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8.27.09 Car bombs hit Iraqi troops ahead of Shiite funeral

BAGHDAD (AP) August 27 - A string of car bombs exploded on Wednesday in Baghdad as Iraqi forces tightened security around Shiite mosques, shrines and political party offices in advance of the funeral of a top Shiite leader. The car bombs targeted primarily Iraqi troops in the city and a northern Baghdad suburb, killing one and wounding 19, police officials said. The violence raised concerns whether Iraqi forces can provide adequate security when thousands converge to mourn the death of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim. The body of al-Hakim, who died on Wednesday in Tehran of lung cancer, was scheduled to be returned to Iraq on Friday. The funeral procession was expected to start in Baghdad and make stops in several cities in Iraq's southern provinces before burial in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraqi Vice President Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi told AP Television News.

The deadliest bombing Thursday struck at about 11 a.m. near a US military base close to Taji, north of Baghdad, killing one and wounding six people, an Iraqi police official said. A parked car bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol, the official said. It was not immediately known whether the victims were civilians or Iraqi military personnel. In the early morning hours, three bombs attached to three parked cars exploded nearly simultaneously in Baghdad's primarily Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, wounding four police officers and two civilians, said another police official. Another blast targeting a police patrol in Baghdad's eastern Rusafa district, wounding seven people, a third police official said.

8.27.09 Mysterious executions of militants continue in Swat

MINGORA, Pakistan, August 27 - Amid reports that Taliban are on the run and [the] operation against them is wrapping up in the volatile Swat valley, the mysterious executions of militants continue in the region while Swat Taliban chief ordered his fighters to vacate the region. According to residents of Swat, these executions are carried out by the security forces and lashkars (local militias formed to counter militants), respectively. During the ongoing military offensive in Swat, the military claims to have killed hundreds of militants and apprehended scores of others. Corpses of some Taliban militants which were found recently in different parts of Swat reveal that they were killed ruthlessly.

On Wednesday, people in Swat's main town of Mingora displayed bodies of three militants who were killed while entering a house in the city. Bodies of 19 militants, who were tortured to death, were found two days ago in Swat's Taligrama area. Last week, mutilated bodies of 18 militants were found dumped in the streets of Mingora and other towns. [A] few weeks back, 65 bodies of militants were recovered from a mass grave in Kabal town of Swat. The government and military officials deny reports that they were involved in these extra-judicial killings...The Pakistan military has denied its involvement in the extra-judicial killings of militants. Pakistan's military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said this could be a result of revenge by the local people. "It could be a reaction to all that happened to the people in Swat," he said.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories:

thenews.com.pk, August 27, "17 killed in suicide attack in Kyber agency" : KHYBER AGENCY: Seventeen people, most of them policemen, were killed and four others injured in a suicide attack on Thursday in Khyber Agency near the Afghan border, officials said. The attack took place in the Khyber tribal region while policemen were gathering to break their fast. According to sources, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the residential barracks of the local policemen at Torkham town near the Afghan border, killing 17 people and hurting 4 others. The blast destroyed completely the building of Khasadar force while the adjacent buildings were also damaged. The injured have been shifted to Landikotal Hospital. [end]

thenews.com.pk, August 27, "Security forces nab nine terrorists in Swat" : SWAT: Security forces reacting sharply on a tip-off apprehended 9 terrorists and a vehicle in Ser and Tilgram area of Swat. The vehicle was being prepared for a suicide attack. According to ISPR, 14 terrorists surrendered themselves to security forces at Grid Station near Fatehpur along with four 7 mm rifles. Security forces carried out [a] search operation in Charbagh and apprehended 2 suspects. Ten suspected terrorists were apprehended during [a] search operation at Kot near Charbagh. Four suspected terrorists were apprehended during [a] search operation at Ballogram near Mingora. Six suspected terrorists were apprehended during [a] search operation at Mulakabad, Tahirabad and Mingora city. [end]

8.27.09 Second blast strikes Kandahar

August 27 - A second explosion has hit the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, a day after more than 40 people there were killed in a truck bombing. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from the city, said Wednesday's blast was caused by a rocket, according to residents. She said the blast occurred at about 10.30pm, hitting a square in the centre of the city close to a branch of the Kabul Bank. Firefighters battled the blaze for more than an hour and our correspondent reported a heavy security presence at the scene along with several ambulances. The number of casualties is not yet known, but the streets were largely empty at the time with the city still reeling from Tuesday's deadly attack and many Kandahar residents observing the fasting month of Ramadan. [More>>aljazeera.net]

8.27.09 US to Malaysia: Stop human trafficking quickly

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) August 27 - The United States welcomes Malaysia's crackdown on human trafficking, but wants to see "results rather than rhetoric" before it can remove the Southeast Asian country from a blacklist, a senior official said Thursday. Several alleged traffickers, including government officials colluding with them, have been arrested and charged in recent weeks after Malaysia was labeled one of the world's worst offenders in a US State Department report released in June...The US report said Malaysia is a destination and source for women and children trafficked for the purpose of prostitution, and men, women and children used for forced labor. Many of the victims were brought from Myanmar. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

8.27.09 Mourning for Kennedy starts with mass and procession

August 27 - In a poignant farewell for his family and thousands of mourners, the elaborate funeral procession for Senator Edward M. Kennedy is expected to begin from his family's Cape Cod compound early Thursday afternoon and travel the 72 miles north to Boston, where the motorcade will wind around city landmarks that were important in the life of Mr. Kennedy and his family. Mr. Kennedy died at age 77 late Tuesday night in Hyannis Port, Mass., after battling brain cancer for 15 months. A Senate stalwart and the longest-surviving brother of a tragic and triumphant political clan, Mr. Kennedy was hailed by many who knew him as a man as fiercely dedicated to public service as he was to his extended family.

Accordingly, the day's events began in Hyannis Port with a private Catholic mass for the family that was closed to the press, and were scheduled to end with a public viewing of Mr. Kennedy's body at the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester, Mass., where he will lie in repose until Saturday. Mr. Kennedy is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, near his brothers John and Robert, with President Obama delivering a eulogy. The motorcade on Thursday is due to reach Boston around 2:30pm, heading first to St. Stephen's Church in the city's North End...

8.25.09 White House, Congress project record deficits

(AP) August 25 - Obama Estimates $9 Trillion Deficit Over Ten Years; Congressional Budget Office Says $7.14 Trillion. The federal government faces exploding deficits and mounting debt over the next decade, White House and congressional budget officials projected Tuesday in competing but similar economic forecasts. Both the White House Office of Management and Budget and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the budget deficit this year would swell to nearly $1.6 trillion, a record, and far above the then-record 2008 budget deficit of $455 billion. But while figures released by the White House foresee a cumulative $9 trillion deficit from 2010-2019, $2 trillion more than the administration estimated in May, congressional budget analysts put the 10-year figure at a lower $7.14 trillion.

One reason for the difference: The CBO projection is based on an assumption that all the tax cuts put into place in the administration of former President George W. Bush will expire on schedule by 2011 as dictated by current law. President Barack Obama's budget baseline, however, hews to his proposal to keep the tax cuts in place for families earning less than $250,000 a year. Beyond the 10-year forecast, the nation will face further challenges posed by rising health care costs and the aging of the population, the CBO said. "The budget remains on an unsustainable path" over the long-term and will require some combination of lower spending and higher tax revenues, it said.

Editorial note: "What is not being revealed about the deficit" : Each yearly deficit is added to the cumulative deficits (Public Debt) accrued to date. Currently the US debt is $11.7 trillion. Using the lower CBO number of $7.4 trillion cumulative deficits between 2010-2019, the total projected US Public Debt would be $19.1 trillion. Annual interest on $19 trillion at an average 5% rate would be $950 billion. To date, interest paid on the current Public Debt is $340.4 billion. The current year-to-date (Oct. 08-Jul 09) deficit is $1.74 trillion. Both government and media spokesmen give the impression that the deficit is the Public Debt. When they do speak of the Public Debt they often complain that the debt is being placed on the shoulders of our children.

