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01.11.10 North Korea calls for US peace treaty

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) January 11 - North Korea said today it wants a peace treaty with the United States as a precondition for giving up its nuclear weapons, and called for sanctions to be scrapped before it returns to disarmament talks. The foreign ministry statement was the first time the North has publicly stated its position on the disarmament negotiations since US envoy Stephen Bosworth visited Pyongyang last month. Mr. Bosworth was trying to persuade the communist state to return to the six-nation talks it abandoned last April, a month before staging a second nuclear test. No clear agreement was reached. The statement said it was "good to move up the order of action" in light of the failure of the six-party talks.

"The conclusion of the peace treaty will help terminate the hostile relations between the DPRK (North Korea) and the US and positively promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at a rapid tempo," it said. Six-party agreements reached in 2005 and 2007 envisage talks on a treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, but only in return for full denuclearization. North Korea said talks on a peace pact could be held either at a separate forum or in the framework of the six-party talks which group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan. "The removal of the barrier of such discrimination and distrust as sanctions may soon lead to the opening of the six-party talks," its statement said.
[>news.com.au; See also,

xinhuanet.com, January 11, "DPRK ready to discuss peace agreeement at six-party talks" :
PYONGYANG, North Korea - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Monday it would discuss reaching a peace treaty with relevant state parties in the framework of the six-party talks to replace the Armistice Agreement, the official Korean Central News Agency reported. The DPRK Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that it was necessary to pay primary attention to build confidence between the DPRK and the United States...

01.11.10 Iran's Mehdi Karroubi defiant amid government 'threats'

January 11 - Leading Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi has said he remains defiant despite threats, and that he and his family are "prepared for any disaster." He also accused Tehran of suppressing people in the name of religion. Mr. Karroubi, who stood in June's disputed presidential elections, also said he survived an attack last week when a car he was in was fired on. Meanwhile, Iran's top prosecutor called for "strong action" against those behind the "post-election sedition." Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie said calls by some hardline clerics to put opposition leaders on trial should be answered, Iran's ISNA news agency reported. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed victory in the vote, but opposition leaders said the election was rigged. The election led to a series of street protests and crackdowns.

'Political robbery'

In a letter on his party's website, Mr. Karroubi said that he remained "firm in the path that I have chosen." "I have not faltered on my way in the face of increasing intimidation and threats," he said. "I have become more determined, and prepared myself and my children for any disaster." ..."May God stand witness how they have turned a political dispute into a religious war to suppress people demanding political rights in the name of religion," Mr. Karroubi said. "We were not aware that reclaiming your vote and protesting against political robbery is equal to being corrupt on earth and mohareb in these gentlemen's eyes." [Full story>>bbc.co.uk]

01.11.10 Israel's US envoy: Obama peace plan unrealistic

(DPA) January 11 - Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, deemed U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell's vision of peace within two years an "unrealistic goal." Oren told The Washington Post in remarks published Monday that Mitchell's timetable "is unrealistic and might prove counterproductive." "We know from our experience that state-making takes a long time," he added. Oren's response came two days after Mitchell suggested that Barack Obama's administration was free to withhold loan guarantees from Israel should the latter delay the peace process any further.

Washington is now considering the possibility of launching "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to object to direct talks. Under this plan, Mitchell and his staff would meet separately with both parties, present each side's positions to the other and then try to bridge the gaps. This is the same system both George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton used (unsuccessfully) for Israeli-Syrian talks. Meanwhile, Mitchell on Monday reaffirmed Washington's support for a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis, and said a comprehensive regional peace was necessary for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"A two-state solution is central to our peace efforts," Mitchell told journalists in Paris, after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Mitchell added that Obama was committed to "a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," which included Israeli peace agreements with Syria and Lebanon as well as formal diplomatic ties between Israel and all its neighbors in the region. Neither Mitchell nor Kouchner would comment on the present state of Middle East peace negotiations. The former US senator was in Paris ahead of a meeting of the international community's top negotiators on the Middle East in Brussels on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Mitchell is to hold talks in Brussels with the European Union's newly-nominated foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, as well as the official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, Tony Blair.
[>haaretz.com; See related stories,

abcnews.go.com, January 11, "US envoy George Mitchell's comments spark Israel uproar"
: JERUSALEM - George Mitchell comment about withholding US loan guarantees sparks Israeli uproar. Several prominent members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's team Sunday seized on a comment made by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell last week, perceiving it as a direct threat. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Mitchell briefly outlined the tools the administration has at its disposal to pressure the Israeli government in peace talks with the Palestinians, saying, "Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel." Mitchell also said he preferred dialogue to sanctions.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Mitchell's suggestion contradicted an agreement the two countries made just months ago. "We are doing just fine. But several months ago, we agreed with the American Treasury on new guarantees for 2010 and 2011, and there were no conditions," said Education minister Gideon Saar also criticized the comments at Sunday's Cabinet meeting. "The American administration knows that those who are holding up the negotiations are the Palestinians. Israel has made many concessions while the Palestinians didn't do a thing." The State Department was quick to try to defuse the row. "It's one thing to say that's a tool in the toolbox, and another to say it's one we are getting ready to use. We are not," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told the Times of London Relations between Washington and Netanyahu's right-wing government have been strained since President Obama issued calls for Israel to stop building settlements.

jpost.com (AP) January 11, "Erdogan: Israel threatening ME peace" :
Turkey's prime minister accused Israel on Monday of threatening peace in the Middle East and using disproportionate force against Palestinians. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Israel to stop violating Lebanon's airspace and territorial waters. He also called on the UN Security Council to put same pressure on Israel regarding nuclear arms as it does on Iran. "We can never remain silent in the face of Israel's attitude. ... It has disproportionate power and it is using that at will while refusing to abide by UN resolutions. We can never accept this picture," Erdogan said. "These steps threaten global peace." He spoke at a joint news conference in Ankara with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hariri described Israel as an enemy that threatens Lebanon's security....

01.11.10 Gaza rocket hits Israel for fifth consecutive day

January 11 - A Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip struck the Western Negev on Monday, a day after an Israel Air Force assault killed three Islamic Jihad men posed at a launching ground in the coastal territory. There were no casualties or damages reported in the incident Monday. Israeli security forces were summoned to the area to identify the location of the rocket. The IAF strike Sunday came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a "powerful response" to recent rocket and mortar shell attacks from the coastal territory. The strike targeted a cell as its members, which included a senior Jihad field commander, were launching rockets at Israel. Four mortar shells were also fired at Israel from Gaza on Sunday, but they exploded on the Palestinian side of the border. Addressing an increase of rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday advised Gaza's Hamas rulers to "watch their step, and not to cry crocodile tears if they force [Israel] to take action." [>haaretz.com]

01.11.10 Official: 7 al-Qaeda suspects arrested near US embassy in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen, January 10 - Yemeni anti-terror forces have arrested seven suspected members of an al-Qaeda-linked sleeper cell in a quarter, adjacent to the US embassy in Sanaa, a higher-ranking security official of Interior Ministry said on Sunday. The anti-terrorism forces on late Tuesday raided al-Houri house at Sawan quarter, and captured three members of the family Esam, Majid and Kamal al-Houri, the official said on condition of anonymity. One of al-Houri members was reportedly killed in Iraq three years ago, as he was fighting alongside al-Qaeda. The house and the US embassy are all located in Sawan district in Sanaa. [More w/related stories>>xinhuanet.com; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com (AP) January 11, "Yemeni radical cleric warns of foreign occupation" :
SAN’A, Yemen - Yemen's most influential Islamic cleric, considered an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist by the United States, warned the government on Monday against allowing "foreign occupation" of the country in the growing cooperation with the US against the terror group. Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani's comments reflected a deep mistrust among Yemenis of Washington's intentions as it ramps up counterterrorism aid and training for San’a to combat al-Qaeda's offshoot here. Al-Zindani, a radical cleric who once associated with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, is highly influential among Yemenis and the government is careful to maintain at least his tacit support.

...Al-Zindani is a controversial figure in Yemeni politics. The United States has labeled him a “global terrorist,” alleging he helps fund and recruit for al-Qaeda and that students from Iman University
which he heads were involved in past attacks..."I was never a direct teacher for Anwar al-Awlaki," al-Zindani said, his white beard dyed red with henna in the style of some Islamic hard-liners. "I am general lecturer and a writer of books. If someone says they listened to my lectures or read my books, am I to blame if he then, say, divorces his wife, or if he attacks someone? If that's the case, then all teachers and professors should be accused," said al-Zindani, who also denied any connection to Abdulmutallab. Al-Zindani, who often preaches in favor of holy war to defend the Muslim world, was careful not to directly criticize the Yemeni government's cooperation with the United States and avoided any comments that suggested a call for violence...

