprisals will follow against them. Their exact words were: “They’ll be punished”’.
Mr Foley had been singled out for beatings, said Mr Francois, after his captors found pictures on his computer of his brother, who works for the US Air Force.
He said that Mr Foley was subjected to mock executions, including one in which he was ‘crucified against a wall’.
Paying tribute to the American, Mr Francois said: ‘He was an extraordinary guy – a companion in imprisonment who was very agreeable, very solid.’
The man identified as James Foley speaks, giving a message to his family and linking his imminent death to the US government's bombing campaign of IS targets in Iraq
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The man identified as James Foley speaks, giving a message to his family and linking his imminent death to the US government's bombing campaign of IS targets in Iraq
In the video, titled A Message to America, a man who appears to be James Foley is dressed in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in desert-like terrain beside an armed man dressed in black
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In the video, titled A Message to America, a man who appears to be James Foley is dressed in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in desert-like terrain beside an armed man dressed in black
Obscene: A video uploaded on Tuesday showed the IS fighter - called 'John' - murdering Mr Foley with a knife
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Obscene: A video uploaded on Tuesday showed the IS fighter - called 'John' - murdering Mr Foley with a knife
Mr Henin became tearful said the murdered  journalist shared his food and blanket.

'JAMES WAS BEATEN MORE BECAUSE HE WAS AMERICAN', SAYS PRISONER CHAINED TO JOURNALIST

Nicolas Henin spent seven months in captivity and was released in April 
James Foley was beaten more than any other hostage because he was an American and ISIS knew his brother was in the U.S. Air Force, a fellow prisoner said today.
French journalist Nicolas Henin spent seven months in captivity with the murdered journalist in Syria, including a week handcuffed together.
Mr Henin, who was released in April this year, believes Foley was always seen as 'some kind of scapegoat' by his captors, who were led by his British killer ‘John’ – ringleader of a gang of British jihadis known as ‘The Beatles’ guarding western hostages for ISIS.
'Being an American he was probably more targeted by the kidnappers. Well, he would be beaten a bit more probably, he was some kind of scapegoat. And The kidnappers knew that his brother was in the U.S. Air Force’.
He added: ‘He became the whipping-boy of the jailers but remained unperturbed’.
Speaking about the conditions they were kept in together he said: ‘'The conditions were often quite basic and were sometimes quite difficult.
‘We were in extremely narrow rooms and were taken to the bathroom two to three times a day. For emergencies were had a few bottles and a bucket in the corner’.
Mr Henin paid tribute to his former colleague and friend, saying he had been generous with other captives if they were cold or hungry.
He said he was horrified by Mr Foley's killing, but added that he will focus on positive memories from their time together.
'I will try to just remember few, very few opportunities we had to laugh loud together - and it did happen actually a couple of times,' he said.
When asked why he was released but Mr Foley was not he said: ‘Some countries like America but also like the UK do not negotiate and, well, they put their people at risk.’
He said: 'We spent seven months in a very extreme situation together, including for one week we were handcuffed one to the other day and night.
'In circumstances where you are held captive you develop some kind of survival instincts, meaning that, for instance, you try to grab everything that you can find.
'James was the total opposite. He was so truly generous. Basically everything he could share, he would share it. If we were cold, and we were missing blankets, he would share his blanket.
'If we were starving and missing food, he would share his ration.' 
Richard Barrett, who was head of counter-terrorism for the security services at the time of 9/11, said he is convinced the murderer - now considered the world's most wanted man - will be arrested and taken back to Britain for trial 'sooner or later'.
Mr Barratt told the Today Programme: 'They will be able to identify him, although there are four or five hundred people who have gone from all over the United Kingdom many of them have made their presence there known.
'I think the community will be able recognise this person and I am sure many in the community will be keen to do so.
'I mean the intelligence community certainly but also the community from which this man comes, he will have had many acquaintances and friends in the United Kingdom and those people will wish to see him brought to justice.'
He agreed that once he is identified the course of action would likely be to send special forces to grab him.
He added: 'This is probably a relatively young man and he has a relatively long life ahead of him, perhaps, if he doesn’t get killed quickly in Iraq or Syria and therefore sooner or later he is going to be vulnerable to arrest or some sort interdiction and brought before the courts'
'I don’t think anyone is prepared to forget this sort of crime and therefore the long arm of justice will eventually catch him.' 
A massive manhunt has been launched after a former hostage said he believed the masked Islamic State maniac was a Londoner he had known as ‘John’.
The security services are also close to establishing the identity of the killer who cut James Foley’s throat in a horrific propaganda video.
Said to be a senior Islamic State operative, he was trusted earlier this year to negotiate a hostage exchange.
Yesterday, further evidence emerged of the prominent role British jihadis are playing in Iraq.
Some celebrated and joked about Mr Foley’s murder, with one woman fighter volunteering to be the next to kill a UK or US captive.
Experts warned Britons are among the most vicious of the Islamic State’s fanatics and one may have been chosen to carry out the killing because of the global impact it would have. In other developments:
  • The Foreign Secretary again warned British jihadis could return to kill here;
  • Military chiefs warned of more killings and called for Government action;
  • Barack Obama said ‘no just God would stand for what the Islamic State did’;
  • Muslim leaders were accused of failing to sufficiently condemn the terror group;
  • Mr Cameron admitted it was increasingly likely Mr Foley was killed by a Briton. 
The security services are using advanced voice recognition techniques to try to identify the murderer seen in the five-minute IS video, which has been viewed by thousands of people online.
The Briton, who uses his left hand and wears Timberland boots, speaks with what appears to be an East London accent as he makes a series of threats to President Obama and the West.
Yesterday, a man who was held in the Syrian city of Raqqa claimed the fanatic is intelligent, educated and a follower of radical Islamic teachings.
He said international hostages called ‘John’ and his fellow Britons The Beatles because they were from the UK.
Anti-terror investigators are now seeking to establish that the voice in the video is that of the man brandishing the knife before Mr Foley, rather than a voiceover.

