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01.05.10 Pakistan: Taliban brainwashes kids with visions of virgins
NAWAZ KOT, Pakistan, January 5 - "When we got to this compound it was shocking for us," Lt. Col. Yusuf tells us, standing in the middle of what the Pakistani military says was a brainwashing center — for children. It was here, according to the Pakistani military, that children aged 12 to 18 were turned from innocent youngsters into cold-blooded killers, willing to blow themselves to bits as suicide bombers. The discovery of the compound was first reported in Pakistani media last month. Yusuf says his unit took it over after a three day battle with militants. Part of the compound consists of four rooms — each wall adorned with brightly colored paintings in clear contrast to the barren and harsh landscape surrounding it. The children were told that this was what awaited them in heaven. Each of the images has a river flowing through it. Some have people playing in the water. Others have women lining the banks.
Editorial note: Marco Polo (1254-1324 AD) went on a journey from Venice to China that lasted 25 years. In his "Travels of Marco Polo" he records the danger of "assasins" who would attack Westerners in suicide missions. The suicide assasins were organized by a chief known as "the old man of the mountains" who maintained a fortress that was painted with the imagery of Paradise. He would teach his followers that the quickest way to Paradise — where you would be served by seven virgins — was through suicide, committed while killing infidels. The separate account of
01.05.10 $2.3 trillion spent on health care in 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) January 5 -Federal study shows spending actually slowed due to recession, but that's still an average of $7,681 per person. The US spent an average of $7,681 per person on health care in 2008, for an eye-popping total of $2.3 trillion — even though spending actually slowed dramatically that year because of the recession, a new federal study says. Health spending didn't slow down as much as the nation's overall economic output, the study said, in keeping with a decades-old trend that has now pushed health care costs to account for over 16 percent of the nation's economy. The figures underscore the challenges confronting President Barack Obama and lawmakers seeking to overhaul the system. Obama has repeatedly cited spiraling health costs as one of the main reasons Congress needs to pass his health plan, and administration officials said the findings highlighted the need for quick action. [More>>cbsnews.com]
01.05.10 Credit Suisse sued for $24bn over failed resorts
January 5 - Credit Suisse is being sued by property owners in four luxury ski and golf resorts, in the US and the Bahamas, who say that the Swiss bank concocted a loan scheme to defraud them and ultimately take over the properties. The lawsuit, filed on Sunday in a federal court in Boise, Idaho, seeks $24 billion of damages against Credit Suisse and Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate firm. It also seeks class-action status for more than 3,000 investors who bought land or homes. The alleged losses relate to Yellowstone Club, a Montana ski resort, whose members have included Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft. They also relate to the Lake Las Vegas resort in southern Nevada, the Tamarack resort in central Idaho and Ginn sur Mer on Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas. Lake Las Vegas and Tamarack have also been the subject of bankruptcy proceedings. The four resorts are among many high-end properties that have struggled with falling real estate values and the credit crisis. Credit Suisse and Cushman & Wakefield each said that the lawsuit lacks merit and that they will defend themselves vigorously.
01.05.10 Deputy FM: Arrest warrants harming Britian-Israel ties
January 5 - Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Tuesday met Tuesday with British Attorney General Baroness Patricia Janet Scotland to protest the slew of arrest warrants issued against senior Israeli officials in the United Kingdom. A delegation of senior Israel Defense Forces officers recently canceled a planned visit to the UK for fear they would be arrested upon landing. The four unidentified officers, holding ranks from major to colonel, are the latest in a string of Israeli politicians and military officials forced to call off travel to Britain over fears of legal prosecution relating to last year's offensive on the Gaza Strip. Britain is one of the European pioneers of universal jurisdiction, a broad legal concept that empowers judges to issue arrest warrants for nearly any visitor accused of committing war crimes anywhere in the world.
01.05.10 Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years
SEOUL, January 5 - Seoul residents slogged through the heaviest snowfall in modern Korean history after a winter storm dumped more than 28 centimeters Monday, forcing airports to cancel flights and paralyzing traffic in South Korea's bustling capital. The snow and icy roads snarled traffic in and out of Seoul, and at least three people died in traffic accidents. Many commuters squeezed into packed subways to get to work, and a Cabinet meeting was delayed because ministers were stuck in traffic. The snowfall, which continued through Monday afternoon, was the heaviest in a single day since Korea began conducting meteorological surveys in 1937, the state weather agency said. [More>>japantoday.com]
01.04.10 Extremists online discussed blowing up planes weeks before Northwest Flight 253 attempt
JERUSALEM, January 4 - Online extremists recommended methods exactly like those used by Abdulmutallab. Extremist Internet forums discussed blowing up planes three weeks before the Detroit attempt — and have also discussed ways of using deadly biological agents onboard planes. A private Israeli intelligence company told ABC News Monday there was a surge of online discussions in extremist Islamic forums about blowing up planes three weeks before Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to bring down Northwest Flight 253. The discussions recommended using "improvised detonation chain" devices, exactly like the one used onboard the Detroit-bound flight.