01.11.10 6 foreign troops killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) Six international soldiers were killed on Monday in a wave of violence in some of the most volatile regions of insurgency-wracked Afghanistan, NATO said. The dead included three Americans killed in southern Afghanistan, one French soldier northeast of the capital Kabul, and two more whose nationalities were not officially given, NATO and military officials said. The deaths bring to 15 the number of foreign soldiers who have died in Afghanistan fighting a virulent Taliban insurgency since the start of this year. "An ISAF service member was killed today in an IED strike in southern Afghanistan," NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement, announcing the sixth death of the day. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See other details,

aljazeera.net, January 11, "NATO troops killed in Afghanistan" : ...
NATO officials on Monday said that the dead included three Americans killed in southern Afghanistan, one French soldier who died in the northeast of the capital, Kabul, and two others whose nationalities were not officially given. Colonel Wayne Shanks, a US military spokesman, said the Americans died when they were caught up in a firefight with anti-government fighters during an "operational patrol." The office of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, said the French soldier was killed in a clash in the Alasay valley, and another seriously wounded...

01.11.10 Wanted Taliban commander held in Karachi

KARACHI, Pakistan, January 11 - The Karachi Police have arrested an important militant commander, member of Tehrik Taliban Swat, from Orangi Town in Karachi. According to reports, the police raided a house situated at Baloch Goth in Orangi Town. The arrested commander is among the most wanted militants’ and is currently placed at No 181. SSP Raja Umar Khatab said that the four accomplices of the accused were still holed up in Karachi. [>thenews.com.pk]

01.11.10 Official data confirm China as world's biggest auto producer, consumer, challenges remain

BEIJING, January 11 - Official figures Monday confirmed China had overtaken the United States to become the world's top auto maker and market in 2009 boosted by government stimulus measures. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) announced annual sales rose 46.15 percent year on year to 13.64 million units. Output increased 48.3 percent to 13.79 million units. Passenger car sales were up 52.93 percent to 10.33 million units, and production was 10.38 million units, up 54.11 percent year on year. The brisk sales in China is in contrast with the United States where 10.43 million units were sold last year, 2.8 million units less than in 2008, as the global financial crisis kept US consumers out of the showroom. The three top-selling brands last year were Shanghai Volkswagen, FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai General Motors all joint venture brands between Chinese auto makers and the German or US counterparts. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

01.11.10 40,000 Indians 'missing' in Malaysia: PM Razak

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, January 11 - Nearly 40,000 Indian nationals have gone "missing" in Malaysia after the expiry of their tourist visas, Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak said, indicating that he may take up the issue with New Delhi during his forthcoming visit to India.. "Almost 39046 are missing. Thankfully they have not become terrorists. They are here for economic reasons," he said adding that "their names are not in official records. They may have gone back to India or working here in restaurants or plantations," Najib told visiting Indian journalists here. Most of the missing Indians in Malaysia belong to Tamil Nadu. [More>>indianexpress.com]

01.09.10 US shifts Iran focus to support opposition

WASHINGTON, January 9 - The Obama administration is increasingly questioning the long-term stability of Tehran's government and moving to find ways to support Iran's opposition "Green Movement," said senior US officials. The White House is crafting new financial sanctions specifically designed to punish the Iranian entities and individuals most directly involved in the crackdown on Iran's dissident forces, said the US officials, rather than just those involved in Iran's nuclear program.

US Treasury Department strategists already have been focusing on Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has emerged as the economic and military power behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In recent weeks, senior Green Movement figures
who have been speaking at major Washington think tanks have made up a list of IRGC-related companies they suggest targeting, which has been forwarded to the Obama administration by third parties. Names on the list include Iran's largest telecommunications provider, Telecommunication Company of Iran, which is majority-owned by the IRGC, and the Iranian Aluminum Co. A US official involved in Iran said the administration wouldn't comment on whether it was acting on the information...The Obama administration has increasingly voiced support for human rights in Iran as the demonstrations have continued. Mr. Obama used his Nobel Prize acceptance speech last month to forcefully call for the respect of human rights and civil liberties. [Full story>>wsj.com; Related accounts (unedited) from Twitter.com:

January 9 (~4.30pm - 6.30pm) -

♦ (anniv day of Revolution) is 11Feb. be ready for another big day #iranelection /
♦ IranFocus: Iran Supreme Leader urges firm action over riots http://is.gd/5Z0w7 #IranElection
♦ Iranian Government Goes on Attack, Refusing Reconciliation with Opposition - VoA http://bit.ly/76UoKD #Iran #IranElection
♦ How the Sea of Green's call for #humanrights is twisted into grounds for execution. http://bit.ly/8N3NGb
♦ Iran bans education for protest students -- for a lifetime http://bit.ly/7mfRc4 #iranelection
♦ Comprehensive list of those arrestted in Ashura: http://bit.ly/79znEs #iranelection
#IranElection Photos of Islamic Republic thugs who murdered our brothers & sisters! #iranelection http://bit.ly/7wRaiK
♦ Lebanese Hezbullah among basij attacking ppl on #Ashura in #Iran http://bit.ly/8AghIE #IranElection
♦ Good collection of #Iran gov's key agents: http://bit.ly/7fPZ0F #IranElection
♦ secrect meeting Basij comanders جلسه محرمانه فرمانده هان بسیج قسمت اول 1/7 : http://bit.ly/660foj #Iran #IranElection
♦ 16 Breaktaking #Photos from the Protest in Iran http://ow.ly/U7xB
♦ Ali Motahhari on #Iran state TV: "Ahmadinejad must be prosecuted!" http://bit.ly/5P2dg9 #IranElection
♦ this vid shows what our friends in prison go trough on a daily bases.WARNING VERY GRAPHIC http://bit.ly/5oD6n8 #iranelection
♦ House church members arrested http://is.gd/5Z14k #IranElection #HumanRights
♦ Trial of Recently Detained Baha’is to Start “this Week” in Tehran http://is.gd/5YY3A
♦ 9 Bahais have been arrested in Iran on Sunday (Fa) http://bit.ly/5vVhVG #Iranelection #iranelection♦ 75 year old woman arrested in Laleh Park with Mourning Mothers taken to hospital (Fa) http://bit.ly/8ruTxM #IranElection
♦ Women under arrest are kept under horrifying conditions: http://bit.ly/5OCkmg #iranelection
♦ L'Iran redevient la plus grande prison du monde pour les journalistes http://bit.ly/4Myls6 (RSF) #IranElection
♦ URGENT IRAN: Reporter and Journalist, Nasrin Vaziri, Missing http://is.gd/5Kp6b #IranElection♦ TRAITORS and MULLAS of IRAN Bank Account Info in foreign countries http://bit.ly/5GFxjq #iranelection
#Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels http://bit.ly/6yVtdj #iranelection
♦ Nice Cartoon: Iran's enemies list http://bit.ly/5eONrv #Iranelection
♦ We are not the ones who try to undermine the events in Iran using baseless arguments on unrelated subjects. #iranelection

01.09.10 Good faith negotiations could end conflict in Middle East: Clinton

WASHINGTON, January 9 - Asking for an early resumption of the staled peace talks between Israel and Palestine, the US today said that a comprehensive peace in Middle East based on two-state solution could be achieved through good faith negotiation between both the sides. "The US believes that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps. And the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a joint press conference with her Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.

Clinton said the US and Jordan share a commitment to seeking a comprehensive peace in Middle East based on a two-state solution. "We are working with the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and the Arab states to take the steps needed to re-launch negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions, which is in the interests of everyone in the region," she said. However, both the US and Jordan, she said, are concerned about recent activities in Jerusalem. "The US recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, for Jews, Muslims, and Christians around the world."
[>indianexpress.com; See related stories,

haaretz.com, January 9, "Palestinnians reject US call for renewed Mideast peace talks"
: The Palestinian Authority has rejected US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without preconditions, French news agency AFP reported on Saturday. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat emphasized that peace talks will only resume if Israel implements a complete freeze on settlement construction, including in Jerusalem. On Friday, the Obama administration and Jordan laid out a new tack in Mideast peace efforts, pressing Israel and the Palestinians to take on the tough issues of borders for a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem before addressing other obstacles.

