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9.18.09 33 killed in car bomb attack in Pakistan: Police

PESHAWAR, September 18 - The death toll from a suicide car bomb attack in a crowded Pakistan market on Friday rose to 33 with another 50 people wounded, police officials said. The attack was the second in two days in Kohat, a rough town not far from the Afghan border with a history of violence between the Shiite and Sunni Muslim sects. A bomb there wounded six people on Thursday. The hotel hit on Friday was owned by a Shiite, police official Asmat Ullah said. The violence underscores the relentless insecurity in a region home to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, whose Sunni extremism has only fuelled sectarian attacks that have long plagued Pakistan. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

9.18.09 Clashes erupt at Iran mass rally

September 18 - Thousands of opposition supporters have clashed with security forces during a government-sponsored rally in Tehran. Iran's reformists had been warned not to try to turn the pro-Palestinian Quds (Jerusalem) Day marches into anti-government protests. Reports say opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohammad Khatami were attacked. The opposition has been banned from holding rallies since the disputed presidential election in June. As part of the Quds Day events, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech in which he repeated his view that the Nazi Holocaust was a myth. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

9.17.09 Obama to scrap Bush-era European missile shield plan

September 17 - New Defense System Will Focus on Stopping Shorter-Range Missiles. President Obama said Thursday that he is abandoning Bush-era plans for a long-range missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic, turning instead to a land- and sea-based system of sensors and interceptors that is focused on stopping shorter-range missiles that could be fired from Iran. The president said he was accepting the recommendation of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in turning away from a plan to place interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. Instead, a distributed sensor system, apparently envisioned as a more advanced version of the Navy's Aegis theater missile defense system, would "deploy techniques that are proven and cost-effective and will counter the current threat more effectively and do so sooner" than a longer-range system would, Obama said. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

9.17.09 Terror mastermind Noordin dead: Indonesian cops

PETALING JAYA, Indonesia, September 17 - Indonesia's most-wanted Islamic militant, Noordin Mohammad Top, was killed during a raid in central Java, national police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri said on Thursday. Asked if it was true that Noordin had been killed, Danuri told reporters in Jakarta: "Yes, yes, yes." He said fingerprint tests had proven positive, but police were still awaiitng results of a DNA test that would remove all doubt.

...Police tracked the seven suspects to the town of Solo in Central Java and besieged a village house on the outskirts overnight. The raid ended around daybreak when an explosion was detonated inside the home, the police spokesman said...
The accused bomb-maker, Pranoto, also known as Urwah, was wanted in connection with twin suicide blasts at luxury hotels in the capital, Jakarta, in July, a counterterrorism official said on condition of anonymity. A young couple who rented the house and had been teaching Islamic studies at local schools were also in the house and the husband was killed, the official said.

Pranoto, 31, was released in April 2007 after serving a 3 1/2-year sentence for harbouring terrorists. Experts say he was a close associate of Noordin, who has been eluding capture by authorities in South-East Asia since 2001. He also was closely linked to senior clerics in the Jemaah Islamiyah regional militant network and had been actively recruiting members to carry out fresh attacks. [Full story>>thestar.com.my; See other details, nytimes.com, September 16, "A terrorist mastermind whose luck ran out"]

9.17.09 Pakistan: Al-Qaeda commander killed in US strike

ISLAMABAD (AP) September 17 - US missiles are believed to have killed an al-Qaeda operations chief and a top Uzbek militant in northwest Pakistan, officials said Thursday, the latest apparent victories for the covert and controversial American program. If their deaths are confirmed, Ilyas Kashmiri and Nazimuddin, alias Yahyo, would be two of several militant leaders killed in Pakistan by missiles fired by unmanned US drones. Just last month, a similar strike killed Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. [More>>thejakartapost.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, September 17, "24 more terrorists arrested in Swat: ISPR report" :
SWAT - Security forces arrested 24 more terrorists in Operation (Rah e Rast) and took another 15 suspects into custody as search and clearance operations continue in Swat and Malakand. According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) 10 terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Chuprial and Amluk near Sakhra...

9.17.09 Suicide car bombers strike AU base in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) September 17 - Somali insurgents detonated two suicide car bombs at an African Union (AU) peacekeeping base in Mogadishu on Thursday in what the rebels called revenge for this wee's US killing of a top al-Qaeda suspect. A Reuters reporter saw six wounded soldiers being carried away from the site of the explosions, some bleeding heavily, while thick smoke poured into the sky over Somalia’s capital. Witnesses said AU troops had died, along with some Somalis who had been waiting for medical treatment at the AU base, but the number of casualties was not immediately clear. It looked to be the worst attack on the peacekeepers since 11 Burundians were killed and 28 wounded in February by two suicide bombers — one in a car, one with a suicide vest — who infiltrated their base. It also followed one of the most violent months the city has seen in 20 years. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

9.17.09 16 killed, 55 injured in Kabul suicide attack

KABUL (AP) September 17 - A suicide car bomber attacked an Italian military convoy in the heart of Afghanistan's capital on Thursday, killing six Italian soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians. The fourth major attack in the capital in five weeks, it was the latest reminder that even heavily guarded Kabul is vulnerable in a guerrilla war that has grown far beyond Taliban strongholds in the south. The suicide bomber rammed his explosives-filled car into two Italian military vehicles about midday, Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said in Rome. He said six of those aboard were killed and four wounded. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying in a text message that one of their militants carried out the suicide attack against NATO forces. [More>>indianexpress.com]

9.16.09 Turkish police nab 6 fugitives over Qaeda attacks

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) September 16 - The Turkish police said Wednesday they had caught six fugitives wanted in connection with four massive suicide bombings in Istanbul in 2003. The suspected al-Qaeda members, already convicted in absentia over the attacks, were detained in Istanbul, the statement said, without giving names. The Anatolia news agency said the suspects had been convicted either for being members of al-Qaeda or aiding and abetting the radical network.

Suicide drivers detonated truck bombs at two Istanbul synagogues on November 15, 2003, and at the British consulate and a British bank five days later, killing a total of 63 people, including the British consul, and leaving hundreds injured. A Turkish cell of al-Qaeda was held responsible for the attacks. Seven men were jailed for life in 2007, among them a Syrian national who masterminded and financed the attacks, while some 20 others received lesser sentences for their involvement in the bombings.

9.16.09 Suicide bomber strikes in Chechnya

September 16 - A suicide bomber has blown herself up beside a police car in Grozny, the capital of Russia's southern region of Chechnya, wounding six people. Russian news agencies carried conflicting reports on the number of people who suffered in the blast, but local officials said there were no fatalities. Speaking at the scene of the blast, Ruslan Alkhanov, the Chechen interior minister, said: "I officially declare there were no victims in the explosion. Two Chechen policemen and four civilians were wounded." [More>>aljazeera.net]

9.16.09 Gunmen kill 10 patients at Mexico rehab clinic

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) September 16 - Suspected drug hitmen have killed 10 patients in a Mexican rehabilitation clinic, the second such attack this month in the city of Ciudad Juarez on the U.S. border, authorities said on Wednesday. Drug gangs have targeted rehab clinics in the manufacturing city across from El Paso, Texas, accusing them of protecting dealers from rival gangs. State attorney spokesman Vladimir Tuexi said the victims, nine men and one woman, were killed late on Tuesday as they finished praying before going to bed. A similar attack took place in Ciudad Juarez, in the northern state of Chihuahua, earlier in September, when hooded gunmen killed 17 patients at another clinic, one of the deadliest assaults during President Felipe Calderon's three-year war against drug cartels. [More>>thestar.com.my]

9.15.09 Military chief says more troops needed for Afghan war

WASHINGTON, September 15 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told Congress on Tuesday that success in Afghanistan would probably require more troops and certainly much more time, a position seconded by a top Republican but challenged by a leading Democrat. The intense dialogue, at a morning hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, previewed the sharp national debate expected over coming weeks as the White House considers how best to pursue its new strategy in Afghanistan in the face of growing skepticism from members of President Obama's own party. [More>>nytimes.com]