The truth is that to finance the debt interest rates have to be adjusted. Where waning demand on US bonds and notes that finance the Public Debt is experienced, the Feds must increase interest rates. Higher interest rates make the US bonds and notes more attractive. The consequences of higher rates can be disastrous, as we saw in the fall of 2008, when interest rate adjustments on real estate loans, etc. caused defaults in the mortgage industry. The collapse of the mortgage industry caused in turn the collapse of banks worldwide.

Mel Copeland

8.25.09 Inside the CIA's Haphazard interrogations

WASHINGTON, August 25 - Questioners Had Little Training, Often Overstepped Even Flexible Guidelines of Bush Administration. With just two weeks of training, or about half the time it takes to become a truck driver, the CIA certified its spies as interrogation experts after 9/11 and handed them the keys to the most coercive tactics in the agency's arsenal. It was a haphazard process, cobbled together in the months following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington by an agency that had never been in the interrogation business. The result was a patchwork program in which rules kept shifting and the goals often were unclear.

At times, the interrogators went too far, even beyond the wide latitude they were given under the Bush administration's flexible guidelines, according to newly unclassified documents released Monday. Interrogators took the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding beyond what was authorized. Mock executions were held. Family members were threatened. There were hints of rape. If it was a terrifying process for the detainees, it was a bureaucratic nightmare for the interrogators. Until 2003, the agency provided its interrogators with rules on a case-by-case basis, sometimes giving permission by e-mail or even orally from CIA headquarters.

The interrogators were required to sign documents saying they understood the rules and would comply with them. Yet they were given ample room to improvise and make decisions about how much humanity to show to terror detainees. While former Vice President Dick Cheney said the interrogation program was run by "highly trained professionals who understand their obligations under the law," the newly released documents suggest otherwise, at least in the early months.
[More>>cbsnews.com; See also independent.co.uk, August 25, "Full text: CIA internal report on interogation methods."]

8.25.09 South Korea launches first rocket into space

GOEHEUNG, South Korea (AP) August 25 - South Korea's first rocket blasted off into space Tuesday following an aborted attempt last week and just months after its rival North Korea drew international ire for its own launch. A problem quickly surfaced, however, when space officials said that an initial investigation showed that the satellite the rocket was carrying apparently failed to enter its intended orbit. Science and Education Minister Ahn Byong-man told reporters that South Korean and Russian scientists were looking into the problem. It was not immediately clear whether the problem jeopardizes the success of the launch. The launch of the two-stage Naro rocket could boost the country's space ambition but the North warned it would keep a close eye on the international response to Seoul's launch. [More>>indianexpress.com]

8.25.09 Blasts kill 36 in Kandahar as preliminary Afghan election results are declared

KABUL, Afghanistan, August 25 - At least 36 people died in a multiple car bombing and four US soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb today in a day of violence in southern Afghanistan that overshadowed the release of the first partial results of a presidential election. The deaths of the four soldiers in the southern province of Helmand made 2009 the bloodiest year for foreign troops in Afghanistan since an American-led invasion toppled the Taleban government eight years ago. The five simultaneous car bombs in the southern city of Kandahar destroyed the offices of a Japanese construction company, killing women and children and wounding at least 64 people in the bloodiest such attack since July last year.

The bloodshed is likely to prompt further questions about the international mission in Afghanistan following an election last week that was marred by Taleban attacks, low turnout, and allegations of massive fraud. President Hamid Karzai is running neck and neck with his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, with both men on about 40 percent, according to the first partial results released today. But with only 10 percent of votes counted so far, it is far too early to predict whether Mr. Karzai would win the outright majority needed for a first round victory, or be pushed to a run-off with Mr. Abdullah.

8.25.09 Baituallh passed away two days back

WANA, Pakistan, August 25 - Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud said their chief Baitullah Mehsud has passed away two days back on Sunday, Geo News reported Tuesday. Talking to a British news agency, he said Mehsud was unconscious ever since he was hit in a drone attack on August 5; he died in this state of unconsciousness. It should be mentioned here that Baitullah Mehsud was the chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and accepted the responsibility for several sabotage activities across Pakistan. [>thenews.com.pk]

8.25.09 Forces kill 3, nab 7 terrorists: ISPR

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, August 25 - The security forces continued the search operations in Swat and Malakand during the last 24 hours. According to a press release issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), at least 11 local persons (who were forced to get terrorist training) voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Bar Shaur near Chuprial. Security forces conducted search operation in Asharbanr near Khawazakhela and killed a terrorist and apprehended another. The security forces conducted search operation in Taghan, Bishbanr near Gat of Swat and killed two terrorists.

Local lashkar demolished 3 houses of terrorists at Manja near Tutan Banda. The security forces conducted search operation in Kala Kalle and recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition. Security forces conducted search operation in village Saltan, Barjabar near Kanju and apprehended 6 suspects. More than 80 percent IDPs have vacated the 250 Host IDP Schools in Lower Dir and returned to their homes. The security forces continued the relief activities, as at least 23 truck of Atta have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand. As many as 267,268 cash cards have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand.

8.25.09 Suspected Lashkar terrorist with Pakistan passport arrested in New Delhi

NEW DELHI, India, August 25 - A suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist was arrested in Delhi on Tuesday and explosives were recovered from him, police said. The man who alighted from a train on the Ajmeri Gate side of the New Delhi Railway Station was caught by Delhi Police's Special Cell at around 12:40pm, deputy commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Alok Kumar said. Two of his associates, however, escaped. ( Watch Video ) The man was carrying an identity card bearing the name Salim from Jammu & Kashmir and also a Pakistani passport bearing the name Yusuf, Kumar said, adding four detonators, two timers and explosive chemicals were recovered from him.

Other incriminating documents have also been seized from his possession, which are being examined by the police. Asked if the recovered chemical weighing around two kilogram was RDX, Kumar said, "It looks like." He said they were trying to ascertain his identity as well as his mission in the national capital. The suspected terrorists were believed to be traveling to Maharashtra. Efforts are on to nab the two who escaped. He is the second terrorist to be arrested by the Delhi Police this month. On August 6 just days ahead of Independence Day, the Special Cell had arrested two suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists from Daryaganj area in central Delhi.

8.25.09 Many dead in fresh Chechen attack

August 25 - At least four policemen have been killed and one injured in a suicide bombing in Russia's mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya, according to local media. The RIA Novosti news agency, citing a local police source, said the attack occurred in the Shali district of Chechnya, which lies in the Caucasus region, on Tuesday. "A suicide bomber approached five police officers who were waiting for their vehicle to be cleaned at a carwash and activated a home-made explosive device, hidden under his clothing. Four police officers were killed on the spot," the source said. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also

8.25.09 Chechen militants sentence ex-militant spokesman to death

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) August 25 - Exiled former Chechen militant leader Akhmed Zakayev has been sentenced to death for abandoning Islam, Chechen militants said on their website on Tuesday. Zakayev, 53, was the foreign minister of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. He has lived in London since 2002 and acted as an official militant representative until 2007. "Public statements made by Akhmed Zakayev show that he has forsaken the religion of Islam," kavkazcenter.com website quoted a ruling by a Sharia court in the Caucasus as saying. In a recent statement, Zakayev said Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was not to blame for the recent murders of rights activists in the republic, and recognized Chechnya's Kremlin-backed government. Kadyrov has frequently urged Zakayev through the media to return to his homeland and contribute to the revival of the Chechen Republic in exchange for amnesty.