"A resumption of peace talks requires the complete halt of settlements," AFP quoted Erekat as saying. Erekat also said peace talks should continue from the point where they were stopped in December 2008. Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that dealing with those matters first would eliminate Palestinian concerns about continued construction of Jewish settlements in disputed areas. Clinton and Judeh said negotiations should begin as soon as possible and be bound by deadlines. "Resolving borders resolves settlements, resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements. I think we need to lift our sights and instead of looking down at the trees, we need to look at the forest," Clinton said after meeting Judeh at the State Department...

jpost.com, January 9, "Islamic Jihad: Israel trying to provoke us to renew violence" : A spokesperson from Al-Quds Brigades warned early Saturday morning that armed Palestinian groups would not hesitate to confront Israel if strikes on the Gaza Strip continue. Speaking to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, Abu Ahmad said, "Israel's escalation in Gaza is part of an ongoing effort by the occupation forces to provoke us into renewed violence." The spokesman from Islamic Jihad's armed wing also commented on successful tests of the Iron Dome missile defense system, saying that Israel "can't cope with our rockets." The comments came hours after Palestinian terrorists fired three Kassam rockets, into the western Negev. No casualties or damage were reported in the attack. On Thursday night, the Israeli Air Force struck four targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the firing of a Katyusha rocket which landed near Ashkelon earlier in the night. The air force targeted several smuggling tunnels, as well as a tunnel which the army said was intended for infiltration of terrorists into Israel. A weapons manufacturing facility was also bombed. [end]

01.09.10 Egyptian imams launch attack on Hamas

January 9 - Mosques across Egypt have launched scathing attacks on Hamas in the wake of the killing of an Egyptian border guard by a Palestinian gunman earlier in the week, the London-based- Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported Saturday. According to the report, imams throughout the country used their Friday sermons to lash out at the Islamic group which controls the Gaza Strip. One, at a Cairo mosque, asked the gunman what he would tell his God "tomorrow." Another said that Egypt had sacrificed thousands for Palestine. Yet another blamed Hamas for the ongoing besiegement of Gaza at the hands of Israel, saying its leaders wished to stay in power "even at the cost of the starvation and expulsion of their people." He added that the Palestinian gunman would go to hell if he does not repent. [More>>jpost.com; See also,

aljazeera.net, January 9, "Egypt bans Gaza aid convoys" :
Egyptian authorities have announced that all aid convoys travelling to Gaza will be banned from travelling across Egypt after a riot broke out at the Rafah border crossing earlier in the week. Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, said in remarks published on Saturday that members of Viva Palestina, the last convoy allowed through, had "committed hostile acts, even criminal ones" on Egyptian soil. "Egypt will no longer allow convoys, regardless of their origin or who is organizing them, from crossing its territory," he told government-backed newspaper Al-Ahram.

More than 50 people were wounded during a clash between Egyptian authorities and international members of the convoy on Tuesday after Egypt decided to allow 139 vehicles to enter Gaza, but said a remaining 59 vehicles would have to pass via Israel. The Rafah border is the only crossing point into the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel. However, both Rafah and the Israeli-controlled crossings have largely remained sealed since 2007, when the Palestinian group Hamas gained control of the Strip...

01.09.10 Report: Hezbollah funded by drug trade in Europe

January 9 - German police suspect the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, of using drug trafficking in Europe to fund part of its activities, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. According to the report published on the magazine's website, German police arrested two Lebanese citizens living in Germany last October after they transferred large sums of money to a family in Lebanon with connections to Hezbollah's leadership, including the Shiite group's Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah. Suspicion was first raised in May 2008, when police found 8.7 million Euros in the bags of four Lebanese men at the airport in Frankfurt. Police searched the men's apartment in Speyer, Germany, and found an additional half a million Euros.

According to the report, police suspected the men were selling cocaine in Europe and sending the profits back to Lebanon. The report added that the two suspects went through training at a Hezbollah camp. The suspects deny the charges against them. Israel has in recent years accused Hezbollah of drug trafficking along the Lebanon-Israel border. However, Nasrallah has denied Israel's charge of "narcoterrorism." In a speech last November, he accused Israel of trying to put a political spin on what in his view is simply a drug operation run by Lebanese drug dealers in collusion with Israeli border guards. Israeli police say that based on evidence gathered from interrogating busted traffickers, nothing happens on the Lebanon-Israel border without Hezbollah's consent.

01.09.10 CIA bomber struck moments before pat-down search

January 9 - The Jordanian doctor arrived in a red station wagon that came directly from Pakistan and sped through checkpoints at a CIA base in Afghanistan before stopping abruptly at an improvised interrogation center. Outside stood one of the CIA's top experts on al-Qaeda, ready to greet the doctor and hear him describe a way to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, the organization's number two and a man long at the top of US target lists. The Jordanian exited the car with one hand in his pocket, according to the accounts of several U.S. officials briefed on the incident. An American security guard approached him to conduct a pat-down search and asked him to remove his hand. Instead, the Jordanian triggered a switch.

A sharp "CLMMMP" coincided with a brief flash and a small puff of smoke as thousands of steel pellets shredded glass, metal, cement and flesh in every direction. A moment that CIA officials in Washington and Afghanistan had hoped would lead to a significant breakthrough in the fight against al-Qaeda instead became the most grievous single blow against the agency in the counter-terror war. Virtually everyone within sight of the suicide bomb died immediately, including the CIA al-Qaeda expert; a 30-year old CIA analyst; an interpreter and two other CIA officers; the two contract guards; the Jordanian's handler and the car's driver. At least six others standing in the carport and nearby were wounded by pellets that had first perforated the vehicle, including the CIA's second-in-command inside Afghanistan, who is now reportedly fighting for his life.

01.09.10 China port faces worst ice threat in 30 years

BEIJING (AP) January 9 - A northern China port that is one of the world's largest was facing the worst ice conditions in 30 years Saturday, and icebreaking ships were working to keep the path to it open. Some ships were having trouble reaching the port at Tianjin the port for China's capital, Beijing, and the third largest in the country, China Central Television said. Footage showed ships on the Bohai Gulf working to keep shipping lanes open. About 40 people had already been saved from ships in danger from the ice; a news agency cited maritime officials as saying. The region has been hit by its worst winter weather in decades over the past week, including Beijing's coldest morning in almost 40 years and its biggest snowfall since 1951. Temperatures over the next week in Beijing are forecast to remain below freezing. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

01.09.10 Rationing imposed on UK's dwindling supply of grit

January 9 - Temperature drops as low as -2C, and even colder weather is forecast for weekend in Britain's worst winter for three decades. Bitter winds and fresh snowfalls were forecast to bring further disruption to Britain during the weekend, as temperatures fell to their lowest level of the winter so far. People venturing outdoors over the weekend have been told to be aware of the twin dangers of snowdrifts and an increased wind chill factor, as roads and pavements remain icy and supplies of grit are dwindling. Yesterday, a temperature of minus 22.3C (minus 8.1F) was recorded in the village of Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands, making it officially the coldest day of a winter which is already the most severe in three decades. Today and tomorrow are set to be even colder, with no let-up expected for at least another week. Up to 20cm of snow is forecast for parts of South Yorkshire and south of London. [More>>independent.co.uk]

01.09.10 The Deep Freeze of 2010

January 9 - Multiple Deaths Blamed on Frigid, Below-Normal Temperatures Affecting 60 Percent of Americans. The unyielding cold spell gripping much of the nation was expected to hang on tight over the weekend, though some areas that saw snowfall during the week were expected to have drier weather. And the big picture? By the end of the weekend, 180 million Americans may shiver through record-setting cold. Sixty percent of Americans will see and feel temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal. [More>>cbsnews.com]

01.09.10 Four killed in N. Waziristan drone attack

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, January 9 - A US missile strike on Saturday killed at least four militants and injured five others in North Waziristan . According to sources, the missile struck a compound in Ismail Khel village, 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border. Eyewitnesses said that drones were seen flying across the area following the above strikes. [>thenews.com.pk; See more details,

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) January 9, "US drone strike kills four in NW Pakistan: official"
: ...“A US drone fired two missiles, which hit a compound used by militants as a training centre,” a senior security official told AFP...Residents said that the compound belonged to a local tribesman named Rasta Barkhan who had links with Taliban militants. A local resident on condition of anonymity told AFP that five drone aircraft made very low-altitude flights before the missile strike. Officials say the attack took place in the stronghold of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a militant who fought with the Taliban when US-led troops invaded Afghanistan. Bahadur is reputed to control up to 2,000 fighters whom he sends across the border but who do not attack in Pakistan...It was the sixth missile strike by an unmanned US spy plane so far this year, as the administration of US President Barack Obama puts Pakistan at the heart of its fight against al-Qaeda and Islamist extremists...

