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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

12 dead, over 50 injured in India train collision

At least 12 people were killed and over 50 injured as two express trains collided near the city of Gorakhpur in India’s eastern Uttar Pradesh state late on Tuesday, according to new figures reported by the Hindustan Times. The two trains involved in the crash were the Lucknow Barauni Express (15204), which derailed after the collision, and the Krishak Express (15007). The accident happened at the Nandanagar railway crossing around 11 p.m. local time. Rescue operations began immediately after the incident, despite bad lighting, local officials said. The region’s Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced compensations to the families of those killed in the train crash in the sum of 200,000 rupees (US$3,200). Train crashes are common in India, due to old railroad infrastructure. In May, a train headed to Gorakhupur collided with a stationary train, killing 25 people and wounding 100 others.

Wave of attacks in Shi'ite parts of Baghdad kill 35

14 dead as holdout Iraq tribe repels jihadists . AFP 31 minutes ago An Iraqi policeman makes his way on the rubble of a building targeted earlier this month by a jihadist attack in the town of Dhuluiyah, north of Baghdad, on September 17, 2014 An Iraqi policeman makes his way on the rubble of a building targeted earlier this month by a jihadist attack in the town of Dhuluiyah, north of Baghdad, on September 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Al-Rubaye) Baghdad (AFP) - A jihadist attack on an Iraqi tribe that has held out for weeks against Islamic State militants has left at least seven dead on either side, police and medics said Wednesday. The IS group has been unable to conquer the neighbourhood of Jubur, named after the tribe that resides there, in the Sunni Arab town of Dhuluiyah 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Baghdad. "They attacked Jubur from three directions last night and the clashes lasted until morning," said a senior police officer in Dhuluiyah. "Their attack was unsuccessful but there were casualties," he said, seven in each camp, including a jihadist fighter who detonated a suicide vest. The police officer added that 30 people were wounded in the pro-government camp, including some civilians. Residents contacted by AFP gave the same casualty toll. A medic in the nearby town of Balad confirmed that the hospital there had received the bodies of seven fighters killed by the jihadists overnight. Jubur, which played a prominent role in the formation of US-backed Sunni tribal forces to combat IS's previous incarnation in 2005-2007, has received support from the Iraqi army and allied militias. Its leaders say the neighbourhood needs more assistance, including air strikes from the US-led international coalition bombing jihadist targets in other parts of Iraq. ========== Wave of attacks in Shi'ite parts of Baghdad kill 35 Tue, Sep 30 16:30 PM EDT image BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 35 people were killed in a wave of car bomb and mortar attacks in mainly Shi'ite Muslim districts of Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraqi police and medical sources said. It was one of the most violent days the capital has witnessed since U.S.-led forces began bombing Islamic State insurgents in Iraq last month. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks but Islamic State, ultra-radical Sunni Muslim militants who seized swathes of northern Iraq in June, claimed several suicide bombings in the capital earlier this year. Two car bombs exploded in busy streets in the al-Horreyya district, killing 20 people and wounding 35, according to the police and medical sources. There was also a mortar attack in the Sab al-Bour neighbourhood of northern Baghdad that killed five people and wounded 15. Later on Tuesday, at least seven people were killed and 18 wounded when a car bomb exploded in the mainly Shi'ite Zaa'faraniya district of southeast Baghdad, police said. Three mortars also landed in the Shi'ite al-Shula district in the capital's northwest, killing three people and wounding 12, police said. Baghdad has witnessed relatively few attacks compared to the violence in other areas hit by Islamic State's offensive though bombs still struck the capital on a fairly regular basis. Mortar rounds have a short range compared to rockets, indicating the assailants fired from near the districts. Security sources say Islamic fighters have tried to use farmland northwest of Baghdad to approach Shi'ite districts. There were also several small-scale attacks in predominantly Shi'ite areas across the country. In the southern oil hub of Basra, a parked car bomb exploded in a parking lot, setting ablaze five cars but causing no casualties, police said. In the town of Kifil, near the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, at least one person was killed and three wounded by a car bomb. And in Kerbala, a car bomb blast on a busy street wounded at least seven people and torched a police car, police said. In the Kurdish-controlled town of Khanaqin, 140 km (100 miles) northeast of Baghdad, at least four Kurdish security members were killed and 12 wounded in a bomb attack on their patrol, police and medics said. U.S.-led forces started bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq in August and Washington expanded the campaign to Syria last week in an effort to defeat the well-armed insurgents who have swept through Sunni areas of both Iraq and Syria. Washington hopes the air strikes, conducted with help from European allies in Iraq and Arab air forces in Syria, will allow government and Kurdish forces in Iraq, and moderate Sunnis in Syria, to recapture territory. (Reporting by Kareem Raheem and Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Dominic Evans) ================================= Special Report: Wheat warfare - Islamic State uses grain to tighten grip in Iraq Tue, Sep 30 07:18 AM EDT image 1 of 4 By Maggie Fick SHEKHAN Iraq (Reuters) - For Salah Paulis, it came down to a choice between his faith and his crop. A wheat farmer from outside Mosul, Paulis and his family fled the militant group Islamic State early last month. The group overran the family farm as part of its offensive that captured vast swathes of territory in northern Iraq. Two weeks later, Paulis, who is a Christian, received a phone call from a man who said he was an Islamic State fighter. “We are in your warehouse. Why are you not here working and taking care of your business?” the man asked in formal Arabic. “Come back and we will guarantee your safety. But you must convert and pay $500.” When Paulis refused, the man spelled out the penalty. “We are taking your wheat,” he said. “Just to let you know we are not stealing it because we gave you a choice.” Other fleeing farmers recount similar stories, and point to a little-discussed element of the threat Islamic State poses to Iraq and the region. The group now controls a large chunk of Iraq’s wheat supplies. The United Nations estimates land under IS control accounts for as much as 40 percent of Iraq’s annual production of wheat, one of the country’s most important food staples alongside barley and rice. The militants seem intent not just on grabbing more land but also on managing resources and governing in their self-proclaimed caliphate. Wheat is one tool at their disposal. The group has begun using the grain to fill its pockets, to deprive opponents – especially members of the Christian and Yazidi minorities – of vital food supplies, and to win over fellow Sunni Muslims as it tightens its grip on captured territory. In Iraq’s northern breadbasket, much as it did in neighboring Syria, IS has kept state employees and wheat silo operators in place to help run its empire. Such tactics are one reason IS poses a more complex threat than al Qaeda, the Islamist group from which it grew. For most of its existence, al Qaeda has focused on hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings. But Islamic State sees itself as both army and government. “Wheat is a strategic good. They are doing as much as they can with it,” said Ali Bind Dian, head of a farmers’ union in Makhmur, a town near IS-held territory between Arbil and Mosul. “Definitely they want to show off and pretend they are a government.” The Sunni militants and their allies now occupy more than a third of Iraq and a similar chunk of neighboring Syria. The group generates income not just from wheat but also from “taxes” on business owners, looting, ransoming kidnapped Westerners and, most especially, the sale of oil to local traders. Oil brings in millions of dollars every month, according to estimates by Luay Al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. That helps finance IS military operations – and is why IS-held oilfields in Syria are targets in U.S.-led airstrikes. “Islamic State presents itself as exactly that, a state, and in order to be able to sustain that image and that presentation, which is critical for continued recruitment and legitimacy, it depends on a sustainable source of income," said Charles Lister, another visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. SEIZING CROPS AND LIVESTOCK In early August, Kurdish farmer Saeed Mustafa Hussein watched through binoculars as armed IS militants shovelled wheat onto four trucks, then drove off in the direction of Arab villages. Hussein said he does not know what became of his wheat. But he knows that IS runs flour mills in areas it controls and he believes that his wheat was likely milled and sold. He had 54 tonnes of wheat on his farm in the village of Pungina, northeast of Arbil, wheat he had been unable to sell to a government silo or private traders because of fighting in the area. The militants also took 200 chickens and 36 prized pigeons. "What made it worse was that I was helpless to prevent this, I couldn’t do anything. They took two generators from the village that we had recently received from the Kurdish government after a very long process," said Hussein. Residents are too scared to return even though Kurdish fighters are now in control. "We think the Islamic State laid mines to keep us from going back," said neighbor Abdullah Namiq Mahmoud. There are scores of similar stories at displacement camps across Kurdistan. "We escaped with our money and gold but left our wheat and furniture and everything else," said farmer and primary school teacher Younis Saidullah, 62, a member of the tiny Kakaiya minority. "Everything we built for 20 years using my salary and our farming: It's all gone. We are back to zero," he said, sitting on the floor of a tent at a United Nations-run camp on the outskirts of Arbil. MILITARY AND ECONOMIC POWER After Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait triggered Western sanctions, the then-Iraqi dictator built a comprehensive subsidised food distribution system in Iraq. That was expanded under the United Nations’ Oil-for-Food program. Joy Gordon, a political philosophy professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut and author of the 2010 book “Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions,” estimates that two-thirds of Iraqis “were dependent primarily or entirely” on food subsidies between 1990 and 2003. The system survived the U.S. invasion and years of violence. Now fully run by the Iraqi government, it has been plagued in recent years by “irregular (food) distributions” that have cut dependency, according to a June report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. A former U.S. Department of Agriculture economist estimates that about quarter of Iraqis living in rural areas were dependent on subsidised food before the latest violence, while another quarter used it to top up food they bought. IS is demonstrating that controlling wheat brings power. As its fighters swept through Iraq’s north in June, they seized control of silos and grain stockpiles. The offensive coincided with the wheat and barley harvests and, crucially, the delivery of crops to government silos and private traders. IS now controls all nine silos in Nineveh Province, which spans the Tigris river, along with seven other silos in other provinces. In the three months since overrunning Nineveh’s provincial capital Mosul, IS fighters have forced out hundreds of thousands of ethnic and religious minorities and seized hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wheat from abandoned fields. A SILO UNDER ATTACK One target was the wheat silo in Makhmur, a town between the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. The silo has a capacity of 250,000 tonnes, or approximately 8 percent of Iraq’s domestic annual production in 2013. IS attacked Makhmur on August 7. But even in the weeks before that, the group had found a way into the silo and the Iraqi state procurement system. Abdel Rizza Qadr Ahmed, head of the silo, believes that IS forced local farmers to mix wheat produced in other, IS-controlled areas into their own harvest. The farmers then sold it to Makhmur as if it all had been grown locally. In the weeks before the attack, the silo purchased almost 14,000 more tonnes than it had in 2013. That extra wheat is worth approximately $9.5 million at the artificially high price Baghdad pays farmers. Ahmed believes IS was looking to make money from the wheat and ensure there was bread available for Sunnis in the areas it controlled. Ahmed said it was not his job to investigate the source of the grain, just to buy it. “We just take the wheat from the farmers and we don't ask 'Where did you get this from?'" he said. Huner Baba, local director general of agriculture, said he too believed that traders and farmers had sold wheat from outside the region. But Baghdad usually pays its wheat farmers around two months after they deposit their produce and so wheat farmers around Makhmur – and therefore IS – had not yet been paid by the time IS militants entered the town on June 7 and, according to Baba, headed for the silo. The militants were met by Iraqi Kurdish fighters, known as Peshmerga, and fighters from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). After IS took the silo, Baba said, they installed snipers there. He speculates that the militants believed U.S. warplanes would not strike the facility, which is in the center of town. “They want to get people on their side especially the Arabs. Maybe that’s why they didn’t do anything to the wheat, not to anger people,” he said. IS held Makhmur for three days before the Kurdish fighters and U.S. air strikes on IS positions – though not on the silo – drove them out. U.S.-led air strikes did hit grain silos in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on Sept 28. A group monitoring the war said the aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain silos for an Islamic State base. There was no immediate comment from Washington. SMOOTH TRANSITION In many ways, IS is replicating in Iraq strategies it developed in Syria. In the year it has controlled the town of Raqqa in northeastern Syria, for instance, IS militants say they have allowed former employees from Assad’s regime to continue to run its mills. The group has set up a wheat "diwan," or bureau, in charge of the supply chain, from harvesting the crop to distributing flour. The same push to keep things running smoothly can be seen in Iraq. IS fighters have regularly avoided destroying government installations they have captured. When IS took over Iraq's largest dam it kept employees in place and even brought in engineers from Mosul to make repairs. Baghdad, too, has tried to minimise upheaval. Hassan Ibrahim, head of Iraq's Grain Board, the Trade Ministry body responsible for procuring Iraq’s wheat internationally and from local farmers, said that government employees in IS-held areas keep in regular touch with head office. Some staff in IS areas even come to Baghdad every couple of weeks, he said. In the past few weeks, he said, IS fighters had disappeared from some areas in Mosul and Kirkuk because of the U.S.-led air strikes. “The situation is stable,” he said, with IS fighters mostly happy to allow state employees to continue to run the silos. “I give instructions to my people to try to be quiet and smooth with those people because they are very violent people. It is not good to be violent with violent people because they will come to kill you. Our aim is to keep the wheat.” After IS’s June offensive, Ibrahim was ordered to suspend salaries for workers in IS areas. “But this troubled me," he said. "I cannot have the mills stopping. I need people to stay there like guards to convince the Islamic State that wheat is important for everybody.” Ibrahim says he convinced his bosses to keep paying salaries. A Trade Ministry spokesman confirmed that all government employees in Mosul had been paid their salaries “through state banks in Kirkuk, as it’s safer and under government control.” Ibrahim is now worried about farmers who have not been paid for the wheat they delivered in the weeks before the grain was seized by IS. He said the Grain Board and the Trade Ministry were trying to pay farmers either living in IS-held areas or recently displaced from them. "We would like to help the farmers, but not IS," he said. WINNING HEARTS AND STOMACHS In some places, the IS stranglehold on wheat appears to be winning support among Sunnis. Ahsan Moheree, chairman of the government-affiliated Arab Farmers Union in Hawija, says IS has gained in popularity since its fighters took over. Baghdad’s dismissive attitude towards the country’s Sunni Arabs had forced people towards IS, he said. But IS’s ability to provide food had also helped. “They distribute flour to the Arabs in the area. They get the wheat from the Hawija silo ... And they run the mill and they distribute to people in a very organised way,” he said. Even those who have fled IS see wheat as one reason for the group’s strength. “Nowadays a kilo of wheat is 4,000 or 5,000 dinars ($3.45 - $4.30). It used to be 10,000 to 11,000 dinars,” said Joumana Zewar, 54, a farmer who now lives in Baharka camp outside Arbil. IS and Sunni Arabs are selling the wheat they stole “for very cheap. It’s cheap because they stole it.” Zewar called a friend in Mosul to check on the latest prices. “The price of foods and bread is very cheap,” the friend said. Islamic State had taken control, and as in Syria, was dictating prices. “They are the government here now. They are going to the bakeries and saying, ‘Sell at this price.’” THE YEAR AHEAD The big worry now is next season’s crop. In Nineveh province, home to the capital of the group’s self-declared caliphate, 750,000 hectares (1.8 million acres) should soon be sown with wheat and 835,000 hectares with barley, an Iraqi agriculture ministry official said. The official said that the province normally has 100,000 farmers. But thousands have fled. Iraqi farmers normally get next season’s seeds from their current harvest, keeping back some of the wheat for that purpose. IS controls enough wheat so finding seeds should not be a problem. It also controls Ministry of Agriculture offices in Mosul and Tikrit which should have fertilizer supplies. But getting the seeds and fertilizer into the right hands will be a problem. Mohamed Diab, director of the World Food Program's Regional Bureau for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, said that it is "highly unlikely" that displaced farmers would return. "The picture is bleak regarding agriculture production next year," he said. "The place where displacement has happened is the main granary of the country." That’s especially true for non-Sunni Arab farmers. Those who have remained on their land just outside IS-held territory fear the militants will soon take their villages, and their harvested but unsold crops. Even if that does not happen, they say, they will not plant after the first rain, which typically comes at the end of September or in early October. Farmers in the town of Shekhan, nestled among sun-bleached wheat fields, say they have no hope of getting the seeds, fertilizer and fuel needed to plant because the provincial government in Mosul is under IS control. "The real problem is how to get seeds to those inside Mosul and surrounding areas,” said Nineveh Governor Atheel Nujaifi, who believes production will drop next season. Bashar Jamo, head of a local farmers' cooperative, is also worried.
“The most important thing to us is agriculture, not security. Maybe (IS) will have a state, maybe an army, but all we need is to be able to farm.”
(Additional reporting by Ned Parker and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Maha El Dahan in Abu Dhabi and Mariam Karouny in Beirut; Editing by Michael Georgy and Simon Robinson) =====================