01.04.10 Yemen: 2 al-Qaeda militants killed in clash
SAN'A (AP) January 4 - Security forces killed two suspected al-Qaeda militants in clashes outside the Yemeni capital on Monday, officials said, as the US and British embassies extended their closure for a second day because of threats of attack by the terror group's offshoot here. The clashes took place in a region northeast of the capital where last month the government carried out intensified raids against an al-Qaeda cell it said was plotting attacks against foreign interests, possibly including embassies. In that Dec. 17 raid, officials said four would-be suicide bombers were killed. The US and British embassies closed on Sunday after what US officials said were signs of al-Qaeda was planning an attack in San'a, possibly against the diplomatic missions. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
01.04.10 US says Qaeda funded by Colombian cocaine
BOGOTA, Columbia, January 4 - Colombia rebels, Qaeda in "unholy" drug alliance. Colombian guerrillas have entered into "an unholy alliance" with Islamic extremists who are helping the Marxist rebels smuggle cocaine through Africa on its way to European consumers, a US official told Reuters. Interdiction efforts have made it more difficult to send cocaine straight from Colombia and other Andean producer nations to the United States and Europe. So criminal organizations including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are going through Africa to access the European market. And they are doing it with the help of al-Qaeda and other groups branded terrorists by Washington, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
01.04.10 Five terrorists killed in OP RAH-e-Nijat: ISPR report
WANA, Pakistan, January 5 - Five terrorists have been killed and 7 others injured in the ongoing operation Rah-e-Nijat during the last 24 hours. According to ISPR, on Jandola Sector, security forces carried out sanitization in area around Shuza Nullah. On Shakai Sector, terrorists fired [a] few rockets at security forces check post near Boya Narai which was effectively responded. Security forces conducted search and clearance in Jamal Shah near Pash Ziarat and Mankal Algad on Razmak Sector and cleared 34 compounds. During [the] encounter, 5 terrorists were killed and 7 were reportedly injured, while [a] cache of arms and ammunitions were also recovered. Two terrorists were apprehended near Shewa check post.
01.04.10 Iran says several foreigners arrested in protests
TEHRAN (Reuters) January 4 - Iran said on Monday that several foreigners conducting "psychological warfare" against the clerical system were arrested in last month's bloody clashes between opposition supporters and security forces. In the bloodiest unrest since the aftermath of a disputed June presidential poll, eight people were killed on Dec. 27 and over 40 reformist figures, including four advisers to opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, have been arrested since then.
01.04.10 Report: Jordanian agent carried out CIA bombing
January 4 - The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents on a base in Afghanistan Dec. 31, 2009 was a Jordanian doctor acting as a double agent for al-Qaeda, according to a NBC News report Monday citing "Western intelligence officials." The officials said the perpetrator was 36-year-old Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi. Al-Balawi had been identified as a possible terror threat more than a year ago, but US and Jordanian intelligence officials apparently believed he had turned and was feeding them valuable information. He was allowed onto the Afghanistan base last week after promising information about top al-Qaeda lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, according to the NBC report. [>cbsnews.com; See details,
01.04.10 Troops killed in Afghan explosions
January 4 - Two separate roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan have left four US troops and a British soldier dead. The US soldiers, the first American military casualties in Afghanistan in the new year, were killed in an explosion on Sunday in the south of the country, NATO-led forces said in a statement. The UK soldier died while on foot patrol in Helmand province, Britain's ministry of defence said on Monday. The Taliban said that a series of explosions on Sunday in Panjwai district of southern Kandahar had killed several foreign soldiers, but their report could not be verified immediately. Meanwhile, the Afghan defence ministry said its soldiers killed more than 10 Taliban fighters on Sunday in northern Kunduz province's Imam Sahib district. [More>>aljazeera.net]
01.04.10 Kepler telescope has turned up five 'exoplanets,' NASA scientist announces
January 4 - Monday morning at an astronomy meeting here in Washington, the lead scientist for a new NASA space telescope announced the discovery of five more "exoplanets" far beyond our own solar system, and expressed optimism that his team is on a path to finding an Earth-sized planet in an Earth-like orbit in the near future. But the new trove of data from the telescope named Kepler has also turned up space oddities that make astronomers wonder what exactly they're looking at. For example, Kepler found a star with a small orbiting object that is hotter than the star itself.