Related story:

xinhuanet.com, January 9, "Taliban commander blows himself up in NW Pakistan"
: ISLAMABAD- A Taliban commander blew up himself fearing arrest late Friday night in the outskirts of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, injuring at least two police personnel. According to local TV reports, police on intelligence report raided the house where Taliban militants were hiding and arrested four of them. Police tightened security around the Taliban commander Irfan's house but upon seeing security personnel, he blew himself up with a hand grenade. Arms including suicide jackets, hand grenade and bullets were recovered from the house. The security situation is deteriorating in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, and due to a series of suicide attacks and bomb blasts in Peshawar, the provincial police with help of other law enforcement agencies have tightened the security measures. [end]

01.09.10 CIA attack 'revenge for Mehsud'

January 9 - The suicide bomber who killed eight people at a US base in Afghanistan said he was carrying out the attack in response to the death of Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader killed by a US drone. In a video released to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Hammam Khalil al-Balawi is shown shooting a gun as he describes how the attack would target US and Jordanian intelligence agents. Seven American CIA officers were among the dead when al-Balawi, a "double agent" recruited by Jordanian intelligence services to inform on al-Qaeda, blew himself up at the base in Khost, a province bordering Pakistan. [More>>aljazeera.net]

01.09.10 Malaysian churches firebombed over 'Allah' row

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, January 9 - Four churches struck in unprecedented spate of attacks. A Malaysian church was firebombed Saturday, police and church officials said, the fourth such attack in two days as a row escalated over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims. The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in southwest Kuala Lumpur was the latest target. There were no reports of injuries. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the windows of the first and second floors of the three-storey building, the church's Bishop Philip Loke told AFP. "They narrowly missed it, but part of the walls are burnt," he said, adding "we suspect this attack is linked to the other attacks." At least three churches were struck early on Friday in an unprecedented spate of attacks in this mainly Muslim country as a row over a court ruling that allowed a Catholic newspaper to use the word "Allah" in its Malay language editions presented a major challenge to the government. One of the churches attacked on Friday was badly burned while firebombs thrown at two others failed to cause damage. [More>>alarabiya.net' See background stories, Maravot News article 01.08.10 3 Malaysian churches firebombed in 'Allah' dispute.]

01.09.10 Christians furious after Egypt arson attacks

BAHGURA, Egypt (AFP) Muslim gunmen shot dead six Copts. Residents of a southern Egypt village were furious on Saturday after houses and shops owned by Coptic Christians were burnt as sectarian tensions flared in the wake of a deadly drive-by shooting. Muslim gunmen shot dead six Copts in the nearby town of Nagaa Hammadi on Wednesday night as worshippers emerged from Christmas Eve mass, one of Egypt's deadliest sectarian attacks in years in which a policeman was also killed. On Saturday, men in traditional flowing robes and with crosses tattooed on their arms surveyed the damage in Bahgura, where shopfronts that were once blue and green were now charred black after overnight arson attacks. They charged that Muslim "thugs" who live in the town went on the rampage on Friday night, lobbing fireballs into Christian-owned shops and some houses. Muslim residents said the action was in retaliation for the shooting death of a member of their community, while Christian villagers said a woman from their community had died in fire attacks on their property. Security sources denied there had been any deaths. [More>>alarabiya.net]

01.08.10 US job losses in December dim hopes for quick upswing

January 8 - The American economy lost another 85,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate remained at 10 percent, setting back hopes for a swift recovery from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The latest monthly snapshot of the national job market released by the Labor Department on Friday provided one potentially encouraging milestone: Data for November was revised to show that the economy gained 4,000 net jobs that month, in contrast to initial reports showing a loss of 11,000 jobs. That was the first monthly improvement since the recession began two years ago.

But the December data failed to repeat the trend, and the report disappointed economists who had generally been expecting a decline of perhaps 10,000 jobs. The report broadly confirmed that while the pace of job market deterioration declined markedly in recent months, companies remained reluctant to hire, heightening the likelihood that scarce paychecks would remain a dominant feature of American life for many months.

01.08.10 Man is arrested in NY City terror bomb probe

January 9 - A man linked to a former New York food-cart worker now charged in an al-Qaeda bomb plot crashed his car while fleeing investigators. The New York Post reported today a source said Adis Medunjanin, who is on the US government's no-fly terror watch list, made a dash yesterday from the home that investigators have been watching for months. The investigators pursued him, but 25-year-old Medunjanin, a Bosnian immigrant who reportedly accompanied alleged terror bomb plotter Najibullah Zazi on a trip to Pakistan in 2008, sped off down a major freeway. Earlier in the day, the Feds had picked up his passport for reasons that remain unclear, sources said. Near Manhattan's 20th Avenue, Medunjanin crashed into another car and tried to run away, but FBI agents tackled him, sources said. Medunjanin was not seriously injured and was in police custody, but charges against him have yet to be released. [More>>news.com.au; See more details,

nytimes.com, January 8, "2 men arrested in connection with Zazi terror inquiry"
: Two men from Queens who had traveled to Pakistan in 2008 with a Denver airport shuttle bus driver who later was charged in a al-Qaeda bomb plot were arrested early Friday morning in connection with the case, according to the F.B.I. The two men, Adis Medunjanin, 25, and Zarein Ahmedzay, 24, came under intense scrutiny during the investigation that led to a federal bombing conspiracy indictment against the shuttle bus driver, Najibullah Zazi, 24, in September, and have remained under investigation, officials have said...

01.08.10 3 Malaysian churches firebombed in 'Allah' dispute

KUALA LUMPUR (AP) January 8 - Assailants attacked three Malaysian churches with firebombs Friday, extensively damaging one amid a growing conflict over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, officials said. The attacks sharply escalated tensions in the Muslim-majority country ahead of planned protests by Muslims later Friday against a Kuala Lumpur High Court verdict which struck down a 3-year-old ban on non-Muslims using "Allah" in their literature. "I condemn these actions because they will destroy our country's harmony," Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters. "The government will take whatever steps it can to prevent such acts."
Najib said he has told the national police chief to step up security at churches and other places of worship. The Dec. 31 court decision incensed many Muslims, who see it as a threat to their religion. Hateful comments and threats against Christians have been posted widely on the Internet, but this is the first time the controversy has turned destructive. The ruling was on a petition by Malaysia's Roman Catholic Church, whose main publication, the Herald, uses the word Allah in its Malay-language edition.
[More>>japantoday.com; See background story, Maravot News article and links, 01.06.10 Malaysia court reinstates Allah ban pending appeal]

01.08.10 'Gun attack' on Iranian politician

January 8 - The car of one of Iran's opposition leaders has been hit by gunfire in the northern  
town of Qazvin, according to his party's website. Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist candidate in last June's disputed presidential election, was visiting Qazvin to attend a mourning ceremony for opposition protesters when he was attacked, the website said. Karroubi was apparently uninjured in the attack. "Around 500 basiji [pro-government militia] and residents of nearby villages surrounded the place where he was and attacked the building with stones, breaking windows," Sahamnews.org said on Friday. After four hours, anti-riot police reportedly intervened and got Karroubi to his car but it was shot at as it left the venue. "As his car was pulling away, it was attacked and hit by gunfire. But, as it is an armored car, only the windows were damaged." The attackers chanted slogans in support of the government and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, the website said.

01.08.10 Blair to Haaretz: Terror is one struggle with many arenas

January 8 - Without a doubt, it was Iraq that ended his career at 10 Downing Street. The campaign against Saddam Hussein continues to dog him. It was Iraq that largely prevented him from becoming "the first president of the European Union." Nevertheless, Tony Blair does not apologize, does not express regrets and does not attempt to justify himself. "It's really important to understand that Saddam was actually a threat to the region," he resolutely says in an interview with Haaretz, during his most recent visit to Israel as the Quartet's special envoy. "And quite apart from anything else you may remember, he used to pay the families of [the Palestinian] suicide bombers." When asked whether the wave of global terror, with its roots in countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, proves it was a mistake to focus on a single dictator, he replies: "Personally I think we will defeat this terrorism when we understand it is one battle, one struggle. This is a global movement with an ideology."

...When asked if he sincerely believes the declarations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including his readiness to advance an American peace plan, Blair answers, "My view has always been that the prime minister is prepared to make peace, provided it's on terms that guarantee Israel's security and is fair for Israelis. What I always say to people on the outside when I'm trying to explain this whole issue to them is, first of all, look at a map, you know, look at a map of the region, and then see what a small bit of land it is, Israel and the Palestinian territory. So if you can't deal with the on-the-ground worry of the Israelis about security, you can't make peace."