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Iraqi PM says Islamic State plans subway attacks in U.S. and Paris

Islamic State committing 'staggering' crimes in Iraq: U.N. report Thu, Oct 02 13:24 PM EDT image By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - Islamic State insurgents in Iraq have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used child soldiers in what may amount to systematic war crimes that demand prosecution, the United Nations said on Thursday. In a report based on 500 interviews with witnesses, also said Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused "significant civilian deaths" by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law. At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far this year through September, well over half of them since the Islamist insurgents also known as ISIL and ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said. "The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein. In a statement, he called again for the Baghdad government to join the International Criminal Court, saying the Hague court was set up to prosecute such massive abuses and direct targeting of civilians on the basis of their religious or ethnic group. Islamist forces have committed gross human rights violations and violence of an "increasing sectarian nature" against groups including Christians, Yazidis and Shi'ite Muslims in a widening conflict that has forced 1.8 million Iraqis to flee their homes, according to the 29-page report by the U.N. Human Rights Office and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). "These include attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction or desecration of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms." FEMALE "SEX SLAVES" In a single massacre on June 12, the report said, about 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and security officers from the former U.S. Camp Speicher military base in Salahuddin province were captured and killed by Islamic State fighters. However, the bodies have not been exhumed and the precise toll is not known. No one disputes that Iraqi military recruits were led off the base near Tikrit unarmed and then machinegunned in their hundreds into mass graves by Islamic State, whose fighters boasted of the killings on the Internet. Women have been treated particularly harshly, the report said: "ISIL (has) attacked and killed female doctors, lawyers, among other professionals." In August, it said, ISIL took 450-500 women and girls to the Tal Afar citadel in Iraq's Nineveh region where "150 unmarried girls and women, predominantly from the Yazidi and Christian communities, were reportedly transported to Syria, either to be given to ISIL fighters as a reward or to be sold as sex slaves". Islamic State pushed on with its assault on a Syrian border town on Thursday despite coalition air strikes meant to weaken them, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey and dragging Ankara deeper into the conflict. Islamic State and allied groups have attacked and destroyed places of religious and cultural significance in Iraq that do not conform to its "takfiri" doctrine, the U.N. report said, referring to the beliefs of Sunni militants who justify their violence by branding others as apostates. But the report also voiced deep concern at violations committed by the Baghdad government and allied fighters, including air strikes and shelling that may not have distinguished between military targets and civilian areas. (additional reporting by Ned Parker in Baghdad; Editing by Louise Ireland) ============== Air strikes said to hit Islamic State oil refineries in Syria Sun, Sep 28 17:23 PM EDT image 1 of 3 By Mariam Karouny and Ayla Jean Yackley BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Air raids believed to have been carried out by U.S.-led forces hit three makeshift oil refineries in northern Syria on Sunday as part of a campaign against Islamic State, a human rights group said. The United States has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since Aug. 8 and in Syria, with the help of Arab allies, since Tuesday, with the aim of "degrading and destroying" the militants who have captured large areas of both countries. U.S. President Barack Obama has been seeking to build a wide coalition to weaken Islamic State, which has killed thousands and beheaded at least three Westerners. In a potential boost for the United States, a jihadist Twitter account said the leader of an al Qaeda-linked group had been killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria, the SITE service said. A U.S. official said on Sept. 24 that the United States believed Mohsin al-Fadhli, leader of the Khorasan group, had been killed in a strike a day earlier, but the Pentagon said later it was still investigating. But in a tweet on Sept. 27, a jihadist offered condolences for the death of Fadhli, SITE, a U.S.-based organization that monitors militant groups online, said on Sunday. In Washington, Tony Blinken, deputy White House national security adviser, said on Sunday that officials could not yet confirm the death. U.S. officials have described Khorasan as a network of al Qaeda fighters with battlefield experience mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan that is now working with al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front. The head of the Nusra Front said the air strikes would not eliminate Islamists in Syria and warned that the group's supporters could attack inside Western countries. In an audio message posted on jihadi forums, Abu Mohamad al-Golani urged European and U.S. citizens to denounce the strikes, which he said could trigger retaliation from Muslims. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest air strikes in northern Syria occurred shortly after midnight in Raqqa province. Rami Abdelrahman of the Observatory said that destroying the makeshift refineries has led to a sharp increase in the price of diesel, adding that in Syria's northern Aleppo province the price has more than doubled. "The price went up from 9,000 Syrian pounds to 21,000 in Aleppo. Hitting these refineries has affected ordinary people, now they have to pay higher prices," he told Reuters. A medium-sized makeshift refinery, mounted on trucks, can refine up to 200 barrels of crude a day into fuel and other products. RIVAL GROUPS But the impact of the strikes on Islamic State (IS) was not immediately clear. IS has gained support among Islamists following the attacks, including from rival groups. Scores of fighters have left al Qaeda's Nusra Front and other Islamist groups in Syria to join IS since the strikes started. The air strikes have failed so far to stop the advance of Islamic State fighters on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani near the border with Turkey which the group has sieged from three sides, triggering an exodus of more than 150,000 refugees. In Washington, U.S. lawmakers stepped up calls for congressional authorization of Obama's war against Islamic State, amid signs the United States and its allies face a long fight. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner told ABC's "This Week" that he believed Obama had the legal authority for strikes against Islamic State, but would call lawmakers back from their districts if Obama sought a resolution backing the action. "I think he does have the authority to do it. But ... this is a proposal the Congress ought to consider," Boehner said. Obama and other U.S. officials have said they believe no further vote to authorize force is needed. But Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN that Congress should debate the issue because of uncertainty about how long the U.S. military would remain engaged in Syria. Obama meanwhile said U.S. intelligence agencies had underestimated Islamic State activity in Syria, which has become "ground zero" for jihadists worldwide. He said in a CBS television interview that Islamic militants went underground when U.S. Marines quashed al Qaeda in Iraq with help from Iraq's tribes. "But over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos," Obama said. "And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world." (Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Susan Fenton) ==================================== Iraqi PM says Islamic State plans subway attacks in U.S. and Paris Thu, Sep 25 18:52 PM EDT image By Arshad Mohammed NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iraq has "credible" intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States, the prime minister said on Thursday, but U.S. and French officials said they had no evidence to back up his claims. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's comments were met with surprise by security, intelligence and transit officials in both countries. New York's leaders scrambled to ride the subway to reassure the public that the nation's largest city was safe. Abadi said he received the information Thursday morning from militants captured in Iraq and concluded it was credible after requesting further details. The attacks, he said, were plotted from inside Iraq by "networks" of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. "They plan to have attacks in the metros of Paris and the U.S.," Abadi told a small group of U.S. reporters while in New York for the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. "I asked for more credible information. I asked for names. I asked for details, for cities, you know, dates. And from the details I have received, yes, it looks credible." Some Iraqi officials in Baghdad questioned Abadi's comments. One high-level Iraqi government official told Reuters it appeared to be based on "ancient intelligence". Another called it "an old story." Both spoke on condition of anonymity. Abadi did not provide further details. A senior Iraqi official traveling with him later said Iraqi intelligence had uncovered "serious threats" and had shared this information with its allies' intelligence agencies. "A full assessment of the veracity of the intelligence and how far the plans have gone into implementation is ongoing," the official said. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, said the United States had "not confirmed any specific threat." "What we've consistently said to the Iraqis is if they have information that is relevant to terrorist activity or terrorist plotting, that they can and should share that through our intelligence and law enforcement challenges," Rhodes told reporters traveling with Obama on Air Force One from New York. "We would certainly take seriously any information they are learning," he said. French security services also said they had no information confirming Abadi's statement, a French government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. STRONGER TRANSIT SECURITY New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local officials suggested they were unfazed, updating their public schedules on Thursday to add trips on the city's subway system to reassure millions of daily commuters. "We are convinced New Yorkers are safe," de Blasio said at a press conference at a lower Manhattan subway station as he stood alongside Bill Bratton, the police commissioner. Bratton, however, said in response to Abadi's comments that he sent more police to patrol subways and streets in the city which was already on high alert because of the U.N. meeting. Police will also increase security in and around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where baseball star Derek Jeter is due to play his last home game on Thursday before retiring at the end of the season. Officials in Chicago and Washington D.C. said they knew of no threats to their transit systems. The United States and France have both launched air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq as part of a U.S.-led campaign to "degrade and destroy" the radical Sunni militant group, which has seized a third of both Iraq and Syria. Abadi disclosed the intelligence while making a case for Western and Arab countries to join that campaign. "We want to increase the number of willing countries who would support this," he said. "This is not military. This is intelligence. This is security. The terrorists have a massive international campaign. Don’t underestimate it." In the past, the United States had received threats that various militant groups were targeting transportation systems but there is no recent information about an imminent plan by Islamic State, one U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Abadi also said that Iraq did not want to see foreign "boots on the ground," but stressed the value of providing air cover, saying Iraq's air force did not have sufficient capability. He said Australia was "very interested" in participating, though he did not provide details. He also voiced optimism about a planned British parliament vote on Friday on the matter, saying "they reckon it will be successful." Earlier on Thursday, France said it would increase security on transport and in public places after a French tourist was killed in Algeria, and said it was ready to support all states that requested its help to fight terror. (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Ian Simpson in Washington, Frank McGurty, Jonathan Allen and Steve Holland in New York, Nicolas Bertin in Paris and Ned Parker in Baghdad; Editing by Jason Szep, Tom Brown and David Gregorio)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nasrallah: "America is the mother of terrorism"