9.15.09 'Nuclear-free zone impossible in anti-Israel Mideast'

September 15 - The chairman of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission on Tuesday told the international community that a nuclear-free Middle East requires a change in regional attitude toward Israel. In an address to the International Atomic Energy Association in Vienna, Shaul Chorev emphasized Israel's stance that it was prepared in principle to commit to a Middle East free of nuclear weapon. Chorev also reiterated that Israel has repeatedly asserted it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region. "It is our vision and policy to establish the Middle East as a mutually verifiable zone free if weapons of mass destruction and their delivery," Chorev told delegates...During Chorev's address, representatives [of] every Arab state save Jordan and Egypt walked out of the auditorium. [Full story>>haaretz.com]

9.15.09 3 extremists killed, 22 arrested in Swat, Malakand: ISPR report

SWAT, September 15- Three extremists were killed and 22 others arrested as security forces continue operation in Swat and Malakand. According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces conducted [a] search operation at Mangaltan and killed 3 terrorists. Four terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Chuprial. Security forces apprehended 12 suspects from Kalagai near Matta and Dambara near Choga and Banda Ghal, while 6 other suspects were apprehended at Salhand near Shah Dheri. Meanwhile 300,149 cash cards have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand, ISPR said. [>thenews.com.pk]

9.15.09 Over 20 Taliban militants killed in NATO bombing in Afghanistan

KABUL (RIA Novosti) September 15- At least 23 Taliban militants have been killed in NATO airstrikes in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, an Afghan Army spokesman said on Tuesday. The airstrikes were part of a special military operation, which started on Monday in several Afghan provinces, to clear the volatile region of militants. Several Afghan soldiers were injured when militants returned fire with heavy weaponry at a military convoy. According to the spokesman, two Afghan military vehicles were damaged in the barrage. On Monday and Tuesday two other Afghan service personnel were injured in operations in the Helmand and Khowst provinces. Violence has surged in Afghanistan in recent months, with the radical Islamic Taliban group, toppled in a 2001 US-led campaign, staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians. [>en.rian.ru]

9.15.09 Mortars hit Baghdad Green Zone during Biden visit

BAGHDAD (Reuters) September 15 - Several mortars or rockets were fired at Baghdad's fortified Green Zone government district on Tuesday shortly after US Vice President Joe Biden flew in to keep pressure on Iraq's leaders to make political compromises. Iraqi police said two suspected mortar rounds landed near the sprawling US embassy compound in the Green Zone, but did not hit it. Biden had met with the US ambassador, Chris Hill, and the top US military commander, General Ray Odierno, just before the mortar strikes...It was Biden's second trip to Iraq in three months, and the visit signalled that the Obama administration is anxious to resolve long-standing disputes between Kurdish, Shi'ite and Sunni Arab communities over land and oil that US officials fear could yet rip apart the country. [Full story>>thestar.com.my]

9.14.09 On Wall Street, Obama pushes stricter finance rules

September 14 - President Obama came to Wall Street on Monday to tout how the nation's economic outlook has improved from a year ago, but he called on Congress to pass stronger financial regulations this year, as he offered a sharp admonition that "there are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment."

"Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crisis from which we are still recovering, they are choosing to ignore them," Mr. Obama said in a speech at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan. "They do so not just at their own peril, but at our nation's." The president offered no new policy proposals during a lunchtime speech but sought to use the one-year anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers as a moment to mark how the country's financial system has moved beyond the brink of collapse. As he urged lawmakers to adopt new regulations for Wall Street, he asked executives to accept tougher oversight.

"I want everybody here to hear my words," Mr. Obama said. "We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses. Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall." [More>>nytimes.com]

9.14.09 AP: AG prepping charges against BofA execs

NEW YORK (AP) September 14 - Source Says NY's Cuomo will File Civil Charges Over Failure To Disclose Merrill Lynch Losses, Bonus Payouts. The New York Attorney General's office is preparing charges against several high-ranking Bank of America executives over the bank's alleged failure to disclose details about its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office is likely to file civil charges against the executives over their role in failing to alert shareholders to mounting losses as well as accelerated bonus payments at Merrill, said the person, who requested anonymity because no charges have been filed yet.

Separately, a federal judge on Monday rejected a $33 million settlement BofA reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission over disclosures tied to bonus payments at Merrill. US District Judge Jed Rakoff called the proposed consent judgment "inadequate." He wrote in an opinion Monday that the proposed judgement was "not only unfair but also unreasonable." He called the $33 million a "trivial penalty for a false statement that materially infected a multi-billion-dollar merge." He said the deal "further victimizes the victims." Last month, Rakoff ordered the SEC to explain why it didn't investigate whether executives at Bank of America misled shareholders about the Merrill bonuses.

9.14.09 Nicolas Sarkozy threatens G20 walkout over bonuses

September 14 - Nicolas Sarkozy is threatening to walk out of next week's G20 summit in Pittsburgh if the other nations fail to agree on curbs bankers' bonuses, the Elysée Palace said today. Claude Guéant, chief-of-staff to the French president, made clear that Mr. Sarkozy was trying to repeat the brinkmanship which he performed ahead of last April's G20 session and which, he claimed, won a breakthrough on tax havens. Mr. Sarkozy has cast himself as the scourge of high-paid bankers.

His demands for a legal cap on financial sector remuneration at Pittsburg on September 24-25 have run into opposition from Gordon Brown and President Obama. "There must absolutely be an agreement to make things change and the president is absolutely determined on that score," Mr. Guéant said in a radio interview. Asked if that meant a walk-out, he replied: "This possibility must be taken seriously." Mr. Sarkozy was also quoted by le Figaro newspaper as saying: "If there is no concrete decision [at Pittsburgh], I will leave."

9.14.09 Executive pay 'up 10 percent despite crash'

September 14 - The pay of executives at the helm of Britain's top companies rose 10 percent last year despite their organizations suffering huge losses on the stock market, it emerged today. The full and part-time directors of the FTSE 100 companies took home more than £1bn between them last year, according to The Guardian's annual survey of boardroom pay. The directors' salary increases were more than three times the 3.1 per cent average pay rise for ordinary workers in the private sector and more than double the rate of inflation last year. Their bumper pay hikes came at a time when many of their companies were imposing pay freezes and redundancies on staff in a bid to cut costs. The survey also revealed that the 10 most highly paid executives together earned £170m last year up from £140m in 2007. [More>>independent.co.uk]

9.14.09 Airliner bomb plotters get life sentences

LONDON, September 14 - Three men convicted of plotting to bomb planes flying from London to North America with liquid explosives hidden in soft drink bottles were Monday given life sentences. The men were arrested in August 2006 in connection with the plot. The plot led to immediate restrictions on liquids that passengers are allowed to carry onboard aircraft, resulting in today's rules that allow only small amounts to be carried in resealable clear plastic bags. The judge, Justice Richard Henriques, called the plot "the most grave and wicked conspiracy ever proven within this jurisdiction."

"The plot would have succeeded but for intervention of police and security services," he said, rejecting a defense argument that the men would have failed to get the chemistry right and actually blow up planes. The ringleader, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, must serve at least 40 years before he is eligible for parole, the judge said...A second plotter, Assad Sarwar, 29, must serve a minimum of 36 years before he is eligible for parole. Henriques gave him a lesser sentence on the grounds that he was not the ringleader of the plot and not involved in recruiting other people for it.