Is the continued blockade of Gaza the way to achieve this secure peace, and is this even feasible without including Hamas, with which Israel is in any case holding indirect talks? No and yes, he replies. Blair believes the blockade is boomeranging, in that it encourages an illegal economy as well as goods and weapons imports through the underground tunnels. However, he opposes including Hamas. Unlike the IRA in Northern Ireland, Hamas refuses to abandon its violent ways, he says. Therefore, we have to make do with the indirect talks through the Egyptians. And aren't we taking a risk, given the increasing radicalization of Gaza, including the growing al-Qaeda influence? "There is always that fear, but on the other hand the best way of defeating that possibility is not necessarily to kneel to their demands, I'm afraid," says Blair.

Given the dead end, we are hearing more and more people talking about "three states for two peoples." What do you think about that? "I just don't think that would work," says Blair. "You know, I talk to people in Gaza a lot of the time. There are large numbers of people in Gaza who disagree with Hamas. I had a video conference this morning with the Gazan business community. They don't support the idea of Gaza being run by Hamas, and they don't support the idea of Gaza being separated from the West Bank. So I don't think that is ever going to be a realistic solution."
[Full story>>haaretz.com]

01.08.10 Israeli strikes on Gaza kill three Palestinians

GAZA CITY, January 8 - Israel claims strikes response to rocket firing. Three Palestinians are killed and others wounded in heavy Israeli air strikes on the Gaza borders with Egypt, a day after Israel accused fighter groups of launching dozens of mortar bombs into the Jewish state, Al Arabiya correspondent in Gaza reported. Israeli jets hit seven targets in the tunnels area, which Palestinians use to smuggle goods into the besieged coastal strip, medics and Hamas security officials said. Israeli aircraft also hit three targets near Gaza City and two near the southern town of Khan Younis, witnesses and Hamas officials said. All the strikes hit empty buildings or open spaces. On Thursday, Israeli planes dropped thousands of leaflets over the Gaza Strip warning residents to stay clear from the border after Palestinian militants fired mortar shells into Israel. [More>>alarabiya.net]

01.08.10 US missile strike kills 3 in N. Waziristan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, January 8 - A missile fired by the suspected US drone plane killed three people in North Waziristan tribal region on Friday. According to sources, the unmanned US aircraft targeted a house situated in Tappi area near Miramshah. The house was completely gutted after the attack. [>thenews.com.pk; See more details,

washingtonpost.com, January 8, "Pakistani officials: Suspected US missiles kill 4" :
PESHAWAR - Suspected US missiles killed four people in northwest Pakistan on Friday, the latest in a surge of such attacks since a suicide bomber staged a deadly assault on CIA employees just across the frontier in Afghanistan. The attack was the sixth in just over a week in North Waziristan, an unusually intense bombardment that also follows repeated calls by the United States for Pakistan to do more against militants there blamed for attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The area is the stronghold of the Haqqani network, an Afghan Taliban group with links to al-Qaeda. Its militants are responsible for cross-border attacks and could have played a role in the Dec. 30 attack that killed seven CIA employees in Khost province, analysts believe...

01.08.10 2000 militants dead, over 800 held in Swat offensive

SWAT, Pakistan, January 8 - Some 2000 militants were killed and more than 800 were apprehended in Swat during Operation Rah-e-Nijat, in charge [of the] operation Maj-Gen. Sajad Ghani said on Friday. Speaking to media in Swat, Maj-Gen. Sajad Ghani said Pakistan Army has reconstructed 33 destroyed schools, 10 hospitals, 13 bridges and 30-km long road in Matta and Khawaza Khela tehsils of the scenic valley. He said that peace had been fully restored across the district while [the] military operation was near to close. Ghani further said that [the] nighttime curfew had also been lifted on permanent basis. [>thenews.com.pk]

01.08.10 6 children trained for suicide blasts presented to media

MINGORA, Pakistan, January 8 - Six children, who were trained in Peuchar area of Swat for carrying out suicide attacks, were exposed to media on Friday. The children aged between 12 to 14 years were identified as Shah Hussain, Amanullah, Zakirullah, Hazrat Bilal, Ziaur Rehman and Rehmatullah. According to the authorities, these children were being trained to become suicide bombers. The children told media that they were kidnapped from schools and homes on gunpoint. However, after finding a chance to flee, they came to security forces. In addition, security forces also recovered hundreds of Kalashnikovs, pistols, thousands of bullets and a cache of other arms from the raided area. On this occasion, father of a militant commander was also brought to the media. [>thenews.com.pk]

01.08.10 Immigrants riot in Italy amid racial unrest

ROSARNO, Italy (Reuters) January 8 - Thousands of immigrants protested against racism in a southern Italian town on Friday, after a night of rioting sparked by an attack on African farm workers by a gang of white youths. In one of Italy's worst episodes of racial unrest in years, dozens of Africans in Rosarno, in the Calabria region, smashed car windows with steel bars and stones and set cars and rubbish bins on fire late into Thursday night. Police said at least one car was attacked while passengers were inside -- several of whom were injured. The immigrants, who also blocked a road, clashed with police in riot gear. Police said 7 immigrants were arrested. Thirty-two people, including 18 policemen, were injured. The incidents took place after white youths in a car fired air rifles at a group of African immigrants returning from work on farms, injuring two of them.

"Those guys were firing at us as if it were a fair ground, they were laughing. I was screaming and there were other cars passing by but nobody stopped, nobody called the police," Kamal, a Moroccan, told La Repubblica newspaper. On Friday morning some 2,000 immigrants demonstrated in front of the town hall to protest against what they said was racist treatment by many locals. Some shouted "we are not animals" and carried signs reading "Italians here are racist." Scattered acts of vandalism by immigrants continued on Friday morning as some smashed store windows. Police said that in two separate incidents Rosarno residents had tried to run over immigrants with their cars. Schools and many shops were closed as tensions remained high.

01.08.10 Seven killed in blast in Karachi

KARACHI, Pakistan, January 8 - At least seven persons were killed and several others injured in the southern Pakistani city on Friday when a blast ripped through a house where explosives and weapons were stored. (Watch Video) The blast in Baldia Town area of the port city appeared to be accidental and bomb disposal squad personnel were trying to determine its exact nature, police officials said. Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, 22 grenades and two suicide jackets were found in the one-room house, which collapsed due to the explosion. Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad that the home had been rented by a man from the militancy-affected Swat valley. Some persons from Swat had come to visit this man last night, he said.

Police officials said Riaz Khan, who hailed from Swat, had rented the house about two years ago. They said two grenades were found in the pocket of one of the dead. Two suspects were arrested from the scene, they said. Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed told the media that the men living in the house could have been planning a terrorist attack. The explosion blew out the windows of several homes in the congested neighbourhood.

01.08.10 Suicide attack at militant group headquarters in Khyber, six killed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, January 8 - A suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday at the headquarters of a banned militant group in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, killing six persons and injuring 12 others. The attacker tried to enter the main gate of the headquarters of the Ansar-ul-Islam group in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency, witnesses said. He detonated his explosives when a watchman stopped him. Witnesses and local residents said six persons were killed and a dozen others injured. However, Ansar-ul-Islam leader Mehboob-ul-Haq claimed only one person was killed. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. The Ansar-ul-Islam has been engaged in a bitter rivalry with the Lashkar-e-Islam for the past five years. Dozens of members of both groups have died in clashes between the two groups. [>indianexpress.com]

01.07.10 Iran posts banned websites list in cyber crackdown

TEHRAN (AFP) January 7 - The Iranian judicial authorities have published a long list of banned Internet websites in a new crackdown on online networks, including those deemed immoral, the press reported on Thursday. They said the list, drawn up by a "committee of experts," bans any site that contains pornography, prostitution, sexual deviation or anything considered to be "contrary to the morals of society" in the Islamic republic. Websites containing material “contrary to security and social peace” as well as those seen by the authorities as "hostile to government officials and institutions" bound to lead to “crimes” are also banned...Any articles that “insult Imam Khomeini and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” are banned, the reports added in reference to the founder of the Islamic republic and his successor. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com; See related Twitter postings:

January 7 -

#Iran Accuses Five of Warring Against God. NYT #IranElection (Is it AN, SL, & 3 random mullahs?) http://bit.ly/4yS6V9 : (nytimes.com, January 7) TORONTO - At least five protesters arrested in Iran last week during anti-government demonstrations will be tried on charges of warring against God, which carries the death sentence if they are found guilty, Iran's judiciary said Thursday. The severity of both the charge and punishment, coming so soon after the defendants were arrested, suggested that the Islamic theocracy was stepping up its efforts to intimidate protesters into ending the anti-government demonstrations that began over the disputed election results in June and have erupted periodically ever since despite a brutal crackdown.