"He practices a democratic religion, calls for secularism and prefers laws established by people to the law of Allah," the statement said, adding that the trial was initiated by Chechnya's most wanted militant leader, Doku Umarov. The court pronounced him an apostate and said that killing Zakayev was "a duty of every Muslim." Russia, which issued an international arrest warrant for Zakayev in 2001, has accused him of terrorist activities and repeatedly asked Britain to extradite him, but the request has invariably been refused. [>en.rian.ru]

8.25.09 Police arrest terror suspect

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 25 - The National Police has said it arrested terror fugitive Mohammad Jibril Abdul Rahman on Tuesday afternoon on his way back home from Bintaro to Pamulang, Tangerang. The Police Spokesperson Insp. Gen. Nanan Soekarna said that the fugitive was still undergoing an investigation process with the Detachment 88 team. Antara state news agency reported that the police arrested Jibril just hours after it had announced him as a fugitive for his alleged role in financing twin bombings at two five-star hotels in South Jakarta last month. Previously, Jibril's father Abu Jibril said his son had been abducted by three unknown men this afternoon. Abu also came to the office to seek clarifications over his son's status as a fugitive. [>thejakartapost.com]

8.24.09 Series of raids by Pakistan police foil attacks

ISLAMABAD (AP) August 24 - Pakistani authorities arrested 13 Islamist militants in separate raids that police said Monday foiled major terrorist attacks and provided clues to how drug sales to Asia and the Persian Gulf help fund the Taliban. Police seized heroin and bomb-making material in one bust in the southern city of Karachi, the country's commercial center and a hotbed of extremist activity. In the country's east, authorities captured a main Taliban recruiter of suicide bombers in one of two raids.

...Police in Karachi arrested seven members of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi movement in a raid Sunday in the teeming port city of more than 16 million, police officer Fayyaz Khan said. The al-Qaeda-linked movement is blamed for two failed assassination attempts against former President Pervez Musharraf and the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The Karachi cell was planning attacks on government officials, police and offices of intelligence agencies in the city, police officer Saud Mirza said. He would not be more specific about the targets, saying it could jeopardize an ongoing investigation.

Police seized 4.5 pounds (2 kilograms) of heroin plus three suicide vests and 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of explosives in the raid, police said. Khan said the gang shipped the heroin to China, Malaysia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates, and brought the profits back to Pakistan. From there, he said, the money headed to the border with Afghanistan, which supplies 93 percent of the world's opium, the main ingredient of heroin and one of the main sources of Taliban funding. Part of the profits were transferred to a Taliban commander named Abdul Samad in Chaman, an area on Pakistan's southwestern border with Afghanistan, he said...Among the six was Zaid Mustafa, who Anwar said recruited potential suicide bombers for training in Afghanistan and who is suspected of providing logistics, explosives and other support for terror attacks in Lahore, Karachi or Rawalpindi.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

8.24.09 Baghdad bomb 'confession' released

August 24 - The Iraqi military has released a video of a Saddam Hussein loyalist apparently confessing to coordinating one of two truck bombings that killed 95 people in Baghdad last week. Wissam Ali Kadhem, a former police chief, admitted to plotting the attack and said that $10,000 was paid in bribes to checkpoint security staff to reach the finance ministry where the blast occurred. "I received a call a month ago from my boss in the [Baath] party Sattam Farhan in Syria to do an operation to destabilise the regime," Ibrahim, 57, said in the footage released on Sunday, alluding to Saddam's now outlawed political movement.

Ibrahim said that the truck was prepared in Khalis, 80km, northeast of Baghdad, the capital, and that one of his contacts in the nearby town of Muqdadiya was called to ease its journey to the ministry. Major-General Qassim Atta, a spokesman for the military's Baghdad operations, said that Ibrahim was the primary culprit responsible for the attack. Ibrahim said that he was a police chief in Diyala province, northeast Iraq, under Saddam until 1995 and then worked as a lawyer until 2002, after which he became a leading Ba'athist official in the same province.

8.24.09 Deadly bus bombs hit Iraqi town

August 20 - At least 20 people have been killed and another 10 wounded in bomb attacks on two minibuses near the southern Iraqi town of Kut, police say. They said the bombs, which were attached to the buses, exploded on the road between Kut and Baghdad. Kut is in a mainly Shia area some 150km (95 miles) south-east of the capital. The attack comes days after a double truck bombing in Baghdad killed at least 95 people, the deadliest strike in Iraq this year. Those bombings left many Iraqis doubting the government's claims to be getting on top of the violence, the BBC's Andrew North reports from Baghdad. There has been an escalation of attacks in Iraq since US troops pulled out of urban areas at the end of June. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

8.24.09 Three NATO troops killed in Afghanistan

(AP) August 24 - Three NATO troops — two from Estonia and one from the United States — were killed in attacks in southern Afghanistan, the latest casualties in a particularly bloody summer, authorities said today. The American service member died in an insurgent attack Sunday, the US military said without providing details. It was the 37th death for the US military in Afghanistan since the beginning of August, a month that has seen a jump in attacks and violence as the country prepared for its second-ever direct presidential election last week. In a separate statement, NATO said two other international troops were killed in a bomb blast in the south yesterday. [More>>independent.co.uk]

8.24.09 New unit will question key terror suspects

(Washingtonpost.com) August 24 - President Obama has approved the creation of an elite team of interrogators to question key terrorism suspects, part of a broader effort to revamp US policy on detention and interrogation, senior administration officials said Sunday. Obama signed off late last week on the unit, named the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG. Made up of experts from several intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the interrogation unit will be housed at the FBI but will be overseen by the National Security Council shifting the center of gravity away from the CIA and giving the White House direct oversight. Seeking to signal a clean break from the Bush administration, Obama moved to overhaul interrogation and detention guidelines soon after taking office, including the creation of a task force on interrogation and transfer policies. The task force, whose findings will be made public Monday, recommended the new interrogation unit, along with other changes regarding the way prisoners are transferred overseas. [More>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

abcnews.go.com, August 24, "Obama White House versus CIA" : Tensions lead to CIA director's 'screaming match' at the White House. A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint[ed] intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com. Amid reports that Panetta had threatened to quit just seven months after taking over at the spy agency, other insiders tell ABCNews.com that senior White House staff members are already discussing a possible shake-up of top national security officials.

"You can expect a larger than normal turnover in the next year," a senior adviser to Obama on intelligence matters told ABCNews.com. Since 9/11, the CIA has had five directors or acting directors. A White House spokesperson, Denis McDonough, said reports that Panetta had threatened to quit and that the White House was seeking a replacement were "inaccurate." According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed "torture."...

8.24.09 'Poisened' Sea Lions litter Chile beach

August 24 - At least 200 sea lions have been found dead along Chile's northern coast - sparking fears the colony was poisoned by a chemical plant. Chilean television stations Channels 7 and 13 showed images of the dead and dying mammals on the rocks and in the sea near Iquique. The South American country's fishing agency said many of the dead are apparently young sea lions abandoned when their mothers were drawn too far offshore while hunting for food. The agency said the El Nino phenomenon the periodic warming of water in the tropical Pacific Ocean has made prey scarce near the shore...But environmental groups said they suspect a nearby chemical plant or another industry may have contaminated waters near the sea lion colony. [Full story>>news.sky.com]

8.23.09 'Zaidi fighters die' in Yemen clash

August 23 - More than 100 Zaidi Shia fighters have been killed by government forces in the north of Yemen after fierce battles to recapture a town, government officials have said. The deaths in fighting in Amran province in the northern mountains on Sunday included two commanders, they reported. "There has been a discovery of 100 bodies belonging to Houthi rebels on the sides of the roads outside Haraf Sufyan," [the] government statement said. "It seems these are members who had attempted to escape from the fierce fighting in Sufyan city and were chased down."

The two commanders were named as Mohsen Saleh Hadi Gawd and Salah Jorman. Zaidi fighters, who are also referred to as Houthis after their leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, have been fighting a campaign for independence in the north for the past five years.
Sana'a launched Operation Scorched Earth against the Houthis two weeks ago in an attempt to end the insurgency. [More>>aljazeera.net; See related story,

alarabiya.net, August 23, "Yemen seizes Iranian-made arms in rebel caches" : SANAA - UN says over 100,000 people displaced by Yemen fighting. The Yemeni army has seized Iranian-made weapons used by Shiite rebels who are locked in fighting with government forces in the north of the country, a security official said on Saturday. "The troops... have discovered six storehouses for weapons that belong to the Huthi rebels and contain some Iranian-made weapons, including machine guns, short-range rockets and ammunition," the official said...

