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RAF Mildenhall: US base on lockdown after ‘car rams gates’

Suffolk Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall to respond to 'significant security alert'
Car tri..

  • Suffolk Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall to respond to 'significant security alert'
  • Car tried to force its way onto the US Air Force base and the driver was arrested
  • Currently unclear how far into the base the 44-year-old man was able to reach
  • Videos show a cordon surrounding a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey inside the base
  • Residents reported hearing gunshots and children at a play area 'suddenly left'

By Mark Duell and Alexander Robertson For Mailonline and Larisa Brown and Andrew Levy For The Daily Mail

Published: 09:30 EST, 18 December 2017 | Updated: 18:05 EST, 18 December 2017

An intruder was able to drive his car onto a US Air Force base before he was stopped inches from a military combat aircraft.

Aerial footage from the RAF Mildenhall showed a cordon surrounding a black car and a £43million V-22 Osprey stationed near a runway in the centre of the site.

The suspect pretended to be a senior military official at the main checkpoint at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

When police refused to let him in just after 1pm, he forced the car through the entrance and the base was placed into lockdown.

The intruder got close to a V22 Osprey, a ‘heli-plane’ nicknamed the Transformer, before he was apprehended. A 44-year-old British man was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass.

He suffered cuts and bruises but no one else was injured. His motive remained unclear, but police said the incident was not being treated as terrorism.

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Videos show a cordon surrounding a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey (pictured) a few hours after the incident, which Suffolk Police do not believe to be terror-related

Videos show a cordon surrounding a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey (pictured) a few hours after the incident, which Suffolk Police do not believe to be terror-related

It is currently unclear how far into the base he was able to reach, however aerial footage seems to suggest he may have reached a runway at the centre of the siteIt is currently unclear how far into the base he was able to reach, however aerial footage seems to suggest he may have reached a runway at the centre of the site

It is currently unclear how far into the base he was able to reach, however aerial footage seems to suggest he may have reached a runway at the centre of the site

Members of the US armed forces stand at the entrance to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk todayMembers of the US armed forces stand at the entrance to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk today

Members of the US armed forces stand at the entrance to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk today

It is thought the man who allegedly rammed his car into a gate at a US Air Force base in Britain may have been trying to reach a military planeIt is thought the man who allegedly rammed his car into a gate at a US Air Force base in Britain may have been trying to reach a military plane

It is thought the man who allegedly rammed his car into a gate at a US Air Force base in Britain may have been trying to reach a military plane

It is understood the man claimed to be someone ‘important within the military establishment’ when he was confronted at the main gates.

US military personnel opened fire when he ignored guards, including both American and UK Ministry of Defence police, and drove onto the base.

Superintendent Kim Warner, of Suffolk Police, said a vehicle failed to follow security directions at the entrance and drove on to the base.

There was a 'short pursuit' and the vehicle was stopped by US security services, he said.

The man, who suffered cuts and bruises, has been taken into custody and police are not looking for anyone else on the site in relation to the incident.

There were initial reports of a car being rammed into a checkpoint, but Mr Warner said he was 'unaware of any damage to the base itself'.

He said the vehicle was brought to a halt close to a US plane, an Osprey, and it was not thought there was 'any significant damage' to the vehicle or the aircraft.

There was 'no obvious motive at this stage', he added.

It has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not – possibly a senior military figure – to get through a checkpoint.

Residents also reported hearing gunshots and the American children at a soft play area in the village were said to have 'suddenly left' after the incident.

Tonight a police car was blocking the entrance to the base and there was a strong police and military presence in the area, with 4×4 vehicles patrolling outside.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: 'Suffolk Police were contacted at approximately 1.40pm today to reports of a disturbance at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

'The base was put into lockdown and units responded immediately. Shots were fired by American service personnel and a man has been detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody.

'No other people have been injured as a result of the incident. Suffolk Police remain on site.'

