Showing posts from December 20, 2015

Buses evacuate 2,000 besieged Syrian Islamist fighters

Two thousand Syrian Islamist fighters are expected to be evacuated soon from besieged, rebel-held areas of southern Damascus in a deal brokered by the United Nations, a Hezbollah TV station said on Friday. The deal marks a success for the government of President Bashar al-Assad, increasing its chances of reasserting control over a strategic area just 4 km (2.5 miles) south of the center of the capital. It also highlights the increasing efforts of the UN and foreign governments to bring about local ceasefires and safe-passage agreements as steps towards the wider goal of ending Syria's civil war, in which more than 250,000 people have been killed in nearly five years of fighting. The besieged militants include fighters of Islamic State and the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's offshoot in Syria. Hezbollah's Manar TV said 18 buses had arrived to start taking them and 1,500 family members to areas under the control of IS and other rebel groups. It was not clear whether the buses were pr

Iraq's top Shia cleric calls for release of Qatari hunters

: December 25, 2015 17:48 IST | AP  Iraq’s top Shia cleric has denounced the abduction earlier this month of up to 26 falconry hunters from Qatar who were seized by gunmen in a remote desert area in southern Iraq.  Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani says such acts are against the “religious laws and the moral principles of Iraqis and affect the reputation of the country.”  The top cleric also described the abductors as “criminal gangs” and called for the release of the Qataris. Ayatollah Al-Sistani’s comments were relayed through his representative, Ahmed al-Safi, during the Friday prayers’ sermon in the holy city of Karbala. Source

At Least 60 People Charged With Terrorism-Linked Crimes This Year - ARecord

WASHINGTON:  The Justice Department has charged at least 60 individuals this year with terrorism-related crimes, an unprecedented number that officials attribute to a heightened threat from the Islamic State and the influence of social media on potential recruits. Last week alone, prosecutors charged three people and convicted two others on terrorism-linked charges. One of those charged was Enrique Marquez Jr., a friend and neighbor of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male gunman who was killed in a firefight with police in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, California, shooting rampage this month. That terrorist attack killed 14 people. A second was Mohamed Elshinawy, a Maryland man accused of receiving at least $8,700 from the Islamic State overseas and planning to use the money to carry out attacks in the United States. He told prosecutors that a childhood friend had connected him through social media with an Islamic State operative. The third was Jalil Aziz, a Pennsylvania man who was

UK Cities Under Daesh/ ISIS Threat For Boxing Day: Expert

L ondon:  A counter-terrorism expert has warned that British cities could be a target of an Islamic State (ISIS) terror attack on Boxing Day, marked the day after Christmas, according to a leading specialist. Will Geddes, head of global security firm International Corporate Protection, believes Boxing Day, which is today, would provide the ideal situation for the terrorists, the 'Daily Express' reported today. "I don't think Christmas Day will be a target for ISIS, even though it's a Christian holiday, because there won't be big crowds which is what they want for maximum impact. But Boxing Day could be as lots of people will be out for the sales in cities across the UK, all gathered in big crowds," he told the newspaper. His comments come as Britain's security service, MI5, has put the UK terror threat from international terrorism at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. Unlike other terrorist organisations which have come before, such

Regime Air Strike Kills Syria Rebel Chief Ahead Of Peace Talks

Beirut, Lebanon:  Powerful Syrian rebel chief Zahran Alloush was killed in a regime air strike east of Damascus on Friday, dealing blows to both the nearly five-year uprising and a fragile peace process. Alloush, 44, was the commander of the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) movement, the predominant opposition faction in the Eastern Ghouta rebel bastion east of Damascus. He and five other commanders were killed "in an air strike that targeted one of their meetings in Eastern Ghouta" on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A senior member of Jaish al-Islam confirmed Alloush's death to AFP, saying three planes targeted a "secret meeting" of commanders. The Syrian government and its media regularly refers to Jaish al-Islam as "terrorists," and state television did so again in the news alert announcing Alloush's death. In a statement carried by state television, Syria's army command said it had conducted the "special operati