HOW ONE IN FOUR FOREIGNERS WHO HAVE SIGNED UP FOR ISIS ARE BRITISH -  AND HALF OF THEM ARE ALREADY BACK IN THE UK

At least one in four of the estimated 2,000 foreigners fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq is British - and half of those are already back in the UK, it has emerged today.
Serious questions have been raised as to whether enough is being done to stem the flow of fighters after the Government revealed it has only seized 23 passports this year to prevent them travelling to the war zone.
The Government says there are around 500 British among the fighters while a further 250 are thought to have already returned to the UK where the police and security services are attempting to watch them. 
That means there are now almost three times as many British Muslims fighting for Islamic State than there are serving in the UK military, an MP has claimed.
But Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, told Channel 4 News the lack of border controls meant the Government’s estimates of jihadi numbers were too low. ‘I think it’s about 2,000 people,’ he added.
According to the Ministry of Defence, there are around 600 British Muslims currently serving in the Armed Forces - just 0.4 per cent of total personnel. This is far below the 4.3 per cent of the British population as a whole who are Muslim. 
Irish police also believe that 30 jihadists are using the country as a base  while travelling to and from Syria and Iraq.
French journalists Didier Francois (2ndL), former French hostage and journalist, speaks as he stands between Edouard Elias (L), Nicolas Henin (2ndR), and Pierre Torres (R)Didier Francois,  Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierwho were freed after their government agreed to a ransom
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French journalists Didier Francois (2nd left), Edouard Elias (left), Nicolas Henin (2nd right), and Pierre Torres (right ) who were freed after their government agreed to a ransom
James Foley: Tributes were paid yesterday to the 'courageous, fearless' warzone journalist
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James Foley: Tributes were paid yesterday to the 'courageous, fearless' warzone journalist
The Briton’s role as a negotiator and self-styled executioner shows the extent to which British Muslims have become embedded in IS.
Security boss: Former MI6 chief Richard Barrett says the 'Black Beatle' will be identified and caught if he is not killed in battle
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Security boss: Former MI6 chief Richard Barrett says the 'Black Beatle' will be identified and caught if he is not killed in battle
It will also raise questions as to whether enough is being done to stem the flow of UK fighters to Syria and Iraq.
The Government puts the figure at around 500 while a further 250 are thought to have already returned to the UK where the police and security services are attempting to watch them.
David Cameron this morning returned to his family holiday in Cornwall – less than 24 hours after flying back to London for emergency talks over the brutal killing.
The Prime Minister insisted he would continue to monitor the developing crisis in Iraq, but his decision to leave Downing Street will spark controversy. Mr Cameron’s Cornish break is his third holiday this year – and his fifteenth since moving into Downing Street in May 2010.
Mr Cameron is already under mounting pressure to recall Parliament over Britain’s growing involvement in the Iraqi government’s fight against Islamic State terrorists bringing mayhem to the region.
It came as President Obama's conduct attracted growing criticism after he played golf immediately after he gave a speech condemning the murder of Mr Foley.
Four minutes after leaving the podium Obama teed-off and was seen laughing with friends and fist-bumping them during a five-hour round at Farm Neck Golf Course on Martha's Vineyard - his seventh 18-holes in ten days. 
Shiraz Maher, of King’s College London’s international centre for the study of radicalisation, told the BBC that British recruits were ‘among some of the most vicious and vociferous fighters who are out there’ and ‘that is unfortunately just a part of their radicalisation’.
Messages written on Twitter by British jihadis before the release of the video appeared to suggest some had prior knowledge of the killing. 
Reyaad Khan, 20, a former college student from Cardiff who has been in Syria for several months, tweeted in advance a picture of Mr Foley’s severed head.
Nasser Muthana, 20, who travelled to Syria with Khan and his younger brother Aseel, 17, also revelled in the murder, mocking Americans for failing to protect their own.

CAMERON URGED TO CONFRONT FRANCE OVER CLAIMS IT IS FUNDING ISIS TERROR WITH UNDERHAND RANSOM PAYMENTS

David Cameron has been urged to confront French President Francois Hollande over claims the country is funding ISIS terrorists by paying ransoms to free hostages
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David Cameron has been urged to confront French President Francois Hollande over claims the country is funding ISIS terrorists by paying ransoms to free hostages
By Tom McTague, for MailOnline
David Cameron has been urged to confront French President Francois Hollande over claims the country is funding ISIS terrorists by paying ransoms to free hostages.
Britain and the United States refuse to negotiate with terrorists in an effort not to encourage further hostage taking. But this policy is being undermined by European countries negotiating secret deals to free their citizens.
Four French and three Spanish hostages were released this year after money was delivered through an intermediary, the New York Times reported today.
Kidnapping Europeans has become the main source of revenue for Al Qaeda and its spin off – the Islamic State, an investigation by the newspaper has found.
Together they have allegedly earned at least $125 million – or £75 million – in ransom payments in the past five years alone. 
Fears have been raised that European countries’ policy of secretly negotiating with terrorists is undermining the West’s response to the growing threat from ISIS.
Tory MP Andrew Rosindall, who sits on the respected Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said: ‘If they are paying ransoms hey are harming the interests of the free world and by playing the game of terrorism by paying ransom money they are funding and furthering the cause of ISIS and Al Qaeda. 
‘The French and the Spanish should really look at themselves in the mirror and ask whether this is the right thing to do.’
‘I think Parliament will be angry – and the British people will be angry. Once again it’s left to Britain and America to stand firm while other countries wobble.
French President Francois Hollande and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Four French and three Spanish hostages were released this year after money was delivered through an intermediary, the New York Times reported today
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French President Francois Hollande and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Four French and three Spanish hostages were released this year after money was delivered through an intermediary, the New York Times reported today
‘The Prime Minister should be raising this with President Hollande. The French are undermining all of us by doing this.’
A Foreign Office source admitted it was a concern for the Government. ‘It is definitely an issue,’ the source said.
‘All you can do is emphasise what we do and why we think it is right. A lot of countries won’t talk about it. Some countries will say one thing and another thing happens.’
But a former senior Cabinet minister told MailOnline that there was no point ‘tweaking the French tail’ because the UK would not get anywhere.
He added: ‘They don’t admit it. It comes out through what other people say. When you see a French President on the tarmac greeting a freed hostage you can be fairly sure they paid.’
His father, retired electrical engineer Ahmed Muthana, 57, of Cardiff, spoke of his disgust at the killing, saying: ‘Any right-thinking human being would condemn this. It is brutal and like something from the Dark Ages.
‘The video should be taken down from the internet where it will drive other Muslims to think of this like some sort of game.’
Academics yesterday voiced major concerns over the continuing circulation of the slickly edited video.
They said the footage could help radicalise British Muslims and ‘motivate’ them to support the terrorists’ cause.
And they warned the video and the use of social media to spread news of the beheading had succeeded in promoting IS’s cause to a global audience.
Rafaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at defence think-tank RUSI, said: ‘When we watch these videos, we are horrified by these sorts of acts and wonder how anyone can look at this with anything other than sheer disgust. But actually it has a motivating effect for others.
‘Some will look at this video and see the heinous act and see that they are a really serious group carrying out acts which are having a huge impact and causing world superpowers to look at them and their cause.
‘It could motivate people because they see they are a strong group making a powerful statement.’ 
'Entire world was appalled': Barack Obama said that 'no just God' would stand for Mr Foley's murder
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'Entire world was appalled': Barack Obama said that 'no just God' would stand for Mr Foley's murder
Mr Pantucci said IS was ‘very good at harnessing social media to get their message out there and attract more attention.
‘They have demonstrated their ability to manipulate social media to its maximum effect,’ he added. 
‘Unfortunately the British participation in the conflicts now raging in both Syria and Iraq has been one of full participation, one that has seen them at the front lines, taking part in the conflict in every way. 
'So we have seen British fighters out there operating as suicide bombers, we have seen them operating as executioners.’
President Obama said the US would not back down: ‘Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley.
‘No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL speaks for no religion.
'Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.’
Since the video U.S. forces have carried out 14 new strikes on IS targets near the Mosul dam despite the threat that another American hostage would be murdered. 
Special forces attempted to rescue Americans - including James Foley - held hostage by ISIS in Syria earlier this summer but failed, it was revealed today.
The mission to save the journalist and others was carried out in early July but was unsuccessful because the hostages - being held by a group of British jihadists known as 'The Beatles' - could not be found.
'This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL [also known as ISIS and IS],' the White House said in a statement last night.
'Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location.'
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: ‘We have been saying for a very long time there are significant numbers of British nationals in Syria, increasingly in Iraq.
‘One of the reasons why what is going on in Syria and Iraq is a direct threat to our own national security is the presence of a significant number of our nationals who may, at some stage, seek to come back to the UK with the skills the trade craft that they have learned working with these terrorist organisations and potentially posing a threat to our domestic security here in the UK.
'If the Islamic State, so called, becomes established in an area of Syria and Iraq, it will undoubtedly use it as a base for launching attacks on the West, it will undoubtedly send its fighters out to attack western targets.
‘Equally, if it gets pushed back, some of these people will return to their countries of origin not just the UK. We will see these people going back and carrying on their fight in our own homelands.’
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, told Channel 4 News the lack of border controls meant the Government’s estimates of jihadi numbers were too low.
‘I think it’s about 2,000 people,’ he added. ‘I said a couple of months ago about 1,500. I know there are people still going across. There are no effective controls by the UK Border Agency both on exit and return.
‘No one knows what is going on. There is a real threat to the UK. The Border Agency is not fit for purpose.’ Mr Mahmood said two jihadis had travelled to Syria from his own constituency last year but returned and were detained by the authorities.
Among those who appeared to have been inspired by the appalling murder committed by IS was London-born recruit Khadijah Dare, who vowed to become the first woman to kill a UK or US prisoner. 
Miss Dare, from Lewisham, was recently pictured with her toddler son holding an AK47 in northern Syria and is married to a Swedish Islamist fighter called Abu Bakr.
She tweeted yesterday: ‘I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terorrist!’.  
Do you know the 'Black Beatle'? Email sean.o'hare [at] mailonline.co.uk 