Full Speech: 24-Sep-2014 (Tue), 27-Zeiqad - 1435 Nasrallah: "America is the mother of terrorism" Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah asserted that the case of the kidnapped army soldiers is merely humanitarian and national and that it does not concern a certain sect, area or political faction, yet "pertains all the Lebanese." Sayyed Nasrallah noted that since the very beginning, all political forces in and outside cabinet and the media should have dealt with the cause in an appropriate manner. "Everyone's goal must be the return of the troops as soon as possible," Sayyed Nasrallah added, "Unfortunately some parties have turned the case into a substance for debate, sectarian incitement and distortion of facts. They have made demands that exceed the demands of the kidnappers themselves." Hezbollah leader added that the party usually avoids speaking in public on critical cases, such as those of Aazaz hostages, yet what has happened in the course of the kidnapped army soldiers case has obliged us to speak publicly about it. Sayyed Nasrallah noted that among the reasons that pushed him to speak in public were protecting the dignity of the Army and the families of the kidnapped and the martyrs as well as the distortion which accompanied the case. The terrorist attack against the army posts in Arsal was falsely attributed to the arrest of the militant commander Imad Joumaa because such an attack needs a lot of preparations, according to his eminence. Sayyed Nasrallah offered condolences to the families of all the army martyrs, including Abbas Medlej, Ali al-Sayyed and Mohammad Hamiyeh, appreciating the national stances of their families and saluting their sacrifices. Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that the Lebanese government is responsible for facing the crisis and all the political factions must support it, adding it is normal to engage in negotiations and we had negotiated in an indirect manner with the Zionist entity over captives and the bodies of martyrs." This is the normal approach. We have never rejected the principle of negotiations." "Anyone telling you that Hezbollah has rejected the principle of negotiations would be lying for political motives. We have never rejected the principle of negotiations at all." "From the very first day, we have said that negotiations should be conducted from a position of strength. No one should deal with the kidnappers from a helpless position and all cards of strength must be put on the table before going to negotiations." "The mediators and the kidnappers must be informed of Lebanon's cards of strength," His eminence stated, "Lebanon has been suffering from political humiliation for weeks due to some political practices." "The negotiating side should study the kidnappers demands. Some may be acceptable and others may be not; these demands should be discussed." "Nobody is addressing such issue as the kidnapped soldiers issue through only one scenario. We hope that this case stay far from auctions and settling of accounts." "It is the right of the state to reject negotiation as the kidnappers pursue killing and slaughtering." The terrorist kidnappers slaughter the abducted soldiers because they aim at inciting the seditions across the country, Sayyed Nasrallah warned. "Assaulting the Syrian refugees and conducting counter-kidnappings are unacceptable as they serve the terrorists' interests and threaten the national security." Sayyed Nasrallah noted that when Hezbollah announced that he is battling in Al-Quseir, some rejected this announcement, but "We wanted from the beginning to disassociate Lebanon from the crisis in Syria and called on those who want to fight us to go to Syria." Hezbollah Secretary General stated that the party is against ISIL and all the takfiri groups, yet he asserted that he (Hezbollah) has also a principled position against the US military intervention. Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the US is not morally qualified to lead an anti-terrorism coalition because it is the mother of terrorism as it supports the terrorist entity (the Israeli entity) and it has participated in establishing the terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and in other countries. Sayyed Nasrallah considered that this international coalition was created to protect the US interests at the expense of those of the Arabs and their governments, noting that such a coalition is a pretext for a foreign intervention in our region. "Lebanon must not be part of this US-led international coalition because it endangers its interests." Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that those who want to support Lebanon can do so through three points -- cutting off the financing of terrorism; halting the training, arming and dispatch of fighters to Lebanon; speeding up support to the army; and helping Lebanon resolve the refugee crisis. Hezbollah leader asserted that the terrorists can never storm Lebanon and are unable to reach Beirut and other cities and areas across the country, adding that the Lebanese possess all the capabilities to fight and defeat terrorism. Sayyed Nasrallah called on all the Lebanese to unite against the terrorist threat. Sayyed Nasrallah finally hailed Gaza victory and steadfastness and congratulated the Yemenis on the national agreement, describing it as a historic opportunity to pull Yemen out of its complicated problems. Source: Al-Manar If you understand Arabic - Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrullah speech كلمة الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله 23-9-2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxXHAUsqXCU&feature=youtu.be Photo 4 hrs · Edited · Public Like · 2 Comments · Share · Report 21 people like this. Haider Moqawama COMPILED BY Rania Masri Highlights from ‪#‎Nasrallah‬'s speech. Three main points discussed: (1) Kidnapping of Lebanese soldiers; (2) attacks against Syrian refugees in Lebanon; and (3) US strikes against Syria (1) - The kidnapping of the Lebanese soldiers is a nationalist, humanitarian, ethical issue - and not a political or sectarian issue! Unfortunately, some altered this issue into daily sectarian incitement, fabrication of lies, & demands more than the terrorists! Let's focus on returning the soldiers to their families! We (‪#‎Hezbollah‬) never refused the principle of negotiations! Anyone who claims otherwise is lying for political gain. We need to negotiate from a position of strength, and not from a position of weakness . We need to reiterate our positions of strength! It is wrong to present Lebanon and its army and its people as weak and pathetic to a small group of terrorists! We need to negotiate from strength, and not to negotiate publicly. Positions should be stated directly to the ones authorized to negotiate! Otherwise, chaos and pity would arise. Our position: study the demands of the kidnappers - maybe there is something reasonable. Furthermore, it is reasonable to have different scenarios & different options, rather than depending on only one option, and, again, these scenarios should not be discussed in the media. For the soldiers & their families, for the Lebanese army, for the country, let's remove this issue from political partisanship! (2) No Syrian refugee should be attacked; Do not hold them responsible for the crimes of the terrorists. One of the objectives of the terrorists is to create internal violence amongst Lebanese and Syrians and to create sectarian violence in Lebanon. Blaming Syrian refugees for the abduction of the Lebanese soldiers is unacceptable on the humanitarian, religious, moral levels. Furthermore, retaliatory kidnapping is unethical, amoral, and not strategic. It only achieves the objectives of the armed militias & their sectarian goals. The armed kidnappers are the ones that want to bring the war to Lebanon, and not #Hezbollah. (3) What is happening regionally, and what is this so-called international coalition to face ISIS? Everyone knows that #Hezbollah is against ISIS, and against the takfiri attitude and ideology. Don't claim that our opposition to this coalition is a defense of ISIS. Such claims are deliberate attempts to confuse and misguide, and to fabricate lies. With regards to US armed intervention or US-led coalition, this is another issue, that needs to be discussed from several points. We are against, by principle, any US military intervention - regardless of its alleged reasoning and regardless who is under target. Whether the US wants to bomb Syria against the Syrian gov't (as they wanted to do last summer) or against ISIS, we remain against its military intervention. We are principled. We do not change our perspective on US military intervention based on its alleged reasons, like others do. Why? 1- We consider the US to be "a mother of terrorism." 2- US is main supporter of Israel, which is the source of terrorism in the region. 3 - The US participated in creating this takfiri ideology its claims it wants to destroy now. 4 - The US lacks any moral legitimacy to present itself as a leader against terrorism, from its crimes in Hiroshima to its support of the killing of thousands in Gaza. 5 - Obama has stated clearly: he is defending US interests. Why then should we support a defense of US interests? 6 - It is the right of Lebanese, Iraqis, Syrians to doubt the US actions. Now, suddenly, US humanitarism has been awakened? Really? 7 - The US is seeking its own interests, including increasing US military bases in the region, ones that were rejected previously! Let's remember at the start of 2006 war, we were offered: surrender weapons, return the Israeli captives unconditionally, and accept int'l armed coalition (not UN) in the South of Lebanon. We rejected that offer in 2006 war. Who says this is not what they want now --armed forces on seaports and elsewhere in the region, be they NATO or US military bases. We reject Lebanon joining any international coalition led by the US. It is not in Lebanon's interests, rather joining such a coalition would be a threat to Lebanon. Furthermore, Lebanon does not need to join such a coalition. We have no gain from such collaboration. We can face this danger as Lebanese! Despite our divisions, Lebanon remains able to face this danger of ISIS! If the International community is so eager to help Lebanon, we have our demands. (1) We ask the international community: Stop funding, arming, and training the armed terrorists targeting Lebanon! (2) We ask the international community to quickly support the Lebanese army; and (3) We ask the international community to solve the problem of Syrian refugees. Anyone who wants to help Lebanon, can help us in those three points. As for the threats, Yes, Lebanese are able to respond to ANY terrorist threat facing us! ISIS, you cannot reach Beirut. All Lebanese areas, through the Lebanese army and the resilience of the people and the people's sense of national responsibility, must be - and will be - protected. All Lebanese areas, regardless of its religion or geography or political positioning, need to be protected. We need to be one united hand - to protect all of Lebanon. Dismissing one area under attack because it is of a certain political persuasion is dangerous! We remain alive, so no one can threaten Lebanese in this manner. Undoubtedly, the region is facing critical issues - from Syria to Iraq. We must all be prepared and be diligent. Regionally... A salute to the brave resistance in Gaza and its heroes - for this real military - and political - victory achieved in Gaza. Israel's political objectives failed. ‪#‎Yemen‬, we must congratulate the dear people in Yemen for this reconciliation and national, historic peace agreement We hope that the peaceful ‪#‎Bahraini‬ people will achieve their goals and objectives We are a part of this region; we feel sadness and happiness with all the people in this region, and hope all can overcome the challenges and threats. the region is under a serious threat. We can transform those threats into opportunities. [Note: All the translation above is my own (Rania Masri). I noticed some translating errors in other's tweets of his speech.]