01.04.10 Mars' ancient lake beds spied by NASA probe
January 4 - New images of Mars suggest the Red Planet had large lakes on its surface as recently as three billion years ago. The evidence comes from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which spied a series of depressions linked by what look like drainage channels. Scientists tell the journal Geology that the features bear the hallmarks of being produced by liquid water. But they appear to have formed much later in Mars' history than many thought possible, the researchers add. The team, from Imperial and University Colleges London, studied pictures of several flat-floored depressions located above Ares Vallis, a giant gorge running some 2,000km across Mars' equator. The hollows are about 20km in diameter. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
01.04.10 Dubai opens world's tallest tower
January 4 - Dubai has opened the world's tallest building as the emirate tries to re-establish some of the optimism it experienced prior to its financial crisis. Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, on Monday inaugurated the tower — originally called Burj Dubai — as Burj Khalifa in honour of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the president of the United Arab Emirates. At a height of 828 metres, Burj Khalifa soars over its nearest rival — the Taipei 101 in Taiwan which rises to only 508 metres. Dubai, one of seven members of the United Arab Emirates, has gained a reputation for excesses with the creation of man-made islands shaped like palms and an indoor ski slope in the desert. But the emirate suffered a real estate crash at the end of 2008 when the global financial crisis hit. [More>>aljazeera.net]
01.03.10 North calls for better US relations
January 2 - Pyongyang doesn't issue any threats or criticisms of joint military exercises. In its joint annual newspaper commentary to open the new year, North Korea yesterday called for an end to hostile relations with the United States and insisted on building a "nuclear-free" Korean Peninsula through dialogue. The stance represented a decidedly different tone from a year ago, when the North slammed South Korea for escalating tension. In an editorial published in three newspapers representing the ruling Workers’ Party, the North Korean military and its youth militia, North Korea did not issue any threat or offer criticism of South Korea. Instead, the North called for a peaceful peninsula.
01.03.10 British Muslim MP says fine to 'profile' passengers
January 3 - With the failed US bombing igniting the profiling debate, a leading Muslim MP in the UK has said it is reasonable for Muslims to be singled out for security and this would not amount to their victimization. Labour MP from Birmingham Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood said it had become necessary to "profile" passengers from certain racial and religious groups to weed out possible terror suspects. "I think most people would rather be profiled than blown up... It wouldn't be victimization of an entire community," he said. Mahmood said it is reasonable for Muslims to be singled out for extra security checks at airports after the attempted bombing over Detroit.
"If people want to fly safely we have to take measures to stop things like the Christmas Day plot. Profiling may have to be the price we have to pay. "The fact is the majority of people who have carried out or planned these terror attacks have been Muslims," he said. The UK Border Agency said profiling was one of the security measures used in the case of people coming into Britain, but the Department of Transport refused to say whether it was used on passengers leaving the country. [>indianexpress.com]
01.03.10 Malaysia to apeal 'Allah' ruling: minister
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) January 3 - "Allah" should be used only by Muslims: government. Malaysia's minister in charge of Muslim affairs has said the government will appeal a court ruling allowing a Catholic paper the right to use the word "Allah." Malaysia's high court ruled last week the Herald weekly had the right to use the word "Allah" after a long-running dispute between the government and the newspaper in the Muslim-majority nation. The paper has been using the word as a translation for "God" in its Malay-language section, but the government argued the word should be used only by Muslims.
Background story, Maravot News 1.01.10 Use of word 'Allah' not exclusive to Muslims: Malaysian court
01.03.10 Palestinians claim Dead Sea Scrolls
January 3 - As custodians begin to pack up an exhibit of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls and ship them back to Israel, both the Palestinians and the Jordanians have demanded their seizure. Both Jordan and the Palestinians have claimed custody over the historic Dead Sea Scrolls, currently on display at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Canada. Israel's Antiquities Authority loaned 17 of the Dead Sea Scrolls along with other artifacts from the time of the Second Temple to the ROM as part of a six month display. The display, entitled "Words that Changed the World," ended on January 3. "They are an integral part of Palestinian heritage," Hamdan Taha, Director of the Palestinian Antiquities and Cultural Heritage Department told The Media Line. [More>>jpost.com]
Editorial note: Jewish and Christian scholars regard the Dead Sea Scrolls as important historical books, revealing scriptures found in the Bible and related documents. They were buried at the Dead Sea community of Qumran over 2,000 years ago by a group called the Essenes, who were an offshoot of the Pharisees at the time of Christ. Scholars believe that many of their scriptures foreshadow early Christian teachings, particularly those that refer to the "Children of Light" versus the "Children of Darkness," found in some of sayings in the Gospel of Jesus. Other scriptures provide insight into the Talmud and "Oral Torah" believed to have been created during the Jews' Babylonian Captivity. The Babylonian Empire under Nebuzar-adan captain of Nebuchadnessar's body-guard carried off the Jews in 586 BC. After the overthrow of Babylonia by the Persian Empire, the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great gave Jews permission to return to their homeland in 538 BCE and more than 40,000 are said to have returned, as noted in the Biblical accounts of Jehoiakim, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
01.03.10 Western embassies close in Yemen after 'direct al-Qaeda threat'
January 3 - Britain and the United States closed their embassies in Yemen today in the face of threats from al-Qaeda, as the two countries announced they were stepping up efforts to help the Yemeni Government fight terrorism. Security chiefs at the two fortress-like buildings in the new part of Sanaa, the capital, would decide whether to re-open the embassies tomorrow, officials said. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See also bbc.co.uk, January 3, "US shuts embassy as al-Qaeda plans attack in Yemen."]
