Showing posts from March 30, 2014

Italian priests, Canadian nun kidnapped in Cameroon

YAOUNDE  (Reuters) – Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun were kidnapped in northern Cameroon overnight, a bishop and a government source said on Saturday, months after a French priest was seized nearby. It was not immediately clear who took them, though Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram is known to operate in the area. “Doors were broken towards midnight by unknown people and the religious were taken away. We do not know where they are. The act is not yet claimed but we imagine who is behind this kidnapping,” said Bishop Phillippe Stevens, from the parish of Maroua, where the kidnapping took place. He named the priests as Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri, both missionaries sent out by the diocese of Vicenza in northeast Italy, and the nun as Gilberte Bissiere. Pope Francis was aware of the kidnappings and praying for those taken, the Vatican press office said. A government source in northern Cameroon said armed forces were attempting to free the hostages, without

Militant group claims freeing captured Iranian guards

TEHRAN: Iranian soldiers  captured by a militant group Jaish al-Adl  near the Pakistani border in February have been freed, the rebel group and an Iranian official announced Friday. However, there was no indication of how many of the five border guards had been released after Jaish al-Adl, which operates in southeastern Iran, claimed last month  to have executed one of them. “The soldiers were handed over some hours ago by the small terrorist group Jaish al-Adl to Iranian representatives in Pakistan,” said the Fars news agency, quoting an unidentified security official. For its part, Jaish al-Adl announced the releases on its Twitter account. “At the request of eminent Sunni clerics in Iran, the Iranian soldiers held hostage have been freed and handed over to a delegation of clerics,” it said. The movement said it killed a fifth member of the group of guards in March. “Four of the five abducted Iranian border guards have been handed over to Iranian embassy officials in Pa

Al Qaeda chief mourns slain Syria fighter, says infighting must end

BEIRUT  (Reuters) – Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for Islamist fighters in Syria to end the infighting that killed a one-time companion of Osama bin Laden earlier this year, according to an audio tape posted online. In the message, Zawahiri mourned the death of Abu Khaled al-Soury, who was killed by an al Qaeda splinter group in a suicide attack in February, and lamented the “strife of the blind that has befallen the blessed land of the Levant.” Soury was one of the highest-profile victims of rebel infighting that surged at the start of the year, pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL ) against rival rebels including other hardline Islamists. Some 4,000 people have been killed in the clashes, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The fighting has hindered the battle against President Bashar al-Assad and pushed rival rebel groups to consolidate power in their respective areas of control. “Today this strife requir

Ten of America's worst villians, scoundrels and rogues

America has produced an amazing list of illustrious figures over the past three centuries, but we’ve had our share of nefarious characters as well. When I began researching my new book, " Villains, Scoundrels, and Rogues: Incredible True Tales of Mischief and Mayhem  (Prometheus Books, March 4, 2014)," I found myself immersed in lurid accounts of seedy serial killers, murdering mobsters, and other horrific psychopaths—the gory fare that seems to be the favorite of “true crime” writers. To be honest, though, focusing on that brutal crowd can be emotionally draining. That’s why I broadened my inquiries to include a more interesting mix of ne’er-do-wells—everyone from spies, con men, and gamblers to fake mediums, counterfeiters, and medical charlatans. But people still ask me which of my thirty subjects were the “worst of the worst.” Well, here goes. If these ten characters don’t rank as some of the nastiest people in American history, I don’t know who would. I’ve listed

Ethnic tensions have Burma on edge

Long-simmering ethnic tensions in Burma exploded in January. In the village of Du Char Yar Tan in Rakhine state, at least 48 people were killed in two separate incidents when Buddhist mobs went on a rampage against Rohingya Muslims. A police sergeant was reported to have been captured and killed by the Muslim villagers. The bloodshed was bad enough for the Rohingya, a small and persecuted minority in a land that is predominantly Buddhist. But events since the attacks have taken a discouraging turn at a time when Burma, also known as Myanmar, appeared to be making strides toward openness, democracy and modernization. The government refused to acknowledge the violence, although the U.N. high commissioner for human rights cited what she called “credible” information that more than 40 Rohingya were killed and urged for a full, prompt and impartial investigation. That credible evidence reportedly included the discovery of the severed heads of at least 10 Rohingya bobbing in a

Afghans defy threat of violence to vote in first democratic transition of power

Afghans flocked to polling stations nationwide on Saturday, defying a threat of violence by the Taliban to cast ballots in what promises to be the nation’s first democratic transfer of power. The turnout was so high that some polling centers ran out of ballots and others remained open an hour past scheduled to accommodate long lines. Electoral workers wearing blue vests with the logo of the Independent Election Commission pulled the paper ballots out of boxes and carefully showed them in footage shown live on national television Saturday.  Partial results are expected as soon as Sunday.  Saturday's vote was a sharp contrast from Afghanistan's 2009 election, which was marred by widespread allegations of vote-rigging that tarnished President Hamid Karzai's re-election.  Amid tight security, voters lined up at polling centers more than an hour before they opened in Kabul and elsewhere to choose from a field of eight presidential candidates as well as provincial cou