JIHADIS FLOOD TWITTER WITH THEIR VILE JOKES 

By Larisa Brown
As details of the horrific beheading swept across the internet, members of the Islamic State posted a flood of sickening messages on Twitter.
The fanatics, who had travelled from Britain and across the world to fight in Iraq and Syria, mercilessly joked about the murder of the innocent American journalist.
If they were not laughing, they were telling of their own desires to commit atrocities of the same barbaric nature.
Taunts: Khadijah Dare with her Swedish husband, IS fighter Abu Bakr 
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Taunts: Khadijah Dare with her Swedish husband, IS fighter Abu Bakr 
A British jihadist, Nasser Muthana, writing under the name Abul Muthanna, tweeted: ‘So America wants to protect Yazidis from genocide but can’t even protect their own citizens from getting decapitated.’
Fighting in Syria, a London-born woman, Khadijah Dare, used the name Muhajirah fi Sham to write: ‘UK must b shaking up haha. I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terrorist!’
A British woman in Syria, using the alias al-Britaniyya, wrote: ‘So the US want to bombard us with airstrikes in Iraq and not give a damn who’s killed but want to cry when a dusty journalist is killed.
‘By Allah we won’t forget our Muslim brothers and sisters who were killed by United States... the blood of a Muslim is not cheap.’
British jihadist Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff, writing under the name Abu Dujana, said: ‘A message from #IS to Obama. Withdraw or chaos will “be-heading” your way.’
A Canadian jihadist, using the name Abu Turaab al-Kanadi, said: ‘Can’t wait for the day #IS beheads the first American soldier :) #SoccerAnyone?’
Following the circulation of the murder footage, he added: ‘I guess it’s time to play soccer boys :)’ – a sick reference to the beheading of Mr Foley.
This was followed by: ‘Seeing these so called “Muslims” send condolences to James Foley’s family is disgusting. No dignity whatsoever...’
Abu Farris, another IS fighter, wrote: ‘The message the state sent to Obama is simple; don’t get involved in our war and we really are not joking. We’re ready like never before..’
Abu Muhammad wrote: ‘Obama statement in short: no negotiation,’ followed by ‘Ha, Obama just wrote the death sentence of the second guy.’
Extremists in the UK also exhibited a shocking lack of humanity.
Anjem Choudary wrote: ‘The presence of US forces in Muslim countries is a cause of instability there & a cause of insecurity back in the US. Hands off Muslim land!’

SPECIAL FORCES VOICE EXPERTS IN HUNT FOR 'LONDON' KILLER 

By David Williams, Chief Reporter 
Special Forces experts are using voice-recognition techniques to hunt down the British killer of James Foley.
The specialists are urgently trying to identify the man – who speaks with what appears to be a London accent – who beheaded Mr Foley in yesterday’s shocking video.
In the video, the masked killer gives a statement directly to the camera blaming President Barack Obama for the death of the American, who is seen dressed in a Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuit as he kneels in the sand. The man then carries out the beheading, before warning that another American hostage could be next.
Investigators are studying the video to try to establish whether the voice of the Briton delivering the IS statement is definitely that of the man shown in black who carries out the murder.
Security officials said the words may have been edited on to the video and that the man in black said nothing that was heard. Specialists believe the killer may already be on their radar after more than two years of investigations into Britons travelling to Syria and now Iraq.
The voice and tell-tale speech patterns of terror suspects and radicalised Britons – recorded and monitored in Britain and overseas – are stored and held by investigators at the Government’s Communication Centre in Cheltenham.
One clue to the killer’s identity is that he appears to be left-handed, holding the knife in that hand and wearing his rifle on his left shoulder. It is believed the murder took place in Syria where Mr Foley has been held since 2012. The photograph is being studied for possible clues as to the location.
Four French journalists and two Spaniards held for months and freed in April will also be asked if they recognise the voice. One was kept for some of his captivity in the same base as Mr Foley.

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James Foley was an ISIS 'whipping boy'