01.03.10 Headley's Moroccan ex-wife gives more 26/11 leads
NEW DELHI, January 3 - Security agencies have been able to get an insight into the personal life of American terror suspect David Headley, with his estranged Moroccan wife telling investigators about connections he had in Mumbai, including with some socialites. Faiza Outalha, who, the security agencies suspect had carried out reconnaissance of certain installations that were targeted by the Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that she was married to 48-year-old Headley but had a divorce later, official sources said. The woman flew to Mumbai from Karachi and crossed over through Wagah border into India the second time. She had come for the first time in 2007 and stayed with the terror suspect in Taj Mahal Hotel and later in Oberoi-Trident. Both the hotels were targeted by the terrorists on 26/11.
01.03.10 Roadside bomb kills former Pakistan minister
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) January 3 - A bomb attack in northwest Pakistan killed a former minister on Sunday, officials said, keeping up pressure on a government struggling to contain a raging Taliban insurgency and stabilise the country. A roadside bomb hit the car in which former provincial minister Ghani-ur-Rehman was travelling. "The minister, his bodyguard and driver were killed," said Fazal Naeem, a police official in the town of Hangu, where the attack took place. A second bodyguard was also killed. The blast comes in an especially bloody week, including the suicide bombing of a volleyball game in a northwestern village where anti-Taliban militias were being formed. At least 98 people were killed. In another attack, claimed by the Taliban, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a religious procession of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city. [More>>thestar.com.my]
01.03.10 US drone kills 2 militants in N. Waziristan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, January 3 - A missile fired by a US drone killed two suspected militants on Sunday in North Waziristan on the Afghan border. According to sources, the unmanned US aircraft targeted the house of a person known as Sadiq Noor in Mir Ali. [>thenews.com.pk; See more details, cnn.com, January 3, "Suspected US drone kills 2 in Pakistan."]
01.03.10 Indian workers sold like cattle in Saudi Arabia: Stowaway
JAIPUR, India, January 4 - Habib Hussain of Moradabad, who hid in a toilet on an Air India flight from Saudi Arabia to return to his own country, says he did so for his two children, his pregnant wife, and an ailing mother. After his bizarre experience, Habib says he has realized that "aadhi roti" (half a piece of bread) at home is better than one in an alien land. He also said Indian labour is sold like cattle in that country.
01.03.10 Mexico cops capture alleged drug lord
MEXICO CITY (AP) January 2 - Carlos Beltran Leyva arrested two weeks after higher-ranking brother killed in shootout. Mexican police have captured alleged drug lord Carlos Beltran Leyva, just two week after his even more powerful brother was killed in a shootout with troops — back-to-back victories in President Felipe Calderon's drug war. The Public Safety office said in a statement Saturday night that Carlos Beltran Leyva was arrested in Culiacan, the capital of the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, where he and several of his brothers were born and allegedly started their gang.
01.02.10 'Internet imams' the new recruiters for al-Qaeda
WASHINGTON, January 2 - The apparent ties between the Nigerian man charged with plotting to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day and a radical American-born Yemeni imam have cast a spotlight on a world of charismatic clerics who wield their internet celebrity to indoctrinate young Muslims with extremist ideology and recruit them for al-Qaeda, American officials and counterterrorism specialists said. American military and law enforcement authorities said the man accused in the bombing attempt, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, most likely had contacts with the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, whom investigators have also named as having exchanged email messages with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people in a shooting rampage in November at Fort Hood, Texas.
01.02.10 Yemen sends troops to al-Qaeda strongholds
SAN'A, Yemen (AP) January 2 - Security officials say Yemen has deployed several hundred extra troops to two mountainous eastern provinces that are al-Qaeda's main strongholds in the country. The officials say the reinforcements were sent Friday to Marib and Jouf provinces, where al-Qaeda's presence is believed to be strongest and where the central government has little control. The officials spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media. The United States has intensified security aid to Yemen in a bid to combat the growing presence of al-Qaeda in the impoverished Arab nation. President Barack Obama said Saturday that al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen was behind a failed attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day. [>khaleejtimes.com; See more details,
01.02.10 Exclusive: CIA attacker driven in from Pakistan
KABUL, Afghanistan, January 2 - Suicide bomber was a regular CIA informant, had been to Chapman Base multiple times. The suicide bomber who killed at least six Central Intelligence Agency officers in a base along the Afghan-Pakistan border on Wednesday was a regular CIA informant who had visited the same base multiple times in the past, according to someone close to the base's security director. The informant was a Pakistani and a member of the Wazir tribe from the Pakistani tribal area North Waziristan, according to the same source. The base security director, an Afghan named Arghawan, would pick up the informant at the Ghulam Khan border crossing and drive him about two hours into Forward Operating Base Chapman, from where the CIA operates.