Rwanda’s reconciliation village is a symbol of hope 20 years after the genocide

It took just 100 days to kill more than one million Rwandans. Twenty years on from the ethnic violence, Mathias, a Hutu and Silas, a Tutsi live side-by-side in reconciliation village. Silas was just 11-years-old when machete-wielding men came to his house and killed his family. Coming to terms with his loss has been a difficult journey. “When I moved here, I moved next door to one of the genocide perpetrators Mathias, who killed many people and I was very resentful. When I first found out that I’d be living here, next door to a genocide perpetrator, I was scared of him. But he turned out to be a good neighbour. He told me Silas, even though I killed people, I am no longer a killer today, I have repented. I know that everyone now knows that I am not what I was before. I have changed.” For Mathias, who killed 20 in the genocide, reconciliation gave him a second chance. “When I was in jail, I had given up hope. I didn’t think that someone who killed would be freed then go on t

Govt claim of TTP prisoners release holds no truth: Yousuf Shah

PESHAWAR: Coordinator of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) committee Maulana Yousuf Shah on Saturday said the news of  the release of 19 non-combatant Taliban from the government side  held no truth and not a single name of the released men was on the list given to the government by the Taliban. Moreover, Shah said the government should refrain from issuing rhetorical statements and take the Taliban committee into confidence regarding the issue of prisoners’ release. He further said that the meeting between the Taliban and government sides would take place today. In today’s meeting between the two sides, the TTP coordinator said the Taliban committee would put forth for discussion issues pertaining to the list of prisoners and the broader agenda for peace. Earlier on Friday, the TTP had  extended till April 10 the ceasefire  earlier announced by it and expressed the hope that the government would reciprocate its ‘gesture’ with positive steps. The extension came a day a

Al-Qaida's leader calls on fighters in Syria to determine who killed his representative

CAIRO –   The leader of al-Qaida has called on Syrian militant groups to determine who killed his representative in the country, a man many fighters believe died at the hands of a rival militia. In a recorded message posted on militant websites late Friday, Ayman al-Zawahri endorsed a previous call for Islamic arbitration by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front over the death of Abu Khaled al-Suri, who it and its allies say was killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Al-Zawahri called al-Suri's killing "sedition" and said that "all Muslims should confront it and form a general opinion against it and against anyone who does not accept the Shariah arbitration." The Islamic State has not responded to the arbitration call. Source:

The CIA & the ‘Cult of Intelligence’ Will Manage to Keep Vast Majority of Senate Torture Report Secret

Why is it that the public will likely never get to read much of a major investigative report the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence produced on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program—a program that included torture? Yesterday, the Senate intelligence committee voted to declassify portions of the 6,300-page report—the executive summary, findings and conclusions. It was not long after the vote that it was confirmed that the White House would have the CIA conduct a declassification review of these parts of the report before they were released. This conflict of interest was addressed by Steven Aftergood of  Secrecy News,  who   told   The Guardian  the CIA functionally will control “the declassification process, and they have an interest in how they as an agency are portrayed in the final product.” He added, “They’re not an impartial party, and that’s a flaw in the process.” Yet, what if it is not a flaw? What if it is a feature? The CIA has made it this far in histo

Convert to Islam gets year for online publication of al-Qaida material

  PARIS, March 5 (UPI) --  A Muslim convert has been sentenced to a year in prison in France for "apology for terrorism" -- online publication of al-Qaida material. Romain Letellier, 27, who also uses the name Abou Siyad al-Normandy, was found guilty Tuesday in Paris, Radio France Internationale reported. He received a three-year prison sentence with two years suspended. Letellier, who has been in custody since his arrest in September, was the first person prosecuted in France under a new law banning the promotion of terrorism. The law was passed after an Islamic fundamentalist killed seven people in Toulouse in 2012. At his hearing, Letellier said his actions were "very stupid." He said his website was not aimed at inciting terrorist actions in France or the United States.  Read more:

Russia Detains 25 Ukrainian Suspects for Plotting Terrorism

Russia said it detained 25 Ukrainian citizens suspected of plotting terror attacks on its territory after Ukraine accused Russian forces of playing a role in violence this year that cost more than 100 lives. The detentions were made based on information that members of Pravyi Sektor, an umbrella group that unites the majority of Ukraine’s nationalist protesters, planned to carry out “sabotage and terrorist acts” in seven Russian regions, the Federal Security Agency, or FSB, said yesterday, according to a statement cited by the state-run RIA Novosti new service. An official at the FSB’s press center, who didn’t give his name, declined to comment by phone today. The moves signal a new low in relations between the two neighbors after Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea last month. President Vladimir Putin has parliamentary approval to deploy the armed forces in Ukraine to protect the rights of Russian-speakers and those of Russian heritage, with thousands of troops masse