It has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not - possibly a senior military figure - to get through a checkpointIt has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not - possibly a senior military figure - to get through a checkpoint

It has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not – possibly a senior military figure – to get through a checkpoint

A police car is pictured at the scene following the incident at RAF Mildenhall this afternoonA police car is pictured at the scene following the incident at RAF Mildenhall this afternoon

A police car is pictured at the scene following the incident at RAF Mildenhall this afternoon

Police rushed to the RAF Mildenhall base (pictured today) in Suffolk to respond to the  alertPolice rushed to the RAF Mildenhall base (pictured today) in Suffolk to respond to the  alert

Police rushed to the RAF Mildenhall base (pictured today) in Suffolk to respond to the alert

The man was detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody after the incident todayThe man was detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody after the incident today

The man was detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody after the incident today

Aerial footage from the scene appeared to show flashing police car lights and a cordon around a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey on a section of the base in SuffolkAerial footage from the scene appeared to show flashing police car lights and a cordon around a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey on a section of the base in Suffolk

Aerial footage from the scene appeared to show flashing police car lights and a cordon around a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey on a section of the base in Suffolk

The force also tweeted: 'Members of the public are asked to avoid the area around RAF Mildenhall for the time being.'

And it later said: 'As there is considered no ongoing threat to the community relating to the incident at RAF Mildenhall, schools can continue to operate as they normally would at the end of a day.'

But Tony Osborne, London bureau chief at Aviation Week, tweeted: 'If the police investigation at Mildenhall is related to an incident at the gate, why is there a cordon around V-22 Osprey on the apron? Would suggest this person got onto the airfield.'

No other police forces are thought to be involved in the incident at this stage. Suffolk Police were unable to confirm if the matter was being treated as terrorist-related.

But the force said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the public, or base occupants.

In November last year the then Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said RAF Mildenhall was one of 56 Ministry of Defence sites earmarked for closure.

The base, which is due to shut in 2022, is home to the US Air Force's 100th Air Refuelling Wing and 352nd Special Operations Wing.

Police confirmed that US personnel fired shots during the incident at around 1.40pm todayPolice confirmed that US personnel fired shots during the incident at around 1.40pm today

Police confirmed that US personnel fired shots during the incident at around 1.40pm today

The base was put on lockdown amid reports of a car being rammed into a checkpointThe base was put on lockdown amid reports of a car being rammed into a checkpoint

The base was put on lockdown amid reports of a car being rammed into a checkpoint

Suffolk Police said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the publicSuffolk Police said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the public

Suffolk Police said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the public

A member of staff at Jumppin Jacks Funhouse in Mildenhall said: 'All the American children playing here suddenly left, but we didn't hear anything or know why.'

A statement on the base's Facebook page said: 'RAF Mildenhall locked down at 1pm today following reports of a disturbance on base.

'The base was locked down and emergency personnel are responding to the situation. Additional details will be provided as they become available.'

A Pentagon spokesman in Washington said: 'The security incident has been contained and a suspect has been apprehended.'

A defence source said a car tried to force its way into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk (file picture)A defence source said a car tried to force its way into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk (file picture)

A defence source said a car tried to force its way into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk (file picture)

Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to respond to the 'significant security alert'Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to respond to the 'significant security alert'

Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to respond to the 'significant security alert'

And a US Air Force spokesman said: 'The incident has been contained. There is a suspect that has been apprehended.'

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford tweeted: 'The early indications are that someone tried to drive onto the base, and was stopped at the gate, and has been arrested. People nearby heard gunshots.'

Shortly before 3pm, two businesses on the base confirmed they were no longer on lockdown after the security alert.

The 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in Europe.

The 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in EuropeThe 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in Europe

The 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in Europe

RAF Mildenhall is set for closure after the US said it was going to move is operations from there to Germany. The site has previously been a potential terror attack target.

In May 2016, delivery driver Junead Khan, from Luton, who planned to attack US servicemen outside RAF Mildenhall, was jailed for life.

Islamic extremist Khan wanted to attack US airmen in East Anglia with a knife like that used by Jihadi John after plotting with an ISIS fighter in Syria.

He delivered medical supplies to Boots, Superdrug, Morrisons Supermarket and Co-Op along with hospitals and surgeries on behalf of Alliance Healthcare.

RAF Mildenhall (pictured) in Suffolk and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever sinceRAF Mildenhall (pictured) in Suffolk and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever since

RAF Mildenhall (pictured) in Suffolk and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever since

A V-22 Osprey, similar to the one pictured in this file image, was seen in aerial footage surrounded by what appeared to be a cordon and flashing lights on a police vehicleA V-22 Osprey, similar to the one pictured in this file image, was seen in aerial footage surrounded by what appeared to be a cordon and flashing lights on a police vehicle

A V-22 Osprey, similar to the one pictured in this file image, was seen in aerial footage surrounded by what appeared to be a cordon and flashing lights on a police vehicle

His routes took him to East Anglia and to two Lloyd's pharmacies in the village of Mildenhall, close to two US airbases.