Nusra, IS to leave south Damascus suburbs

Some 4,000 people, half of them jihadist fighters, will leave three besieged districts south of Syria’s capital at the weekend as part of a landmark ceasefire, sources told AFP on Friday. Militants from the Islamic State jihadist group and its rival, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front, will reportedly quit the districts of Qadam, Hajar al-Aswad and the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. “An agreement was reached whereby 4,000 fighters and civilians, including members of al-Nusra and IS, would leave” the neighbourhoods on Saturday, one government official close to the negotiations said. They would then be transported to the northern cities of Raqqa, held by IS, and Marea which is controlled by Islamists and Al-Nusra, the official said. The second phase of the deal would see government institutions reopen in the neighbourhoods and “the necessities of daily life would be secured”, the official said. It will be the first time in more than two years that market goo

Blast in Bangladesh mosque kills suspected bomber; 3 wounded

December 25, 2015 16:38 IST | AP  Police in Bangladesh say an explosion in a mosque of a minority Muslim sect has killed a suspected bomber and wounded three other people in the country’s northwest. Local police chief Motiar Rahman says the blast appears to be a suicide attack by a young man during Friday’s weekly prayer in the mosque in Bagmara area in Rajshahi district. The area is 240 km northwest of the capital, Dhaka Mr. Rahman says the man died in the explosion. The minority Ahmadiya sect appeared to be the target of the attack. Mr. Rahman says the villagers couldn’t recognise the dead as he appeared to have come from elsewhere. Bangladesh has some 100,000 Ahmadiyas among its 160 million people in a Sunni-majority nation. Source

Pune girl radicalised by ISIS may have brainwashed missing Malwani man

By  Saurabh Vaktania | Posted  3 hours ATS officials are verifying if Wajid Sheikh listed on 16-year-old 'Radical Gun' Pune girl’s chat room list is Malwani man; suspect that arrested Jaipur IOC manager could've entrusted her with task of 'converting' him A new twist has emerged in the Anti-Terrorism Squad’s (ATS) investigations into the case of the missing Malwani men. The ATS suspects that the 17-year-old Pune girl — named ‘Radical Gun’ in jihadi chat rooms — was in touch with one of the Malwani four, and could have been instrumental in radicalising him. The ATS found one ‘Wajid Sheikh’ in the girl’s online list. They suspect it is the same Wajid (right) from Malwani. (Left) IOC manager Mohammad Sirajuddin being escorted by cops. ATS officers, who have gone through the girl’s contact list have stumbled upon one Wajid Sheikh, who they suspect is the same person who went missing from Malwani and was traced to Pune recently. Incidentally, the Pune ATS started interro

Basque terrorists made 3 attempts to kill ex-PM with defective missile

Four suspected members of Eta are on trial accused of making three attempts to shoot down the plane of José María Aznar using a surface to air missile. Four suspected members of the Basque separatist organisation Eta went on trial in Spain on Wednesday accused of planning a missile attack on a plane carrying then prime minister José María Aznar in 2001. The four face prison terms of up to 72 years each if convicted of the charges that include "attempted terrorist killings" and "belonging to an armed organisation", at Madrid's National Court which handles terrorism cases. Eta is blamed for more than 800 killings in its campaign of bombings and shootings to create an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France. In October, 2011 it declared a "definitive end to armed activity". But it has refused to formally disband or disarm and police say about 20 members are still active. The four, now aged between 55 and 61, are

Colombia investigates forced abortions carried out by the FARC

Source The Colombian government has announced that it is investigating numerous cases of forced abortions allegedly carried out on female fighters by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The attorney general, Eduardo Montealegre, has said that they are examining more than 150 cases of alleged forced abortions carried out by the armed guerrilla group. Speaking last week to national media organizations , Luis Gonzalez Leon, a public safety spokesperson, said that they have evidence that the forced abortions were part of the FARC’s policy to ensure that female fighters’ ability to be “an instrument of war” was not be compromised. Human rights violations “Several women died in these abortion practices, others were injured. Others referred to this as torture,” said González León. A FARC member, Claudia Roa,  told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2013  that