01.02.10 Cartoonist intruder: 'links to Islamic terrorists'
January 2 - An intruder who was shot and wounded by police after breaking into the Denmark home of Muhammad cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has links to Islamic terrorists, according to Danish intelligence. The 28-year-old Somali man is connected to the radical Islamist al-Shabaab militia and al-Qaeda leaders in East Africa, claims Denmark's PET intelligence service. Police say the intruder entered the property by smashing a window and was carrying a knife and axe. He has been charged with two counts of attempted murder after a court hearing today in Aarhus, Denmark. The 74-year-old, whose cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad sparked riots five years ago, has had numerous threats on his life and his house in Viby, near Aarhus, is heavily fortified with security modifications.
01.02.10 2 ships hijacked off Somalia
LONDON (AP) January 2 - A British-flagged cargo ship and a chemical tanker from Singapore have both been hijacked by pirates in the perilous waters off the coast of Somalia, officials said on Saturday. The Asian Glory highjacking happened late on Friday roughly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) east of Somalia, said Commander John Harbour, a spokesman with the European Union task force charged with combating piracy off Somalia. That same day, the Singaporean-flagged Pramoni, a chemical tanker with a crew of 24, was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
01.02.10 Israeli warplanes bomb Gaza after rocket strike
GAZA, January 2 - Israeli warplanes launched a series of attacks on the Gaza Strip early on Saturday, wounding two people, in retaliation for what the army said was a rocket strike, which landed in the desert and caused no damage or injuries. Two explosions were heard in Gaza City, one north of the city and one in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. Palestinian medics and witnesses said all the missiles appeared to land in open fields. Two people, including a child, were lightly wounded, medics said. An Israeli military spokesman said warplanes had attacked two tunnels militants were digging in the direction of Israel, apparently to infiltrate the country and carry out attacks. [More>>alarabiya.net]
01.02.10 Four more terrorists killed in SWA: ISPR report
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, January 2 - Four more terrorists have been killed during the last 24 hours in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Nijat. According to ISPR, in Jandola Sector, terrorists fired on security forces at Maddi near Jani Khel during encounter 2 terrorists were killed and 2 were apprehended. Terrorists tried to attack at security forces check post near Shuza Algad which was effectively repulsed, resultantly 2 terrorists were killed and 2 were injured. In Shakai Sector, security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation at Karam Village near Kaniguram and recovered cache of arms and ammunitions.
01.02.10 California school administrator among victims of Mexican violence
January 1 - The bodies of six men -- including a California educator -- were found Thursday in the north-central Mexican state of Durango, hours after they had been abducted from a nearby restaurant, the man's relatives said Friday. "He was needlessly and senselessly murdered," said Carlos Salcedo, 37, about his brother, Augustin Roberto "Bobby" Salcedo, of El Monte, east of Los Angeles. Bobby Salcedo, 33, had traveled with his wife to visit her family in Gomez Palacio, his brother said. They were eating in a restaurant Wednesday night when armed men barged in, forced everyone onto the floor and abducted all six men who were in the party, Carlos Salcedo told CNN in a telephone interview.
01.01.10 US economy took a dive in the 2000s, a lost decade for workers
January 1 - For most of the past 70 years, the US economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different. The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation's growth. It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. A decade that began in a moment of triumphalism and the idea among some economists that recessions were a thing of the past has included two of them — bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.
01.01.10 Iran in serious crisis: opposition leader Mousavi
TEHRAN (Reuters) January 1 - Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said on Friday he was ready to die for his reformist campaign after a disputed election in June, defying hardline calls for his execution. "I'm not afraid of being one of the martyrs who lost their lives in their fight for their rightful demands since the vote," Mousavi said on his website, five days after his nephew and seven other pro-reform protesters were killed during a rally. Mousavi, whose allegation that the June presidential vote he lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged set off a wave of unrest, said in the statement the Islamic Republic was in "serious crisis."
01.01.10 Bomber kills at least 75 at volleyball game in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) January 1 - Police say the death toll has hit 75 in a car bombing at a volleyball tournament in northwest Pakistan. Local police chief Ayub Khan said Friday's blast in Lakki Marwat was retaliation for locals' attempts to expel militants by setting up their own militia. He says 75 people are confirmed dead. He says more than 60 people are being treated at local hospitals. The vehicle exploded on a playing field in the northwest of the country that has been rattled by bloodshed since the army launched a military offensive against Taliban fighters in the South Waziristan tribal region. The operation has scattered insurgents but provoked apparent reprisal attacks that have killed more than 500 people since October.