RAF Mildenhall and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever since.

Also last year, an abduction scare forced police to launch a major manhunt after an airman was attacked at knifepoint while out jogging near RAF Marham in Norfolk.

The two suspects were at first suspected to be jihadis plotting a terror attack. But another theory now is that it may have been a failed mugging.

RAF Mildenhall: UK base that gives US a military foothold in Europe

RAF Mildenhall has housed the US airforce for decades and is suspected of previously being a target for terrorists.

The Suffolk base has been used by the American military since 1950, giving it a military foothold in Europe.

Several units are still based there permanently, including the 100th Air Refuelling Wing and a branch of its special operations command.

The Suffolk base of RAF Mildenhall has been used by the American military since 1950The Suffolk base of RAF Mildenhall has been used by the American military since 1950

The Suffolk base of RAF Mildenhall has been used by the American military since 1950

It has been earmarked for closure in 2022 after the Pentagon decided to scale down its military presence on the continent.

Last year a British Islamic extremist was convicted for planning a terror attack on US military personnel, having apparently scouted out RAF Mildenhall as a target.

Delivery driver Junead Khan drove close to several bases operated by the United States Air Force during 2015, including the Suffolk airfield, his trial was told.

The Ministry of Defence plans to sell the site as part of a plan to generate £500 million from the release of military bases.

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Australia

Saudi women in Sydney: Sisters’ bodies lay undiscovered for a month

Australian police are baffled after the bodies of two Saudi women, believed to have lain undiscovered for a month, were found in a Sydney apartment.

Sisters Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were found dead on 7 June in separate beds at home in the suburb of Canterbury.

Police, who were called to the property for a welfare check, said the women are believed to have died in early May.

But despite “extensive inquiries”, they still do not know how or why.

The sisters moved to Australia from Saudi Arabia in 2017 and may have sought asylum, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Police refused to confirm this, saying they do not comment on residential status.

A human rights organisation said it should be established whether the women fled Saudi Arabia because of domestic violence or harsh laws governing women. However, there is no evidence this is the case.

Police said they had been in contact with the women’s family, which is assisting them with inquiries.

Lina al-Hathloul, head of monitoring and communications at Saudi human rights organisation ALQST, said it “would not be the first case” of Saudi women who were killed abroad after fleeing domestic violence.

“There are no protections for women who are victims of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, so they flee abroad,” she told the BBC.

She added: “I’m not saying that is the case here, just that we need a thorough investigation. It is frustrating not to have any information.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there had been signs that something was wrong.

Last year, the women told their building manager they thought someone was tampering with their food deliveries, the paper reported.

A plumber who visited the apartment also said he believed there was “something mysterious” going on, and that police had been called in the past over concerns for the women.

New South Wales Police issued a renewed plea to the public on Wednesday, saying “any piece of information” could be the key to solving this case.

The local community is close-knit, police said in a statement, asking anyone who may have known or seen the women to come forward.

A report from Australian current affairs programme Four Corners in 2019 found 80 Saudi women had tried to seek asylum in Australia in recent years. Many of them were fleeing male guardianship laws.

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62331116

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Australia

Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

Australia is one of the most multicultural nations in the world, but it’s a different story in the country’s politics, where 96% of federal lawmakers are white.

With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.

Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.

The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.

Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.

It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.

Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.

Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.

“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.

Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.

“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.

“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”

An insiders’ game

At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.

Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.

But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.

“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.

The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.

Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.

“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

So why hasn’t Australia changed?

Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.

Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.

Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.

But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.

Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.

His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.

Party seniors argued that Ms Kenneally and Mr Charlton – as popular and respected party figures – would be able to promote their electorates’ concerns better than newcomers.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese also hailed Ms Kenneally as a “great Australian success story” as a migrant from the US herself.

But Mr Chiu says: “A lot of the frustration that people expressed wasn’t about these specific individuals.

“It was about the fact that these were two of the most multicultural seats in Australia and these opportunities – which come by so rarely – to select culturally diverse candidates were squandered.”

He adds this has long-term effects because the average MP stays in office for about 10 years.

The frustration on this issue has centred on Labor – because the centre-left party calls itself the “party of multiculturalism”.

But the Liberal-National government doesn’t even have diversity as a platform issue.

One of its MPs up for re-election recently appeared to confuse her Labor rival for Tu Le, sparking accusations that she’d mixed up the two Asian-Australian women – something she later denied. But as one opponent said: “How is this still happening in 2022?”

