Newspaper headlines: Jihadist concerns, and Army cuts

In the wake of the identification of supposed Islamic State murderer Jihadi John, there are numerous articles about the suspect, and the wider issue of British-raised Muslim extremists.

The Guardian speaks to Mohammed Emwazi's former employer who describes the man featured in various IS beheading videos as "the best employee we ever had".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mohammed Emwazi in "Jihadi John" mode

Emwazi's employer, a Kuwaiti IT company boss, said he was shocked to learn what had become of his star salesman since he left the Middle Eastern country in 2010.

The Times says the 26-year-old gained "a thirst for blood" by associating with a teenage gang in London who used knives and stun guns in robberies.

A former schoolmate, who is also a Muslim, tells the paper: "He smoked drugs, drank and was violent towards other boys. The fact that he portrays himself as a strict Muslim is laughable and shameful."

The Daily Mail carries claims that Emwazi's father left for London when the IS man was just a boy because he had collaborated with Saddam Hussein's forces in the invasion of his adopted homeland.

The paper says the Emwazis, who originally came from Iraq and had been considered officially "stateless" in Kuwait, have left London for the Gulf emirate following their son's unmasking.

The Daily Telegraph says that the Quintin Kynaston academy in north London, which was attended by Emwazi and two others who fought with terrorist groups, is among a number of UK schools to be investigated by the government.

Officials from the Department for Education's counter-terrorism unit are to see if lessons could be learned from the case.

There have been allegations of intelligence failures in the case, and in the Sun, a former Kuwaiti military officer says his country may have been "failed by MI5", who allegedly failed to pass on the information that Emwazi was being monitored over his links to radicals.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Telegraph says Emwazi's old school in St John's Wood, north London, is to be probed

But Matthew d'Ancona, writing in the Guardian, says it is too easy to blame the intelligence services for allowing Emwazi to leave for Syria.

"Today's Islamist militants do not operate within a cellular hierarchy, but more closely resemble local holders of a global franchise. They are self-starters, morphing capriciously from one role to another," he says.

"What we call 'radicalisation'... often occurs in a very short space of time, for reasons that resist pat psychological speculation: to know the reasons why would be to decode the secrets of the soul.

"Against such mysteries it is not the power of the state that is truly frightening, but its weakness."


'Kleptocracy'

The murder in Moscow of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is widely covered in Monday's press.

In analysis in the Times, the paper's Moscow correspondent Michael Binyon says that despite Vladimir Putin's denials of being behind the shooting, "the widespread perception that [Nemtsov] was eliminated on Kremlin orders will further tarnish the president's standing and underline the view that Russia is returning to a gangster state".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tributes have been paid to Boris Nemtsov around the world: this one was left outside the Russian embassy in London

The paper's leader column says Mr Nemtsov's "fearless investigation of corruption" - in particular his expose of £16.8bn in bribes and corrupt contracts said to be handed out in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics - may have doomed him.

"In the violent kleptocracy that Russia has become, there is nothing more dangerous than following the money," it adds.

The Independent's opinion column says that while Mr Putin may not have directly ordered the "hit", he "is the man most responsible for creating an atmosphere in Russia in which critics and traitors are increasingly confused with one another".

However, it says the mass rallies in Moscow to protest at the killing do not mean an end to "Putinism".

"The unfortunate fact is that most Russians view the Kremlin's support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine - whatever form that support takes - as an almost sacred struggle against Ukrainian 'fascists' and their sinister Western backers," the paper asserts.

The Daily Telegraph takes a similar view.

"The state media's dangerous and paranoid stoking of the fires of nationalism acts as an encouragement to those who see legitimate opponents as traitors.

"Mr Nemtsov's description of the incursion in Ukraine as Putin's 'mad, aggressive war' could well have signed his death warrant," the paper's opinion column states.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Nemtsov alleged the Sochi Olympics had been dogged by corruption and cronyism

The Guardian notes the murder of a number of other critics of the Russian president and says: "By placing the official investigation of Mr Nemtsov's death under his direct control, Mr Putin has ensured that nothing unfavourable to him or his regime will ever come out of the inquiry."

One of Mr Nemtsov's fellow Russian opposition leaders, Grigory Yavlinsky, writes that a "European future" would be a peaceful strategy for economic and political development in the former states of the USSR.

"What Europe and Russia require is a plan to achieve the clearly defined strategic result: the integration of the former USSR into Europe.