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chinese court jails Uighur scholar for life for separatism| Uighurbiz.net |

Tue, Sep 23 03:36 AM EDT image By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Tuesday jailed for life the country's most prominent advocate for the rights of Muslim Uighur people, a sentence that rights advocates said sent a clear signal that the government is determined to suppress dissent. Economics professor Ilham Tohti, 44, stood trial for two days last week on separatism charges in the western region of Xinjiang. His case has provoked an outcry in the West and among international human rights groups. "This is totally unacceptable," Tohti's lawyer, Li Fangping, told Reuters by telephone. "Ilham also said that he is innocent. He will appeal. Based on the wording of the verdict, this case is extremely politicised." Tohti, who is ethnic Uighur, is the latest moderate intellectual to be convicted by Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration. The court, which did not let Tohti speak during Tuesday's hearing, ordered the confiscation of all of his assets. The sentence was met with dismay among rights advocates, who have come under increasing pressure from the government. "It's very shocking, much harsher than anybody expected," said Maya Wang of the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch. "It's quite unprecedented for someone who is so prominent." In China, Tohti is regarded as an outspoken intellectual who has repeatedly criticised the government for not giving Xinjiang and its Uighurs more autonomy Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking people. Many resent restrictions on their culture and religion, and complain they are denied economic opportunities amid an influx of majority Han Chinese into Xinjiang. The government has blamed a series of violent attacks in which hundreds of people have been killed on Islamist militants who it says want to establish an independent state in Xinjiang called East Turkestan. The government says Uighurs are granted wide religious, cultural and linguistic freedom. 'HARDLINE STANCE' Tohti, who taught at Beijing's Minzu University, which specialises in ethnic minority studies, has said he never associated with any terrorist organization or foreign-based group and "relied only on pen and paper to diplomatically request" human rights and legal rights for Uighurs. His friends say he has never advocated independence for Xinjiang and he is proud to be Chinese. But prosecutors in Xinjiang said Tohti had promoted independence for the region on a website he managed called Uighurbiz.net. Tohti told the court last week he established the website to promote dialogue between scholars and that he had publicly opposed separatism and violence, Li said. Tohti had rejected the prosecution's evidence and said statements against him by student volunteers who had worked on the website were made under pressure from authorities. "It signifies that China is taking a hardline stance towards any Uighur moderates trying to put forward solutions that differ from the party's approach," William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, said of the sentence. The charge of separatism carries a maximum penalty of death in extreme cases. The United States, the European Union and human rights groups have called for Tohti's release after a nine-month detention widely seen as part of a government crackdown on dissent in Xinjiang, A spokesman for an overseas Uighur group said Tohti was being persecuted. "China has sent a clear message ... thoroughly disappointing all those who hope to use the legal process or reasonable proposals to change the status quo of Uighurs," Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said in an e-mailed statement. (Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Arab War on Terror

US bombs IS jihadists in Syria: Pentagon Friendly Capitals using World's and Arab's to justify launching another War on Syria. Enough to know #FriendsOfSyria, #EnemyCapitals Washington (AFP) - The United States and "partners" have launched bombing raids against Islamic State extremists in Syria, the Pentagon said. "I can confirm that US military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL (Islamic State group) terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. The decision to conduct the air strikes was undertaken earlier on Monday by the head of US Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, "under authorization granted him by the commander in chief," Kirby said. "We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate." The bombing raids, including Tomahawk missiles fired from naval warships at sea, came after President Barack Obama warned in a speech on September 10 that the United States was prepared to attack IS militants in Syria. Washington began air strikes against IS targets in Iraq on August 8. ======= Obama's Middle East allies are signing up for the fight against the Islamic State. But it's not for the reason you think. BY James Traub SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 Arab states have a new defining cause: the war on terror. Almost four years ago, popular uprisings across the region upended an old order and created a new set of aspirations and a new collective meaning. That was the Arab Spring; save in Tunisia, where the spirit survives, it lasted for two years at the most before giving way to chaos and violence, backlash and regret. What was the new meaning and direction of the Arab world? At the time, no one could be sure. Now, however, it's become clear. The imperative -- the felt imperative, that is -- to fight terrorism has relegated the demands for personal dignity and political rights to the quaint preoccupation of youthful malcontents. I've just returned from a long visit to Alexandria (of which I'll have much to say in a subsequent piece) and it's clear that the one thing all parties in Egypt agree on, save for the malcontents, is the need to stand united against the terrorist menace. This is not, however, exactly the same menace that Americans worry about. When Egyptians say, "We're in a terrorist phase now," they are referring not to the Islamic State (IS) but to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has been killing policemen and soldiers in the Sinai; to the Muslim Brotherhood, which they see as the political face of jihadi violence; and to the civil war next door in Libya. Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's foreign minister, recently denied that Cairo has agreed even to join the U.S.-organized military campaign against IS. "The mission of the Egyptian army is to protect the Egyptian people and the country's borders," he said tartly. Let's take a tour of the region: Lebanon is now scared stiff about the Islamic State, which has beheaded two captive Lebanese soldiers, but it's just as worried about other Islamist groups which have crossed the border from Syria, including al-Nusra Front. The Emiratis fear IS, and are eager to join the American coalition, but they're so worried about the Islamists in Libya, fighting under the name Libyan Dawn, that, along with Egypt, they have reportedly bombed rebel forces there (to no discernible effect). The Turks fear IS, but not much more than they fear the Kurdish separatists who might take advantage of an anti-jihadist coalition to press their own campaign for independence. The Saudis may have agreed to host training bases for moderate Syrian rebels, but they fear Iran more than anyone. It's no wonder that Secretary of State John Kerry got such an equivocal response when he toured the Middle East looking for expressions of support. I recently raised this issue with a senior diplomat from a Gulf country, who said, "Our fears for the region obviously go beyond IS." He's not sure his American friends share those fears. "Is this a one-off?" he asks, "Or are we going to see a true partnership to go after terrorism?" It's a fair question: Why should Arab states lend their support to America's bête noire if the United States won't reciprocate? bête noire One that is particularly disliked or that is to be avoided: The problem, however, is the way regional states define the swamp which they would like the United States to help them drain. The chief swamp-dweller is the Muslim Brotherhood. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt have banned the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The UAE convicted 69 Brotherhood members of plotting to overthrow the state. In Egypt, it is an article of faith shared by secularists and Salafists alike that the Brotherhood is responsible, directly or indirectly, for terrorist violence and sabotage -- despite the lack of evidence tying the organization to Ansar Beit's murderous campaign. The great organizing principle of the current Egyptian regime is simply this: Crush the Brotherhood. The Gulf diplomat I spoke to was quite explicit on this score. The Brotherhood and al Qaeda, he said, "are shades of the same thing." The Brotherhood is "a gateway to further extremism." When he asks whether the United States sees Libya as "another domino," as those in the region do, he is asking in part whether Washington understands that the Brotherhood is seeking to knock over regional dominoes, as American policymakers once said about international communism. The answer is no. Barack Obama offered American support to Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood when the Egyptian people elected him president. It seemed, at the time, like an important endorsement of the right of Egyptians to decide for themselves who should lead the country. Administration officials quickly concluded that Morsi was a complete incompetent, but he was obviously no terrorist. In fact, Morsi proved to be a useful and effective interlocutor with Hamas. Since then, neither he nor the other Brotherhood leaders who have been jailed and now face the death penalty based on absurdly trumped-up charges have called on their followers to take up arms against the state. Despite decades of repression, the Brotherhood has never deviated from a policy of nonviolent change. The organization has been singled out in part because of its own secrecy and parochialism, as well as its endorsement of violence when practiced by allies like Hamas. It is also the object of a paranoia Americans will quickly recognize as a new form of the Red Menace. The terrorism label increasingly looks like a flimsy rationale for authoritarian control. After the European Union used a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to call for a "thorough, independent and transparent investigation" of the killing of several thousand protestors by Egyptian security forces since the overthrow of the Brotherhood government in July 2013, Egyptian officials accused the Europeans of adopting a hypocritical "double standard" that called on Cairo to join the fight against terrorism while undermining its efforts to do so. Foreign Minister Shoukry summoned EU ambassadors to personally object to the "negative message" they had conveyed. Americans are probably in no position to criticize Arab states for overreacting to the terrorist threat by adopting harsh domestic legislation. If the United States whipped through the Patriot Act and gave itself leave to waterboard suspected terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11, how surprised can we be that nations with no tradition of democracy criminalize dissent and prohibit demonstrations, as Egypt is in the process of doing? Nevertheless, it's deeply disheartening to see the dark mass of the national security state so utterly eclipse the beautiful celebration of freedom that adorned the public spaces of the Arab world only a few years ago. What's more, the brutal reaction to dissent is surely self-defeating in the long run. Killing unarmed Islamist protestors has proved to be surprisingly popular among Egyptians, but doing so is far likelier to foster terrorism than to deter it. And it undermines the new war on terror by conflating domestic political rivals with a genuine transnational threat. The Arab world really does face a growing threat of terrorist violence; it really does need to forge a partnership with the West to confront the Islamic State as well as more localized forces. But the West is not about to join a campaign to crush political opponents on the pretext of fighting terrorism. Egypt and its new friends in the Gulf will have to do that on their own. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Basra Development: Oil Minister meeting with Syeds of Basra