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  • Hostages held with Foley who have since been released said he was singled out for beatings because pictures of John Foley were found
  • The Frenchmen said that he was also subject to mock executions including one where he was 'crucified against a wall'
  • They added that their captivity was 'always rough and sometimes violent'
  • The journalists - who described Foley as an 'extraordinary, solid guy' were freed in April and French PM has denied ransom was paid
  • ISIS wanted $132m for the release of Foley - as Americans carry higher price 
  • Foley was forced to denounce his brother in horrific beheading video because of US airstrikes in Iraq
  • He has another brother who is serving in the military and his mother said it was these two who inspired James to go to war zones to report 
Published: 15:01 GMT, 21 August 2014 Updated: 20:04 GMT, 21 August 2014
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James Foley was singled out for the harshest treatment by his ISIS captors after they found pictures of his brother who serves in the U.S. Air Force on his laptop computer, fellow prisoners said on Thursday.
He was regularly the victim of mock executions including once when he was 'crucified against a wall,' said French journalist Didier Francois. 
Francois, 53, told Europe 1 Radio that the captors gave Foley rougher treatment from the rest of them because they discovered a picture of John Foley — the hostage's 35-year-old officer brother — on his computer. 
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Torture: Fellow prisoners revealed how James endured worse treatment and was treated like a 'whipping boy' by his captors because of his US Airman officer brother John (we have protected his image as he is a serving member of the military)
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Torture: Fellow prisoners revealed how James endured worse treatment and was treated like a 'whipping boy' by his captors because of his US Airman officer brother John (we have protected his image as he is a serving member of the military)
Giving an insight into the physical and mental torture the hostages endured at the hands of the terrorists, Francois called Foley 'one of the pillars of the group,' who 'never cracked even under the most difficult conditions'.
'He was an extraordinary guy, an extremely nice companion in detention, very solid.'
Francois described the conditions in which all the hostages were held in Syria, as always ‘rough and sometimes violent.'
'Being an American he was probably more targeted by the kidnappers. Well, he would be beaten a bit more probably, he was some kind of scapegoat' 
 - Fellow captive Nicolas Henin 
A second French hostage, Nicolas Henin, who spent seven months in captivity with Foley in Syria, including a week during which they were handcuffed together, said the American was always seen as 'some kind of scapegoat' by his captors.
'Being an American he was probably more targeted by the kidnappers. Well, he would be beaten a bit more probably, he was some kind of scapegoat,' Henin told the BBC.
'And the kidnappers knew that his brother was in the U.S. Air Force,' added Henin, who was released in April. 
'He became the whipping-boy of the jailers but remained unperturbed'.
The hostages were led by Foley's British killer ‘John’ – ringleader of gang of British jihadis known as 'The Beatles', who guarded western hostages for ISIS. Francois, 53, said he has 'a rough idea' as to the identity of the left-handed killer.
US Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into his death.
Sick propaganda: James was forced to say in the beheading video: 'Think about what you are doing. Think about the lives you destroy, including those of your own family,' before he was murdered
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Sick propaganda: James was forced to say in the beheading video: 'Think about what you are doing. Think about the lives you destroy, including those of your own family,' before he was murdered
Snatched: Foley was taken by an armed gang in Syria on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. He was then held with other journalists in terrible conditions. They spoke out about the harsh treatment Foley endured
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Snatched: Foley was taken by an armed gang in Syria on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. He was then held with other journalists in terrible conditions. They spoke out about the harsh treatment Foley endured
Foley's brother was working at the Air Force base in Grand Forks, North Dakota as a logistics officer during most of James's captivity. However, he was transferred to a post in Europe just three weeks before his brother's execution, the Air Force confirmed to MailOnline.
A third brother, Mark, is also in the military, but it was the captors' knowledge of John that led to James Foley's tough treatment.
The ISIS thugs made James, 40, read a speech immediately before he was executed in which he laid the blame for his death on recent U.S. bombings in Iraq and singled out his brother.
'Think about what you are doing. Think about the lives you destroy, including those of your own family,' Foley was made to say. 'I call on you, John. Think about who made the decision to bomb Iraq recently and kill those people, whoever they may have been.
'Think, John. Who did they really kill? And did they think about me, you and our family when they made that decision?” he asked.
'I died that day, John, when your colleagues dropped that bomb on those people, they signed my death certificate. I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed. I guess all in all, I wish I wasn’t American.'
Speaking about the conditions they were kept in together, Henin said: 'The conditions were often quite basic and were sometimes quite difficult.
'We were in extremely narrow rooms and were taken to the bathroom two to three times a day. For emergencies we had a few bottles and a bucket in the corner'.
Henin paid tribute to his former colleague and friend, saying he had been generous with other captives if they were cold or hungry.
Free: Didier Francois, (center) and Nicolas Henin (right, on the day they were released with Eduoard Elias) were freed in May. They have said that Foley was a 'solid' guy as they suffered at the hands of terrorists
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Free: Didier Francois, (center) and Nicolas Henin (right, on the day they were released with Eduoard Elias) were freed in May. They have said that Foley was a 'solid' guy as they suffered at the hands of terrorists
'Solid': Francois called Foley 'one of the pillars of the group,' who 'never cracked even under the most difficult conditions' during their horrific captivity ordeal
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'Solid': Francois called Foley 'one of the pillars of the group,' who 'never cracked even under the most difficult conditions' during their horrific captivity ordeal
Hunt: The hostages were led by Foley's British killer 'John¿ ¿ ringleader of gang of British jihadis known as 'The Beatles', who guarded western hostages for ISIS. Francois said he has 'a rough idea' as to the identity of the left-handed killer
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Hunt: The hostages were led by Foley's British killer 'John’ – ringleader of gang of British jihadis known as 'The Beatles', who guarded western hostages for ISIS. Francois said he has 'a rough idea' as to the identity of the left-handed killer
He said he was horrified by Foley's killing, but added that he will focus on positive memories from their time together.
'I will try to just remember few, very few opportunities we had to laugh loud together - and it did happen actually a couple of times,' he said.
When asked why he was released but Foley was not he said: 'Some countries like America but also like the UK do not negotiate and, well, they put their people at risk.'
ISIS had demanded a ransom of $132 million for the release of Foley, a spokesman for GlobalPost told NBC, the Boston-based website that Foley was reporting on when he was captured. 
Philip Balboni, the CEO and co-founder of GlobalPost, told MailOnline the ransom was considerably higher than for European captives 'purely because he was an American.'
He said members of the Foley family, who live in Rochester, New Hampshire, were attempting to raise the money right up to the last minute after receiving an email from ISIS on Wednesday of last week saying the group planned to carry out the execution.
'We were hopeful right up to 4.30 pm on Tuesday when the execution video started to break,' he said. 'It was our belief that we would be able to re-open negotiations to secure Jim's release.'
It was the Foley family's military history that first got Jim, the oldest of the four brothers to get involved in reporting from the world's most troubled spots, his father, also called John, revealed on Wednesday.
'One of the reasons he was drawn to conflict journalism was because of his brothers in the military,' he said. 'One of his first assignments was to Afghanistan where his Air Force brother was stationed. He wanted to learn what was happening at the human level.'
Ransom: ISIS demanded a staggering $132m ransom for the return of Foley. Philip Balboni, the CEO and co-founder of GlobalPost, the Boston-based website that Foley was reporting for when he was captured told MailOnline it was considerably higher than for European captives 'purely because he was an American
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Ransom: ISIS demanded a staggering $132m ransom for the return of Foley. Philip Balboni, the CEO and co-founder of GlobalPost, the Boston-based website that Foley was reporting for when he was captured told MailOnline it was considerably higher than for European captives 'purely because he was an American
Failed mission: Obama authorized a raid on an address in Syria (ISIS militants pictured on the frontline) on July 4 but after a firefight, special forces discovered Foley and other hostages were not there
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Failed mission: Obama authorized a raid on an address in Syria (ISIS militants pictured on the frontline) on July 4 but after a firefight, special forces discovered Foley and other hostages were not there
John Foley Sr., a 66-year-old doctor, said his murdered son had also been embedded with the Indiana National Guard during a tour of duty in Iraq.
'He wrote articles that would humanize the soldiers for local newspapers. The parents were so grateful.'
Jim Foley was abducted on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 while working in Syria for GlobalPost.
Foley disappeared on Thanksgiving Day 2012 where he was working close to the Turkish border. 
Fellow photojournalist Nicole Tung told the New York Times he was normally calm but had been 'rattled' after he was nearly hit by a tank shell. The two of them decided to move into Turkey for a few days but Foley failed to show up as planned.
Tung said she called his cellphone and eventually reached his translator. The man told her Foley had gone to an Internet cafe to file his pictures when armed men sped up behind him and forced him out of his car at gunpoint.
I was sitting on the bed, in this depressing, dark hotel; the fact that the fixer answered the phone — when Jim was not answering his — was the cue that something had gone terribly wrong 
 - Foley's friend Nicole Tung 
'I was sitting on the bed, in this depressing, dark hotel; the fact that the fixer answered the phone — when Jim was not answering his — was the cue that something had gone terribly wrong,' Tung said.
American special forces attempted this summer to rescue Foley - and other hostages including Time magazine freelance Steven Sotloff, who the black-clad killer paraded before the camera after executing Foley - the White House revealed Wednesday. But after a firefight, the mission failed as the hostages were not where they had been expected.
Lisa Monaco, President Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, said the president authorized the mission because the U.S. 'had what we believed was sufficient intelligence.'
'It was the national security team's assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in custody,' she said.
He had not been heard from until ISIS released the brutal video which showed a black-clad man, seemingly with a British accent, put a knife to the journalist's neck. 
Inspiration: Diane and John Foley Snr., told reporters outside their home in New Hampshire on Wednesday how James was inspired to report in war zones because of his brothers in the military
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Inspiration: Diane and John Foley Snr., told reporters outside their home in New Hampshire on Wednesday how James was inspired to report in war zones because of his brothers in the military
Devastated: Mr and Mrs Foley revealed they had tried to talk James out of going into harm's way after he was abducted but released in Libya in 2011
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Devastated: Mr and Mrs Foley revealed they had tried to talk James out of going into harm's way after he was abducted but released in Libya in 2011
Dr. Foley said GlobalPost had spent a 'staggering amount' of money in a search for his son. He said he doubted the family would ever be able to recover Jim's body.
He said Jim had first become interested in the plight of the poor while at Marquette University in Milwaukee where he volunteered to work among the city's underprivileged.
'He was appalled that he had lived such a privileged life,' the older Foley said as he stood on the front lawn of his well-appointed four-bedroom home. 'He was seeing the other side'.
There is a fourth son, Michael, who is not in the military. 'I'm the boring one,' he said as he stood with his parents talking to reporters. But his mother said it was Michael who led the campaign to get Jim freed after he was captured in Libya in 2011. He was held captive by forces loyal to former leader Muammar Gaddafi for 44 days.
Dr Foley said that when his son said he planned to return to the Middle East warzones, there was a feeling of despair in the family. 'There were many instances when we thought "how could you do this to us?" ' he said. 'We tried to talk to him about it, Jim had so many gifts he could have used.'
His wife, Diane said Jim just said, 'Mom, this is my passion, my vocation.'
President Barack Obama spoke to the Foleys on Wednesday before both he and the family made public statements. Obama said the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder.
'No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day,' he added. 