"Such a plan would also be an excellent manifestation of European values."


'Robust'

The Daily Telegraph leads on an interview it has conducted with US army chief of staff Gen Raymond Odierno.

The general tells the paper he is "very concerned" about the impact of defence cuts on Britain's military capabilities.

Calling for UK defence spending to rise back to above the 2% of GDP target set for all Nato members, Gen Odierno says: "In the past we would have a British Army division working alongside an American army division.

"The cuts mean that the US military is now working on the basis that in future Britain will contribute only half that amount, if not less."

Image copyright Aircraft Carrier Alliance
Image caption One of Britain's two new aircraft carriers is to be mothballed after its launch, as part of the Strategic Defence Review cuts

This means, the Telegraph explains, that smaller British units - of brigade or battalion size - could be incorporated within US divisions in combat situations.

Calling for increased military capacity from all America's Nato partners, Gen Odierno adds: "As we look to the threats around the world, we need to have multinational solutions.

"They are of concern to everyone, and we need everybody to help, assist and invest."

The paper says some senior Tories have a "disdainful attitude" to the military which overlooks the fact that the services are all struggling with shortages of men and materials to carry out what they see as their role.

Its report ends: "It's no wonder there is genuine anxiety among several Tory backbench MPs, who cannot understand why the prime minister won't accept that a robust defence policy might actually be a vote winner."

Sir Michael Graydon, Britain's former chief of air staff, echoes the US general's concerns.

Writing in the Financial Times, Sir Michael says "the US is the UK's principal ally. Yet our credibility with Washington rests on a knife-edge.

"Informed sources on both sides of the Atlantic say so, yet ministers deny it. This is denial on a grand scale."


Eye-catching headlines

  • Cold weather holds back the daffodils - Britain's daffodil crop has failed to bloom in time for the first day of spring, according to the Daily Express
  • British clairvoyant warned Lincoln of his assassination - The Times reports that new research has found that the doomed US president had been warned that his life was in danger by a British spiritualist who was friends with assassin John Wilkes Booth
  • Homer discovered Higgs Boson -Scientist Simon Singh tells the Independent that an equation that Homer Simpson writes during an episode of cartoon comedy The Simpsons predicts the mass of the elusive particle - 14 years before anyone else had worked it out.
  • Long-winded arm of the law gets email writing tips -A 10-page guide has been produced by the Metropolitan Police to stop its officers "prattling on" in strained police jargon, the Times reports.

'Clear steer'

The BBC has again been making the news as well as reporting it.

The Independent says that the corporation's Director General Lord Hall is to say that the BBC backs a plan to scrap the licence fee and replace it with a broadcasting levy on every household.

Image caption Lord Hall

The idea, suggested in a recent report by Parliament's culture, media and sport committee, would "allow the BBC to collect funds from the estimated 500,000 households which claim not to have a television or only watch programmes on-demand through platforms like the BBC iPlayer," the paper explains.

The committee suggests the levy system, which mirrors one in use in Germany, could be in use by 2026, it adds.

The Independent says Lord Hall will say: "The BBC is at a crossroads. Down one path lies a BBC reduced in impact and reach in a world of global giants. Damaging the UK's creative industries. A sleep-walk into decay for the BBC, and Britain diminished as a result. Which means a UK dominated by American taste-makers.

"Down the other path is a strong BBC helping bind the country together at home and championing it abroad. A British creative beacon to the world. Providing a universal service for a universal fee. An internet-first BBC which belongs to everyone."

The paper's editorial supports this view.

"The BBC is an asset, not a burden. If a general levy can secure its future for the long term, we should support it," it says.

Media commentator Steve Hewlett writes in the Guardian that much of the MPs' report "could have been written by the BBC".

Image caption Steve Hewlett

He notes: "On scope and scale the committee was critical of the BBC's stance that in order to appeal universally it must do virtually everything it currently does.

"But as there was no clear steer as to what it should consider not doing, that leaves that ball where the BBC wants it - in its own court."

Hewlett adds that the real battle for the corporation will come after the general election where it may face a different political climate.

Politicians, he says, have a basic instinct "to bring the BBC to heel.

"It is on these issues - independence and creative/editorial autonomy - that the real battle for the BBC's future will be fought."

Making people click

Mirror: William Shatner victim of Twitter trolls

Express: New drug driving law coming in

Telegraph: How alien life might look like on Saturn's moon Titan

Star: Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino: "No shame in Cup loss"