A second plotter, Assad Sarwar, 29, must serve a minimum of 36 years before he is eligible for parole. Henriques gave him a lesser sentence on the grounds that he was not the ringleader of the plot and not involved in recruiting other people for it. The third man convicted of the plot, Tanvir Hussain, 28, must serve at least 32 years, the judge said, calling him "no mere footsoldier." A fourth man, Umar Islam, 31, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder, a charge not explicitly linked to airlines. The judge sentenced him to at least 22 years in jail before he is eligible for release.
[Full story>>cnn.com]

9.14.09 Mass trial resumes as Iran reformists speak out

TEHRAN, September 14 - Reformists call on government to take a stand against wrongdoings. Iran on Monday resumed the mass trial of those arrested during the post election demonstrations amid protests by prominent reformist clerics who opposed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi and Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri once tipped to succeed Islamic republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini both spoke out as six protesters went on trial. The official IRNA news agency said those in the dock included student leader Abdollah Momeni, but later reported that the judge ordered media not to name the defendants. [More>>alarabiya.net]

9.14.09 Scientists find CO2 link to Antarctic ice cap origin

(Reuters) September 14 - A team of scientists studying rock samples in Africa has shown a strong link between falling carbon dioxide levels and the formation of Antarctic ice sheets 34 million years ago. The results are the first to make the link, underpinning computer climate models that predict both the creation of ice sheets when CO2 levels fall and the melting of ice caps when CO2 levels rise. The team, from Cardiff, Bristol and Texas A&M Universities, spent weeks in the African bush in Tanzania with an armed guard to protect them from lions to extract samples of tiny fossils that could reveal CO2 levels in the atmosphere 34 million years ago.

Levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, mysteriously fell during this time in an event called the Eocene-Oligocene climate transition. "This was the biggest climate switch since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago," said coauthor Bridget Wade from Texas A&M University. The study reconstructed CO2 levels around this period, showing a dip around the time ice sheets in Antarctica started to form. CO2 levels were around 750 parts per million, about double current levels.

9.14.09 Iraq to present Syria bombing link on Ankara visit

BAGHDAD (AFP) September 14 - Iraq said it will send a delegation to Turkey on Tuesday with evidence backing its allegations that terrorist groups based in Syria orchestrated deadly bombings in Baghdad. "The evidence includes confessions, communications, financing and logistic support by people living in Syria and who have relations with al-Qaeda," said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, confirming the trip to Ankara. Dabbagh was referring to the August 19 truck bombings, dubbed "Bloody Wednesday," that killed 95 people and wounded 600 at the finance and foreign ministries in the Iraqi capital.

The delegation for talks with officials in Ankara will include Iraq's deputy interior minister and defence and security officials, Dabbagh added, without specifying with whom they would meet to submit the evidence. Turkey has been acting as a peacebroker in a crisis sparked by Iraq and Syria's tit-for-tit recall of envoys last month, six days after the attacks in Baghdad. The row was triggered by Baghdad alleging that Syria was harbouring two Baathist leaders who plotted the finance ministry bombing.

9.14.09 South Russian province says most killed militants are foreigners

YAROSLAVL, Ingushetia, Russia (RIA Novosti) September 14 - Almost all militants recently killed in counter-terrorist operations in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia were foreign mercenaries, the republic's president said on Monday. "Out of 30 recently killed participants of illegal armed formations, 27 were foreigners," Yunus-Bek Yevkurov told an international conference on 'The modern state and global security' in Russia's Volga city of Yaroslavl. He said that the figures give sufficient grounds to refer to "international terrorism" in the region.

"The main disease of the present day, which has grasped the whole world, is international terrorism. It would be better for the world to wake up and for all countries to realize that this disease may reach anyone," he said. Attacks on troops, police and other officials have been reported almost daily in Ingushetia and Russia's other North Caucasus republics in recent months. On August 17, Ingushetia was hit by a suicide bombing which killed at least 20 people and injured 260 people. Yevkurov himself survived a suicide car bomb attack on his motorcade in June and returned to work last month. [>en.rian.ru]

9.14.09 Top al-Qaeda leaders fleeing to Somalia, Yemen: Malik

ISLAMABAD, September 14 - Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Monday that many top level al-Qaeda leaders are escaping to Somalia and Yemen. He said preparation of a new database is underway for all foreigners who entered in Pakistan. Talking to Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti, the Minister said Egypt, Sudan and Yemen based al-Qaeda groups are backing the Taliban and other terrorist outfits. "Some people are still providing shelter to al-Qaeda leaders." Stern action will be taken against the landlords who are renting out their houses to foreigners without informing the local police and administration, he added. [>thenews.com.pk]

9.14.09 Police arrest mastermind of attack on Kazmi

ISLAMABAD, September 14 - Police has arrested Abdul Karim, the accused of masterminding attack Federal Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, from Rojhan. According to police, fingerprints obtained from the machine gun disposed by the attackers provided a lead to the accused. Abdul Karim, who belongs to a banned outfit, has been shifted to Islamabad while raids are being made for the arrest of his companions who escaped. [>thenews.com.pk]

9.14.09 'Terrorist wanted over Kenya attacks in 2002 killed in raid'

September 14 - One of two people killed when troops fired from helicopters at a car in Somalia on Monday is believed to be Kenya-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a terrorist wanted over the 2002 hotel bombing and simultaneous, but botched, missile attack on an Israeli airliner leaving Kenya's Mombasa airport, witnesses and a Somali government source told Reuters. A senior Somali government source told the news agency the fugitive had been in a car with other senior Islamist gunmen when they were attacked near a village in Barawe District, 250 km south of the capital Mogadishu. "Nabhan and four other top foreign commanders of militant groups were killed in the raid," the source was quoted as saying.

In November 2002, three suicide bombers rammed their car into the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, killing Noy and Dvir Anter, 12 and 13, Albert DeHaville, 60, and nine others, and wounding 80. At about the same time, terrorists fired at least two missiles at an Arkia airliner carrying 261 passengers as it took off from Mombasa's airport for Israel. The missiles narrowly missed, and the plane landed safely at Ben-Gurion Airport approximately five hours later. "These young fighters do not have the same skills as their colleagues in Afghanistan or elsewhere when it comes to foreign airstrikes," the government source reportedly added. "They are in confusion now. I hope the world takes action."

9.14.09 Fifth British soldier killed in Afghan region 'cleared of Taleban'

September 14 - A British soldier died of gunshot wounds in Helmand province today, the fifth to be killed in the district of Babaji since the end of an operation to clear it of Taleban fighters. The soldier from the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, who was serving with The Light Dragoons battlegroup, was shot while on foot patrol. He was the 214th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2001, and the 77th to be killed this year. Babaji was at the centre of Operation Panther's Claw, aimed at making the area safe before elections last month. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

9.14.09 Qaeda-linked group claims Israel rocket attacks

DUBAI, September 14 - Militant group claims Israel rocket salvo, bin Laden warns US. A militant group claiming links to al-Qaeda said on Monday it was behind the firing of rockets into northern Israel last week. "Your brothers fired two Katyusha rockets from south Lebanon which landed in the Naharia settlement in the north of occupied Palestine," a statement on web sites used by militants said. It cited Israel's blockade of the Palestinian enclave of Gaza and preventing worshippers praying at al- Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem as the reasons for the action.

The statement was signed by the Ziad al-Jarrah division of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the posting's headline linked the group to Sunni Muslim militant network al-Qaeda. Ziad al-Jarrah, a Lebanese militant, was one of the group of 19 who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001 in the United States. Abdullah Azzam was a preacher close to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. It was not possible to verify the claim. A group using the name Abdullah Azzam Brigades said it carried out deadly bombings at the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh in 2005...The claim of responsibility for the rockets came on the same day as bin Laden issued an apparently new audio tape on an Islamist website, warning the American people over their government's close ties to Israel.

9.14.09 'Bin Laden audio tape' warns US

September 14 - In an 11-minute audio tape released on the internet, a voice purporting to be that of Osama bin Laden says Barack Obama, the US president, is "powerless" to stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The voice also says that the attacks of September 11, 2001, came about because of the US's "support to your Israeli allies who occupy our land of Palestine." There was no independent confirmation that the voice on the tape addressing the American people was that of Bin Laden. Reports on Monday from two separate monitoring groups spoke of Bin Laden blaming the wars on the "pro-Israel" lobby and corporate interests. [More>>aljazeera.net]

9.13.09 Pakistan Taleban chief in Swat surrounded: minister

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) September 13 - The senior Taleban leader in northwestern Pakistan's Swat Valley has been surrounded and will be captured, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday, adding the back of the Taleban insurgency had been broken. Pakistani Taleban advances and attacks early this year raised fears for nuclear-armed Pakistan's stability but the Islamist militants have suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks including the killing of their overall leader.