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Three senior Hamas leaders killed in Israeli air strike

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  • Hamas leaders Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar killed in strike in town of Rafah
  • Considered to be senior figures in military wing and were involved in several high-profile attacks on Israeli targets
  • Hamas warned foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv airport from 6am (4am BST) in a bid to disrupt air traffic
Published: 08:41 GMT, 21 August 2014 Updated: 19:24 GMT, 21 August 2014
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Thousands of Palestinians marched through Gaza today firing guns, waving flags of different militant groups and chanting religious slogans in a funeral procession for three Hamas military leaders who were killed in an Israeli air strike.
The bodies of Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar were carried aloft through the crowd on stretchers wrapped in green Hamas flags. 
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said Israel 'will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weaken the resistance', adding that their enemies 'will pay the price.'
A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Force countered by claiming that Hamas militants had fired more than 300 rockets since the end of the ceasfire two days ago.
Outpouring of emotion: Palestinians carry the bodies of three senior Hamas commanders who were killed in an Israeli air strike during their funeral in Rafah
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Outpouring of emotion: Palestinians carry the bodies of three senior Hamas commanders who were killed in an Israeli air strike during their funeral in Rafah
Fury: Hamas supporters attend the funeral of three senior military commanders - Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar - in Rafah
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Fury: Hamas supporters attend the funeral of three senior military commanders - Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar - in Rafah
Show of solidarity: Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets firing guns, waving flags of different militant groups and chanting religious slogans
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Show of solidarity: Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets firing guns, waving flags of different militant groups and chanting religious slogans
Up in arms: Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said Israel 'will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weaken the resistance'
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Up in arms: Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said Israel 'will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weaken the resistance'
Laid to rest: A team of Palestinian first responders carry the body of one of three commanders into a cemetery for the burial
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Laid to rest: A team of Palestinian first responders carry the body of one of three commanders into a cemetery for the burial
Taken out: A picture showing Raed al-Attar (left) and Mohammed Abu Shamaleh (centre), who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. The third man (right) is Osama Abu Atah. The three men are pictured in a Palestinian Authority Court in Gaza in 1999
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Taken out: A picture showing Raed al-Attar (left) and Mohammed Abu Shamaleh (centre), who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. The third man (right) is Osama Abu Atah. The three men are pictured in a Palestinian Authority Court in Gaza in 1999
The pre-dawn strike levelled a four-story house in a densely populated neighborhood of the southern town of Rafah, killing six people, including the three senior Hamas commanders.
Israel said the trio had played a key role in expanding Hamas's military capabilities in recent years, including digging attack tunnels leading to Israel, training fighters and smuggling weapons to Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the 'superior intelligence' of the Shin Bet security service and the military's 'precise execution' of the attack. 
An Israeli defense official said that tens of thousands of reserve soldiers would be called up for duty later today.
Sorrow: The wife of Raed al-Attar (centre) attends her husband's funeral and those of the other two senior Hamas leaders killed in the air strike
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Sorrow: The wife of Raed al-Attar (centre) attends her husband's funeral and those of the other two senior Hamas leaders killed in the air strike
Despair: A Palestinian man mourns the death of their relative Rami Abu Nahel who was killed in an Israeli military strike in Gaza
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Despair: A Palestinian man mourns the death of their relative Rami Abu Nahel who was killed in an Israeli military strike in Gaza
Grieving: Palestinian women mourn the deaths of members of the Al-Reafi family who died in an Israeli air strike in Gaza
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Grieving: Palestinian women mourn the deaths of members of the Al-Reafi family who died in an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Agony: Palestinians mourn the deaths of three children who medics say were killed in an Israeli air strike
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Agony: Palestinians mourn the deaths of three children who medics say were killed in an Israeli air strike
About 2,000 reservists who were sent home about two weeks ago, when the violence appeared to have subsided, were called back for service yesterday.
Earlier, Israel's Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv was placed on high alert following a warning by Hamas that it would be targeted.
In a televised address late on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades had warned foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv from 6am (0400 BST) in a bid to disrupt air traffic. 
But all flights were operating normally early today, officials said.
More destruction: Palestinian emergency services dig through the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli military strike in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip
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More destruction: Palestinian emergency services dig through the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli military strike in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip
Destroyed: Palestinians sift through rubble in Rafah, where Islamic militant group Hamas said three of its senior military leaders were killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
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Destroyed: Palestinians sift through rubble in Rafah, where Islamic militant group Hamas said three of its senior military leaders were killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Ofer Lefler, spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), told the AFP news agency that flights had been disrupted for a brief 10-minute pause but aside from that, everything was operating normally. 
'There has been no change to take offs or landings. Flights were interrupted for 10 minutes for security reasons but I cannot give any details on that,' he said. 
The strike near Rafah, a town in the southern part of the coastal territory, was one of 20 the Israeli military said it carried out after midnight on Wednesday.
Gaza police and medical officials said scores more people remained under the rubble of a four-story structure destroyed in the airstrike. 
Blitzed: Six people were killed in the Rafah strike and dozens of others remain trapped in the rubble of a four-storey building targeted by Israel
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Blitzed: Six people were killed in the Rafah strike and dozens of others remain trapped in the rubble of a four-storey building targeted by Israel
A Palestinian militant holds his weapon during a protest against Israeli operations on the Gaza strip in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin
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Targeted: Smoke rises from an air force strike in a residential area in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli jets fired at 20 targets overnight, a military spokeswoman said
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Up in arms: Palestinian militants (left) hold weapons aloft during a protest against Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza strip (right) in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin
The three Hamas leaders are considered to be at the senior levels of its military leadership and were involved in a number of high profile attacks on Israeli targets. 
Their deaths are likely to be a major blow to the organisation's morale and a significant scoop for Israeli intelligence.
The Israeli security agency Shin Bet confirmed the deaths of Shamaleh and al-Attar in an email, but did not mention Barhoum.
The strikes followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo aimed at producing a long-term truce and a future roadmap for Gaza after more than a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas-led Islamic militants.
The Gaza war has so far killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.
Palestinian health official Ashraf Al-Kidra put the number of those missing at the site of eh Rafah airstrike in the 'dozens.'
Carnage: Gaza police and medical officials said scores more people remained under the rubble of a four-story structure destroyed in the airstrike
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Carnage: Gaza police and medical officials said scores more people remained under the rubble of a four-story structure destroyed in the airstrike
The strikes followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo aimed at producing a long-term truce and a roadmap for Gaza after more than a month of fighting
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The strikes followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo aimed at producing a long-term truce and a roadmap for Gaza after more than a month of fighting
Elsewhere, another Israeli airstrike killed a 27-year-old man in central Gaza identified as Jomma Anwar Mayar, police said. 
Israel also hit at smuggling tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt and at agricultural lands west of Rafah in the latest airstrikes.
Israel says the airstrikes are in response to a resumption of Hamas rocket fire that on Tuesday scuttled a six-day cease-fire. 
The military says that only one rocket launch was registered since midnight, compared to more than 210 over the previous 30 hours.
On Wednesday, in the most spectacular Israeli strike since the cease-fire was breached, Hamas's shadowy military chief, Mohammed Deifm, was the object of an apparent assassination attempt that killed his wife and infant son.
After remaining quiet for most of the day Wednesday, Hamas officials announced that Deif was not in the targeted home at the time and was still alive. Deif has survived multiple assassination attempts, lives in hiding and is believed to be paralyzed from previous attempts on his life.
In a nationally televised address Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed little willingness to return to the negotiating table after six weeks of war with Hamas.
'We are determined to continue the campaign with all means and as is needed,' he said, his defense minister by his side. 'We will not stop until we guarantee full security and quiet for the residents of the south and all citizens of Israel.'
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed 'deep regret' over the breaking of the cease-fire. 
Grounded: Planes sit on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv following a warning by Hamas that they will target the site in a bid to disrupt air traffic
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Grounded: Planes sit on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv following a warning by Hamas that they will target the site in a bid to disrupt air traffic
On alert: A sign directing passengers to a shelter is placed at Ben Gurion International airport, which Hamas warned would be targeted
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On alert: A sign directing passengers to a shelter is placed at Ben Gurion International airport, which Hamas warned would be targeted
On guard: A security officer leads a dog as they patrol the entrance of Ben Gurion International airport, near the Mediterranean Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv
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On guard: A security officer leads a dog as they patrol the entrance of Ben Gurion International airport, near the Mediterranean Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv
It said in a statement Wednesday that it 'continues bilateral contacts' with both sides aimed at restoring calm and securing a lasting truce that 'serves the interest of the Palestinian people, especially in relation to the opening of the crossings and reconstruction.'
An Egyptian compromise proposal calls for easing the Gaza blockade but not lifting it altogether or opening the territory's air and seaports, as Hamas has demanded.
While the plan does not require Hamas to give up its weapons, it would give Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were ousted by Hamas, a foothold back in Gaza running border crossings and overseeing internationally backed reconstruction.
The Gaza blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.
Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas and other militant groups from getting weapons. Critics say the measures amount to collective punishment.