8.23.09 Suicide attack kills 3 in Peshawar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, August 23 - Three persons were killed, including 2 women and 6 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a house in Momin Town at Dala Zak on Sunday. According to a worker of Edhi Welfare Sources, the incident was a suicide attack and that the suicide bomber first opened fire and then blew himself up. According to Geo TV, it has not yet been confirmed whether it was a suicide attack. He said investigation is being carried out. DCO Peshawar, Sahibzada Anis, said nothing could be confirmed about [the] occurrence of any deaths. He said 11 people were injured including women and children. Four of these people are critically injured, he added. The bodies and injured have been shifted to a nearby hospital. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story,

cnn.com, August 23, "Pakisan foils suicide terror plot, minister says" :
ISLAMABAD - Pakistani forces in the last month foiled a planned attack on the parliament building, the intelligence agency and other federal institutions, the country's interior minister told CNN Sunday. In the last four weeks, authorities arrested three men with suicide vests who were plotting to carry out the attacks, said Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Malik would not say exactly when the men were caught. Pakistan is in the midst of an intense military offensive against Taliban militants. The militants are suspected of launching attacks inside Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan from their haven in the mountainous tribal region along the northwestern border...

8.23.09 Tunneling under Nogales: Arizona border town flush with drug tunnels

(Christian Science Monitor) August 23 - Federal Agents Have Discovered Dozens of Tunnels Under Nogales Used to Run Drugs. Maria Elena Leyva cannot see the problem that has recently made her hometown notorious along the US-Mexican border. It is beneath her feet hidden in the earth below hills speckled with mesquites, pines, and oaks. In the words of the county sheriff, Nogales is becoming "the drug-tunnel capital of the world." Since 1990, the US Border Patrol has found 109 tunnels along the border with Mexico, all in California and Arizona.

or 60 percent have been found in Nogales, with 16 of those discovered in the past nine months. Until the 1990s, the international line here was just a chain-link fence that allowed Americans and Mexicans to look each other in the eye, Ms. Leyva recalls, sitting on a porch only two blocks from the border. But during the past few years in particular, an arsenal of manpower, physical barriers, and electronic surveillance has made the border a virtual fortress..."We do about 48 percent of the marijuana seizures in the whole country," Agent Scioli says, speaking about the Nogales area. [Full story>>abcnews.go.com]

8.22.09 Hakimullah Mehsud appointed as new Pakistan Taliban chief

ISLAMABAD, August 22 - [The] Taliban "Shura" (council) has unanimously appointed Hakimullah Mehsud to be the successor of slain Taliban leader Baitullah Mesud and Azam Tariq as the chief spokesman of the defunct Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Denying that Baitullah Mesud was killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan, the acting Taliban chief Maulvi Fakir Muhammad told media that Mehsud is seriously ill and cannot run the organization's affairs. "According to his will, his successor should be appointed during his life time and he has nominated Hakimullah Mehsud to succeed him," he said. Pakistan's top militant commander, Baitullah Mehsud was reportedly killed along with his wife, and six bodyguards in a missile strike fired from the unmanned US drone aircraft on August 5.

"The new appointments of Taliban chief and spokesman were made unanimously by a Taliban Shura which met in Orakzai Agency recently," said the acting Taliban chief. According to sources in the tribal region, Taliban commanders were frequently holding secret meetings in Waziristan and Orakzai Agency, after Mehsud's death, to appoint his successor and plan the future strategy of the organization in Mehsud's absence. [A] few days ago, Taliban postponed their "shura" meeting in Orakzai Agency, as several Taliban commanders could not arrive for a meeting. The meeting was called to finalize and announce names of a new Taliban chief and spokesman.

The former Taliban spokesman, Maulvi Omer was arrested last Tuesday in Mohmand Agency when he was going to Orakzai Agency for a "shura" meeting. However, on Wednesday, Maulvi Fakir, who was a deputy chief of TTP and "amir" of Taliban of Bajaur Agency, declared himself to be the acting chief of TTP and Muslim Khan, spokesman of Swat Taliban as his spokesman. He also denied that [the] Taliban shura was ever called to appoint Baitullah's successor. "Being a deputy chief of the TTP," Maulvi Fakir had said "it is his right to take control of the TTP as Baitullah's health does not allow him to run the organization's affairs."

8.22.09 Peshawar blast kills one, injures 3

PESHAWAR, August 22 - A powerful explosion occurred in Hayatabad area of Peshawar, killing one man and injuring three others, Geo News reported Saturday. According to state TV, the blast was a car bomb blast in Hayatabat phase-IV near Hayatabat Medical Complex. Fire fighters have been dispatched towards the blast site. According to eyewitnesses, there was only one person in the vehicle, who was killed in the blast. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, August 22, "Kanju blast kills 2 security men" : KANJU - At least two security men were killed and two others injured, when two suicide bombers attacked a motorcade of security personnel on Saturday in Swat area of Kanju in Kabal. According to official sources, the security forces were conducting an operation in the Tehsil Kabal area of Kanju, when two suspected men, spotting the security men, fled to a house; the security men gave them a chase. As soon as the security personnel approached them, they blew themselves up, killing two security men and injuring two others. [end]

8.22.09 Monitors: Taliban cut off fingers of Afghan voters

KABUL, Afghanistan, August 22 - Making good on a threat of election day violence, the Taliban sliced off the index fingers of at least two people in Kandahar province, according to a vote monitoring group. After they cast their ballots, the fingers of Afghan voters are stained with ink to prevent them from voting multiple times. The fingers of the two women in Kandahar, a stronghold of the Taliban, were cut off because they voted, said Nader Naderi of the Free and Fair Election Foundation. The Taliban had vowed to disrupt Thursday's election and the risk was too great for some Afghans to venture out, especially in the southern provinces that form the heartland of the radical Islamist group. [More>>cnn.com]

8.22.09 Iraqi security forces collaborated with truck bombers: FM

BAGHDAD, August 22 - Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Saturday there had been collaboration between Iraqi security forces and the insurgents whose massive truck bombings killed 95 people three days ago. Zebari, whose ministry lost 32 workers in the blast at its headquarters, admitted the attacks were a serious security setback and that the government had failed to protect its citizens. Wednesday's bombings at the ministries of foreign affairs and finance culminated in the worst day of violence seen in the conflict-hit country in 18 months, with around 600 people also wounded. "How could this truck pass unless there is collaboration?" Zebari told reporters in Baghdad. "There was collaboration between security forces and the terrorist group to facilitate the passing of this truck through such a sensitive area." Zebari said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had ordered the arrest of 11 senior security officers on Thursday so they could be questioned on how a four-tonne truck had entered an area where even two-tonne vehicles were barred. "They have been moving their attacks... now they have focused on their main concern, their main attention, on Baghdad and this is a dangerous and a serious development and a security setback," said Zebari. [>indianexpress.com; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com (AP) August 22, "2 Iraqi soldiers gunned down at checkpoint" : BAGHDAD - Gunmen attacked an Iraqi military checkpoint in the Iraqi capital on Saturday, as Iraqi lawmakers scrutinize the readiness of Iraqi forces following a string of bombings in recent weeks that have killed hundreds. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered security tightened and concrete blast walls to remain around potential targets, reversing an order earlier this month to remove the walls in Baghdad by mid-September. The soldiers were killed at about 6am when gunmen opened fire during a drive-by on the checkpoint in Azamiyah, the official said. Iraqi security forces earlier this month began dismantling concrete blast walls in Azamiyah, a former Sunni insurgent stronghold, to open major roads. The attack on the checkpoint in northern Baghdad killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded another, a police official said, and follows a string of bombings in Baghdad that have shaken public confidence in Iraq's security forces...