In a statement carried by IRNA, Iran's official news agency, the judiciary said that the five would soon be tried by the revolutionary court on charges of "Moharebeh," meaning waging war against God, which is punishable by death according to the penal code. The statement did not disclose the names of the defendants, when they would be tried or any details of accusations against them. Tehran's prosecutor general, Abbas Dolatabadi Jaffari, had said Sunday that the judiciary would confront detainees arrested during the most recent protests “very severely” Iran's ISNA news agency reported...

♦ The whole world is watching. (NSFW) (GRAPHIC) TEHRAN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae4W7E9XKGc #Iranelection
♦ Regime has held Persians back for 30 years, no more. Freedom will make Persia great again! #iranelection
♦ We are not finished, SoG is worldwide, we are countless and we will NOT give up until corrupt fascist regime is GONE! #iranelection
♦ This blog has pix +some names of thugs attacking Karoubi in Qazvin http://bit.ly/8g28LW #iranelection

January 6 -

♦ NYTimes: Iran Ex-Prosecutor Blamed for Prison Deaths http://bit.ly/8BXE3W #iran #iranelection
♦ Iran bans contact with 60 foreign organisations (Telegraph) http://bit.ly/5iJuZR #iranelection #iran
♦ Consul at IR Embassy in Oslo resigns over regime brutality; English translation http://bit.ly/73wpJu #iranelection
♦ Video - Tehran Dec 27, a woman who was ran over by police car: http://bit.ly/5gvov1 #Iran #IranElection
#IranElection Reporters without borders: Iran is "largest prison for journalists" http://bit.ly/7jTWv4 #SOG

01.07.10 Terrorists were in touch with Pakistan handlers: Home Ministry sources

NEW DELHI, India, January 7 - The Lashkar-e-Talba terrorists who were killed by security forces during the siege at Lai Chhowk in Srinagar, were in constant touch with their handlers in Pakistan when they were holed up inside a hotel there. (Watch Video) According to highly placed sources in the Union Home Ministry, nearly 700 terrorists, half of them foreign mercenaries, are active in Jammu and Kashmir. They said some more attacks were expected to take place as the holed up militants at the hotel in Lal Chowk area had communicated the same to their handlers in Pakistan, the sources said. According to the official data available with the Home Ministry, 413 infiltration attempts were made from across the border during which 93 terrorists were killed while 110 managed to sneak in. Out of the 110 who had infiltrated, 70% were foreign militants while the remaining locals. The attacks in Srinagar was a result of shifting of focus of the police forces towards Jammu, which is the winter capital of the state, a senior official of the Home Ministry said. [More w/blog comments>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

01.07.10 Four more terrorists killed in Swat: ISPR report

WANA, Pakistan, January 7 - Four more militants have been killed in Swat as military operations continue in South Waziristan and Swat, ISPR said Thursday. Security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation at Chaghmalal on Jandola Sector and cleared 25 compounds. On Shakai Sector, security forces conducted search operation[s] and cleared Ghani Khel, Ane Zhawar, Yargha Khel, Ghundaka Mamei Khel near Kaniguram and recovered cache of arms and ammunition. Security forces conducted search operation[s] near Pash Ziarat, Qalandar, Makeen, Dashkai Algad, Pir Khel near Mir Khoni near Makeen on Razmak Sector, cleared 82 compounds and recovered cache of arms and ammunition. Terrorists fired with small arms at Lita Sar Post near Makeen which was effectively responded by the security forces.

Security forces conducted [a] search operation at Khajuri and apprehended 4 terrorists along with arms and ammunition. In operation Rah-e-Nijat in Swat–Malakand, security forces conducted search operation at Pul Bela near Bahrain, Kuz Bama Khela, Mera Mai, Muz Durshkhela, Langar, Mashkomai and Chiakolai and apprehended 3 suspects along with arms and ammunition. During [an] encounter 4 terrorists were killed. Security forces conducted search operation[s] at Panr, Allahabad, Titawali, Dakorak, Chbaghand Fazagat and apprehended 1 suspected terrorist and also recovered cache of arms and ammunition. A total of 28,356 Cash Cards have been issued to displaced families of Waziristan.

01.07.10 Deaths in Afghan suicide bombing

January 7 - At least seven people have been killed and 24 others wounded in a suicide bombing attack in southeastern Afghanistan, officials said. A bomber detonated an explosives-filled vest outside a branch of the Kabul bank in central Gardez, the capital of eastern Paktia province, on Thursday. Officials said the bomber was targeting the head of an Afghan private security firm working with the US military. "This was a suicide attack," Rohullah Samon, a spokesman for the governor of Paktia, told the AFP news agency. "The head of a security company... was moving with his convoy when he was attacked by a suicide bomber wearing a suicide vest." The head of the security firm, two of his guards and two young girls were among those killed in the blast, Samon said. "All were killed on the spot,"  he said, adding that 24 other civilians were injured.

Earlier on Thursday, the acting governor of eastern Khost province and several senior officials were wounded in an explosion during a district meeting. The bomb went off in a pile of rubbish outside a meeting hall where Tahir Khan Sabari, the acting governor, was holding talks. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the bombing in Khost, which lies on the country's southeastern border with Pakistan.

01.07.10 Anti-terror chief among 7 killed in Iraq blasts

RAMADI, Iraq, January 7 - Bombs planted around officers’ house bedrooms. Three bombs exploded in a residential area near Ramadi in Iraq's western Anbar province on Thursday, killing seven people including an Iraqi Army anti-terrorist special forces commander and members of his family, police said. "At 3:00am, men planted bombs around the bedrooms of four houses belonging to members of the police force, including Major Walid al-Heeti, the head of Heet's anti-terror department," said Lt. Col. Fadhil Nimrawi, the head of the town's emergency response unit.

"The bombs killed seven people, including the anti-terror chief, and wounded six others, including women and children from the four families." The dead included Heeti's wife and mother, a child, and three other police officers, Nimrawi said. The four houses are in different neighborhoods across the centre of Heet, a town around 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi. No vehicles are being allowed in or out of Heet, Nimrawi said, as part of ramped up security in the town.

01.07.10 Yemen details actions of suspect before bomb attempt

SANA'A, Yemen, January 7 - A senior official here said Thursday that the young Nigerian man accused of trying to bring down an airliner approaching Detroit on Christmas Day had met with al-Qaeda operatives and probably with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born Internet preacher, in Yemen before setting out on his journey. But the official, Rashad al-Alimi, the deputy prime minister for national security and defense, cited Yemeni investigations and said that the Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, had acquired the explosives used in the failed attack not in Yemen, which he left on Dec. 4, but in Nigeria, where he changed planes at the Lagos airport on Dec. 24, boarding a flight to Amsterdam and then Detroit.

...According to previous accounts, Mr. Abdulmutallab flew from Accra, Ghana, on Dec. 24, and had a layover at the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, on his way to board the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight to Amsterdam. American officials have said that Mr. Abdulmutallab told F.B.I. investigators that al-Qaeda in Yemen had trained him and furnished him with the sophisticated bomb he concealed in his underwear. Mr. Alimi denied emphatically that Mr. Abdulmutallab left Yemen with the explosives, saying the suspect obtained them in Nigeria, though he offered no specific evidence for his assertion.
[Full story>>nytimes.com; See related story,

news.sky.com, January 7, "Al-Qaeda 'recruited bomb plotter in London' " : A Nigerian man charged with attempted murder over the alleged Christmas Day plot was recruited by al-Qaeda in London, according to reports. Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 23, has been charged with attempted murder and trying to use a weapon of mass destruction after allegedly trying to blow up a plane. The country's deputy prime minister had acknowledged that Mutallab had been in his country. But he said Mutallab had been recruited by al-Qaeda in London, adding that he had been equipped and trained in Nigeria." However, senior Home Office officials have denied that Mutallab was recruited by al-Qaeda in the UK, saying they think he was recruited and radicalized abroad...