HOW MUCH OF A ROLE DID QATAR PLAY IN THE GAZA PEACE TALKS COLLAPSE?

The explosions rocking the Gaza Strip may seem far removed from the flashy cars and skyscrapers of ultra-rich Qatar, but efforts to end fighting between Hamas and Israel could hinge on how the tiny Gulf Arab state wields its influence over a Palestinian militant group with few friends left.
Qatar has been home to Hamas chief-in-exile Khaled Mashaal since 2012 and has carved out a role as a key financial patron for Gaza, buying influence while shoring up an economy overseen by Hamas.
That support is prompting accusations that Qatar helped scuttle a lasting truce in the monthlong Gaza war, piling on pressure as the U.S. ally finds itself increasingly isolated as larger Mideast powers marginalize Islamists following the Arab Spring.
An official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement suggested Wednesday that Qatar torpedoed the peace talks. After signs of progress last week, Hamas negotiators returned to the table after consultations in Qatar with new conditions — prompting a similar response by Israel, he said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly, said the experience indicated the Qataris 'have no interest' in seeing Egyptian-led talks succeed, and that Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood are working together to undermine Egypt.
The London-based pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat separately quoted a senior Fatah official saying Qatar threatened to expel Mashaal if Hamas accepted an Egyptian peace proposal. 
It said Hamas demanded that Egypt grant Qatar a role in resolving the Gaza crisis, but Cairo rejected the idea until Qatar formally apologizes for its policies in Egypt since the military overthrow of Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi last summer.
Qatari officials could not be reached to comment on the claims. A Qatar-based spokesman for Hamas dismissed the Al-Hayat report as baseless and said it was an attempt to sabotage the negotiations.
'This is nonsense ... The nature of relations between Qatar and Hamas are not like that,' Hamas spokesman Husam Badran told The Associated Press.
Khaled al-Batsch, a representative of the Islamic Jihad militant group, also denied Qatari interference. 'We never felt at any point that there was a Qatari presence in the talks,' he said.
An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists, said he did not know if Qatar actively encouraged Hamas to take a hard line, but said Qatar was at least indirectly responsible for the talks' failure.
'Qatar unfortunately has been part of the problem. They are the major supporter of Hamas,' the Israeli official said.
Qatar at one point allowed an Israeli trade office to operate there — a rarity in the Arab world — before ordering it closed following a 2008 Israeli conflict with Hamas.
The outpost's former head, Eli Avidar, told the AP that he believes Qatar has 'enormous influence' over Hamas and has been pushing Mashaal to take a much more extreme position in negotiations.
'Right now Qatar is the main problem and definitely not part of the solution,' he wrote in an email.
'The ruling family in Qatar should understand that this is a dangerous game their emir is playing.'
But in a development reflecting both Qatar's significance and influence over Hamas, the Gulf country's news agency reported that Abbas arrived Wednesday in Doha, where he was due to hold talks with Mashaal and the emir.
It is hardly the first time Qatar has been accused of taking an unpopular stance in the region.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in March, saying it failed to uphold its end of a security agreement to stop meddling in other nations' politics and backing groups threatening regional stability. Analysts widely saw that as a rebuke of Qatar's support for Islamist groups and its activist foreign policy, including its backing of the Al-Jazeera satellite network, which has nettled governments across the region.
Qatar's leaders reject suggestions that they are behind Hamas, and insist that the Gaza funding is intended for those who live there.
'Qatar does not support Hamas. Qatar supports the Palestinians,' Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah told CNN in late July.
The former Qatari emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has at least publicly attempted to promote reconciliation between Hamas and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank. He brokered an interim unity government between Abbas and Hamas in early 2012, but that was never implemented.
Before the year was out, the emir traveled to Gaza, becoming the first head of state to visit the seaside territory since Hamas militants seized control in 2007. He launched more than $400 million worth of projects, including plans for housing, a hospital and roads, and called for Palestinian unity.
Khalil Shaheen, a political analyst in Ramallah, suggested the idea that Qatar is solely in Hamas' camp is overblown. He said it has also provided funding for Abbas' government and has not tried to tie its Gaza aid to Hamas' military activities.
'There never was a real crisis between Qatar and the Palestinian Authority even during the worst times between Fatah and Hamas,' Shaheen said.
He said Qatar wanted a role in the ceasefire talks based on its good relations with Hamas and to show that Egypt is 'not the only dominant player in the region.'
For the U.S., Qatar plays a role that it often can't by acting as a go-between with groups deemed unsavory by Washington. It earlier this year brokered the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban operatives in Afghanistan.
U.S. State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf described the Qataris as 'a key partner' in the effort to forge a peace deal in Gaza earlier this week, before talks collapsed. Responding to questions about whether they support terrorism and Hamas, she said they play a key role in getting Hamas to agree to a cease-fire.
'We need countries that have leverage over the leaders of Hamas who can help get a cease-fire in place, and Qatar certainly plays that role,' she said.