...The group's leader in the former tourist valley, a self-styled cleric called Fazlullah, and most of his commanders have evaded security forces, leading to fears they could regroup. But Malik said Fazlullah's days on the run would soon be over... The Pakistani militants are allied with the Taleban in Afghanistan, where violence is at its most intense since the overthrow of their government in 2001, despite the arrival this year of thousands more US troops. Pakistani action against militants in lawless border lands where Afghan Taleban have bases is seen as vital to US efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan. But the Pakistani army has yet to go after the factions that attack into Afghanistan.
[Full story, khaleejtimes.com; See related stories:

thenews.com.pk, September 13, "4 injured in suicide bomber's vehicle blow up by firing at PS Malakand" :
SWAT, Pakistan - Security forces opened fire on a suicide bomber’s vehicle in the vicinity of a police station in Malakand Agency destroying the vehicle. Sources said that four persons including one security man were injured as a result of the firing blowing up the vehicle, while the check post was also devastated. Following the incident all sorts of traffic was halted on G.T. Road, while the entire area has been surrounded and unannounced curfew clamped. The injured have been shifted to Batkhela Hospital, where emergency has been declared. [end]

thenews.com.pk, September 13, "Landmine kills 4 in Dera Bugti" : DERA BUGT, Pakistan - Four people, including 2 children were killed in a landmine blast in Dera Bugti district of Balochistan on Sunday. Police told Geo News that in the Peer Koh area of Dear Bugti some unidentified militants had installed a landmine near a house. It went off when struck by a wayfarer Ahmed Ali killing his two wives and two children on the spot and injuring him. Police said that investigations are underway. [end]

thenews.com.pk, September 13, "Two extremists killed, 12 arrested in Swat operations: ISPR report" : SWAT, Pakistan - Two extremists were killed and 12 others arrested as security forces continue operations in Swat on Sunday. According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), a suicide bomber blew himself in his car in a failed attempt at Thana check post near Malakaand, when he was effectively checked by the security forces. In the incident no damage occurred. Security forces conducted a search operation at Amluk near Sakhra and apprehended 4 suspects.

Five terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Bar Shaur. Security forces also recovered an IED and Afghan currency during search operation. Security forces conducted another search operation at Kuz Bamakhela near Matta. During the operation terrorists attacked security forces with hand grenades, resultantly one soldier embraced Shahadat and two terrorists were killed. Meanwhile a Local Jirga handed over a terrorist Fazl-e-Rehman to security forces at Gat. In another operation at Qambar near Mingora security forces recovered five IEDs and one suicide jacket. In a search operation at Jamal Abad near Sangota and Panr near Mingora security forces apprehended two terrorists. [end]

9.13.09 5 US troops among 50 killed in Afghan violence

KABUL, Afghanistan, September 13 - About 50 civilians, security forces and militants were killed in a wave of violence around Afghanistan, including a bomb that left 14 Afghan travelers dead in one of the country's most dangerous regions. Five American soldiers died in two attacks using roadside bombs. The attacks Friday and Saturday reached a broad swath of the country, demonstrating the spread of the Taliban insurgency, which had been largely confined to the country's south and east in the years after the 2001 US invasion. Half of those killed in the most recent attacks were civilians, who often find themselves caught in the grinding war between the Taliban and US and NATO forces.

Bombs caused most of the casualties — including homemade blasts in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and a neighboring province that together killed 20 civilians. A roadside bomb and gunfire attack in western Afghanistan killed three Americans, while another roadside bomb killed two Americans in the east, said Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, a spokesman for the US military command in Kabul. No other details were available.
[More>>japantoday.com; See also,

cbsnews.com, September 13, "Dozens of Taliban killed after US deaths" : A battle in western Afghanistan that included airstrikes killed dozens of Taliban militants, after an insurgent ambush left three U.S. troops dead, an Afghan official said Sunday. The hours-long battle took place Saturday in the western province of Farah after a complex attack that killed three Americans and seven Afghan troops, said Afghan army spokesman Maj. Abdul Basir Ghori. The insurgent ambush involved two roadside bombs, gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a US military spokeswoman, said Sunday. Mathias confirmed that fighting in the west continued after the ambush, but she could not provide any casualty figures.

Ghori said about 50 militants were killed in Saturday's battle, but no other Afghan officials could immediately confirm that figure. During the clash, a coalition airstrike hit a home and killed a woman and a teenage girl, said Afghan police spokesman Raouf Ahmadi. The fighting took place in the Bala Baluk district of Farah province, a region controlled by militants that has been the site of huge battles in the past, some that have caused high numbers of civilian casualties...

9.13.09 Bomb hidden in holy book

BAGHDAD (Reuters) September 13 - Iraqi militants hollowed out an ornate Shiite Muslim holy book, stuffed it with TNT and planted it inside a Baghdad shrine, but the bomb was defused before it exploded, police said. Iraqi police discovered the rigged book yesterday in the Khadimiya shrine, a major Shiite holy site in Baghdad, after worshippers heard a suspicious ringing sound from the mobile phone detonator inside the book, a richly decorated edition of a sacred Shiite text called the "Keys to Paradise."

After the bomb failed to go off, a scan of the book showed the bomb-filled cavity and experts came in to defuse it. "It had about 500g of highly explosive material and contained hundreds of metal ball bearings in order to maximise casualties amongst pilgrims to the shrine," Major-General Jihad al-Jabiri, head of an Interior Ministry unit that investigates explosions, told state-run Iraqiya TV. The Khadimiya shrine, a revered site for Shi'ite Muslims, has been a favorite target for Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda, who see Shi'ites as heretics, and by loyalists to the former regime of Sunni Arab ruler Saddam Hussein, who object to the fact that Iraq has been run by majority Shiites since his ouster.

In April, suicide bombers killed 60 people by the shrine. US and Iraqi officials say al-Qaeda is trying to reignite the sectarian conflict that nearly tore the country asunder in 2006-07, but they have so far failed to provoke revenge killings. In July, Iraq's first religious festival in Khadamiya since US troops pulled out of cities a month earlier was mostly peaceful, despite bloody attacks on the site in past years. Police said the book was left in a corner of the shine reserved for women, suggesting the bomber was female.

9.13.09 British youths heading for Somalia for jihad training: Report

LONDON, September 13 - Although Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the main destination for Britain's would be terrorists, British youths are increasingly heading for Somalia for "jihad training," a media report said today. British spy agency MI5 has warned that the number of young Britons traveling to Somalia to fight in a "holy war," or train in terror training camps, has soared in recent years as the war torn African nation has emerged as an alternative base for groups like al-Qaeda, 'The Independent' reported. According to the report, the number of young Britons following the trail every year has more than quadrupled to at least 100 since 2004.

And the British authorities are particularly concerned about the number of people with no direct family connection to Somalia who are traveling to fight and train there, prompting MI5 to target the failed state as its next major challenge to their efforts to repel Islamist terrorism. In fact, the diversity suggests Somalia is flourishing as a training ground for radical British Muslims, who can join the local terrorist militia al-Shabaab (the youth), go on to join conflicts, including the Afghan campaign, or return home to pose a security threat to the UK, the report said.

"We would have started at below 20 five years ago, when Somalia was not significant enough to be put under close surveillance," a senior Home Office source said. The source added
"It has been climbing noticeably every year. You have to remember that Somalia is not a place you would go for a holiday. It is particularly striking when people with no Somali family are going there; it looks as if some people are being attracted by the lawlessness." [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See more details,

independent.co.uk, September 13, "Jihad: The Somalia connection" : .
..It was reported earlier this year that a suicide bomber from Ealing had blown himself up in an attack in Somalia that killed more than 20 soldiers. Two Somali asylum-seekers were among the four men convicted of the failed attempts to bomb the London transport system on 21 July 2005...