Some experts like Dr Soutphommasane have concluded that Australia’s complacency on areas like representation stems from how the nation embraced multiculturalism as official policy after its White Australia days.

The government of the 1970s, somewhat embarrassed by the past policy, passed racial discrimination laws and “a seat at the table” was granted to migrants and Indigenous Australians.

But critics say this has led to an Australia where multiculturalism is celebrated but racial inequality is not interrogated.

“Multiculturalism is almost apolitical in how it’s viewed in Australia,” Dr Soutphommasane says, in contrast to the “fight” for rights that other Western countries have seen from minority groups.

What is the impact?

A lack of representation in parliament can also lead to failures in policy.

During Sydney’s Covid outbreak in August 2021, Fowler and Parramatta electorates – where most of the city’s multicultural communities reside – were subject to harsher lockdowns as a result of a higher number of cases.

How will things change?

Liberal MP Dave Sharma, the only lawmaker of Indian heritage, has said all parties – including his own – should better recruit people with different backgrounds. He called it a “pretty laissez-faire attitude” currently.

Mr Albanese has urged Ms Le to “hang in there”, insisting she has a future.

But more people like Ms Le are choosing to speak out.

“I think I surprised a lot of people by not staying quiet,” she told the BBC.

“People acted like it was the end of my political career that I didn’t toe the party line. But… none of that means anything to me if it means I’m sacrificing my own values.”

She and other second-generation Australians – raised in a country which prides itself on “a fair go” – are agitating for the rights and access their migrant parents may not have felt entitled to.

“Many of those from diverse backgrounds were saying they felt like they didn’t have a voice – and that my case was a clear demonstration of their suppression, and their wider participation in our political system.”

She and others have noted the “growing distrust” in the major parties. Polls are predicting record voter support for independent candidates.

“This issue…. matters for everyone in Australian society that cares about democracy,” says Mr Soutphommasane.

“If democratic institutions are not representative, their legitimacy will suffer.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61432762

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Australia

Scott Morrison effectively ditches his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption commission

Scott Morrison has effectively abandoned his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption watchdog, confirming he would only proceed with legislation in the new parliament if Labor agreed to pass the Coalition’s heavily criticised proposal without amendments.

Morrison pledged before the 2019 election to legislate a federal integrity body in the parliamentary term that has just ended. The prime minister broke that promise, failing to introduce his own proposal before the 46th parliament was prorogued.

On the hustings on Wednesday, Morrison was asked – given his previous undertaking to create the body – whether he would promise to put his proposal to a vote in the next parliament in the event the Coalition won the 21 May election.

Morrison declined to make that promise. “Our position on this hasn’t changed,” the prime minister said. “Our view has been the same – when the Labor party is prepared to support that legislation in that form, then we will proceed with it.”

The prime minister has attempted to inoculate himself from criticism about breaking an election promise by saying he tabled the integrity commission proposal in the parliament.

Tabling an exposure draft, which is what the prime minister did, is not the same as introducing finished legislation to the House of Representatives or the Senate that is then debated and voted on.

As well as repeatedly fudging what happened in parliament, Morrison has also created the impression the proposal can only proceed if Labor agrees to its passage without amendments.

All governments routinely introduce legislation for debate without any undertaking that it will be passed by the opposition. Labor favours a stronger model than the Coalition’s proposal.

Morrison’s lack of urgency on the issue created tensions within government ranks. Late last year, the Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer crossed the floor to support independent MP Helen Haines’ bill to establish a federal integrity commission. Archer accused the government of “inertia” over the issue.

At that time, Archer said she was “perplexed” at her own government’s failure to release a revised bill almost three years after it was promised before the last election.

While Morrison clearly wants to move on from the issue, he will face renewed pressure from crossbench independents if the coming election is close enough to deliver a hung parliament.

A number of independents running against Liberals in metropolitan seats have made it clear that establishing a credible national integrity commission will be a key demand in the event any new government – Liberal or Labor – is seeking agreements for confidence and supply.

Haines blasted Morrison’s comments on Wednesday. “Mr Morrison broke an election promise to introduce an anti-corruption commission and his pathway to creating one is still as vague as it was in the last parliament,” she said.

The crossbench independent said it was “nonsense” for the prime minister to claim that he could not proceed unless Labor agreed with the Coalition’s proposal without seeking any amendments. “It would appear we are in the same void as we were before,” Haines said.

Read from:https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/apr/13/scott-morrison-effectively-ditches-his-promise-to-establish-a-federal-anti-corruption-commission

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