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Ukraine's Poroshenko talks tough ahead of meetings with Merkel, Putin

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he would call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to rein in pro-Russian separatists when the two men meet next week and told the Kremlin chief he had "a strong country, a strong army" behind him.
Poroshenko spoke as government forces, despite taking heavy losses themselves, thrust deeper into rebel-held territory in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east and kept the separatists whom they have battled since April on the back foot.
The Ukrainian battlefield successes, after a faltering start in April when government forces were humiliated, have alarmed some Western governments who fear they could box Putin dangerously into a corner with no way out to save face.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to visit Kiev on Saturday to show her support for Poroshenko - but diplomats say she is also bearing a message that he should consider calling a ceasefire so as not to incur a backlash from Putin.
Poroshenko, who will oversee emotion-charged Independence Day celebrations on Sunday in Kiev in which veterans from the eastern front will take part in a military parade, talked tough on Thursday.
Indicating he too had a political image to defend at home, he told local journalists that in talks in Belarus's capital of Minsk next Tuesday, at which he will meet Putin, he would "call for the (rebel) fighters to be withdrawn from Ukraine".
"I am sure we will succeed in this," he said.
Kiev, supported by the United States and European allies, says Russia has orchestrated the separatists' rebellions in the Russian-speaking east, and armed them. Moscow denies this.
STEADY DRIP OF DEATHS
At the table in Minsk will also be Putin's partners in the Russian-led Customs Union, which beckoned unsuccessfully to Kiev to join, and a three-person delegation from the European Union, with which the new Kiev leadership sees Ukraine's future.
It will be the first meeting between Poroshenko and Putin since a frosty encounter in June in Normandy, France, and has raised prospects of a breakthrough to end a months-long geo-political confrontation as Ukraine has favored integration into mainstream Europe to the dismay of its former Soviet ruler.
The steady drip of government losses continued, with a military spokesman saying 16 members of Ukraine's interior ministry special forces had been killed in fighting overnight in the town of Ilovaisk near the main regional hub of Donetsk.
But Poroshenko said defiantly: "In order to have solid positions in peace negotiations, we have to be strong, to have the unity of the people, a strong country, a strong army."
"We are capable of defending our sovereignty, our independence and our territorial integrity. Today we are fighting for the independence of Ukraine. Together we will win for sure," he added.
Poroshenko went about preparing for a new election in October which he and others in the pro-Europe leadership hope will get rid of 'old guard' deputies in the pay of the former Moscow-backed president and produce a new coalition capable of pushing through basic reform and purging a system of corruption and cronyism.
It was the ousting of then-President Viktor Yanukovich in February by street protests that caused a backlash from the Kremlin leading to Moscow's annexation of Crimea and the pro-Russian rebellion in the east.
Poroshenko said he would soon announce the dissolution of parliament - possibly as soon as Sunday - paving the way for an October election.
"I will be guided by the desire of the Ukrainian people. They want a 'reboot', they want a purging (of the system). The elections will be the best form for a purging," he said.
CONVOY STILL STUCK
A convoy of Russian humanitarian aid to the beleaguered city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine remained stuck in no man's land at the border with Ukraine on Thursday, though Ukrainian border guards said they had begun to inspect it.
The convoy of 260 trucks set out from the Moscow region early last week, but Kiev, suspicious that it could be a covert operation to somehow help the rebels, has insisted on scrupulous border formalities before allowing anything to come into Ukraine under supervision of the Red Cross.
It was not clear when the trucks would be authorized to enter Ukrainian territory. The border crossing point at Izvaryne is under rebel control.
Government forces, despite big losses in men and planes by separatists whom they say are armed with tanks, missiles and other heavy weaponry from Moscow, pressed forward on Thursday, a military spokesman said.
It said the loss of the 16 interior ministry special forces members at Ilovaisk was serious.
"It represents 25 percent of all deaths in the special forces throughout the entire anti-terrorist operation. This shows quite how fierce fighting is there," interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said in a post on Facebook.
"According to commanders, in Ilovaisk they're fighting against well-trained Russian mercenaries," he said.
Elsewhere, three refugees including a five-year-old child were killed when rebel gunfire hit their car as they fled the rebel stronghold of Luhansk, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.
The United Nations says the fighting has claimed more than 2,000 lives on both sides.
(Additional reporting by Dmitry Madorsky; Natalia Zinets and Alessandra Prentice in Kiev; Writing by Richard Balmforth)
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The Top Secret Family Life of Vladimir Putin