9.13.09 Venezuela to pump heavy crude with Russia's help

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) September 13 - Venezuela says it has signed a deal with five mainly Russian energy companies to exploit its deposits of heavy crude oil. State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA says its agreement is with a consortium of Russian oil and gas companies Rosneft, Lukoil, Gazprom and Surgutneftegaz. TNK-BP, a British-Russian joint venture, also is participating. The joint enterprise will exploit an area of Venezuela's heavy-oil producing Orinoco Oil Belt, where they expect to pump 400,000 to 450,000 barrels a day. Venezuela will have a 60 percent stake in the venture and its partners will share the remaining 40 percent. In a statement Saturday, Petroleos de Venezuela says the partners will also invest in a facility to turn the heavy crude into lighter oil. [>thestar.com.my]

9.13.09 Switzerland's explosive war effort threatens environmental disaster

September 13 - Deformed fish are being landed and served as sightseers flock to view toxic Second World War munitions raised from the floor of Lake Thun. Down at the bottom of Switzerland's deepest lake is one of the country's murkiest secrets. For here is disturbing evidence of Switzerland's little-known Second World War defence effort. It poses a potentially devastating threat to the Alpine nation, 70 years after the conflict.

The placid waters of Lake Thun spread out for 11 miles beneath Faulensee village. Some 700 feet beneath the surface more than 9,000 tons of Swiss army munitions lie dumped on its watery floor. The ordnance includes artillery shells, hand grenades, and explosives that were meant to defend Switzerland against a Nazi invasion that never happened. After the war, the army began a 20-year process of getting rid of its vast munitions stockpile by dumping most of it into four Alpine lakes, all of which are used to supply drinking water to the surrounding population. Lake Thun, in the central Swiss canton of Bern, took the brunt of the disposal programme, which ended in 1964.

The huge pile of underwater ordnance remained out of sight and minds until about a decade ago when local fishermen began to notice abnormalities in the reproductive organs of the lake's whitefish — one of their chief sources of income. More recently the fishermen, who have seen their catches diminish by some 80 per cent over the past three decades, have been pulling bits of dumped munitions out of the lake with the few fish they still manage to net. Last month a rusting hand grenade was hauled to the surface. Today, a tiny part of this underwater arms dump has been raised to the surface and is, of all things, a tourist attraction.

9.13.09 Dangerous staph germs found at West Coast beaches

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (AP) September 12 - A day at the beach? Shower afterward. Sand, water can hold dangerous staph germs, study finds. Dangerous staph bacteria have been found in sand and water for the first time at five public beaches along the coast of Washington, and scientists think the state is not the only one with this problem. The germ is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — a hard-to-treat bug once rarely seen outside of hospitals but that increasingly is spreading in ordinary community settings such as schools, locker rooms and gyms.

The germ causes nasty skin infections as well as pneumonia and other life-threatening problems. It spreads mostly through human contact. Little is known about environmental sources that also may harbor the germ. Finding it at the beach suggests one place that people may be picking it up, said Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

...She presented results Saturday at an American Society for Microbiology conference in California. Last year, her team reported finding a different type of bacteria, enterococci, at five West Coast beaches. And earlier this year, University of Miami researchers reported finding staph bacteria in four out of 10 ocean water samples collected by hundreds of bathers at a South Florida beach. Many communities also commonly restrict bathing at beaches because of contamination with fecal bacteria. In the new study, researchers tested 10 beaches in Washington along the West Coast and in Puget Sound from February to September 2008. Staph bacteria were found at nine of them, including five with MRSA.
[Full story>>abcnews.go.com]

9.13.09 Antibiotic resistance clue found

September 13 - US scientists have uncovered a defence mechanism in bacteria that allows them to fend off the threat of antibiotics. It is hoped the findings could help researchers boost the effectiveness of existing treatments. The study published in Science found that nitric oxide produced by the bacteria eliminates some key effects of a wide range of antibiotics. One UK expert said inhibiting nitric oxide synthesis could be an important advance for tackling tricky infections. Antibiotic resistance, for example with MRSA, is a growing problem and experts have long warned of the need to develop new treatments. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

9.12.09 A triumph for man, a disaster for mankind

September 12 - Two ships are finishing the first commercial navigation of the fabled North-east Passage. It is an epic moment but also a vivid sign of climate change in the Arctic. It has been one of the elusive goals of seafaring nations almost since the beginnings of waterborne trade, but for nearly 500 years the idea has been dismissed as an impossible dream. Now, as a result of global warming, the dream is about to come true. Within days, a journey that represents both a huge commercial boon and a dark milestone on the route to environmental catastrophe is expected to be completed for the first time. No commercial vessel has ever successfully travelled the North-east Passage, a fabled Arctic Sea route that links the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific far more directly than the usual southerly cargo route. Explorers throughout history have tried, and failed; some have died in the attempt.

But early next week the German-owned vessels, Beluga Fraternity and Beluga Foresight, are scheduled to dock in the Dutch port of Rotterdam. It is the culmination of a two-month voyage from South Korea across the perilous waters of the Arctic, where an unprecedented ice-melt has at last made the previously impassable course a viable possibility. The new route could transform Russia's economic fortunes. Throughout history, the country's search for a warm-water port that would provide sea routes open year-round has dominated the geopolitics of the region. But the economic advantages are balanced by the disastrous environmental news that the transit represents. "This is further proof that climate change is happening now," said Melanie Duchin, Arctic Expedition leader on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, who added that the development put greater pressure on world leaders to agree a major emissions cut at their Copenhagen meeting in December.

"This is not a cause for celebration but cause for immediate action," she said. The 12,000-tonne vessels' summer journey through the Northeast Passage was carried out with 3,500 tones of construction materials and parts for a Siberian power station on board. Once completed, the voyage will have shortened the traditional commercial sea route from the Far East to Europe — via the Suez Canal — by more than 4,000 nautical miles. Russian maritime officials are now hoping that the feat will result in an "Arctic Rush" with the northern sea route becoming a viable summer competitor to the Suez and Panama canals. They have offered to cut ice-breaker fees in the North-east Passage to encourage major shipping companies to start using it.

9.12.09 Thousands rally in capital to protest spending

WASHINGTON (AP) September 12 - Thousands of people protesting what they call out-of-control government spending are marching to the US Capitol in downtown Washington. The line of protesters stretches several blocks, as people chant "enough, enough" and "We the People." Others are waving US flags and holding signs reading "Go Green Recycle Congress," "I'm Not Your ATM" and "Obamacare makes me sick." Some men are dressed in colonial costumes with tricolored hats. Protesters plan to march later to the US Capitol. FreedomWorks Foundation, a conservative organization led by former House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey, organized several groups from across the country for what they're calling a "March on Washington." [>thejakartapost.com; See other details, nytimes.com, September 12, "Thousands rally in capital to protest big government." and photo cbsnews.com.]

9.12.09 Taliban raid Afghan intelligence HQ

September 12 - The intelligence service headquarters in Afghanistan's second city have been attacked by suspected Taliban bombers. Al Jazeera correspondent James Bays reports the attack on the central Kandahar complex on Saturday appeared to be highly coordinated. He said: "A car drew up at the front of the offices, opening fire with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, clearing a path through the front gate to the intelligence department, killing a guard. Witnesses say that one or two suicide bombers went inside, though both were then shot dead." A young girl living close by died of a heart attack at the start of the attack, he added.

The building was already partially damaged from a previous bombing two weeks ago. The attack came 10 days after Abdullah Laghmani, the deputy head of the Intelligence Service, was assassinated in Laghman province. Elsewhere, two international coalition soldiers were killed in a bomb blast, NATO said in a statement. The two "were killed today when their patrol struck an improvised explosive device in eastern Afghanistan," and confirmed both soldiers were from the United States.