01.07.10 Yemen: Hunt for would-be teen bomber

January 7 - The hunt is on in Yemen for a teenage boy suspected of having been recruited as a suicide bomber by al-Qaeda. The 16-year-old from northern Yemen is believed to be heading for one of five foreign targets in the key southern port city of Aden, sources close to Yemeni security officials said. Several members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula the wing of al-Qaeda that operates in Yemen and Saudi Arabia have entered Yemen in the past few days, officials believe. They think that a senior terrorist is still hiding in Abyan, a Yemeni province in southern Yemen. Abyan is the former home of the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, a group of Islamic militants who were active in the late 1990s and are believed to have been involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden in 2000, which left 17 American sailors dead. [More>>news.sky.com]

01.07.10 Qaeda trained for attacks in Arabian Sea: report

KUWAIT CITY, January 7 - Gulf states urged to boost security for oil, gas tankers. Western intelligence warned Gulf states that al-Qaeda is on the verge of launching attacks mainly on ships after regrouping in the past few months, the al-Qabas daily reported Thursday. Citing unnamed Kuwaiti security sources, the daily said al-Qaeda has trained operatives in the region to carry out attacks on war, commercial and passenger vessels in the Gulf and Arabian Sea. [More>>alarabiya.net]

01.07.10 Katyusha lands near Ashkelon for 1st time since Cast Lead

January 7 - Just after Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the Iron Dome missile defense system would not be enough to solve all the problems in the South, the scale of those problems was all too clear to see Thursday night when, for the first time since Operation Cast Lead, a Katyusha rocket landed south of Ashkelon. The rocket landed in an open field, causing no casualties or damage. Air sirens sounded throughout the area, causing panic among the residents, who for the past year have enjoyed a period of quiet. Earlier Thursday, terrorists in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at IDF troops near the periphery fence. [More>>jpost.com]

01.07.10 France deports radical imam to Egypt

(AFP) January 8 - France today deported to Egypt a radical imam who for months had been inciting followers in Paris area mosques to rise up against the West, the government said. Described as dangerous, Ali Ibrahim Al-Sudani was detained and sent back to Egypt under an emergency deportation order, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said in a statement. "The secret services had identified this dangerous individual who for the past months had been delivering sermons calling for a fight against the West in several mosques in the Seine-Saint-Denis area," said Hortefeux in a statement. Sudani showed "contempt for our society's values and incited violence," he added. The man was the 29th imam or Islamic preacher to have been deported from France since 2001, according to the interior ministry. In all, 129 Islamic radicals have been expelled from French territory, it added. [>news.com.au; See related story, france24.com, "France deports 29,000 illegal residents in one year" ]:

01.07.10 Judiciary website hacked over 'Allah' issue

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia, January 7 - The Malaysian Judiciary's website was discovered hacked and defaced on Thursday night and its homepage substituted with a threat to not pursue the issue of the Catholic weekly the Herald's use of the word "Allah." The hacker, using the handle "Brainwash," defaced the site with a bright-red headline saying "TakeDown by Brainwash!" and what can only be described as "creative" use of the English language. Blazed across the page in huge letters was "Mess with the best, die like the rest." The hacker also wrote: "Allah only restricted to Muslim only. Dont touch us as we dont touch you. Unless ...." [More>>thestar.com.my]

01.06.10 Malaysia court reinstates Allah ban pending appeal

KUALA LUMPUR, January 6 - A Malaysian court temporarily suspended its decision to let non-Muslims use the word "Allah" to refer to God on Wednesday, pending an appeal by the government in a case that raised religious tensions in the Muslim-majority country. High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan said her Dec. 31 ruling will not take effect until the Appeals Court decides on a petition by the Home Ministry. No date has been set for the Appeals Court hearing. Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail welcomed the suspension...In her landmark decision, Lau struck down a 3-year-old ban on the use of "Allah" to refer to a God other than the Muslim one. The decision was seen as a victory for ethnic minorities, who practice Christianity, Hinduism and other religions.

These groups have been increasingly complaining of religious discrimination
a charge the government denies. Lau ruled on a petition by The Herald, the main publication of Malaysia's Roman Catholic Church, which uses the word Allah to refer to God in its Malay-language edition read by indigenous Christian tribes in the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak. The government says Allah, an Arabic word that predates Islam, is exclusive to Muslims, and its use by others would be misleading. Many Muslim activists say indiscriminate use of the word would entice Muslims to convert to Christianity. They ignore the argument that "Allah" is used widely by Christians in Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Syria and Indonesia. [Full story>>indianexpress.com; for background see, Maravot News, 1.05.10, article 01.01.10 Use of word 'Allah' not exclusive to Muslims: Malaysian court and Editorial note, "Confusion on Islam."]

01.06.10 Suicide attack on CIA agents 'was planned by bin Laden inner circle'

January 6 - US intelligence officials believe the suicide bomb attack that killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan last month was planned with the help of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, raising fears that the al-Qaeda leader is enjoying a lethal resurgence. The attack, carried out by a Jordanian triple-agent whom the CIA believed was about to divulge the whereabouts of al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, could not have taken place without the prior knowledge and assistance of the Haqqani network, US officials believe. The powerful Taleban faction is thought to be shielding bin Laden.

The suicide bombing by Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, one of the deadliest attacks against the CIA in its history and the most lethal for 25 years, has also significantly increased tensions between the US and Pakistan because of Islamabad’s repeated failure to target the Haqqanis. The Haqqanis operate and largely control a large swath of territory on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border near the Afghan town of Khost, a Taleban hotbed where the CIA officials were killed at a remote agency base on December 30. It is also the area where the US believes bin Laden is hiding, with the help of the Haqqanis and their Pakistani guardians.

One former CIA bin Laden hunter told The Times that the CIA has in its possession electronic intercepts of a Pakistani Army officer tipping the Haqqanis off to a raid; and another in which a member of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, boasts that the “Haqqanis are our guys”. Pakistan has ignored repeated US demands to target the strongholds of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin, a former legendary Mujahidin commander who was once a US ally during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The network is said to be behind several audacious attacks, including the July 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
[More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories,

independent.co.uk, January 6, "How CIA was fatally duped by Jordanian double agent"
: Doctor-turned-bomber who was recruited by Americans to hunt down Bin Laden's right-hand man was in fact working for al-Qaeda. The Central Intelligence Agency was bracing yesterday for a fresh barrage of questions about its competence following reports that the man who blew himself up at its main operating base in Afghanistan on 30 December, killing seven of its employees, had been recruited by the US but had, in fact, been a double agent for al-Qaeda all along. It was the deadliest attack suffered by the CIA against its own for more than 25 years. The suicide bomber, at first thought to have been a disgruntled Afghan soldier, has now been identified as Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a 32-year-old doctor from Jordan. Also killed by the blast at the CIA's Forward Operation Base Chapman in eastern Afghanistan, was his Jordanian handler, Ali bin Zaid, a senior intelligence officer of Jordan and a cousin of King Abdullah.

The CIA has not identified the victims from its ranks, some of whom were agents while others may have been contractors...Family members yesterday said that al-Balawi had been working as a doctor in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan near Zarqa, which happens also to be the hometown of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed in Iraq in 2006. They said he had told friends months ago that he was going away to study in Turkey. But family and friends, it seems, were not the only people that al-Balawi duped. First arrested over a year ago by Jordan as a suspected al-Qaeda sympathizer and operative, al-Balawi subsequently convinced the Jordanian intelligence agency that he was ready to switch sides and infiltrate the terror group. In time, the Americans were apparently also convinced that he had been successfully turned.

To cement the deception, al-Balawi reportedly supplied the Jordanians and the CIA with what officials have called "actionable intelligence" on al-Qaeda on more than one occasion. That he continued to pen pro-jihad messages on websites associated with al-Qaeda, and to speak publicly of his support for armed jihad, seemingly did not give Western agents pause, perhaps because they assumed he was doing so to build up his own cover as a double agent. Al-Balawi's specific mission was to help the Americans track down down al-Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri...According to at least one report, US military officials believe it may have been orchestrated by the Haqqani network, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group that operates out of north-west Pakistan and has launched many attacks in Khost in the past. Ironically, the network's ageing leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was formerly a close US ally in the covert Afghan war against the Soviets. He visited the Reagan White House and was described by Texas politician Charlie Wilson as "goodness personified."...

aljazeera.net, January 6, "Jordan disputes Khost bomber status" : A suicide bomber who attacked a US base in Afghanistan killing eight people last week was an informant and not a double CIA-Jordanian intelligence agent, as had been previously reported, a Jordanian official told Al Jazeera. Hammam Khalil al-Balawi, identified by Al Jazeera sources in Afghanistan on Tuesday, killed seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer at a US base in Khost province on Wednesday last week. Al-Balawi allegedly attacked the base as an al-Qaeda operative, with US media and intelligence reports saying on Tuesday that he was a "double agent" working for Jordanian intelligence. Nisreen el-Shamayleh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Amman, the Jordanian capital, said: "

A Jordanian official told me that al-Balawi was an informant, and that he offered himself as an informant. He offered dangerous and important information which the authorities said they had to take seriously. This was an indirect denial that al-Balawi was recruited by the Jordanian authorities or the CIA and was instead only a trusted source who went onto the base without inspection."...In a September 2009 posting on an al-Qaeda-linked website, he wrote: "If [a Muslim] dies in the cause of Allah, he will grant his words glory that will be permanent marks on the path to guide to jihad, with permission from Allah," according to Site. "If love of jihad enters a man's heart, it will not leave him even if he wants to do so. Indeed, what he sees of luxurious palaces will remind him of positions of the martyrs in the higher heaven."...

cbsnews.com, January 6, "CIA bomber saw US as enemy, wife says" : The wife of the suspected Jordanian double agent who killed seven CIA workers in Afghanistan said Wednesday her husband regard the United States as an adversary. Defne Bayrak, the Turkish wife of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, told Turkish media by telephone she was shocked at the news that her husband blew himself up at a base in Afghanistan on Dec. 30, killing himself and the officers. Bayrak, who lives in Istanbul, said her husband had plans to become a specialist in surgery in Turkey and doubts he was working for the CIA.