8.22.09 Bombers on bicycles strike Grozny

August 22 - Battalion of Martyrs' claims responsibility for spate of attacks on Russia. Chechen Islamist rebels opened a deadly new front in their war against Russian and Chechen authorities yesterday with a series of attacks in Grozny, all carried out by suicide bombers riding bicycles. The attacks, which killed at least four police officers and one civilian, came on the same day as a Chechen rebel group claimed responsibility for a Siberian industrial accident earlier this week and promised a new wave of terror across Russia. Federal officials said four bike-riding suicide attackers detonated bombs within a half-hour period in different parts of the Chechen capital shortly after lunch, while local officials claimed that there had only been two bombers. Body parts were visible scattered across the street at one site, as well as the charred remains of a bicycle and a police car. [More>>independent.co.uk]

8.21.09 US indicts two in Switzerland on tax charges

August 21 - The Justice Department indicted a Swiss private banking executive and a Swiss lawyer on Thursday, accusing them of selling tax evasion services to wealthy clients. The move opens a new front in Washington's challenge to Switzerland's tradition of bank secrecy. The indictment, filed in United States District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., charged Hansruedi Schumacher, a director at NZB Neue Zürcher Bank of Zurich, and Matthias W. Rickenbach, a Swiss lawyer, with one count each of conspiring to defraud the United States. It was filed a day after the giant Swiss bank UBS said that it had agreed to disclose 4,450 American client names and account details, and it indicated that American authorities were starting to pursue smaller players who might have helped Americans hide money.

Smaller Swiss banks have expressed confidence that they could continue to work with American clients and find new ways to protect their privacy.
"These conspiracy charges show that Justice is widening the net beyond UBS to include other banks, and that it is also going beyond individual account holders to the professionals who assist them," said Lee Sheppard, a tax lawyer in New York and a writer for Tax Analysts, a trade publication. Mr. Schumacher is a former top private banker for UBS who left around 2002 to establish and oversee NZB's private banking operations. He worked at NZB until at least last month, the indictment said. Mr. Rickenbach is a partner of the Rickenbach & Partner law firm, with offices in Zurich and Geneva.

A Justice Department statement said that the two men "helped their clients obtain offshore credit cards and created sham loan documents." It said they "falsified bank documents to generate the appearance that assets of their US clients belonged to Swiss citizens, and they falsified documents to disguise their United States clients' repatriation of offshore funds as inheritances from foreign citizens."

8.21.09 Militants claim Russia dam disaster, Caucasus attack

MOSCOW (AFP) August 21 - An Islamist group Friday claimed it carried out deadly attacks on the same day this week against Russia's biggest hydroelectric power station and a police station in the Caucasus that left dozens dead. Russian investigators strongly denied the claim by Riyadus Salikhiin, a militant group with roots in Chechnya, that it had hit the power station as part of a new campaign of "economic war" in Russia.

The claim was posted on a rebel website, Kavkazcenter.com, which said it received a statement by email. There was no way to check the veracity but Russian officials said Monday's tragedy at Russia's biggest hydroelectric plant was caused by a technical fault and there was no evidence of an attack. "Russian security service explosives experts have found no trace of explosive material at the site of the accident," said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the investigative committee of the state prosecutor.

...In June, Riyadus Salikhiin claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that badly injured the president of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Riyadus Salikhiin calls itself a "martyrs' brigade" and was previously led by Shamil Basayev, the notorious Chechen warlord who masterminded the Beslan school hostage-taking of 2004 and was killed in 2006. More recently the group has said that its commander is Chechen guerrilla leader Doku Umarov, head of the self-proclaimed "Caucasus Emirate" which wants an Islamic state across Russia's North Caucasus.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

en.rian.ru (RIA Novosti) August 21, "Rescuers find 19 more bodies at Siberian hydropower plant" : KHAKASIA - Nineteen more bodies have been found at the disaster-hit Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant in south Siberia, bringing the official death toll to 47, emergencies officials said on Friday. "The bodies of another 19 people and several fragments of bodies have been found at the scene," officials told RIA Novosti. Twenty-eight people are still missing after early Monday's explosion at Russia's largest hydropower plant located on the Yenisei River. Water is still being pumped out of the turbine hall, but the chances of finding anyone alive are very low.

Rescue workers said no one was supposed to be working at the lower levels of the station on the day when the accident occurred. They also suggested that some workers could have been swept into the river. Monday's shutdown of the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant, built in 1978, has caused a severe energy shortfall in the region, forcing local factories to turn to temporary supplies. The accident destroyed three and badly damaged another two out of a total of 10 power-generating units at the plant. The blast also released a large slick of fuel into the Yenisei River. The cause of the disaster is still to be determined. [end]

alarabiya.net, August 21, "Double suicide bombing kills four in Chechnya" : MOSCOW - Chechen rebels declare "economic war" on Russia. Four policemen were killed in a pair of suicide bombings on Friday in Chechnya's capital Grozny hours after rebels in the restive republic declared "economic war" on Russia and claimed responsibility for a recent dam disaster and a bomb in Ingushetia. "The two suicide attackers came up to police cars and blew themselves up. Each car had two police officers in it. Four police are dead," Magomedov said. The blasts took place about 15 minutes apart in the Leninsky district of Grozny, one in front of a food store and the other in front of a cafe, Magomedov said...

8.21.09 Chile birds 'exposed to H1N1 virus'

August 21 - Two turkey farms in Chile have been put in to quarantine after fears the birds have caught swine flu from humans. Vets in the country said the A(H1N1) flu virus had been discovered in the two poultry plants in Valparaiso. Should the outbreak be confirmed, it would be the first case of infection reported in birds and the first time birds have caught the disease from humans. The virus has been confirmed in only humans and pigs so far.

...the infection is likely to heighten fears that a transmission of the flu virus to birds could lead to a possible mutation of A(H1N1). World health authorities are concerned that swine flu could mutate with a strain of bird flu, creating a more deadly virus that is hard to treat. At least 116 people in Chile have died of swine flu so far, figures released on Wednesday by Chile's health ministry said. More than 70 percent of the 1,800 deaths worldwide from the virus have occurred in South America.
[More>>aljazeera.net; See related story,

abcnews.go.com (AP) August 21, "WHO predicts 'explosion' of swine flu cases" : The global spread of swine flu will endanger more lives as it speeds up in the coming months and governments must boost preparations for a swift response to a coming "explosion" of cases, the World Health Organization said Friday. Many countries could see swine flu cases double every three to four days for several months until peak transmission is reached, once cold weather returns to the northern hemisphere, said WHO's Western Pacific director, Shin Young-soo.

"At a certain point, there will seem to be an explosion in case numbers," Shin told a symposium of health officials and experts in Beijing. "It is certain there will be more cases and more deaths." The WHO says the swine flu virus — also known as H1N1 — has killed almost 1,800 people worldwide, and has declared a pandemic...

8.21.09 Merkel threatens energy sanctions against Iran

BERLIN (AFP) August 21 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time on Friday threatened energy sanctions against Iran if it fails to step up cooperation with the international community on its nuclear programme. "If there is no progress, we would have to react with further sanctions," Merkel told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "What is clear is that Tehran, whose president constantly questions Israel’s right to exist, must not get the atomic bomb." She noted that the six powers attempting to convince Iran to abandon sensitive nuclear work — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — would gather in September to discuss how to ratchet up the pressure. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

gulfnews.com (Reuters) August 21, "Tehran allows UN watchdog access to planned heavy water reactor" : VIENNA - Iran has allowed UN nuclear inspectors access to a reactor under construction after blocking visits for a year, and has let them upgrade monitoring at another site ahead of a crucial report on its atomic programme. Iran allowed International Atomic Energy Agency officials to inspect the site of the Arak heavy water reactor last week, diplomats said. The agency has been urging Iran to grant it access to verify it is for peaceful uses only.

Diplomats also said Iran had allowed inspectors to upgrade IAEA monitoring at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant as requested by the agency, which had been finding it hard to keep track of expanding activity. The IAEA is due to circulate its latest report on Iran next week, ahead of the annual meeting of the IAEA's 150 member states in September. The United States, Britain, France and Germany are expected to urge Russia and China in talks on September 2 to consider a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran...

8.21.09 Mexico: Guerrero leader shot dead, severed heads found

MEXICO CITY (AFP) August 21 - The leader of congress of Mexico's southern state of Guerrero was shot dead in his car, while three human heads showed up in ice coolers elsewhere in the state, officials said today. Guerrero is home to beach resorts including Acapulco, but is also a drug trafficking hub which has seen brutal killings and beheadings linked to the country's powerful cartels in recent years. Leftist politician Armando Chavarria Barrera was found with bullet wounds to his head and stomach in state capital Chilpancingo, a public security ministry statement said. The motive for the crime was unclear, it added.