"The locality has been a hub of militants. Locals set up a militia and expelled the militants from this area. This attack seems to be reaction to their expulsion," Khan told reporters. He said the bomber drove onto the field, which lies in a congested neighborhood, during the volleyball contest. Some nearby houses collapsed, and "we fear that some 10 or so people might have been trapped in the rubble," Khan said. [More>>foxnews.com; See also
01.01.10 US base in Afghanistan key to US drone program: report
WASHINGTON, January 1 - The US facility struck this week by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan was a key anti-terror installation that oversaw a vital drone program targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban on [the] Pakistan border, news reports said Friday. The suicide attack killed seven CIA officers at Forward Operating Base Chapman, an installation that plays a major role in choosing al-Qaeda and Taliban targets for strikes by the remote-controlled aircraft, according to the Washington Post, which cited former intelligence officials who have visited the facility. The Post said [the] base also is a center for recruiting and debriefing informants. Wednesday's suicide attack was one of the deadliest blows ever against the CIA, which said a Taliban bomber managed to penetrate the defenses of the forward base, detonating an explosives belt in a room described as a gym.
01.01.10 Bhutto probe: Pakistan denies UN panel access to army officers
ISLAMABAD, January 1 - The UN probe into the killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto has hit a roadblock with the Pakistan government denying access to top military officials, including powerful army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The UN inquiry commission headed by Ambassador Heraldo Munoz had submitted a written request some time ago for access to senior military officials, including Kayani, former ISI chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj and ex-Military Intelligence head Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ejaz Mian. After thorough consultations within the government, the UN panel was informed in writing that access to military officials could not be granted, Dawn News channel reported quoting an unnamed top government official.
01.01.10 Somalia's Shabab pledges to help Yemen's Qaeda
MOGADISHU, Somalia, January 1 - Yemeni forces clash with rebels, kill 11. Somalia's hard-line Shabab insurgents Friday said they will send fighters to Yemen to help al-Qaeda there in its fight against government forces, as the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh appealed for reason from those who joined the terror network. Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, a senior official of the Shabab militia that pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda, announced the plan as he presented hundreds of newly-trained fighters in the north of Mogadishu. "We tell our Muslim brothers in Yemen that we will cross the water between us and reach your place to assist you fight the enemy of Allah," said Robow, to chants of "Allahu Akbar," or Allah is great, by the young fighters. "Today you see what is happening in Yemen, the enemy of Allah is destroying your Muslim brothers," he added.
01.01.10 Two mortar shells hit southern Israel
January 1 - A day after two Grad-type rockets were fired at the Netivot area, two mortar shells were hit open areas in southern Israel on Friday evening. There were no reports of casualties or damage in both attacks. One of the projectiles landed near the Kerem Shalom border crossing at the southeastern end of the Gaza Strip and the other hit an open area in the Sdot Negev region, and has not yet been located. Earlier Friday, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for firing two Grad-type rockets at the Netivot area from Gaza on Thursday night. The Fatah-liked organization said the attack was carried out in revenge for the deaths of three of its members who were killed by the IDF in Nablus last week. The three were gunned down after carrying out a terror attack in Shavei Shomron that killed Rabbi Meir Chai. [More>>jpost.com]
01.01.10 Gaza sees more newborns of malformation
GAZA, December 31 - Um Hamza, a 22-year-old pregnant woman, from Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, woke up at night numerous times during the 22-day Israeli war which ended on Jan. 18, sniffing the smell of gas. Several weeks later she started experiencing terrible pain in the abdomen. Although she had been pregnant for two months then, it was impossible for her to conduct necessary tests as the hospitals were overwhelmed by injured people of Israeli bombardments. The pain continued for a couple of months before she was finally able to get the medical checkup, and the results left her shocked and speechless. The child she was carrying suffered from malformation and may die either inside her womb or shortly after birth. The baby came to this world while his brain hung out of his head like a bag of skin covering his eyes, therefore, the baby will never experience sight. Meanwhile, he could not breathe either because of the malformation in his nose as it appears clogged.
01.01.10 Use of word 'Allah' not exclusive to Muslims: Malaysian court
KUALA LUMPUR, January 1 - In a landmark verdict, a Malaysian court has ruled that Christians have the Constitutional right to use the word "Allah" while referring to God, setting aside a government ban on its use by the country's religious minorities. The High Court ruling came on Thursday on a lawsuit filed by the Catholic weekly Herald, whose publication permit was approved by the home ministry on the condition that it would not use the word "Allah." After the verdict, government lawyers said they would consult with the home ministry before deciding whether to appeal. The Herald is now free to use the word "Allah" in its publication after the court quashed the home minister's prohibition against it using the word, declaring the order as "illegal, null and void."