28 Martyrs of AlKadhmiya just buried today in Najaf.. Lucky those who make their last step in Najaf soil Ya Ali!
وزير النفط السيد عادل عبد المهدي يبحث مع معتمدي المرجعية الدينية العليا في البصرة خطط تطوير المحافظة التقى وزير النفط السيد عادل عبد المهدي معتمدي المرجعية الدينية العليا في البصرة السيد عماد البطاط والسيد علي الحكيم والسيد عبد العال الموسوي والشيخ محمد فلك ، وجرى خلال اللقاء بحث التطورات السياسية والامنية في البلاد عموما ومحافظة البصرة على وجه الخصوص ، كما جرى مناقشة احتياجات المحافظة واليات الارتقاء بواقعها الخدمي والعمراني والاقتصادي بما يتلاءم مع مكانة المحافظة الاقتصادية في البلاد . واكد السيد عادل عبد المهدي ضرورة النهوض بواقع هذه المحافظة بما يلبي طموحات ابنائها وان يتم اعطاء الصورة الحقيقية لعاصمة العراق الاقتصادية المتمثلة بمحافظة البصرة الفيحاء . Oil Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, looking with Motamedi Supreme religious authority in the province of Basra, development plans Met with Oil Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi Motamedi Supreme religious authority in Basra, Imad al-Battat and Mr. Ali Hakim and Mr. Abdel Aal al-Musawi and Sheikh Mohammed Falak, During the meeting, they discussed political and security developments in the country in general and Basra province in particular, have also been discussing the needs of the province and the mechanics of upgrading their betterment and service of urban and economic standing in line with economic conservatism in the country. He said Mr. Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the need for the advancement of this province to meet the aspirations of their children and that is to give the true picture of Iraq's capital Economic Basra province of Al-Fayhaa. رئيس الوزراء الدكتور حيدر العبادي يزور جرحى التفجيرات الارهابية في الكاظمية ويتفقد جرحى ابطال القوات الامنية وشجعان الحشد الشعبي ويشير الى ان العصابات الارهابية ومن يقف خلفها تحاول جر المواطنين الى حرب طائفية الا ان وعي وحس المواطنين احبط هذه المحاولات. المكتب الاعلامي لرئيس الوزراء د.حيدر العبادي See Translation

Saturday, September 20, 2014

صحيفة "سياسة روز" الإيرانية : تحالف #قطر و #تركيا يستهدف نفوذ طهران

Exclusive: Iran seeks give and take on Islamic State militants, nuclear program Sun, Sep 21 20:03 PM EDT image By Parisa Hafezi and Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran is ready to work with the United States and its allies to stop Islamic State militants, but would like more flexibility on Iran's uranium enrichment program in exchange, senior Iranian officials told Reuters. The comments from the officials, who asked not to be named, highlight how difficult it may be for the Western powers to keep the nuclear negotiations separate from other regional conflicts. Iran wields influence in the Syrian civil war and on the Iraqi government, which is fighting the advance of Islamic State fighters. Iran has sent mixed signals about its willingness to cooperate on defeating Islamic State (IS), a hard-line Sunni Islamist group that has seized large swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq and is blamed for a wave of sectarian violence, beheadings and massacres of civilians. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said recently that he vetoed a U.S. overture to the Islamic Republic to work together on defeating IS, but U.S. officials said there was no such offer. In public, both Washington and Tehran have ruled out cooperating militarily in tackling the IS threat. But in private, Iranian officials have voiced a willingness to work with the United States on IS, though not necessarily on the battlefield. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Iran has a role to play in defeating Islamic State, indicating the U.S. position may also be shifting. "Iran is a very influential country in the region and can help in the fight against the ISIL (IS) terrorists ... but it is a two-way street. You give something, you take something," said a senior Iranian official on condition of anonymity. "ISIL is a threat to world security, not our (nuclear) program, which is a peaceful program," the official added. Tehran rejects Western allegations that it is amassing the capability to produce atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. Another Iranian official echoed the remarks. Both officials said they would like the United States and its Western allies to show flexibility on the number of atomic centrifuges Tehran could keep under any long-term deal that would lift sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. "Both sides can show flexibility that will lead to an acceptable number for everyone," another Iranian official said. WEST WANTS TO KEEP ATOMIC TALKS SEPARATE Kerry held bilateral talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York for more than an hour on Sunday, a senior State Department official said. The meeting focused on the need to make progress in this week's nuclear talks and the threat of Islamic State. The official did not provide details on the discussions between Kerry and Zarif, who met for the first time a year ago on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly when Iran and six world powers reopened negotiations with Tehran. Western officials told Reuters that Iran has not raised this idea in nuclear negotiations with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China that resumed in New York on Friday. Diplomats close to the talks say they are unlikely to settle in New York on a long-term accord that would lift sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iranian nuclear work. The Western officials said it would be difficult for them to even discuss the point in the atomic negotiations as the United States and its allies are determined to keep the nuclear negotiations focused exclusively on atomic issues as the Nov. 24 deadline for a deal nears. "We are seeing as we get closer to the end of the talks that the Iranians are tempted to bring other dossiers to the table," a senior Western diplomat said. "They sometimes indicate that if there were to not be a (nuclear) deal, the other dossiers in region would be more complicated," he added. "The six are determined not to bring the other subjects to the nuclear negotiations table." The New York talks among senior foreign ministry officials from the six powers and Iran are taking place on the sidelines of this week's annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly. The number of nuclear centrifuges has emerged as the principal sticking point in negotiations, which are expected to continue in New York until at least Sept. 26. Centrifuges are machines that spin at supersonic speed to increase the ratio of the fissile isotope in uranium. Low-enriched uranium is used to fuel nuclear power plants, Iran's stated goal, but can also provide material for bombs if refined much further, which the West fears may be Iran's latent goal. Iran currently has over 19,000 centrifuges, though only around 10,000 of those are operational. The six powers want Iran to reduce the number of operational centrifuges to the low thousands, to ensure it cannot quickly produce enough bomb-grade uranium for a weapon, should it choose to do so. Iranians are keen to keep as many of their centrifuges as possible, and have also suggested that they could keep all 19,000 installed while maintaining a much smaller number in an operational state. Western officials say they dislike that idea. U.S. officials have made clear for months that the number of centrifuges they are willing to tolerate operating in Iran over the medium term would be in the low thousands to ensure that Tehran's ability to produce a usable amount of bomb-grade uranium, should it go down that road, is severely limited. Iran says such draconian limitations would be a violation of its right to enrich. Supreme Leader Khamenei has called that issue a "red line" for Tehran. Centrifuges are not the only sticking point in the talks. Others include the duration of any nuclear deal, the timetable for ending the sanctions, and the fate of a research reactor that could yield significant quantities of bomb-grade plutonium. Under a November 2013 interim deal, Iran froze some parts of its atomic program in exchange for limited sanctions relief. That agreement was intended to buy time for negotiations on a comprehensive deal that end the decade-long standoff with Iran and remove the risk of yet another war in the Middle East. (Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in New York, John Irish in Paris and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Marguerita Choy) ===================== Iran is viewed with suspicion for the development of relations between Turkey and Qatar - archival - Anatolia The newspaper said "the policy of the Rose," the Iranian president's visit Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Qatar, the first foreign visit after assuming the presidential post in Turkey, paving the way for a political alliance major economic and historical connection between the two countries; to form the axis of Sunni targets of Iranian influence in the Middle East. The newspaper considered that the choice of the Qatari capital of Doha, the first station to external Erdogan, underlines the importance of Doha in the region, and its importance in the equations of Turkish foreign policy. The newspaper said the Iranian that the gas reserves, which is owned by Qatar, and near Qatar Islamic currents Arabic, constitute the most important factors and motives of the alliance Turkish country in the region, and that this alliance will be more influential on the Syrian arena and Arabic, and that the interests of the Iranian strategy could be affected by this coalition which the newspaper described as "dubious and dangerous." In a related context, the newspaper said the Qatari Turkish talks, during Erdogan's visit to Doha, focused largely on the situation in Iraq and Syria, and how to rearrange the support of the Syrian opposition and Islamist groups fighting the regime in Syria. The newspaper claimed that "our ally Bashar al-Assad" is affected by this new project which aims to Syria, according to its expression. The paper claimed that what they described as "Turkey Alerdoganah" trying to restore the influence of the Ottomans and their role in the region, through the policies of Erdogan in Syria, Egypt and Libya and Palestine, and adds that Erdogan is trying with Arab allies the use of important issues and sensitive to Arabs and Muslims as an issue of Palestine, to promote the project aimed to re-Turkey's role in the troubled Middle East, because of the civil wars in Syria and Iraq. The opinion of the newspaper that Qatar and Turkey, and since the start of the Arab revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the two "are trying to form the axis of Sunni Islamic equivalent of the Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran to Baghdad and Damascus, but this project collided with the Syrian regime, which has resisted this project Islamic suspicious, and faced terrorist groups and fighters Islamists backed diagonally and Turkey to topple the Syrian regime and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad, "she said. And stressed "the policy of the Rose," the strength and cohesion of the Iranian axis in the region, arguing that it can not back down to form the axis of Sunni Islamist-led Turkish and Qatar "in Syria, which has become the focus of conflict and Square confrontation between these two projects in the Middle East, Iran intervened with its weight there of the importance of Syria and its strategy in the Iranian axis extending from Tehran to Lebanon, "and added that the leadership of Hezbollah in Lebanon," I realized the seriousness of this axis Turkish Qatar on Syria and the whole region, and that this axis Qatari Turkish, who owns the media and economic resources enormous, if successful drop Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it will surely Imitdd to Lebanon and affect the existence of the resistance there. " And reached the newspaper to the conclusion that the survival of the Syrian regime is the most important fundamental obstacle to this axis and the National Alliance Turkish and Qatar depend on the currents of political and armed groups Syria associated with and funded from Doha on its future strategy in the region, and is seeking to expand its influence in the Arab region through Syria. ===== إيران تنظر بعين الريبة لتطور العلاقات التركية القطرية - أرشيفية - الأناضول قالت صحيفة "سياسة روز" الإيرانية إن زيارة الرئيس التركي رجب طيب أردوغان إلى قطر، كأول زيارة خارجية بعد توليه المنصب الرئاسي في تركيا، تمهد لتحالف سياسي ـ اقتصادي كبير وتاريخي فيما بين البلدين؛ لتشكيل محور سني يستهدف النفوذ الإيراني في منطقة الشرق الأوسط. واعتبرت الصحيفة أن اختيار العاصمة القطرية الدوحة، كأول محطة خارجية لأردوغان، يؤكد أهمية الدوحة في المنطقة، وأهميتها في المعادلات الخارجية للسياسة التركية. وأضافت الصحيفة الإيرانية بأن احتياطي الغاز الذي تمتلكه قطر، وقرْب قطر من التيارات الإسلامية العربية، يشكلان أهم العوامل و الدوافع للتحالف التركي ـ القطري في المنطقة، وأن هذا التحالف سيكون أكثر تأثيراً على الساحة السورية والعربية، وأن المصالح الإيرانية الاستراتيجية من الممكن أن تتأثر بهذا التحالف الذي وصفته الصحيفة بـ "المريب والخطر". وفي سياق متصل قالت الصحيفة إن المباحثات القطرية ـ التركية، خلال زيارة أردوغان للدوحة، ركزت بشكل كبير على الوضع العراقي والسوري، وكيفية إعادة ترتيب دعم المعارضة السورية والجماعات الإسلامية التي تقاتل النظام في سوريا. وادعت الصحيفة أن "حليفنا بشار الأسد" هو من سيتأثر بهذا المشروع الجديد الذي يستهدف سوريا، بحسب تعبيرها. وزعمت الصحيفة أن ما وصفته بـ"تركيا الأردوغانية" تحاول استعادة نفوذ العثمانيين ودورهم في المنطقة، من خلال سياسات أردوغان في سوريا ومصر ولبيبا وفلسطين، وتضيف أن أردوغان يحاول مع حلفائه من العرب استخدام القضايا المهمة والحساسة لدى العرب والمسلمين كقضية فلسطين، للترويج لمشروعه الرامي لإعادة دور تركيا في منطقة الشرق الأوسط المضطربة، بسبب الحروب الأهلية في سوريا والعراق. وترى الصحيفة أن قطر وتركيا، ومنذ انطلاق الثورات العربية في تونس ومصر وليبيا، وهما "تحاولان تشكيل محور إسلامي سني يوازي الهلال الشيعي الممتد من طهران إلى بغداد ودمشق، ولكن هذا المشروع اصطدم بالنظام السوري، الذي قاوم هذا المشروع الإسلامي المريب، وواجه الجماعات الإرهابية والمقاتلين الإسلاميين المدعومين قطرياً وتركياً لإسقاط النظام السوري والرئيس الشرعي بشار الأسد"، على حد قولها. وأكدت "سياسة روز" قوة وتماسك المحور الإيراني في المنطقة، معتبرة أنه لا يمكن أن يتراجع بتشكيل محور إسلامي سني بقيادة تركية وقطر "في سوريا، التي أصبحت محور الصراع وساحة المواجهة بين هذين المشروعين في منطقة الشرق الأوسط، تدخلت إيران بكل ثقلها هناك لأهمية سوريا ومكانتها الاستراتيجية في المحور الإيراني الممتد من طهران إلى لبنان"، وأضافت أن قيادة حزب الله في لبنان "أدركت خطورة هذا المحور التركي القطري على سوريا والمنطقة برمتها، وأن هذا المحور القطري ـ التركي، الذي يمتلك الإعلام والموارد الاقتصادية الهائلة، لو نجح بإسقاط بشار الأسد في سوريا، فإنه بالتأكيد سوف يمتدد إلى لبنان ويؤثر على وجود المقاومة هناك". وتوصلت الصحيفة إلى خلاصة مفادها أن بقاء النظام السوري يشكل أهم عقبة أساسية أمام هذا المحور والتحالف القطري ـ التركي، وأن قطر تعتمد على التيارات السياسية والجماعات المسلحة السورية المرتبطة والممولة من الدوحة على استراتيجيتها المستقبلية في المنطقة، وتسعى لتوسيع نفوذها في المنطقة العربية عن طريق سوريا.