"I don't believe that he was an agent for CIA or for Jordan," she told private NTV television. "He was someone who even did not like to leave home." Bayrak, an Arabic language translator for some Turkish media outlets, later told private CNN-Turk television that while in Jordan her husband wrote articles for Jihad Web sites, in which the United States is considered an adversary. Al-Balawi spoke openly about wanting to die in a holy war, calling tirelessly for jihad against Israel and the United States, said Mohammed Yousef, one of his high school classmates in Jordan...

Editorial note: See Maravot News 01.05.10 article Pakistan: Taliban brainwashes kids with visions of virgins for relevant article on achieving paradise as a jihadi of al-Balawi's vision "of luxurious palaces..positions of the martyrs in the higher heaven."

01.06.10 Suspected drone attack kills 13 in N. Waziristan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, January 6 - Two suspected US drone missile strikes have killed at least 13 people in volatile North Waziristan near the Afghan border, Geo News reported Wednesday. A suspected drone fired two missiles at a house in the Datta Khel region of North Waziristan in the first attack Wednesday, killing seven people. Another strike occurred as locals were retrieving bodies from the rubble of the house, killing five people. The identities of those killed in the attacks were unknown. [>thenews.com.pk; See more details,

aljazeera.net, January 6, "US drone strikes hit Pakistan" : A suspected double US drone attack has killed at least 15 people in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region. The strikes on Wednesday occurred in North Waziristan, where several opposition groups stage attacks inside the district and into bordering Afghanistan. Some officials have claimed that as many as 12 opposition fighters were among those dead. The first drone attack hit a mud fort in Datta Khel region of the tribal district, with the second missile striking as people were searching in the rubble more than an hour later...

nytimes.com, January 6, "US drone strikes reported in Pakistan" : ...The missiles hit along the border with Afghanistan's Paktika Province, in an area that has been a repeated target of drone strikes as the United States seeks to halt the flow of fighters from Pakistan. Details of the drones strikes in the remote area remained sketchy and the death tolls varied, but a government official said as many as 20 or 25 people may have been killed. A resident of Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan, said by telephone that the initial strike occurred in the village of Sanzalai, in a mountainous region about 22 miles west. "Just when militants people gathered at the scene to retrieve the bodies and pull out the wounded, another missile struck an hour later," he said. The second strike left five dead and wounded another three, he said. He said that the area was under the control of local militants and those killed in the first strike appeared to [be] "guests," a term used for foreign militants, or al-Qaeda....

washingtonpost.com, January 6, "Officials: Suspected US drones kill 13 in Pakistan" : Suspected US drone missile strikes killed 13 people in Pakistan's volatile northwest Wednesday, the latest of five such attacks in the past week targeting an area believed to be a hideout for militants involved in a suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan....In the first attack Wednesday, a suspected drone fired two missiles at a house in the Datta Khel region of North Waziristan, killing seven people, said two intelligence officials. A second strike occurred as people were retrieving bodies from the rubble of the house, killing six more, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Four foreigners, including two Arabs, were among the dead; it was unclear whether they were militants or civilians, according to another pair of intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason. The identities of the others killed were unknown...

01.06.10 Five militants killed in Kurram blast

PARACHINAR, Pakistan, January 6 - Five terrorists were killed when an explosives laden vehicle went off with a blast in Kurram Agency. According political administration, the militants were on their way in an explosives laden vehicle towards a target of carrying out terrorist activity when the explosives went off in Dar region of Ali Sher Zari in central Kurram, killing all the five terrorists riding the vehicle. Over 50 militants have been killed and more than 60 apprehended in the security forces operation which has been underway in central Kurram for the last two months. [>thenews.com.pk]

01.06.10 Yemen security forces capture key Qaeda leader

SANA'A, Yemen, January 6 - Foreign missions reopen after threats. Yemeni security forces, under US pressure to rein in extremists, Wednesday captured a key al-Qaeda leader believed behind threats that saw foreign embassies in Sana'a hastily bolting their doors, police said. The arrest of Mohammed al-Hanq and two other suspected al-Qaeda militants at a hospital in Raydah, north of capital, came as Yemen's authorities said al-Qaeda militants were being choked countrywide and forced into "holes." Hanq had evaded arrest on Monday during a security force raid in Arhab, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Sana'a, in which two of his relatives were killed and three other people wounded.

A security official told AFP security forces had Wednesday morning swooped on a hospital in Raydah, 80 kilometers (50 miles), north of Sana'a in Amran province, where the suspects were receiving treatment. "Mohammed al-Hanq and two others who were wounded were captured in a hospital in Amran," the official said. Two other al-Qaeda suspects meanwhile turned themselves in to the authorities in the region of Marib, east of Sana'a, on Wednesday, and a third surrendered in Arhab, a security official said.

01.06.10 Egyptian border guard killed in clash

AL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) January 6 - Egyptian security forces and Palestinians clashed at the Gaza border on Wednesday over the delay of an international aid convoy, killing one Egyptian border guard and wounding 15 Palestinians. The incident further raises the tension between Egypt and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip who see Cairo's attempts to seal the border as a direct threat to their survival, particularly a new effort to build a steel wall blocking cross-border tunnels. It was the worst violence on the border since an Egyptian major was killed by Palestinian gunmen during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008. The Egyptian state news agency said Palestinians shot and killed the 21-year-old border guard who was in an observation tower overlooking the frontier. Nine other guards were injured by the stones thrown across the border by hundreds of Palestinians. [More>>jpost.com]

01.06.10 Death toll in Dagestan suicide bomber attack rises to 7 - TV

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) JANUARY 6 - The number of police killed in a suicide bomb attack in Russia's North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan has risen to seven, after a police officer died from blood loss, Russian TV channel NTV reported on Wednesday. Surgeons are now struggling to save the lives of 15 police officers wounded in the deadly bomb attack, NTV said. The suicide bomber drove a car into a traffic police depot in Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, early on Wednesday but was blocked by a police vehicle before exploding. A police spokesman said that casualties could have been considerably larger, if the car had not been blocked by the police officers who died as a result of the explosion. The force of the explosion is estimated at 50-60 kg of TNT equivalent, the spokesman said. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday ordered the Federal Security Service to tighten security in the North Caucasus following the suicide bomb attack. [More>>en.rian.ru]

01.06.10 Srinagar gunbattle: JUM claims responsibility, 100 evacuated

SRINAGAR, January 6 - A policeman was on Wednesday killed and three civilians were injured as terrorists struck in the heart of Srinagar, entering a hotel lobbing grenades. (Watch Video) Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, one of the rebel groups active in the area claimed responsibility for the attack by faxing a statement to the local offices of a news agency. "The attack is in response to India's propaganda that the armed struggle has weakened in Kashmir," the statement said. As it grew dark, the security forces put up floodlights around the Punjab Hotel building where the militants are holed up. The area has been marked off with concertina wires to ensure the guerrillas do not escape under the cover of darkness.

"We are cautious that no collateral damage takes place," a police officer said. Police were not sure of any civilian trapped in the hotel building which hindered the prospect of launching the final assault. The militants were using the building as a fortified bunker and firing intermittently at the surrounding security forces. "The hotel building will have to be stormed by commandoes if the militants refuse to surrender," said a paramilitary officer.

01.06.10 13 slain in single day in Mexican border city

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, January 6 - Gunmen killed 13 people in a single day in the violence-plagued Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, state prosecutors said. Two of the dead were police officers. The Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office issued a news release Tuesday that said Monday's string of killings might be tied to organized crime, but police had not arrested anyone. The shootings occurred in eight different locations throughout the city. Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico's deadliest city. Authorities say turf battles between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels are largely responsible for a continuing wave of drug-related violence that cost more than 2,500 lives in 2009. In the western border city of Tijuana, prosecutors said four people were killed in separate attacks Tuesday and six others died on Monday. [More>>japantoday.com; See also elpasotimes, January 6, "Shooting pushes death toll past 40" (with long list of links to articles on Juarez killings)] 


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