Members of his PRD party said the killing was a political crime, and told a Mexico City news conference that 25 of the party's members had been assassinated in 2009. Police today, meanwhile, recovered three human heads in ice coolers, and their body parts stuffed in bags, in a small town in the mountains of Guerrero, the public security ministry said. News reports said a message criticizing the powerful La Familia drug gang also lay nearby. Almost 10,000 people have died in suspected drug-related attacks in Mexico since the start of last year, amid a crackdown on organized crime involving more than 36,000 troops.
[>news.com.au; See also

cnn.com (via banderasnews.com
) August 21, "Politician's slaying highlights depth of Mexico's violence" : ...While acknowledging that violence is a major problem, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora Icaza said killings have decreased in the past 15 years. There were 18 murders for every 100,000 Mexicans 15 years ago, he said, but that rate was down to 10.7 in 2008.And countries like Colombia, which had 33 slayings for every 100,000 citizens last year, are much worse off, Medina said in a speech Monday.

Brazil had nearly 40 killings per 100,000 people, he said, and Guatemala and El Salvador more than 50. The murder rate is even higher, Medina said, in Louisiana and Washington, D.C. Calderon told Mexicans in a speech Wednesday to quit bad-mouthing their country.
"Speaking poorly about the country is for many not just a daily effort, but they live off it, I would say," Calderon said. "Speaking well of Mexico, speaking about the advantages that Mexico has, is an effort that should be recognized."...

Related story:

bbc.co.uk (via banderasnews.com) August 21, "Mexico probe over kidnap deaths" : MEXICO CITY - The anti-kidnapping chief of Mexico City has been suspended from duty following a disastrous rescue attempt that left four dead. Police shot two of their own men and the man they were attempting to arrest shot his hostage. Juan Maya Aviles will remain off duty pending a probe. Mexico City has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. The authorities are in the midst of a campaign to root out corruption and increase professionalism in the police...

8.21.09 Mohamand Agency: Security forces kill 11 terrorists in clash

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, August 21 - Eleven terrorists were killed in a clash with security forces here in Tehsil Yaka Ghand in Mohmand Agency, said FC sources on Friday. A number of hideouts of the militants were also destroyed when security forces targeted them with heavy shelling in Suprai, Bahaikor and Mullah Ghani. According to sources, explosives planted at Chanda in Tehsil Halimzai went off with a blast, however, no report of any casualties was received. [>thenews.com.pk]

8.21.09 Deadly 'US drone raid' in Pakistan

August 21 - At least 10 people have been killed after a suspected US drone fired missiles into Pakistan's North Waziristan region, Pakistani intelligence agency officials have said. The raid on Friday on Darpa Kheil village was the third such attack this month in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas by what are believed to be CIA-operated pilotless aircraft. "The attack caused a huge explosion," said a Reuters reporter in Miranshah, about 2km from the scene of the raid. Drones were seen flying over the area after the blast, he said.

Darpa Kheil village is home to a large madrassa, or religious school, set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former veteran Afghan fighter commander who is also a senior Taliban leader. US drone aircraft attacked the complex in September last year, killing 23 people, most of them members of Haqqani's family. Pakistani and US officials believe Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief, was killed in a similar strike in neighboring South Waziristan on August 5. Pakistan, an ally of the US, which is fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the region, officially objects to US drone attacks on its soil, saying they violate its sovereignty. [>aljazeera.net]

8.21.09 Fibre optics to detect sound of terror

August 21 - Scientific breakthrough will use global cable network to protect oil and gas pipelines – and politicians. Scientists have perfected a new technology that can transform a fibre optic cable into a highly sensitive microphone capable of detecting a single footstep from up to 40km away. Guards at listening posts protecting remote sensitive sites from attackers such as terrorists or environmental saboteurs can eavesdrop across huge tracts of territory using the new system which has been created to beef up security around national borders, railway networks, airports and vital oil and gas pipelines.

Devised by QinetiQ, the privatized Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), the technology piggybacks on the existing fibre optic communication cable network, millions of miles of which have been laid across. Trials have already been staged in Europe to use the OptaSense system, which evolved out of military sonar and submarine technology, on railways to prevent vandals or thieves trespassing on high-speed lines as well as to counter terrorism.

It has been deployed by several blue chip oil companies to protect energy pipelines which run through some of the most lawless and remote regions of the world...The system is sensitive enough to detect sounds 40km away, along the line of the cable. It can also pick up sounds perpendicular to the cable: the sound of someone approaching on foot 30 metres away or a vehicle 50 metres away.

8.21.09 Philippine police arrest alleged terror leader

MANILA, Philippines (AP) August 21 - Philippine police on Friday arrested the alleged leader of a radical Islamist group believed to be responsible for one of Southeast Asia's deadliest terror attacks. Dinno-Amor Rosalejos Pareja, also known as Khalil Pareja, was taken into custody in southern Marawi City and is being held without bail, said national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Leonardo Espina. Other details of his arrest were not immediately available.

He is accused of rebelling against the state. Pareja is allegedly the leader of the Rajah Solaiman Movement, a group of Christian converts to Islam that US and Philippine officials say is allied with two Al Qaeda-linked groups — the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group based in the southern Philippines. The group is believed to be behind the 2004 ferry bombing that killed 116 people in Manila Bay. It was the second-most deadly terrorist attack in Southeast Asia after the 2002 attack on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people.

8.20.09 Pakistani Taleban deputy chief says takes command

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) August 20 - The deputy head of the Pakistani Taleban said he has temporarily taken over command in a move likely to fuel rifts among militant factions after the reported killing of leader Baitullah Mehsud. Pakistani and US officials are almost certain Mehsud was killed along with his wife and some guards in a strike by a CIA-operated drone aircraft on Aug. 5 in his South Waziristan stronghold on the Afghan border. But his aides have been insisting he is still alive. Faqir Mohammad, deputy head of the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP), or Taleban Movement of Pakistan, also denied Mehsud was killed and, like other Taleban commanders, said he was sick and laying low.

...Pakistan and US officials have said the Pakistani Taleban appeared to be in disarray after Mehsud's death with reports of infighting between factions vying to take command. Interior Minister Rehman Malik played down the importance of Mohammad's move to take over the reins of the TTP. "Faqir's self-creation to be the head of the TTP shows that there is no Taleban leadership," Malik told reporters, adding that government forces would capture all militant leaders.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

8.20.09 Afghan poll hailed a success

KABUL, August 20 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies have pronounced the country's election a success, after voting passed off largely peacefully. Mr. Karzai hailed Afghans for braving Taliban "bombs and intimidations." His praise was echoed by the US and Nato. There were some attacks by insurgents, but the UN says the vast majority of polling stations were able to function. President Karzai is facing challenges from about 30 rivals. Official results are not expected for two weeks. "The Afghan people dared rockets, bombs and intimidations," he told reporters as polls closed following a one-hour extension. "We'll see what the turnout was. But they came out to vote. That's great." [More>>bbc.co.uk; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com (DPA) August 20, "50 killed in 130 attacks on Afghan election day" : More than 50 people, about half of them Taleban, were killed in more than 130 attacks including dozens of rockets, suicide bombings throughout Afghanistan. These attacks happened on Thursday by the end of voting in presidential and provincial elections, officials said. Afghan security chiefs said in a press conference that 17 Afghan army soldiers and police, and nine civilians were killed when Taleban conducted attacks in all four regions of the country plus Kabul. Around 50 more people including security forces and civilians were wounded in the attacks, that aimed to disrupt the second direct vote for president in Afghanistan's recent history...