Friday, September 19, 2014

NASA finds ‘monster’ black hole in tiny galaxy

NASA finds ‘monster’ black hole in tiny galaxy Published time: September 19, 2014 00:11 Get short URL NASA, Science, Space, Thrills&Spills The M60-UCD1, discovered by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2013, is one of the smallest known galaxies. But now the space agency has discovered that the dwarf galaxy is harboring a “monster” black hole. The diameter of M60-UCD1 is about 300 light years – just 1/500th of our galaxy’s width. However, it is packed with 140 million stars, which also makes it one of the densest galaxies. For comparison, NASA explains, the nighttime sky we see from Earth’s surface shows 4,000 stars. If we lived inside the newly-discovered M60-UCD1, our nighttime sky would be covered with at least one million stars “visible to the naked eye.” But what really surprised astronomers is the supermassive black hole they found inside M60-UCD1. Lurking in the smallest galaxy, the black hole is five times the mass of the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It has a mass equal to 21 million suns, and is 15 percent of the small galaxy's total mass – but less than 0.01 percent of the Milky Way’s total mass. “That is pretty amazing, given that the Milky Way is 500 times larger and more than 1,000 times heavier than the dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1,” University of Utah astronomer Anil Seth, lead author of an international study on the dwarf galaxy, said in Nature’s Thursday publication. The finding has prompted astronomers to consider rethinking dwarf galaxy theories. They have now grown to suggest that dwarf galaxies may, in fact, be the stripped remnants of larger galaxies that were torn apart during collisions with other galaxies. Until the discovery, they thought that tiny galaxies were small islands of stars born in isolation. “We don’t know of any other way you could make a black hole so big in an object this small,” Seth said. The observation also suggests that there are many other compact galaxies in the universe that contain supermassive black holes. It could be that M60-UCD1 was once a large galaxy containing 10 billion stars, but then it passed very close to the center of an even larger galaxy, M60. As a result, the stars and dark matter in the outer part of the galaxy were torn away and became part of M60. It is possible that M60-UCD1 may eventually be pulled to fully merge with M60, which has its own black hole that is more than 1,000 times bigger than the black hole in our galaxy. Should this happen, the black holes in both galaxies – which are 50 million light-years away – would also likely merge.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Toyota recalling 20,000 late-model vehicles on potential fuel leak

Thu, Sep 18 13:03 PM EDT image DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it will recall about 20,000 vehicles worldwide for possible fuel leaks. Most of the affected vehicles are in the United States but were also shipped to other countries, Toyota said. Toyota Motor Sales USA said the recall involves vehicles with its 2GR-FE engine. The recall includes the 2015 model year Lexus RX, and four 2014 model year Toyota vehicles: Avalon, Camry, Highlander and Sienna. Lexus is Toyota's luxury brand. A fuel delivery pipe in the engine may leak because it was not correctly welded by a Toyota supplier company, the automaker said. This could lead to a leak, which could increase the risk of fire. Toyota said it was not aware of any fires, crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by the problem. All of the affected Toyota models were produced in the United States, with the Lexus model made in Canada. They were shipped around the world, including to South Korea, Russia, Australia, other parts of Asia and the Middle East, a Toyota spokesman said. Technicians at Toyota and Lexus dealers will inspect the fuel delivery pipe and if it was produced at that particular supplier, they will replace it with a new one, Toyota said. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Iraqi Cleric’s Speech Strikes a Balance : New al Qaeda wing ( عاصب الرأس) in South Asia claims major attack