The Basque Conflict and ETA: The Difficulties of an Ending

Source Teresa Whitfield ,  United States Institute of Peace   |   9 Dec 2015 Violence at the hands of the Basque separatist organization ETA was for many years an anomalous feature of Spain’s transition to democracy. This report, which draws on the author’s book  Endgame for ETA: Elusive Peace in the Basque Country  (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2014), explains why this was the case, examines both the factors that contributed to ETA’s October 2011 announcement of an end to violence and the obstacles encountered in moving forward from that announcement to disarmament and dissolution, and extracts lessons relevant for other contexts. Summary The violent separatist group Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) emerged in 1959 in response to General Francisco Franco’s repression of Basque identity during and after the Spanish Civil War and pursued the indepen

Catalan separatist parties attempt final deal to form government

Source AFP · 23 Dec 2015, 09:08   Catalonia's main separatist alliance on Tuesday presented its final proposal to a smaller far-left party for the formation of a new regional government region that would work towards secession from Spain. Catalonia's independence bid: the 'hot potato' of Spanish elections Lack of consensus leaves Catalonia without government until year end Catalonia lawmakers reject Artur Mas leadership bid for second time The "Together for Yes" coalition won 62 seats in regional elections on September 27th and has been courting the far-left secessionist CUP, which has 10 seats, to seal a majority in the 135-seat Catalan parliament. The two parties approved a resolution last month which calls on the northeastern region's assembly to start working on legislation within 30 days to create a separate social security system and treasury, wit

Turkish Internet servers reeling under huge cyber attack

Ankara (AFP) - Turkish Internet servers are suffering a powerful cyber attack, slowing banking services and fanning fears that it could be a politically motivated attack from abroad., a non-governmental organisation that administers addresses for websites using the "tr" domain, said Thursday that the attack appeared to be from "organised sources" outside Turkey. The domain is used by websites belonging to Turkish ministries, commercial enterprises and banks. Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim called it a "serious" attack and asked an Ankara-based university to beef up security measures, saying they were "insufficent". Banking sources said the attack has seriously disrupted transactions. Experts have been unable to identify the source of the attack. Some newspapers said it could have originated in Russia, citing fraught bilateral relations since the downing by Turkey of a Russian fighter jet last month on

Communist rebels raiding Philippines typhoon relief convoys

Manila (AFP) - Communist insurgents in the Philippines have attacked military convoys bringing aid to victims of a recent typhoon, killing one soldier in the latest ambush, police said Thursday. The incidents came just before a Christmas truce called by the rebels took effect on Wednesday. In the latest incident on Tuesday, guerrillas of the communist New People's Army (NPA) ambushed an army truck on a relief mission in the storm-hit eastern island of Samar, national police said in a statement. One soldier was killed and two wounded in the attack. The police condemned the attack, saying the rebel movement "has evolved from an ideological revolutionary group to one conducting acts of banditry out of desperation". The attack followed an earlier NPA ambush of a military truck carrying relief goods for storm victims in Samar last week, which wounded two soldiers. The impoverished island of Samar, located almost 530 kilometres (325 miles) southeast of Manil

China's controversial new anti-terror law to pass on Sunday

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is set to pass its controversial new anti-terrorism law on Sunday, the largely rubber-stamp parliament said on Friday, despite U.S. criticism about its cyber provisions and concerns over human rights. The draft law, which could require technology firms to install "back doors" in products or hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government, has also been criticised by some Western business groups. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he had raised concern about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In a brief statement, China's National People's Congress said it would hold a news briefing on Sunday to talk about the law, following the end of parliament's latest law-making session. Parliament does not challenge or block legislation proposed by the ruling Communist Party, meaning it is certain to pass. This week, the U.S. State Department said it had expressed "serious concerns&

Shayma Qasim: First Miss Iraq since 1972 threatened by Daesh / Isis inphone call warning her to ‘join group or be kidnapped’