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Russian president Vladimir Putin lives his life in the ceaseless glare of the world’s regard. At work and on holiday, he is surrounded by a loyal gaggle of Kremlin pool journalists, TV cameras and photographers. Russia’s nightly news bulletins invariably lead with news of his daily activities. Yet he has succeeded in keeping his immediate family out of the spotlight with a fanatical thoroughness worthy of a KGB special operation.
No confirmed photographs exist of Putin’s two daughters, 29-year-old Maria, nicknamed Masha, and 28-year-old Ekaterina, known as Katya, as adults. The girls attended a university in Russia under false names; even their classmates were unaware of their real identity.
And when, in the aftermath of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, a Dutch tabloid claimed that Masha was living in the Netherlands with her Dutch partner, packs of reporters and protesters who flocked to her alleged residence were unable to find her—or anyone who knew her. Pieter Broertjes, mayor of Hilversum, Netherlands, called for Masha to be deported (he later retracted the statement), and Ukrainian protesters picketed outside the luxury apartment block where they were said to have lived. But the couple were long gone—if they were ever really there at all.
The veil of secrecy that surrounds the Putins is rigorously enforced by the Kremlin. Journalists who violate the taboo of reporting on the private life of Russia’s first family are dealt with swiftly and summarily. In 2008, when the liberal newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent reported that Putin was planning to marry a rhythmic gymnast named Alina Kabayeva, the editor was forced to resign within hours. According to fired editor Grigory Nekhoroshev, the paper’s proprietor, Evgeny Lebedev—a billionaire financier who owns the Evening Standard and The Independent in London—initially promised to stand by his journalists before receiving a call from “a senior figure from the presidential administration.” Lebedev took the hint, and Moskovsky Korrespondent never appeared again.
Asked about his relationship with Kabayeva at a press conference in Sardinia, Italy, Putin made it abundantly clear that inquiries into his private life were off-limits. “I am, of course, aware of the cliché that politicians live in glass houses,” Putin said, “but even in these cases, there must be some limits.… I always disliked people who go around with their erotic fantasies, sticking their snot-ridden noses into another person’s life.” Then–Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, who was standing beside Putin, jokingly pretended to shoot the Russian journalist who had asked the question.
The message couldn’t be more clear. “Putin is an extremely private person,” says one former Kremlin pool reporter, who now works for a state-owned news agency and asked not to be named. “We would gossip with his aides all the time, of course. But the family was never discussed.… It was an unwritten rule. The family life of the first person [Putin] was always kept secret.”
In three years working in the Kremlin pool and traveling extensively with Putin between 2009 and 2012, the journalist saw Putin’s then-wife Lyudmila just once and his daughters never. German documentary filmmaker Hubert Seipel, who was given unprecedented access to Putin in 2010 and 2011 for his award-winning film Ich, Putin, spent hundreds of hours with the Russian leader—but he, too, never saw Putin’s children. One explicit condition of Seipel’s access was that he would not reveal anything about the Russian leader’s private life. “He is very sensitive, and I promised him not to expose very much about his family,” Seipel said after the film’s premiere.
Only the barest details of Putin’s family life have been officially confirmed. He met his future wife, Lyudmila, an Aeroflot stewardess, through mutual friends in 1980. They went on a blind double date to a theater in 1980; she told an interviewer in 2000 that Putin was “poorly dressed” and “very unprepossessing. I wouldn’t have paid any attention to him on the street.” But Putin persisted, and they married in 1983.
Masha, born in Leningrad in April 1985, was named after Putin’s mother. Katya was born in August 1986 in Dresden, Germany, where her father was on assignment for the KGB. Both girls attended the German-language Friedrich Haass German International School when they moved back to Moscow in 1996, and they then went to St. Petersburg State University, where Masha studied biology and Katya majored in Asian studies.
The girls have given only one interview—when their father was appointed acting president in 2000 after the ailing Boris Yeltsin resigned from his post in Putin’s favor. The transcript, published in a collection of interviews with Putin, his family and friends called First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, is a snapshot of the Putin family just as they entered the bubble of power and anonymity they have inhabited ever since.
In the book, 14-year-old Katya complains that they have been taken out of school—now teachers come to the family home to teach her. “We have guards when we go to the movies,” Katya told journalists Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova and Andrei Kolesnikov, who interviewed the family at their dacha.
“There’s a guy who sits there watching the movie, but I think he’s guarding us at the same time,” said Katya. “Usually, we don’t even notice the bodyguards. Even when we go somewhere with our friends, they stay nearby, but they try not to get in the way. We’ve called them over to drink coffee with us a thousand times, but they don’t want to.”
Katya says she “flipped out when I heard that Papa was going to become acting president. When Mama told me this, I thought she was joking. Then I realized that she wouldn’t joke about such a thing.”
Lyudmila says she “cried for a whole day” when she heard the news of her husband’s appointment, “because I realized that our private life was over.” Already, the girls saw their father “more often on television than at home. But he always goes in to see them, no matter what time he gets home,” Lyudmila said. “He really loves the girls a lot. Not all men treat their girls as lovingly as he does. And he spoils them. I’m the one who has to discipline them.” The journalists asked if the girls could wrap Papa around their little fingers. “Nobody can wrap Papa around their little finger” was Lyudmila’s reply.
As for their career plans, “Masha pronounces the English word management very seriously, and Katya says that she’d like to be a furniture designer,” Lyudmila said. The girls enjoy skiing; their favorite film at the time was The Matrix. They like nice clothes, and they are “very slim.” That was in 2000—the last public word Putin or his wife ever spoke about their children.
In the 14 years since, the girls’ lives have been enveloped in secrecy—broken very occasionally by unsubstantiated rumors. In 2002, the girls were reported to be holidaying in Sardinia with Berlusconi’s daughter Barbara. In 2010 a South Korean paper reported that Katya was about to marry the son of a Korean admiral who had been posted to Moscow.
The same year, Masha’s reported boyfriend, Jorrit Faassen, an executive of Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom and Stroytransgaz, a pipeline manufacturer, hit the headlines when it was reported he had been assaulted by the bodyguards of a banker, Matvei Urin, in a road rage incident in central Moscow. The Kremlin’s revenge was swift: Urin’s business was dismantled and Urin jailed for fraud. Masha and Faassen couple left Russia soon after and began living a quiet life in Voorschoten, Netherlands, a suburb of The Hague.
One explanation for why Putin is so fanatically protective of his daughters is that he spent much of his early career in the courts of two wildly dysfunctional political families—that of his first post-KGB boss, St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, and later that of Boris Yeltsin. The behavior of Sobchak’s wife, Lyudmila Narusova, and his daughter, Xenia, “disgusted Putin and undermined the team,” says Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin. “They were seen with unseemly people, they attended parties with Mafia figures. Their tawdry behavior horrified him.”
Later, Putin saw how Yeltsin was also strongly manipulated by his two daughters and their hangers-on—the so-called Yeltsin family, which included oligarchs Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich. “So much of Putin is about being different from Yeltsin,” says Judah. “He remembers the shameless family politics of [Yeltsin’s son-in-law Valentin] Yumashev and Berezovsky and is determined to avoid the same fate.”
In addition to keeping his daughters out of the spotlight, Putin is keeping them out of politics—partly for their own good, partly for his. Putin’s fellow strongmen in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have both run into problems with their politically ambitious daughters.
The disappearing Putin daughters speak volumes about the kind of country Russia has become under his rule. Putin has never stood for a competitive election, so he has never had to parade his family before the media like Western politicians. And since there’s no political opposition, there is no one to call him out on the hypocrisy of championing family values while keeping his family deep in the shadows. Irene Pietsch, a German friend of Madame Putin, says Lyudmila’s marriage was loveless. “He doesn’t drink or beat me up,” Pietsch says Lyudmila told her. But he is “a vampire who has sucked the juices out of me.”
Putin has made bringing Russia’s media under strict Kremlin control a key plank of his rule—meaning that no mainstream media organization in Russia has ever dared to investigate the first family. Even when Putin announced a “civilized divorce” from Lyudmila in June 2013, state television dutifully reported the story for a day—then dropped all mention of the former first lady as though she had never existed.
She’d spent 30 years in the shadows. After the divorce, all mention of Lyudmila was erased from the Kremlin website, and she was relegated to utter obscurity. By law she could be entitled to up to half of Putin’s official salary of $102,000—but no details of the divorce settlement have been made public. Putin has created a Russia where people can, just like in the old days, simply be Photoshopped out of history.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the gymnast who newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent reported Putin was planning to marry. It was Alina Kabayeva, 
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Iran says wants progress in nuclear talks before action on Islamic State

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PARIS/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran is ready to do something to help tackle Islamic State insurgents in Iraq but first wants progress in negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
  
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What it will take to beat ISIS

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"We need long-term to take out ISIS' leadership, to degrade their operational capabilities, to cut off their financing sources, to go after them in a comprehensive way to cut off their ability to do the things we've seen them do."
    

Who else has ISIS threatened?

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When freelance journalist Steven Sotloff disappeared during a reporting trip to Syria in August 2013, his family kept the news a secret. Families of hostages are frequently advised to do this by security firms, and news organizations are sometimes willing to cooperate.
    

'Ambiguous warfare' providing NATO with new challenge

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Since Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, NATO has been publicly refocusing on its old Cold War foe Moscow. The threats it now believes it faces, however, are distinctly different to those of the latter half of the 20th century.