9.12.09 Iran ready to negotiate nuclear proposals: FM

TEHRAN / WASHINGTON, September 12 - Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki renewed on Saturday Iran's readiness for negotiations over its nuclear proposals but made no direct response to calls from the major powers for urgent talks. "By giving this package, the Islamic Republic of Iran has shown its determination to enter into negotiation on the main topics in the package," Mottaki told reporters in Tehran. "I think that if one takes into account separate statements made by these powers, they acknowledge that our package has major topics for holding constructive negotiations," he said. [More>>alarabiya.net]

9.12.09 Repsol discovers huge gas field off Venezuela

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) September 12 - Spain's largest oil company, Repsol YPF SA, has said it discovered a massive gas field off the coast of Venezuela, Spanish media reported. The find was made in a joint exploration with the Italy's Eni. The Gulf of Venezuela's Cardon 4 site may contain some 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), a Repsol spokesman said. However, he also noted that tests were continuing. The company's statement confirmed comments to the Spanish newspaper El Pais by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday. Chavez met with Repsol chairman Antoni Brufau during his visit to Madrid.

"At the rate at which we are making certified scientific discoveries, Venezuela's gas reserves will put us among the five world giants of gas," Chavez was reported to have told El Pais. Repsol and Eni would each have 32.5% stakes in future exploitation of the gas field, a spokesman said. Venezuela's state-oil company would receive 35%.

9.12.09 Chavez says Venezuela to get Russian missiles

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) September 12 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that Caracas is to receive Russian short-range missiles. Chavez was speaking after returning home from a 10-day world tour, including a visit to Russia. "Soon some little rockets are going to be arriving," he said at the presidential palace. "They can fly 300 kms. And they don't miss their targets."

"We are not going to attack anybody, these are just defence tools, because we are going to defend our country from any threat, wherever it may come from," he went on. He did not say how many missiles would be delivered. Chavez also said Venezuela would buy Russian T-72 and T-90 tanks

Venezuela is embroiled in a dispute with neighboring Colombia over its plans to allow U.S. troops to deploy to the country. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday after Kremlin talks with Chavez that Russia would sell Venezuela tanks and other types of military equipment. His announcement came after Chavez had said that Venezuela would recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia recognized the former Georgian republics as independent states shortly after last August's war with Georgia, which began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in a bid to bring it under central control.

9.12.09 IED blast in Srinagar: 3 cops among 4 killed, 14 injured

SRINAGAR, Kashmir, India, September 12 - Three policemen and a woman were killed and 14 others were injured when a police vehicle carrying detainees back from a court was blown up by an improvised explosive device set off by militants outside Srinagar central jail in the first major attack in the city in three years. The vehicle of Pulwama district police was way to Pulwama when the IED-fitted car parked at a distance of nearly 30 metres from the jail went up in flames at around 6pm and hit a police vehicle killing Assistant Sub Inspector Sagar Singh and Head Constable Abdul Hamid inside the vehicle on the spot, the police said. Another policeman succumbed in the hospital and his identity is yet to be established.

A woman identified as Kathija of Khawaja Yar Bal area of the city, who was walking past the site of the blast, was also killed on the spot near the police vehicle. Fifteen persons, mostly policemen, were injured in the explosion and the condition of five of them was stated to be critical. A spokesman of pro-Pakistan Jamiat-ul-ujahideen owned responsibility for the attack saying its activists carried out the IED attack. The explosion was so powerful that the sound of the blast was heard in entire Srinagar at a time when people were rushing back home for "Iftar" breaking the Ramzan fast.

9.12.09 Bombs kill 3 near Shia shrine in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) September 12 - Two bombs exploded moments apart near the tomb of a revered Shia religious figure in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing three people and wounding 22, police and hospital officials said. The first bomb went off next to the tomb of the ninth-century Shaikh, Othman Al Omari, where a number of people were praying. A few minutes later, a car bomb exploded in a nearby parking lot as crowds were gathering. The shrine was damaged. The attack took place in the Bab Al Muadham area of the capital, home to the Health Ministry, other government offices and a number of hospitals.

In northwestern Baghdad, a bomb attached to a civilian car exploded Saturday, killing the driver and wounding two passengers, police said. The motive for the attack was not known. While violence has eased in many parts of Iraq, bombings and other attacks remain common in Baghdad, where, for instance, devastating truck bombs outside the foreign and finance ministries killed around 100 people on Aug. 19. The persistent violence has frustrated Iraq's US-trained security forces, which took over from American forces that pulled out of cities and towns before a June 30 deadline.

Violence also still plagues northern Iraq, where Sunni Arab insurgents from al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups built new strongholds after being pushed out of western Anbar province and other parts of the country. In the northern city of Mosul, a roadside bomb went off near an Iraqi army patrol Saturday, prompting soldiers to open fire to scare off any attackers. A stray bullet from the shooting killed a traffic policeman, police said.

9.12.09 Police arrest 3 terrorists in Peshawar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, September 12 - Police arrested three terrorists and recovered two abducted policemen in Matni, the suburban area of Peshawar on Saturday. According to Matni police three terrorists, belonging to a semi tribal area, were captured in Pasheen Garh area. Police said the terrorists had abducted the two policemen the previous night and during an attempt to move the abductees in Khyber Agency the police apprehended them. In the operation Sub Inspector Faqeer Hussain and Assistant Sub Inspector Haroon have been recovered and investigations are underway. [>thenews.com.pk]

9.12.09 Yale criticized for pulling Muslim cartoons in book

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, September 12 - Yale University has removed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad from an upcoming book about how they caused outrage across the Muslim world, drawing criticism from prominent alumni and a national group of university professors. Yale cited fears of violence. Yale University Press, which the university owns, removed the 12 caricatures from the book "The Cartoons That Shook the World" by Brandeis University professor Jytte Klausen. The book is scheduled to be released next week. A Danish newspaper originally published the cartoons — including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban — in 2005. Other Western publications reprinted them.

The following year, the cartoons triggered massive protests from Morocco to Indonesia. Rioters torched Danish and other Western diplomatic missions. Some Muslim countries boycotted Danish products. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry. "I think it's horrifying that the campus of Nathan Hale has become the first place where America surrenders to this kind of fear because of what extremists might possibly do," said Michael Steinberg, an attorney and Yale graduate. Steinberg was among 25 alumni who signed a protest letter sent Friday to Yale Alumni Magazine that urged the university to restore the drawings to the book. Other signers included John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, former Bush administration speechwriter David Frum and Seth Corey, a liberal doctor.

9.11.09 Obama speaks at 9/11 ceremony

WASHINGTON, September 11 - On a gray rainy day in the nation's capital — so unlike the bright sunny morning eight years ago when terrorists slammed planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon — President Obama called upon Americans to “renew our common purpose” with a day of service and remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks. "Through their own lives and through you, the loved ones they left behind, the men and women who lost their lives eight years ago today leave a legacy that still shines brightly in the darkness and that calls on all of us to be strong and firm and united," Mr. Obama said during a memorial service at the Pentagon. "That is our calling today and in all the Septembers still to come." Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle began the day of commemoration on the White House South Lawn, where they and some 200 members of the White House staff observed a moment of silence at 8:46am, the moment the first plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. [More>>nytimes.com]

9.11.09 Pakistan Taliban spokesman arrested in Swat

ISLAMABAD, September 11 - Pakistan military said on Friday that it arrested the chief spokesman of the Swat Taliban along with four other most-wanted first ring leaders in a successful military operation in northwestern Swat valley. "Muslim Khan and Mahmood Khan with head money of 10 million rupees (120,482 US dollars) have been arrested by security forces in a successful operation in Swat," military spokesman Athar Abbas said in a statement. Muslim Khan was second on the most-wanted list behind Fazlullah. He earned notoriety as the hardline Taliban spokesman in Swat but was largely impossible to reach after the military launched its summer ground and air assault. Mahmood Khan was number four on the most-wanted list, described as commander of Kuza Banda in the Swat valley and, like the spokesman, had a 10-million-rupee bounty on his head. "Along with them, three other terrorist leaders Fazle Ghaffar, Abdul Rehman and Sartaj have been also been apprehended," the military statement said.