Editorial note: "Confusion in Islam" : For those of you who may be nonplussed at this lawsuit, it gets down to the major confusion that is in Islam. The assumption that "Allah" is a word for God exclusive to Islam shows the ignorance of those who profess to be experts on the Koran. For the Koran repeatedly declares that it was written to confirm the Bible : Jewish Scriptures and Gospel; and it also declares Jesus as the Messiah (Christ). The Bible claims itself to be authored by God, which according to the prophets is known by as many as 70 names, from El, Elohim to YHVH, Jehovah. There was apparently confusion over the names of God during the time of Elijah as well, whose name means "God is God" : El is YHVH. It is a Jewish custom to include the name of God in a child's name. Thus we have Daniel and Jeremiah, etc.
12.30.09 Rival claims over whereabouts of Mir Hossein Mousavi
December 30 - Iran's state media reported tonight that the leader of the opposition had fled Tehran. Mir Hossein Mousavi, defeated in hotly disputed elections in June, was said to have left the Iranian capital on a day marked by pro-government rallies at which crowds chanted "Death to Mousavi." Another of the leaders, Mahdi Karroubi, was also said to have fled. Hossein Karoubi, however, the son of Mr Karoubi, said his father and Mr Mousavi were still in Tehran. He said: "My father and Mr Mousavi are in Tehran and IRNA’s report is baseless. They are still pursuing the people’s demands," The conflicting reports come three days after Mr Mousavi's nephew, Ali, was killed during a protest against the regime in which at least eight lost their lives. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories,
12.30.09 UK hostage Peter Moore released alive in Iraq
December 30 - British hostage Peter Moore has been released alive from captivity in Iraq, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said. He said Mr. Moore, an IT consultant from Lincoln who was seized in Baghdad in May 2007, was in good health and "absolutely delighted at his release." Mr. Miliband said the Moore family felt deep relief after two-and-a-half years of "misery, fear and uncertainty." Four bodyguards were seized with Mr. Moore. Three were shot dead; the fourth is also thought to have been killed. The bodies of Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, of Glasgow, were returned to the UK in June 2009, followed by that of Alec MacLachlan, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, in September. Mr. Miliband has called for the release of the body of the fourth guard - Alan McMenemy from Glasgow.
12.30.09 Yemeni forces storm al-Qaeda hide-out, arrest 1
SAN'A (AP) December 30 - A Yemeni security official says forces have stormed an al-Qaeda hide-out in the country's east, setting off clashes. A government statement confirmed the clashes and said at least one suspected al-Qaeda member was arrested. The fighting took place in Hudaydah province, a principle al-Qaeda stronghold. It was home to most of the attackers who struck outside the US Embassy in 2008, killing 10 Yemeni guards and four civilians. The security official said forces acted on a tip. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Deputy Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Saleh al-Zawari said forces would continue to strike against al-Qaeda until the group's powerful branch in Yemen is eliminated. [>thejakartapost.com]
12.30.09 Somali arrested last month at airport with chemicals, syringe
MOGADISHU (AP) December 30 - A man tried to board a commercial airliner in Mogadishu last month carrying powdered chemicals, liquid and a syringe that could have caused an explosion in a case bearing chilling similarities to the terrorist plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The Somali man — whose name has not yet been released — was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops before the Nov. 13 Daallo Airlines flight took off. It had been scheduled to travel from Mogadishu to the northern Somali city of Hargeisa, then to Djibouti and Dubai. A Somali police spokesman, Abdulahi Hassan Barise, said the suspect is in Somali custody.
"We don't know whether he's linked with al-Qaeda or other foreign organizations, but his actions were the acts of a terrorist. We caught him red-handed," said Barise. A Nairobi-based diplomat said the incident in Somalia is similar to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in that the Somali man had a syringe, a bag of powdered chemicals and liquid — tools similar to those used in the Detroit attack. The diplomat spoke on condition he not be identified because he isn't authorized to release the information.