8.20.09 Fresh violence strikes Baghdad

August 20 - At least two people have been killed in a bicycle bombing in Baghdad, a day after a series of bombings left 101 people dead and 500 more wounded in the Iraqi capital. Police and medical officials said at least 10 people were injured in Thursday's bombing, when an explosive attached to a bicycle went off in a market near the commercial Al-Rasheed street. The blast followed the deadliest day of bombings in Iraq in more than a year when a string of explosions, including two lorry bombs, detonated near the government and diplomatic Green Zone in central Baghdad on Wednesday. [More>>aljazeera.net]

8.20.09 Yemen sees foreign role in rebellion

SANA'A, Yemen, August 19 - Shiite rebels in Yemen are receiving financial support from abroad, a government spokesman said on Tuesday, strongly implying Iranian involvement in an armed rebellion that has flared up in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Yemen's interior ministry said it was seeking arrest warrants for 55 Shiite rebel leaders amid fighting with government forces in the restive north, the defence ministry website said on Tuesday. A written request was made for the arrest of the suspects, including the leader of the Al Zaidi rebels Abdul Malek Al Houthi, according to a list published by the 26sep.net website. [More>>gulfnews.com]

8.20.09 Policemen among several injured in Rawalpindi blast

RAWALPINDI, August 20 - An explosives laden car parked near a police check post at Masryal Road exploded with a blast, injuring several people including policemen here on Thursday. The wounded have been shifted to a nearby hospital. Police and rescue teams reached the blast site after a lapse of 40 to 45 minutes where people carried out relief and rescue efforts on their own. [>thenews.com.pk]

8.20.09 Scientists uncover new ocean threat from plastics

August 20 - Scientists have identified a new source of chemical pollution released by the huge amounts of plastic rubbish found floating in the oceans of the world. A study has found that as plastics break down in the sea they release potentially toxic substances not found in nature and which could affect the growth and development of marine organisms. Until now it was thought that plastic rubbish is relatively stable chemically and, apart from being unsightly, its principle threat to living creatures came from its ability to choke or strangle any animals that either got caught in it or ingested it thinking it was food.

But the latest research suggests that plastic is also a source of dissolved substances that can easily become widely dispersed in the marine environment. Many of these chemicals are believed to toxic to humans and animals, the scientists said. The scale of plastic pollution in the sea has only been widely recognized in recent years when sailing yachts reported vast areas of ocean, such as an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas in the North Pacific, that seem to be permanently covered in a layer of floating marine litter caught up in swirling ocean currents or gyres.

Some of the items were found to be many decades old, suggesting that the plastic took a long time to degrade. However, a study by Katsuhiko Saido at Nihon University in Chiba, Japan, has found that plastics degrade relatively quickly in the conditions and temperatures that were designed to simulate the environment of the open ocean. "Plastics in daily use are generally assumed to be quite stable. We found that plastic in the ocean actually decomposes as it is exposed to the rain and sun and other environmental conditions, giving rise to yet another source of global contamination that will continue into the future," Dr. Saido said.

...The scientists found that when plastics decompose in the ocean they release a range of chemicals, such as bisphenol A and substances known as polystyrene-based (PS) oligomers, which are not found naturally. Bisphenol A has been implicated in disrupting the hormonal system of animals. A common form of plastic rubbish is styrofoam, which soon gets crushed into small pieces in the sea. However, it also releases substantial quantities of a toxic substances called styrene monomer, which is known to cause cancer, as well as styrene dimers and trimer, which are suspected of being carcinogenic. The trimer also breaks down into the toxic monomer form.
[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

8.20.09 Poll: Only 12 percent of Israelis believe Obama supports Israel

(DPA) August 20 - Only 12 percent of Israelis believe U.S. President Barack Obama's policies are supportive of Israel, according to a poll released on Thursday. The poll was conducted jointly by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Police and Survey Research and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It was conducted between August 9 and 15. The poll also found that 64 per cent of Palestinians still feel Obama's policy is more supportive of Israel, while 40 percent of Israelis think it is more support of the Palestinians. According to the poll, a majority of Israelis were unhappy with the results of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah conference which ended Saturday, according to a joint Palestinian-Israeli poll published Thursday.  The poll found that 59 per cent of Israelis believe that in the light of the resolutions taken by the Fatah conference, Israel does not have a partner for peace negotiations. [More>>haaretz.com]

8.20.09 43 indicted in US, Mexico on drug trafficking charges

August 20 - Law enforcement officials Thursday morning unveiled criminal charges against 43 defendants in the United States and Mexico, including leaders of prominent drug cartels in a country that has been plagued with gun violence. A group of federal agencies including the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the cases, filed in New York and Chicago. Eight defendants were arrested over the past week although current and former alleged kingpins in the organized crime syndicate known as the "Sinaloa Cartel" remain at large, authorities said. The action marks the latest attempt by US and Mexican law enforcement to stem the flow of drugs, weapons and cash across the Southwest border. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

8.19.09 UBS to divulge more than 4,000 clients

(AP) August 19 - Swiss Bank To Hand Over Secret Account Information for 4,450 Clients to IRS; More Names Expected. Swiss banking giant UBS AG agreed Wednesday to turn over to the IRS the details of 4,450 accounts suspected of holding undeclared assets by American customers, piercing Switzerland's long-standing tradition of banking secrecy. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said the accounts held $18 billion in assets at one time. Many have since been closed, he said.

The deal will give the Internal Revenue Service thousands of long-sought account names, Shulman said, and is expected to provide even more UBS clients who voluntarily disclose their financial details to the agency. UBS has an estimated 52,000 accounts of US customers. The IRS chief said the 4,450 accounts being relinquished to the agency were the ones most suspected of containing undeclared assets. "I believe this agreement gives us what we wanted - access to information about those UBS account holders most likely to have been involved in offshore tax evasion," Shulman said.

8.19.09 US blasts Israeli restrictions on American travelers in West Bank

August 19 - The US State Department on Wednesday criticized Israeli restrictions placed on foreign nationals entering the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, calling the new regulations "unacceptable." "We have repeatedly told the Government of Israel that the United States expects that all American citizens to be treated equally, regardless of their national origin or other citizenship," a statement issued by the State Department said Wednesday. The statement added "we have let the government of Israel know that these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers and are not acceptable."

For about the last three months, border control officials at the Allenby Bridge have been stamping visitors' passports with a visa and the additional words "Palestinian Authority only." Officials from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), who are also present at the Allenby crossing, have in some cases told visitors that they must apply to the Civil Administration for a permit to leave the West Bank and enter Israel.

The new restrictions heavily affect foreign nationals who enter the country because they have family, work, business or academic ties in the West Bank. It now restricts their movements to "the Palestinian Authority only." The people concerned are citizens of countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel, mainly Western countries. In imposing such restrictions, Israel is in breach of the Oslo Accords.

Editorial note: "Confusing US policies" : One may wonder what the procedure will be if the US "Two State" solution were implemented. Would one visa to enter the Palestinian Authority and Israel be sufficient?

Mel Copeland

8.19.09 Wave of blasts kills at least 86, injures 300 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) August 19 - A truck bomb exploded across the street from Iraq's Foreign Ministry near the Green Zone Wednesday, knocking out concrete slabs and windows and leaving a mass of charred cars outside as a wave of explosions around Baghdad killed at least 86 people. It was the deadliest apparently coordinated attack in Iraq so far this year and marked a major challenge to Iraqi control of Baghdad. A steady escalation of attacks following the June 30 withdrawal of US troops from urban areas has heightened fears that government troops are not ready to provide security.

Iraqi officials blamed al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents, echoing US military warnings that the militant group is trying to provoke new bloodshed to undermine public trust in the Shiite-led Iraqi government. "The terrorists are trying to rekindle the cycle of violence of previous years by creating an atmosphere of tension among the Iraqi people," Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said in a statement. "Our security forces must be more alert and firm. Also, the political groups must unite."

8.19.09 Al Maliki wants Syria to hand over suspects

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) August 18 - Iraq's prime minister is asking Syrian officials to hand over people suspected of links to insurgent attacks in his country and to stop fighters from crossing its border into northern Iraq, one of his advisers said Tuesday. Nouri Al Maliki was pressing the request in talks with Syrian officials in Damascus, as Iraq seeks to improve security cooperation with its neighbor and cut off the flow of weapons and foreign fighters to remaining insurgent strongholds such as Mosul, 360 kilometers northwest of Baghdad.

