David Cameron has condemned a new Islamic State propaganda video as “desperate stuff” from an organisation that is guilty of perpetrating “utterly despicable and ghastly acts”.

As Downing Street cast doubt on claims by Isis that the five hostages murdered in the video had acted as UK spies, the prime minister said Isis was losing ground under pressure from allied airstrikes.

Speaking during a visit to east London on Monday, Cameron said: “It’s desperate stuff from an organisation that really does do the most utterly despicable and ghastly acts and people can see that again today. But this is an organisation that’s losing territory, it’s losing ground, it’s, I think, increasingly losing anybody’s sympathy, and this again shows what an appalling organisation we’re up against.

“They hate us not for what we do but for what we are – the fact that we are a successful, tolerant, democratic, multi-faith, multi-ethnic nation. They hate that and that’s why they want to take us on and that’s why they do what they do. But I know that Britain will never be cowed by this sort of terrorism. Our values are so much stronger than theirs. It may take a very long time but they will be defeated.”

Downing Street had earlier condemned the video, which appears to show the murder of five hostages accused of being UK spies, as a “propaganda tool”. The prime minister’s spokeswoman cast doubt on claims in the video that the apparent victims were spies, and said Isis was facing strong pressure from allied airstrikes. “This does appear to be a propaganda tool and not all of Isil’s propaganda in the past has been true,” she said using another name for the group.

No 10 illustrated its claim that Isis was facing severe pressure by saying that RAF aircraft had taken part in 11 airstrikes against Isis targets in Syria since parliament approved the extension of the military operation from Iraq. These included the targeting of Isis targets south of its Syrian base on Raqqa on Christmas Day.

The spokeswoman said that in recent days RAF planes had been focused on efforts to expel Isis from the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

The 11-minute Isis video includes a “message for David Cameron”, read by a masked man with a British-sounding accent who threatens attacks in the UK.

Using another name for Isis, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said: “We are examining the content of the video, and the prime minister is being kept updated on that. It serves as a reminder of the barbarity of Daesh and what the world faces with these terrorists. It is also clearly a propaganda tool and should be treated as such.

“One of our reflections is this is a terrorist group we are seeing being put under pressure with the targeted strikes that have successfully targeted some of the key proponents in the organisation, with the action that the Iraqi forces are being able to take to push back against Isil.”

Downing Street was keen to characterise the video as a propaganda tool. Asked whether editors should refrain from showing the video, the spokeswoman said: “That is a judgment for editors to make.”

UK security services are trying to establish the identities of the Isis militant and the English-speaking boy in the video.

The services are searching a pool of about 300 Britons known to have travelled to Syria and Iraq since 2012 to join terrorist-related activities and who are still active.

The services are aware of about 800 people in total who have travelled to the region but about 400 of these have since returned to the UK and another 50 to 100 have been killed in fighting. Of the 300 or so who have remained, the numbers can be narrowed further as this includes a small but significant number of women. Some also went to fight not for Isis but for other groups such as al-Nusra Front.

There is speculation that the man in the video could be of Asian descent, which would narrow the search further. Voice analysis could also help by establishing his background or where he grew up.

The child could also be identified if he has appeared in previously published photographs or video from Isis. There are lots of well-documented cases of families heading to join Isis who have taken their children with them. The child has a mole on his face, which could make identification easier.

As with Mohammed Emwazi, the British propagandist for Isis who was for months the subject of an intense media hunt, there is already a lot of speculation on social media about the identify of the latest Briton involved and the boy.

Emwazi, dubbed Jihadi John in the media, was eventually outed by the Washington Post and was killed in a drone strike in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa in November. The security services, as with Emwazi, routinely refuse to confirm or deny names.

The British government line on the video is that it is a sign of desperation on the part of Isis, giving recent setbacks in Ramadi and Sinjar in Iraq and the increase in bombing in Syria. But Isis continues to hold huge swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria and there is no sign of its cash flow drying up.


[Source:-the gurdian]

By Adam