In attack by al Qaeda, lines blur between Pakistan's military, militants Wed, Oct 01 02:39 AM EDT By Syed Raza Hassan and Katharine Houreld KARACHI Pakistan/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Months after Owais Jakhrani was sacked from the Pakistan navy for radical Islamist views, he led an audacious mission to take over a warship and turn its guns on a U.S. naval vessel in the open seas. The early September dawn raid at a naval base in the southern city of Karachi was thwarted, but not before Jakhrani, two officers and an unidentified fourth assailant snuck past a patrol boat in a dinghy and engaged in an intense firefight on or around the warship, PNS Zulfiqar. Four people were killed in the attempt to hijack the Zulfiqar, including Jakhrani and two accomplices, who were serving sub-lieutenants, according to police reports seen by Reuters. Officials are divided about how much support the young man in his mid-20s had from inside the navy. They also stress that Jakhrani and his accomplices were a long way from achieving their aim when they were killed. But the attack, claimed by al Qaeda's newly created South Asian wing, has highlighted the threat of militant infiltration into Pakistan's nuclear-armed military. The issue is a sensitive one for Pakistan's armed forces, which have received billions of dollars of U.S. aid since 2001 when they joined Washington's global campaign against al Qaeda. According to an initial statement from al Qaeda, the plan was to use the Zulfiqar to attack a U.S. navy vessel, meaning potential loss of American lives and a blow to relations between the two nations. A further statement issued by the group identified the target as USS Supply, a US naval ship used to refuel warships at sea. The Indian navy was also a target, the statement said. It urged followers to “make jihad on the seas one of their priorities," according to the SITE intelligence group, which monitors extremist communications. A naval spokesman said an inquiry was still ongoing when Reuters contacted the military with detailed questions about the incident. The military typically does not publish its inquiries. "The Reuters story is not based on facts," he said. "All the facts will be ascertained once the inquiry is finalised." Most Pakistani military officials deny infiltration is a significant problem. Yet Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told parliament the attackers could only have breached security with inside help. One navy official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press, said at least eight navy personnel had been arrested based on the attackers' phone records, including four aboard the Zulfiqar. Three serving mid-level lieutenant commanders from Karachi were also arrested in the western city of Quetta, allegedly trying to flee to Afghanistan two days after the botched raid, officials said. Further arrests were made in Karachi, Peshawar, and northwestern Pakistan, they added. THE "MASTERMIND" The plot's mastermind was sub-lieutenant Jakhrani, either 25 or 26 years old, whose father is a senior police officer in Karachi, officials said. He was fired several months ago during his probationary training period, according to a senior naval officer. "He used to ask questions about why there is no break for prayers given during the course of training sessions," the officer said. "He used to question seniors." Earlier this year, Jakhrani traveled to Afghanistan to meet militant leaders and receive combat training, according to two officials. They said that he had told his bosses before departing that he needed to take leave to study for exams. But Jakhrani failed his exams and alarmed colleagues with his militant views. "We found literature and material on his person that no one can be allowed to have. His colleagues reported his views and he was then closely watched and monitored and finally dismissed," one official said. Once he left the navy, information on his movements and plans was patchy. Intelligence officials tipped off the navy days before the attack that a raid was imminent, according to two officials. But Jakhrani, who had an insider's knowledge of the Karachi base, did not appear to be closely monitored. Imtiaz Gul, head of the Islamabad-based think tank the Centre for Research and Security Studies, said senior generals were aware of a long-standing weakness in surveillance of military officials dismissed for extremism. "They don't have a tracking system for officers who are dismissed or asked to leave the service (for radical views)," said Gul. "That makes it very difficult to track if they have joined extremist groups." Chris Rawley, vice president of the Washington D.C.-based think tank the Center for International Maritime Security, said the attack never looked likely to succeed. But underlining one of the United States' biggest fears, he added: "The fact that maybe there are some collaborators in the navy is worrying because maybe there are collaborators among others that have purview over nuclear weapons." Similar fears about militant infiltration and the sympathies of junior officers were raised after sophisticated attacks penetrated a Karachi naval base in 2011 and the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009. THE ATTACK The Karachi attack came two days after al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri announced the formation of a new wing, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. The region, stretching across India to Bangladesh, is home to more than 400 million Muslims. "The targets were the American and the Indian navies!" the group said in a statement carried by SITE intelligence group. The statement threatened U.S. naval allies that seek to secure maritime routes and prevent the movement of militants. It claimed that jihadi fighters had launched an attack aboard the Zulfiqar and another ship, the PNS Aslat, and had killed many naval officers. A police report that Reuters saw recorded one sailor's death on the Zulfiqar and did not mention the Aslat. Militants have launched attacks on top Pakistani security installations before, but this plot sought to strike at the heart of the alliance between Pakistan and the United States. At least four attackers wearing navy uniforms snuck past the patrol boat, arriving at the Zulfiqar as the dawn shift change was due, a navy official said. A sailor on board challenged them, leading to a shootout that ended when the ship's gunner fired anti-ship guns at the attackers, according to the navy official and the police report. "The special services group commandos arrived from their nearby base and eliminated at least one attacker who had taken position below the deck," said a naval officer who worked on the base. "Meanwhile, reinforcements of naval commandos came from the nearby (unit) Iqbal. The commandos came in with their gadgetry of jammers and a lab which absorbed all the data being transmitted from the ship at that moment." In total, three attackers and one sailor were killed, police reports and autopsies showed. A policeman said he raced to the dockyard when he heard a blast, but the military told him it was part of celebrations for Pakistan Defence Day, which fell on the day of the attack. The navy official said it was not clear what caused the blast, but it could have been either a grenade or suicide vest. Witnesses' statements differ in some aspects to an account given by another security official, who said Jakhrani and five attackers were killed by a gunner on the ship who fired on their dinghy before they boarded. One Pakistani security official said the threat posed by the plot to a U.S. ship in the region should not be exaggerated.
"It was not a success and trying to make it look like it was is unfair propaganda. Hijacking a navy ship isn't a joke," the official said. "We can all be alarmists if we want but this is not some Hollywood film."
(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik in Islamabad, Gul Yousufzai in Quetta, Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Raju Gopalakrishnan) =============== 14 Pakistanis freed from U.S. custody in Afghanistan's Bagram prison: lawyers Sat, Sep 20 14:19 PM EDT By Katharine Houreld ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Fourteen Pakistani detainees were released from U.S. custody in Bagram Prison in Afghanistan and repatriated to Pakistan on Saturday, a Pakistani legal firm representing some of the prisoners said. Justice Project Pakistan has been representing several Bagram detainees since 2010 in a bid to force the Pakistani government to bring them home. So far no information has been provided by the Pakistani authorities on the names of the released detainees or their current whereabouts, said Sarah Belal, a lawyer with Justice Project Pakistan. One of the released detainees is 29-year-old Abdul Halim Saifullah, Belal said, citing information from the Red Cross. She said he disappeared nine years ago from the southern city of Karachi after dropping his father off at a hospital and has been detained in Bagram ever since. Including the group released on Saturday, 39 Pakistanis have been released from Bagram in the past 10 months. At least one Pakistani is thought to still be in prison there, although the exact numbers are unclear since no official list has been provided since 2012. Sarah Belal, lead counsel for Justice Project Pakistan, said the government did not inform the families about the release and she feared the men may now be transferred to secret Pakistani prisons. "We still don't know about the whereabouts of the nine detainees released last month. The lack of clarity with today's tranche gives us reason to fear that they too may be held incommunicado by the Pakistani authorities," she said. (Editing by Greg Mahlich) ============= شقيق ارهابي منشق: قادة "‫#‏داعش‬" تقيم الملاهي الليلية و تتعاطى ‫#‏المخدرات‬ أكد خالد المطيري، شقيق الارهابي السعودي أحمد ثامر الشاطري المطيري المنشق عن جماعة "داعش" الارهابية أن السبب الرئيسي لفرار أخيه اكتشافه تعاطي قادة "داعش" المخدرات، وإقامة الملاهي الليلية، وسَبْي النساء، وقتل المسلمين. لمزيد من التفاصيل متابعة الخبر على الرابط :http://www.alghadeer.tv/news/detail/18899/ The brother of a dissident: terrorist leaders "# daash evaluates nightclubs and drug abuse # said Delaney, a brother of Saudi terrorist Ahmed thamir Al shatri MUTAIRI dissident terrorist group" daash "that the main reason for the defection of his brother discovered the abuse" leaders "drugs, daash establishment of nightclubs, and enchant the women, kill Muslims. The brother of a terrorist splinter: leaders "Daash" evaluate nightclubs and drug dealing Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 13:05 According to the online "daily life" on Sunday, said al-Mutairi revealed that his brother Ahmed, who fled from the "Daash" and turned himself in, not the vocalist for the section known as "O Asb head", but it is for his brother, the third Saad, who is still with those terrorist group. He said to me three brothers, Fahd and Ahmed Saad, all came out to fight in Syria, after the announcement of the call to fight in social networking sites, etc., and they Baltgrir them. He said al-Mutairi: "He died my elder brother Fahd at the hands of the Syrian army after a month of his arrival in Syria, and to joining Front victory," noting that his two brothers Saad and Ahmed Anhqa Front victory and joined thereafter to "Daash", and sang Saad clip (O Asb head) on the Internet. " He said that section confirms the ignorance of his brother and deceived him, and not thinking of the consequences of this section and its dimensions, noting that his brother Ahmed, "remained committed to silence and the fear of how to return and not of allegiance to Daash that do not bear the name of any impact." The Al-Mutairi that the reasons for not swear allegiance to Ahmed's "Daash" and fleeing them is watching "kill Muslims and vision to those who are being slaughtered while repeating the certificate, as well as his vision of leadership (Daash) and joined under the banner they use drugs, and staying nightclubs, and insulting women, which raised likes How to bear the name of the state Daash show that the appearance of the hardline carry out such acts. " Ended. For more details follow the news link: http://www.alghadeer.tv/news/detail/18899/ (Translated by Bing) شقيق ارهابي منشق: قادة "داعش" تقيم الملاهي الليلية و تتعاطى المخدرات الأحد 21 سبتمبر 2014 - 13:05 شقيق ارهابي منشق: قادة "داعش" تقيم الملاهي الليلية و تتعاطى المخدرات أكد خالد المطيري، شقيق الارهابي السعودي أحمد ثامر الشاطري المطيري المنشق عن جماعة "داعش" الارهابية أن السبب الرئيسي لفرار أخيه اكتشافه تعاطي قادة "داعش" المخدرات، وإقامة الملاهي الليلية، وسَبْي النساء، وقتل المسلمين. وافاد موقع "صحيفة الحياة" اليوم الاحد، ان المطيري كشف أن شقيقه أحمد، الذي فر من "داعش" وسلم نفسه، لم يكن المنشد للمقطع المعروف "يا عاصب الرأس"، وإنما هو لشقيقه الثالث سعد الذي لايزال مع تلك الجماعة الارهابية. وقال: لي 3 إخوة، فهد وسعد وأحمد، خرجوا جميعا للقتال في سوريا، بعد الاعلان عن الدعوة للقتال في مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي وغيرها، وقاموا بالتغرير بهم. وأضاف المطيري: "توفي أخي الأكبر فهد على يد الجيش السوري بعد شهر من وصوله إلى سوريا، وانضمامه إلى جبهة النصرة"، مشيرا أن شقيقيه سعد وأحمد انشقا عن جبهة النصرة وانضما بعد ذلك الى "داعش"، وانشد سعد مقطع (يا عاصب الرأس) على الإنترنت". واعتبر ان المقطع يؤكد جهل اخيه والتغرير به، وعدم تفكيره بعواقب هذا المقطع وأبعاده، مشيرا الى ان شقيقه أحمد "بقي ملتزما الصمت والخوف من كيفية العودة وعدم المبايعة لداعش التي لا تحمل من اسمها أي أثر". وأكد المطيري أن أسباب عدم مبايعة أحمد لـ "داعش" و فراره منهم هو مشاهدته"قتلهم المسلمين ورؤيته لمن يُذبح وهو يردد الشهادة، وكذلك رؤيته قيادة (داعش) والمنضمين تحت لوائه وهم يتعاطون المخدرات، ويقيمون الملاهي الليلية، ويَسْبون النساء، الأمر الذي أثار تعجبه كيف لدولة تحمل اسم لداعش وتظهر بمظهر المتشدد أن تقوم بمثل هذه الأعمال". انتهى.== ============= By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and DAN BILEFSKYSEPT. 19, 2014 Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is influential among Shiites. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images BAGHDAD — Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the influential Shiite cleric, on Friday urged vigilance against Western political interference in Iraqi affairs but stopped short of opposing the American-led military campaign against the extremists of the Islamic State. “All political leaders of the country must be aware and awake to prevent the external assistance against the Islamic State from becoming an entrance to breach Iraq’s independence,” Ayatollah Sistani said. “Cooperation with the international effort shall not be taken as a pretext to impose foreign decisions on events in Iraq, especially military events.” His carefully balanced comments, in a statement read by his spokesman at Friday Prayer in the Iraqi city of Karbala, underscored the challenge facing the United States and its allies in their efforts to push back the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, without bolstering or antagonizing rival Shiite factions. U.S. Faces Tough Struggle on Ground to Oust ISISSEPT. 18, 2014 A rebel leader, Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, right, on Monday in Reyhanli, Turkey. “The international position has to be to fight all kinds of terrorism,” he said. U.S. Goal Is to Make Syrian Rebels ViableSEPT. 18, 2014 An image from a video titled “Lend Me Your Ears — Messages from the British Detainee John Cantlie,” which was posted on YouTube. New ISIS Video Features British Hostage, John Cantlie, as SpokesmanSEPT. 