The first Miss Iraq since 1972 has reportedly received a threatening phone call from Isis - demanding she join their ranks or be kidnapped. Shaymaa Qasim Abdelrahman, 20, became the first winner of the national beauty pageant in more than 40 years. But according to the Jerusalem Post , which cited Kuwaiti Daily al-Watan, she received a phone call following her win saying she would be kidnapped if she refused to become a member of the militant group. The pageant's organisers said Miss Abdelrahman was distressed but determined to “continue forward despite any obstacles”. The beauty queen, from Kirkuk in northern Iraq,  told NBC News : “I want to prove that the Iraqi woman has her own existence in society, she has her rights like men. I am afraid of nothing, because I am confident what I am doing is not wrong.” The pageant has been fraught with controversy, prompting a backlash from religious hardliners with a number of contestants receiving death threats. A total of

Seven killed in Turkish military clash with Kurdish militants - army

Source  | Reuters DIYARBAKIR, Turkey  Turkish troops killed six Kurdish militants in a clash in the restive southeast and one of three soldiers wounded in the firefight died in hospital, the armed forces said in a statement on Friday. Since a two-year ceasefire between Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants and Ankara fell apart in July, the mainly Kurdish southeast has been plunged back into a three-decades-old conflict which has killed more than 40,000 people. The latest clash erupted on Thursday evening in the town of Cizre, near the Syrian border, which has witnessed intense fighting since a round-the-clock curfew was declared there and in the nearby town of Silopi near the Iraqi border 12 days ago. Further north in the region's largest city of Diyarbakir, part of which is also under curfew, three Kurdish rebels were killed in clashes with po

NDF says 6 more guerrilla fronts established in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY – From a total of 40 guerrilla fronts actively operating in Mindanao in 2010 during the first year of the Aquino administration, the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao said forces of the New People’s Army (NPA) have already expanded to 46 guerrilla fronts scattered in five regions. Mindanao map (Photo courtesy of Google Maps) This was the statement made by NDF Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos alias Ka Oris in a statement sent to the media, emphasizing that “not one front was dismantled” in Mindanao despite the concentration of military forces in the area. “The revolution has continued to advance in the island of Mindanao despite the government’s deployment of 60 percent of its armed forces here,” says Madlos. The figure of the 60 percent concentration of military forces in Mindanao do not include the numbers of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and other paramilitary groups like the BULIF, Alamar

Afghan forces still battling Taliban over southern district

Source KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A provincial official says Afghan forces are still battling to push the Taliban out of a strategic southern district in Helmand province. Aktar Mohammad, a provincial council member, said Friday that the situation is unchanged in the Sangin district, where intense battles have raged for a week after the Taliban overrun much of the area. Mohammad says Afghan reinforcements have arrived in Sangin, backed by special operations forces that were dispatched earlier in the week. Britain has also sent a small contingent of advisers to the region. Mohammad says he and most residents of Sangin fled to the Helmand provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, when the fighting escalated. Sangin is a prize for the Taliban as it sits on routes for drug, arms and other contraband that fund the insurgency.

Terrorists Ask Instagram Users to Vote on Killing

A group calling itself 'Iraqiswat' believed to be a Shiite militia, held a vote on whether or not to kill ISIS prisoners using Instagram. A vote on  whether or not to execute a prisoner  was held on Instagram by a group calling itself  Iraqiswat . The group posted pictures of prisoners it said were ISIS members with their hands cuffed behind their backs, according to the  Daily Express . The simple message was “Kill him or let him go?” Most Instagram users who interacted with the post voted to kill the prisoners, prompting the group to respond “As you wish my followers. We will kill him.” More pictures were then uploaded showing the bodies. Researchers from the Henry Jackson Society think tank consider the account and the photographs to be genuine. They judged by the uniform of those claiming to be holding the prisoners that the group is one of the Shiite militias acting in support of the Iraqi military. “I have not seen them asking for a vote on people’s fate be