On Thursday, the Swat Taliban alleged that five members of their organization, including Muslim Khan and commander Mehmood Khan who were holding secret peace talks with the military authorities for the past eight days had been taken into custody as they were no longer traceable...Pakistan military launched a military offensive against Taliban militants in Swat and neighboring districts of Dir and Buner, which falls 60 miles north of the capital Islamabad...Pakistan says more than 1,900 militants and over 167 security personnel were killed in the offensive but the tolls are impossible to verify independently.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See also photo/story, aljazeera.net, September 11, "Senior Taliban arrested in Swat" and related stories:

thenews.com.pk, September 11, "Forces nab 13 suspects in last 24 hours: ISPR status report" : RAWALPINDI: The security forces continued Friday the search and clearance operations in Swat and Malakand during last 24 hours. According to a press release issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), at least four terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces in Bar Shaur area of Swat. Also four other terrorists including commander Nisar voluntarily surrendered to security forces in Damghar near Kanju area in Swat. The security forces carried out search operation in Kad near Sardari and killed 2 terrorists and apprehended five suspects. Also, the forces carried out search operation in Narai Sar Banda and demolished two caves and four terrorists hideouts.

The security forces carried out search operation in Ahingro Derai and Takhtaband and apprehended 6 terrorists. Local lashkar demolished over 100 terrorists houses in Dhok Darra in Dir. At least 13 suspects voluntarily surrendered to security forces in Zamindara Post. Security forces apprehended two suspects from Kalapani. The security forces continued relief activities, as 296,944 cash cards have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand. [end]

khaleejtimes.com (AP) September 11, "Swede held in Pakistan over possible terror links" : MULTAN, Pakistan - A Swedish national with the same name as a Swede arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and held for two years at Guantanamo Bay was detained in Pakistan last month on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda, a police officer said Friday. Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali was arrested with two other Swedes and nine other foreigners close to the country's northwestern tribal regions, the officer said.

...Swedish national Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali was held for more than two years by the United States at its prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after Pakistani authorities arrested him in 2001. Ghezali reportedly was part of a group of 156 suspected al-Qaeda fighters caught while fleeing Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains. Ghezali denied any links to al-Qaeda and was released by the US in 2004...The 12 foreigners were arrested Aug. 28 in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan. Police said at the time they had allegedly sneaked in from Iran and were planning to travel to the tribal areas. One was carrying a laptop computer and $10,000. It is not clear where they are being held...

9.11.09 Right-wing protestors target Harrow mosque

September 11 - Muslims in Harrow expressed deep frustration today that their mosque had been targeted by anti-Islamic right-wing protestors whose demonstrations in Birmingham last month led to a series of arrests and street battles with Asian youths. Harrow Central Mosque, which is located in the heart of London's most religiously diverse borough, was forced to place security guards on their doors as police maintained a heavy presence in response to calls from right-wing protestors to demonstrate against "Islamic extremism" on the anniversary of the 11 September attacks. The English Defence League, and a group calling itself Stop the Islamization of Europe, was planning to hold the demonstration later this afternoon outside the borough's main mosque, a multi-million pound building which is currently under construction and will provide a prayer space for the area's 35,000 Muslims.

Despite the imam's pleas for local Muslims to go home and ignore the protests, by mid-afternoon a crowd of some 1,000 anti-fascist campaigners, predominantly young Asian men, had gathered outside the mosque in a striking show of force. Some wore masks over their faces but most simply waited patiently looking for signs of any activity. It was clear that the vast majority of those who had come to launch a counter demonstration were not from the area. Mahmood Abdullah, a 17-year old student had travelled up from Morden, south London. "We don't want to start a fight but we're willing to defend our brothers and sisters if we have to," he said. "We want to show them that for every protestor they bring, we'll bring ten."

At quarter to five in the afternoon there was still no sign of the anti-Islam protestors. Both groups were behind a series of controversial protests in Birmingham and Luton where demonstrators paraded through the streets shouting anti-Islamic slogans and fought running street battles with incensed Asian youths.

The English Defence League, which first surfaced in the spring, have since been banned from holding any marches in Luton for three months but activists have been using social networking sites such as Facebook to spread their protests across the country. Stop the Islamization of Europe is inspired by a right-wing group in Denmark of the same name who have held regular protests outside mosques ever since cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad appeared in a newspaper sparking riots across the Muslim world. [More>>independent.co.uk; See more details and video, news.sky.com, September 11, "Anti-fascist protesters and right wingers clash with Metropolitan Police near London mosque."]

9.11.09 Belgian schools ban Muslim veil in classes

BRUSSELS (AFP) September 11 - Veil ban affects 700 schools in Flanders, Brussels. Dutch-language public schools in Belgium will ban the wearing of Muslim veils in classes, school officials in the Flanders region announced Friday. The ban affects 700 schools in the northern region of Flanders, including some in Brussels. It follows protests after two schools in Antwerp this month joined other schools where the veil is already banned. [More>>alarabiya.net]

9.11.09 UN's Ban: Israel, Lebanon must adhere to cease-fire

September 11 - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the firing of two missiles into Israel from Lebanon on Friday, saying the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon will investigate the incident. Ban called on all parties to exercise restraint. "The parties must fully adhere to Security Council resolution 1701 and respect the cessation of hostilities agreement," Ban said in a statement. Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Hezbollah and Israel and called for disarming the militias in southern Lebanon.

At least two Katyusha rockets struck open fields near Nahariya on Friday. No casualties were reported by Israeli police, who said two rockets landed. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police located one of the rockets, near the northern town of Nahariya. Lebanese security sources, who reported at least two outgoing missiles and 15 incoming Israeli shells, did not say who might have fired the rockets. An IDF spokesman confirmed that Israel fired about a dozen artillery rounds in response to several rockets.

9.11.09 Ancient synagogue found in Israel

JERUSALEM, September 11 - In what was slated to be the site of a new 122-room hotel, archaeologists say they have discovered one of the world's oldest synagogues in Northern Israel. The site, which was unearthed as preparations were being made for construction of the hotel near the Sea of Galilee, is believed to date back some 2000 years from 50BCE to 100CE. In the middle of the 120 square meter main hall of the synagogue archaeologists discovered an unusual stone carved with a seven branched menorah . "We are dealing with an exciting and unique find," said excavation director and Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni.

The menorah engraving is the first of its kind to be discovered from the Early Roman period according Avshalom-Gorni who said the site joins just six synagogue locations that are know to date from the same time. She said synagogues from this period were extremely rare in part because many Jews during that time were in the habit of visiting the main temple in Jerusalem three times a year as opposed to attending local houses of worship. Avshalom-Gorni posited that the engraved menorah was done by an artist who had visited the main synagogue in Jerusalem known as the Second Temple where the actual menorah was believed to be kept. In addition to the engraved stone Avshalom-Gorni said they discovered preserved frescoes on the walls with "vivid" colors.
[More>>cnn.com; See also jpost.com (AP) September 11, "Early menorah depiction found in Galilee."]

9.11.09 The uninsured: Top 3 best states, worst states

September 10 - New Census Report Offers Picture of Nation's Uninsured. As lawmakers in Washington debate how to overhaul America's health care system, Americans are becoming poorer and more of them lack any health insurance at all. The US Census Bureau's annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage, out Thursday, showed that in 2008, median household income fell 3.6 percent, 2.5 million more Americans fell below the poverty line, and the ranks of the uninsured grew from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million. The overall percentage of people without health coverage held steady at 15.4 percent, according to the 2009 Current Population Survey.

"The situation's grown worse over the last 12 months," said President Obama, discussing the nation's uninsured population at the White House Thursday. Obama noted the effect of rising unemployment on insurance coverage is not fully reflected in the latest figures. "It's estimated that the ranks of the uninsured have swelled by at least 6 million," he said.