12.30.09 Bombing kills 32, injures at lest 75
BAGHDAD, December 30 - Two suicide bombers have struck in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, killing 32 people and injuring 75, according to Fox News sources. The governor of Anbar province in Western Iraq was wounded, along with several other senior politicians. Early reports on state television suggested Qassim Mohammed Abid was killed, but his deputy later made clear his boss Qassim Mohammed Abid survived the attacks. Fox News reported his face was burned in the attack. Police officials confirmed with the first blast a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a vehicle at a busy junction. This was quickly followed by a second attack at the nearby provincial government headquarters. The blast hit the convoy of the governor as it was leaving the compound. Local media said the governor was taken for treatment by US soldiers. [More>>news.com.au; See other details,
12.30.09 At least six Americans killed in Afghan attack
KABUL, December 30 - At least six Americans were killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest made his way into an American base in Khost Province in southeastern Afghanistan, according to NATO military officials. The bomber managed to elude security and reach the base's gym, said one official, who did not want to be identified because the official was not authorized to speak about the incident. The official said the attack took place at Forward Operating Base Chapman, which one official described as "not a regular base," meaning that it was used by American intelligence agencies. It was unclear exactly where on the base the explosion occurred. The suicide bomber died in the blast and six Americans were also wounded, some of them seriously, suggesting that the death toll could climb, the officials said. [More>>nytimes.com]
12.30.09 Taliban ask Imran to be mediator with Pakistan government
LAHORE, December 30 - Pakistan Taliban commanders have contacted cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan to broker peace talks with the government. "The Taliban have contacted me for peace negotiations with the government. But I will play the mediator's role only if the government gives its consent," Khan said on Wednesday. He did not mention which faction of the Taliban had contacted him. Khan, who heads the Tehrik-e-Insaaf party, has opposed military operations against the Taliban and other militant groups. He had earlier offered to act as a mediator between the Taliban and Islamabad, but the government did not respond, although the rebels in Swat had welcomed the offer. He had come under fire from PPP leaders and sections of the media for his "pro-Taliban" stance. Interior minister Rehman Malik has made it clear that the government will not talk to the Taliban or other terrorists unless they surrender. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
12.29.09 'Nauseating Zionist play' behind protests: Iran
TEHRAN, December 29 - Top cleric says opposition leaders should be executed. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States and Israel on Tuesday of staging an anti-government protest in which at least eight people died, saying it was a "nauseating play." His talk of a theatrical piece "commissioned and sold out" by the country's two arch-foes, came as Iran's parliament called for opposition demonstrators to be given maximum punishment, which is the death penalty...Meanwhile, speaker Ali Larijani said "parliament wants the judiciary and intelligence bodies to arrest those who insult religion and impose the maximum punishment on them without reservation."
12.29.09 Putin urges US to share missile defense data
MOSCOW, December 29 - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia wants the U.S. to share detailed data about its planned missile shield under a new arms control treaty, signaling potential new difficulties in the ongoing negotiations between Moscow and Washington. Putin's televised remarks set a defiant tone as negotiators try to hammer out a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that expired on Dec. 5. The two countries had hoped to reach a deal before the end of the year, but problems persist. [More>>washingtonpost.com; See also,
12.29.09 9 militants killed in Orakzai Agency
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, December 29 - The security forces in Orakzai Agency have killed nine militants while 14 terrorists have been injured. According to sources, security forces gunship helicopter attacked terrorists' hideouts in Anjani area of lower Orakzai, killing nine militants and injuring fourteen others. During the operation, [a] militant commander's house, seven vehicles, oil depot and four hideouts were destroyed. On the other hand, Police arrested 60 suspects in a crackdown in Jandol area of lower Dir. Meanwhile, old enmity claimed four lives in Jungle Khail area in Kohat. [>thenews.com.pk; See related stories,
12.29.09 Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants planning attacks from Yemen
December 29 - Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants are planning terror attacks from Yemen, the country's Foreign Minister said today. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi appealed for more help from the international community to help to train and equip counter-terrorist forces. His plea came after an al-Qaeda group based in Yemen claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day airliner bomb plot. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, alleged to be behind the attempt to blow up an American-bound aircraft, spent time in Yemen with al-Qaeda and was in the country only days before the failed attack.
12.29.09 N. Korea puts peace treaty before normal ties: sources
December 29 - North Korea conveyed to the United States that it places more emphasis on pursuing a peace treaty than a normalization of bilateral relations, a Japanese news agency reported, quoting an unidentified diplomatic source. Pyongyang officials including Vice Foreign Minister Kang Suk-joo had relayed the message to Washington's special envoy Stephen Bosworth when he visited the North earlier this month, according to Kyodo News on Monday.
12.29.09 Iraqi man rewarded $85,000 for car bomb tip-off
BAGHDAD, December 29 - The Iraqi military said on Tuesday the government has rewarded a man 85,000 US dollars for informing security forces of a would-be car bomb in Baghdad. "The prime minister decided to reward a citizen who provided information about a booby-trapped car in Jamaa neighborhood (western Baghdad) and give him 100 million Iraqi dinars," said Major General Qassim Atta, the spokesman for Baghdad Operations Command. But Atta did not give the name of the man for security reasons. On Dec. 16, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told reporters that the security forces were focusing on boosting intelligence service by activating the role of the citizens in reporting about terrorist activities. He confirmed that his government offered a reward of 100 million Iraqi dinars (about 85,000 US dollars) to anyone who provides information about car bombs or those who are behind terrorist acts. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
12.29.09 Somali pirates hijack three ships
December 29 - Somali pirates have captured a freighter, a bulk carrier and a chemical tanker — despite a large foreign warship presence in the Gulf of Aden. Ending 2009 with a flurry of hijackings in one of the most profitable years to date, the Somali sea bandits' latest catch on Tuesday was the St. James Park - a UK-flagged chemical tanker with a crew of 26 from nine different countries. According to Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme, the vessel was seized en route from Spain to Thailand but had been commandeered near the northern Somali coast. He said the vessel's last safe port of call was Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and that the crew included seamen from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Philippines, Poland, Georgia, India and Turkey. [More>>aljazeera.net]