His visit also uncovered strains with the United States, which angered Iraq by sending a high-level delegation to Syria last week for meetings that included similar discussions over Iraq's security. That prompted Al Maliki's government to insist that it was not up to the United States to negotiate over Iraq's security with another country. [More>>gulfnews.com]

8.19.09 Afghan police kill three gunmen after attack on Kabul bank

KABUL, August 19 - Afghan police have killed at least three gunmen who stormed a bank building in Kabul this morning in the latest of string of Taleban attacks designed to disrupt tomorrow's presidential election. Police were searching for any remaining attackers after a short gun battle at the building, which is just a few hundred metres from the presidential palace compound where President Hamid Karzai lives. A Taleban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack which followed a suicide car bombing yesterday that killed eight people and wounded more than 50 in Kabul. He also claimed that 20 armed suicide attackers wearing explosive vests had entered Kabul earlier this morning. Police initially said the attack might have been a robbery gone wrong, but later confirmed that it was carried out by the Taleban. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

8.19.09 "Terrorist Facebook' - the new weapon against al-Qaeda

August 19 - Social networking is not just for the MySpace generation. Intelligence agencies are adopting a controversial new technique to identify terrorist masterminds. Intelligence agencies are building up a Facebook-style databank of international terrorists in order to sift through it with complex computer programs aimed at identifying key figures and predicting terrorist attacks before they happen. By analyzing the social networks that exist between known terrorists, suspects and even innocent bystanders arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, military intelligence chiefs hope to open a new front in their "war on terror." The idea is to amass huge quantities of intelligence data on people no matter how obscure or irrelevant and feed it into computers that are programmed to make associations and connections that would otherwise be missed by human agents, scientists said.

The doctrine is already being actively pursued in Iraq and Afghanistan where thousands of people have been arrested and interrogated for information that could be fed into vast computerised databanks for analysis by social network programs. In addition to information gleaned from interviews with suspects captured in the field, intelligence agencies are also mining the vast amounts of telecommunications data collected from emails and telephone calls with the same surveillance technology. In the US alone, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on developing the data-mining techniques. "Social network analysis is analyzing information about who knows who or who talks to whom," said Professor Kathleen Carley of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the civilian scientists hoping to benefit from the new military funding earmarked for research into social network analysis.

"Facebook and Google are doing social networking, which is the technology for helping you find out who to talk to and for finding out what your friends know about a person," Professor Carley said. "What social network analysis is about is giving me the whole of the 'Facebook-style' data and saying that I'm going to analyses it mathematically to tell you who the critical people are," she said. The doctrine, however, has been criticized as time consuming, wasteful and counterproductive. Critics have also suggested that it has led to gross violations of human rights, with hundreds and possibly thousands of innocent people being detained and interrogated for longer than necessary to provide social network information.

In its most extreme form, the doctrine has led to what is known within US military circles as the "mosaic philosophy." The philosophy behind the mosaic theory is that a piece of intelligence data may not mean anything to the interrogator or even the person who is being interrogated but it can suddenly seem relevant and crucial when placed as a "tile on the mosaic," he said.

8.19.09 Saudi arrests Qaeda suspects planning attacks

CAIRO, August 19 - Kalashnikovs, machine-guns and remote detonators seized. Forty-four al-Qaeda suspects have been arrested in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's interior ministry told al-Ekhbariya state TV channel on Wednesday. The ministry said the alleged suspects were planning to carry out attacks and [with?] weapons using remote electronic detonators and were attempting to recruit youths to finance their activities through charitable donations. "These people have links to the original al-Qaeda organization," interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told AFP.

"These people, I would describe them like a base, they actually work in the area, recruiting young people, giving young people the ideology of al-Qaeda, and financing terrorism in the kingdom," he added. In a statement carried by the state news agency SPA, Turki said the group "includes a number of the theorists and believers of the deviant ideology and supporters of its criminal acts." Seventeen Kalashnikov rifles, 50 machine-guns and 96 remote electronic detonators were seized, the ministry said.

Out of the 44 arrested, 43 of them were Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia has battled Islamists who launched a violent campaign to destabilize the country. The violence has subsided since 2006 after nearly 200 people, including foreign residents, security forces and militants, were killed. The Saudi government has arrested hundreds of suspects during the past year. In February, it issued a list of 85 wanted Islamists believed to be overseas.
[>alarabiya.net; See other details, arabtimesonline.com]

8.19.09 5 killed, 29 terrorists nabbed: ISPR

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, August 19 - The security forces continued search and clearance operations in Swat and Malakand, Geo News reported Wednesday. According to a press release issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces conducted search operations at Tanki Top near Shalkosar, Doghlai, Dagai near Shaur areas of Swat and apprehended 10 suspects. Security forces conducted search operation[s] at Saidu Sharif and Charbagh areas of Swat and apprehended 3 suspects. Also, the security forces conducted [a] search operation at Swat’s area of Manglour and apprehended 8 suspects.

The security forces conducted [a] search operation at Pathaney village near Sangota and apprehended 4 suspects. Security forces conducted [a] search operation at Zara Khela and apprehended 2 suspects. Security forces conducted [a] search operation at Ghakhe Banda near Tutan Banda and apprehended 2 suspects. Terrorists fired at [a] security forces convoy moving near [the] Kuz Chamarkand area of Bajaur, which was effectively responded [to],..5 terrorists were killed.

8.19.09 Suspected terror bombing bag man held

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) August 19 - A man believed to be from Saudi Arabia has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling money used to finance last month's deadly Jakarta hotel attacks, Indonesian police said today. Police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said the man, identified only as Ali, had been arrested recently as part of the investigation into who funded the July 17 attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that killed nine people. Another man identified only as Iwan also had been detained for questioning over his suspected links to the network of Malaysian Islamist extremist Noordin Mohammed Top, the alleged mastermind of the attack. "Ali and Iwan are still being questioned by our team to prove their links with another country and with the financing,"' Mr. Soekarna said. "Ali is believed to be a Saudi Arabian national." [More>>news.com.au; See related story,

jakartapost.com, August 19, "Police facing difficulties in tracing overseas financing of terrorism" : JAKARTA - Most of the overseas financing of acts of terrorism carried out in Indonesia including the recent hotel bombings in Jakarta allegedly originated from the Middle East and was channeled to terrorists without the services of banks, to avoid police detection. Ansyaad Mbai, head of the counter-terrorism desk at the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs office, said Wednesday that the money might have come from individuals or charity groups located in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

"The problem is the money was not transferred via banks, making it difficult for us to trace the funds. It happens in Indonesia and other countries," Ansyaad said. "They [terrorists] realize the government can freeze the money if they transfer it through banks. They use couriers instead to channel the funds." The police confirmed earlier on Wednesday the arrest of two men identified only as Ali and Iwan in West Java, who allegedly funded the suicide bombings of two South Jakarta hotels last month. The police suspect Ali is Saudi Arabian. [end]

8.19.09 Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for French embassy bombing in Mauritania

DAKAR, August 19 - Al-Qaeda's North African wing claimed on a website on Tuesday responsibility for a suicide bombing near the French embassy in Mauritania early this month. The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a major terrorist group in North Africa, said the bomber, Abu Obeida Musa, joined the organization two years ago. The Aug. 8 bombing attack killed the suicide bomber on the spot and injured three others. The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb declared to join al-Qaeda in 2006, and Algeria and other north African countries have witnessed increased violent attacks from then on. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has promised to crack down on terrorist activities on its territory and started hunting terrorists in the capital. [>xinhuanet.com]

8.19.09 Italian city to fine Muslim women in burkinis

ROME, August 19 - Mayor says sight of "masked woman" is disturbing. The anti-immigration mayor of a northern Italian city has barred Muslim women from wearing the body-concealing swimsuit known as a burkini and has threatened to fine them if spotted on the beach or at swimming pools, a report said Wednesday. Women wearing the garment made up of a veil, a tunic and loose leggings face a fine of €500 ($700) if spotted at swimming pools or riversides in the northern Piedmont town of Varallo Sesia, the ANSA news agency reported. "The sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children, not to mention problems of hygiene," Mayor Gianluca Buonanno was quoted as saying. [More>>alarabiya.net]


09.11.05 When a nation lacks a competent leader it invites disaster – the legacy of Bush
"Using force the George W. Bush way – Bush's crusade"
11.25.04 Why the Crusade & Jihad?


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