18, 2014 The ayatollah’s comments came shortly after the office of President François Hollande of France announced that French fighter jets had carried out their first attacks on Islamic State targets in Iraq, fulfilling his pledge a day earlier to join the international military campaign against the group. Photo A Rafale fighter at France's Al Dhafra airbase in Abu Dhabi this week. Credit Taieb Mahjoub/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images In recent days, a handful of other Iraqi Shiite leaders or militias with closer ties to Iran have made statements expressing more wariness or opposition to the American-led military efforts, and American officials have said the Iranian proxies may be seeking to remind the Western states that Tehran, too, should be taken into account. On Friday, the Iraqi cleric Moktada al-Sadr, another influential voice with ties to Iran, called for a demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to protest a potential incursion by American ground forces. But Ayatollah Sistani, considered both independent and uniquely popular here, was more judicious. While he warned Iraqis to guard against foreign interference, he also appeared to endorse the idea that foreign help may be required to successfully engage the Sunni extremists. “Iraq may be in need of assistance from its friends and brothers to combat black terrorism,” Ayatollah Sistani said. But he insisted that for Iraq, “preserving its sovereignty and independence must be the most important thing and must be taken into consideration.” He also appealed for intersectarian solidarity in the fight against the extremists by specifically urging support for Dhuluiya, a Sunni town that has held out for months against a siege by the Sunni extremists. “Our brave Iraqi forces should help and defend Dhuluiya,” he said, “because its people are our brothers and they are the sons of our country.” Continue reading the main story Graphic How ISIS Works With oil revenues, arms and organization, the jihadist group controls vast stretches of Syria and Iraq and aspires to statehood. OPEN Graphic Elsewhere, French Rafale warplanes struck a logistics depot belonging to the Islamic State in northeastern Iraq on Friday. Mr. Hollande said in a statement, “The objective was hit and entirely destroyed.” Mr. Hollande said other operations would take place in the coming days. Remarking on the violent tactics employed by the Sunni militants, who have conquered wide areas of Iraq and Syria, Mr. Hollande said Thursday at a news conference in Paris that the group had been able to grow partly because the international community had failed to intervene. But he emphasized that France’s role would be limited to providing air support, including strikes, in Iraq. Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story He indicated that France would not expand its mission into Syria, and French officials have made it clear that the government does not want to give the impression that it supports the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading the main story Graphic The Iraq-ISIS Conflict in Maps, Photos and Video A visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria. OPEN Graphic France was a vociferous opponent of the American-led effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003, and analysts say the French public remains wary of sustained Western intervention in the region. Mr. Hollande, whose domestic political approval rating has hit a low of 13 percent amid persistent economic troubles, has framed the fight against Islamic State as important for French national security. In Washington, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said American troop levels in Iraq could increase as Iraqi security forces and Kurdish pesh merga fighters press their fight to retake territory seized by the Islamic State. General Odierno, who served as the top American military commander in Iraq, said the 1,600 American troops who are currently on the ground in Iraq was “a good start.” He added, “I don’t think there’s a rush — a rush to have lots of people in there now.” But during a breakfast meeting with reporters, he did not rule out the possibility of sending more American military advisers to Iraq. President Obama has repeatedly said that he will not send American ground combat troops to Iraq. In northern Syria, an Islamic State offensive has driven thousands of Syrian Kurds from their homes, with many fleeing across the border into Turkey on Friday, prompting a call by an Iraqi Kurdish leader for international intervention. In recent days, extremist fighters seized villages in northern Syria, officials said, and on Friday were attacking the mainly Kurdish town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish, on the Turkish border, news services reported. “I’d like to ask the international community to take every measure as soon as possible to save Kobani,” Massoud Barzani, president of the largely autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, said in a statement. The militants, he said, “have to be hit and defeated wherever they are.” David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Baghdad, and Dan Bilefsky from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Kirk Semple from Erbil, Iraq, Omar al-Jawoshy from Baghdad, Maïa de la Baume from Paris, and Helene Cooper from Washington. ================================ New al Qaeda wing in South Asia claims major attack Reuters By Maria Golovnina 16 hours ago PNS Zulfiqar By Maria Golovnina ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's South Asia wing has claimed responsibility for hijacking a Pakistani naval ship and trying to use it to fire rockets at U.S. vessels in the Arabian Sea, in the first major assault by the newly created group. The SITE monitoring service quoted its spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, as saying a group of militants had succeeded in seizing control of the Pakistani frigate PNS Zulfiqar and tried to use it to attack nearby U.S. vessels. "These mujahideen had taken control of the Pakistani ship, and they were advancing towards the American fleet when the Pakistani army stopped them," he said. "As a result, the mujahideen, the lions of Allah and benefactors of the Ummah, sacrificed their lives for Allah, and the Pakistani soldiers spoiled their hereafter by giving up their lives in defense of the enemies of the Ummah the Americans." SITE said Mahmoud's statement also provided a picture and a detailed layout of the PNS Zulfiqar. .. View gallery PAKISTAN-SUDAN/ Pakistan Navy Zulfiqar-class frigate PNS Shamsheer docks at Port Sudan, in Sudan's Red Sea State, No … The navy and the army's press wing were not immediately available for comment. The naval yard on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast is a strategically important facility at the center of U.S.-Pakistani security, anti-terrorism and anti-trafficking cooperation. The foiled attack comes at a time when regional powers are already concerned about stability as U.S.-led forces continue to withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan, potentially creating a security gap for insurgents to exploit. The attack, which lasted several hours, also shows just how much the Islamist militants are capable of striking at the heart of Pakistan's vast security apparatus and raises questions about the nuclear-armed nation's ability to guard its installations. The Pakistani Taliban, closely allied with al Qaeda, had earlier said that the Sept. 6 attack was carried out with the help of insiders. Pakistan later arrested a number of navy personnel on suspicion of collaborating with the attackers. Al Qaeda announced the formation of the new group on Sept. 4, with its chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, promising to spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across South Asia, home to more than 400 million Muslims. Analysts say the move is part of al Qaeda's plan to take advantage of the planned withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan and boost its influence in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region as well as India. It also comes against the backdrop of a full-scale operation launched by Pakistan's military against Taliban militants in the lawless region of North Waziristan following a deadly attack on the airport in the city of Karachi in June. (Editing by Nick Macfie) ====================== September 18, 2014, 7:14 AM Al Qaeda's quiet plan to outdo ISIS and hit U.S. WASHINGTON -- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may be dominating the headlines and stealing attention with its prolific propaganda, but CBS News' Bob Orr reports, another group in Syria -- one few have even heard of because information about it has been kept secret -- is considered a more urgent concern. Sources tell CBS News that operatives and explosives experts from Osama bin Laden's old al Qaeda network may again present an immediate threat to the U.S. homeland. CIA insider on threat posed by new Syrian terror group more dangerous than ISIS At two dozen foreign airports, U.S.-bound passengers are undergoing enhanced security screening. Agents are searching for hidden explosives. Laptops and phones with dead batteries have been banned from flights. Great Britain raised its national terror threat level, and the FBI is tracking American jihadists who may return home. Sources say it's due to the emerging threat in Syria, where hardened terrorists loyal to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri are working on new, hard-to-detect bombs. In testimony Wednesday, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matt Olsen -- who warned that U.S. agencies are unable to effectively track Western jihadists inside Syria -- seemed to make a vague reference to the threat. "In Syria, we've seen veteran al Qaeda fighters travel from Pakistan to take advantage of the permissive environment there," said Olsen. Sources confirm that the al Qaeda cell goes by the name "Khorasan." Unlike ISIS, which is believed at present to be largely engulfed in its fight for territory. Khorasan is developing fresh plots to target U.S. aviation, and it's trying to recruit Westerners who have flocked to the fight in Syria, some of whom have joined the al Qaeda franchise in the country, known as the al-Nusra Front. The fear is that U.S. and European passport holders could more easily smuggle explosives onto airplanes. Asked if there was anything about the threat he could reveal to lawmakers during the public testimony on Capitol Hill, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said discussions about "specific organizations... should be left to a classified setting." Play Video Al Qaeda chief bomb maker alive: Yemen official Sources tell CBS News the group includes technicians trained by al Qaeda's master bomb-builder, Ibrahim al-Asiri. The Yemen-based Asiri built the infamous but ultimately unsuccessful underwear bombs and two cargo bombs concealed in printer cartridges. He is considered one of the most innovative bomb-builders in the jihadist world, and he's still operating freely -- at least for now. CIA chief John Brennan recently told Orr that U.S. officials were "doing what we can" to track Asiri down, and predicted that his "time will come." At the moment, U.S. officials say there is no specific, credible threat to the homeland. But as information about Khorasan becomes available, it's clear that al Qaeda remains obsessed with bombs, airplanes, and attacking the United States. ================================== Iraqi soldiers describe heavy losses as Islamic State overruns camp . Reuters By Ahmed Rasheed and Saif Sameer Hameed 1. Group: Islamic militants killed 770 Iraqi troops Associated Press 2. Survivors demand justice after Iraq massacre Reuters 3. Clashes Between Iraqi Soldiers And Islamic State Leave Dozens Dead And Missing Huffington Post 4. U.S. air strikes target insurgents near Iraq's Haditha Dam Reuters 5. Islamic State militants kill 40 Iraqi troops Associated Press BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi soldiers described on Monday how Islamic State fighters inflicted heavy losses in a chaotic raid on a military base just an hour's drive from Baghdad, highlighting the jihadists' ability to attack high-profile targets despite U.S. air strikes. Soldiers, officials and tribal sources gave differing accounts of what happened on Sunday when the militants stormed the camp at Saqlawiya that they had been besieging. However, casualties among the Iraqi government forces appear to have been very heavy, with many soldiers either dead, forced to flee or missing following the assault near the city of Falluja, which Islamic State has controlled since January. A statement for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said he had issued orders to detain two commanders for "negligence" in the incidents 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, while some troops who escaped accused the military leadership of failing to help them during the siege. Islamic State fighters seized large areas of northern and western Iraq in a summer offensive, drawing accusations of extreme brutality and prompting the U.S. air attacks after they advanced on an autonomous Kurdish region. Their raid at Saqlawiya is the latest since the northern city of Mosul fell to Islamic State in June to exposes the Iraqi military's shortcomings. It followed a massacre of an army detachment at Camp Speicher in the same month, in which military recruits were led off the base unarmed and murdered in their hundreds. Like at Camp Speicher, it remains unclear how many men were present at the base in Saqlawiya and how many are now dead and missing. However one officer who survived the raid said that of an estimated 1,000 soldiers in Saqlawiya, only about 200 had managed to flee. "This failure is not the fault of the soldiers ... the mistake was that of the military leadership, they failed," said the officer, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. The officer said that Islamic State insurgents had gained control of Sijir, near Falluja, a week ago, allowing them to surround the Saqlawiya base. "We were without ammunition and without food. Every time we contacted military commanders, they promised to send helicopters to air drop reinforcements but nothing happened," said the officer, who fled to another base close to Falluja on Sunday. "We ... were drinking salty well water and eating canned tomato paste." The government statement quoted the spokesman of the armed forces general command as saying that orders had been issued four days ago for supplies and military reinforcements to be sent to Saqlawiya and Sijir, in addition to intensifying overflights. On Wednesday, the insurgents sent a Humvee vehicle rigged with explosives into the camp. Guards mistakenly assumed that an army driver was at the wheel. "When it exploded, it caused a lot of confusion. Islamic State exploited that and entered the camp. Now most of regiment headquarters within the base are under the control of Islamic State," said the officer, adding that one, small army unit remained besieged in the camp. "KILOMETER OF DEATH" About 200 soldiers managed to escape the base on Sunday after battling with the militants in the area which soldiers call the "kilometer of death". "On the road, the images were tragic. Burnt Humvees and burnt corpses of soldiers are still on the streets," said the officer who retreated to the nearby Camp Tareq. One soldier, identified as a Saqlawiya camp survivor, recounted his testimony in a video that was shown on Iraqi state television and widely circulated online. Reuters could not immediately verify its authenticity. The survivor referred to the militants sending in a booby-trapped vehicle, appearing to corroborate the testimony of the first army officer. He also mentioned the lack of food and ammunition at Saqlawiya. "Those who ran, got away and those who stayed were left behind. We left in three transport vehicles and two gas tankers and headed for Sijir," he said, adding that they found Islamic State insurgents waiting for them there too. "Again we got injured by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) and there were those who got killed by gunfire and those who fled amid the tall grass and orchards," said the survivor, whose name was not disclosed, and who was shirtless and wearing his trouser fatigues. He said that "200 or less" soldiers managed to escape. "The bodies of slaughtered soldiers are left in Sijir and Saqlawiya on the main roads and near the factory," he said. NO ANSWERS An intelligence officer who is in charge of an area of operations that includes Saqlawiya said insurgents gained control of Sijir area last week and "the army was forced to retreat .. in the farms between Saqlawiya and Falluja". An army convoy sent in to break the siege on Sunday was ambushed by Islamic State fighters. Many soldiers were killed, others were taken prisoners and a few managed to flee, he told Reuters. The Defense Ministry said in a statement late on Sunday that it had "lost communication" with some soldiers in Sijir and Saqlawiya. At a parliamentary session on Monday at least two lawmakers asked for clarification surrounding the attacks in Saqlawiya, but did not receive any answers from officials. (Additional reporting by Raheem Salman; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Ned Parker and David Stamp) ================