Mattis Backs Geneva Process on Syrian Conflict

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a joint news conference in New Delhi, India September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a joint news conference in New Delhi, India September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
TT

Mattis Backs Geneva Process on Syrian Conflict

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a joint news conference in New Delhi, India September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a joint news conference in New Delhi, India September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday that he supported diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the Syria conflict, as America and its partners look beyond the defeat of the ISIS terrorist group in the war-torn nation.

Heading into a week of meetings with Nordic countries and allies across Europe, Mattis said the main question from US allies is: what comes next? And he said the key is to get the peace process on track.

“We’re trying to get this into the diplomatic mode so we can get things sorted out,” said Mattis, who will meet with NATO defense ministers later this week. “and make certain (that) minorities — whoever they are — are not just subject to more of what we’ve seen” under Syrian President Bashar Assad until now.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his arrival for talks in Finland on Monday, Mattis said intelligence assessments -- based primarily on the numbers of jihadists who have surrendered, deserted or been wounded -- showed that "the whole bottom was dropping out" of ISIS.

He said he backed a UN-sponsored effort in Geneva, which has run in parallel to a Russian and Iranian-led process, to reach a diplomatic solution.

The fight against ISIS jihadists in Iraq and Syria is not over, but they have sustained a string of major defeats and lost most of the territory they once held.

US allies are anxious for clear guidance from Washington about its plans in Syria once ISIS is crushed.

Mattis was traveling to Finland to kick off a week of talks with regional allies and NATO partners that will focus on security issues, including ISIS and Russia's increased military assertiveness.

Mattis's Helsinki visit also spotlights the workings of the so-called Northern Group, a little-known forum of 12 European nations that focuses on the continent's military and security challenges, particularly those coming from the east.

The trip "is an opportunity to reiterate that we stand by our friends' democracies, NATO and otherwise in Europe, if any nation including Russia seeks to undermine the rules-based international order," Mattis said.

"We do have a lot of shared values about sovereignty," he added.

Though Finland and Sweden are not NATO members, they cooperate closely with the 28-member alliance.

Moscow frequently sends warplanes into the skies around the Baltics and Europe remains anxious about Russia's military intentions, especially after the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The Northern Group comprises Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Britain.



Radical Preacher Anjem Choudary Convicted Again in UK

Anjem Choudary speaks at a rally outside London's Regents Park mosque in April 2015 (AP)
Anjem Choudary speaks at a rally outside London's Regents Park mosque in April 2015 (AP)
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Radical Preacher Anjem Choudary Convicted Again in UK

Anjem Choudary speaks at a rally outside London's Regents Park mosque in April 2015 (AP)
Anjem Choudary speaks at a rally outside London's Regents Park mosque in April 2015 (AP)

Radical British preacher Anjem Choudary was found guilty Tuesday by a London jury of directing a terrorist group.

Born in the UK to parents of Pakistani descent, Choudary, 56, was convicted in London of directing the banned organization, al-Muhajiroun, or ALM, for a significant period of time from 2014 and for drumming up support for the group.

ALM was outlawed by the British government in 2010 as a group involved in committing, preparing for or promoting terrorism.

Choudary also encouraged support for the group by addressing online meetings of the Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS), the US branch of the group based in New York, prosecutors claimed.

Rebecca Weiner, NYPD deputy commissioner in charge of intelligence and counterterrorism, described Choudary as a “shameless, prolific radicalizer.” She called the case historic.
“It is usually the foot soldiers, the individuals who are brought into the network who go on to commit the attacks who are brought to justice. And it’s rarely the leader, which is what makes this a particularly important moment,” Weiner said.

Choudary, who was detained in east London on July 17 last year, will be sentenced on July 30.

During his trial, the radical British preacher said the ITS does not exist and that al-Muhajiroun organization was dismantled in 2004.

Londonistan

Choudary acted as one of the main representatives of the “Londonistan” circles that emerged in the British capital in the early 2000s.

His followers have been linked to numerous plots across the world.

The man became known to the authorities and the media through the demonstrations he organized in front of mosques, embassies and police stations in the UK.

Choudary said his ultimate goal was to hoist the flag of Islam over the British Prime Minister's office in Downing Street.

In 2016, he was sentenced for five years in prison for inviting support for ISIS and was released early in October 2018 but remained under observation for the remaining period.