Some researchers estimate the current number of uninsured is closer to 50 million — the number now used by the Congressional Budget Office — because the Census Bureau does not count as "uninsured" any person who has had insurance coverage for any time during the year. The states with the highest average rate of uninsured people from 2006 to 2008 are Texas (24.9 percent), New Mexico (23.0 percent) and Florida (20.5 percent). The states with the lowest uninsured rates are Massachusetts (7.1 percent), Hawaii (8.1 percent) and Minnesota (8.7 percent).
[More>>abcnews.go.com; See report at census.gov]

9.11.09 Deficit soars higher into record territory

(AP) September 11 - Federal Deficit Hits $1.38T through August; Economists Estimate 2009 will be Record Year. The federal deficit surged higher into record territory in August, hitting $1.38 trillion with one month left in the budget year. The Treasury Department said Friday that last month's deficit was $111.4 billion, below the $152 billion that economists expected. Still, the imbalance added to a flood of red ink already accumulated through a severe recession and massive spending needed to stabilize the banking system.

The soaring deficits have raised worries about the willingness of foreigners to keep purchasing Treasury debt. The Chinese, now the largest foreign owners of US Treasury securities, have expressed concerns about runaway deficits. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other administration officials have sought to address those concerns by insisting that once the current downturn is over and the financial system is stabilized, the administration will move forcefully to get the deficits under control. However, Republican critics contend the administration does not have a credible plan to address future deficits. Private economists worry the country could face the grim prospect of seeing interest rates soar in future years and the dollar weaken as foreigners dump their US holdings.

Editorial note: "Speaking of interest" : For the US report on monthly receipts, outlays and deficits see fms.treas.gov; A recurring outlay expense in the US budget has to do with interest on the Public Debt which averages about $33.4 billion per month. So far this year (Oct. 08 - Aug. 09) our interest outlays have totaled $367.8 billion. Last month's deficit of $111.4 billion included the interest outlay. Interest outlays relate to the total Public Debt outstanding, which is $11.795 trillion as of 9.10.2009. If China and others who buy US treasuries to finance the Public Debt do not purchase the notes offered each month (with supply of notes exceeding demand) interest rates would increase to make the notes more attractive. The increase of Fed rates affects the financial markets as a whole: mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, etc. When the economy collapsed in 2008 much of the collapse began when the Fed increased interest rates, causing mortgage payments to double and triple, resulting in loan defaults and a collapse of the financial markets holding the defaults.

When American elected officials complain about the deficit being passed on to our children they show their complete ignorance on the Public Debt, since rising interest rates certainly affected the same generation that ran up the Public Debt. As will be noticed in the chart in our sidebar, President George W. Bush doubled the Public Debt received from President Clinton (from $5 trillion to $11 trillion). During the same period of the Bush II presidency variable rate mortgages became popularized. The concept of borrowing at the expense of the next generation simply did not hold true; it wiped out the homes and savings of the generation of the Bush II presidency.

In reflection, it may be to our good fortune that the attempt by George W. Bush to eliminate Social Security, replacing it with Wall Street "retirement" investments, failed. The greed of Wall Street would have completely gobbled up retirement incomes. As it turns out, Social Security incomes were saved.

Mel Copeland

9.10.09 Census: Ranks of poor, uninsured grows

WASHINGTON (AP) September 10 - Poverty Rate Hits 13.2 Percent; Number of Americans Without Health Care Rises to 46.3 Million. The number of Americans without health insurance rose to 46.3 million last year as people began losing jobs and coverage in the current recession. The poverty rate hit 13.2 percent, an 11-year high. The Census Bureau's annual report released Thursday offers a snapshot of the economic well-being of American households for 2008, the first full year of the recession. It comes as Congress engages in its high-stakes debate over health care overhaul, following a renewed plea Wednesday night by President Barack Obama to pass sweeping legislation.

The numbers for 2008 do not capture the economic impact in the first half of 2009 as hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their jobs and likely their health insurance. Speaking at the White House, Mr. Obama acknowledged that the number of those without coverage may be higher than the Census figures. "The situation's grown worse over the last 12 months," he said. "Its estimated that the ranks of the uninsured have swelled by at least 6 million." The figures show about 46.3 million people were uninsured last year. That's higher than the 45.7 million in 2007, due to the steady erosion of employer-provided health insurance. Still, the level remained just below the peak of 47 million who were uninsured in 2006, because of the growth of government insurance programs such as Medicaid for the poor.

9.10.09 Anti-terror action afoot until Khyber is cleared

BARA, Pakistan, September 10 - The crackdown on Laskhra-e-Islam is still in full swing on the 10th day of crackdown against the extremists in Khyber Agency in Tehsil Bara; also, the exodus of local people from the area is in progress on Thursday. Political Administration announced to continue the crackdown until the area is cleared. Talking to Geo News, PA Khyber Agency Tariq Hayat said 107 extremists have been killed in the action on the 10th day of the crackdown; also, 127 houses and 26 centers of the extremists have been razed down. Also, 107 people have been arrested in the action. PA Khyber said the action is afoot in Bara Tehsil areas of Malak Deenkhel, Akakhel, Sapah, Shalobar and Qambarkhel and these areas are being searched. He added Bara Market has been cleared; however, it will take time to clear the entire area. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story, cnn.com, September 10, "Volunteer militias push back Taliban."]

9.10.09 Moment of indecision by Talbeban gunman saved British reporter's life

September 10 - The kidnapped journalist Stephen Farrell has told how a Taleban insurgent with a Kalashnikov in his hands turned to shoot him as NATO helicopters rattled in for a rescue mission but decided against it, perhaps to save precious time as he fled. The young Taleb's decision saved Farrell's life, but his Afghan journalist-translator, Sultan Munadi, was cut down in a hail of bullets only a few minutes later as the pair fled the building where they had been kept prisoner. Mr. Farrell, formerly of The Times, is now the main writer on The New York Times "At War" blog, where he published a lengthy account of his capture, four days in captivity and rescue in the early hours of yesterday morning. Also killed during the rescue operation was a British commando serving with the Special Forces Support Group, another Afghan civilian and as many as 48 insurgents. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

9.10.09 22 killed in Iraq suicide truck bomb attack

WARDAK, Iraq (AFP) September 10 - A suicide truck bomber triggered a massive blast in a Kurdish village in northern Iraq as residents slept early on Thursday, flattening homes and killing at least 22 people, officials said. The attack just after midnight in Wardak, southeast of the restive city of Mosul, brought down a dozen houses built from clay and stone, damaged 60 others and left a massive crater, said an AFP reporter at the scene. "The truck tried to enter the village from the rear, where there is a river," and where locals had been building a sand barrier to protect the area from attacks, said Jalal Dosky, a security guard in Wardak...Police Captain Mohammed Jalal confirmed it was a suicide attack and that a second such blast was foiled when the driver was killed by Iraqi security forces before he could detonate explosives hidden in his truck.

...Elsewhere on Thursday, four people were killed and 29 wounded when a bomb exploded in a market south of Baghdad, the defence ministry official said. The attack occurred in Mahmudiyah, a town within a confessionally mixed region known as the Triangle of Death because of its frequent insurgent attacks during the worst of Iraq'sinsurgency in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion. The latest violence follows a spate of roadside bomb attacks across Iraq on Tuesday that killed four American soldiers and 10 Iraqi police, the bloodiest day that the US military had experienced in five months. Monday also saw a series of blasts that left 22 people dead, including eight in a suicide car bombing at a security checkpoint in the former al-Qaeda stronghold of Ramadi in western Iraq. The latest casualties come after the number of violent deaths in Iraq hit a 13-month high in August, raising fresh concerns about stability after the government admitted that security is worsening. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

9.10.09 Fraud proof found in Afghan polls

September 10 - The Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan has ordered votes from 83 polling stations to be discounted, after finding evidence of fraud. The United Nations-backed commission said the ballots from those stations should be excluded from the final count, and no repeat voting held. "In the course of its investigations, the ECC [Electoral Complaints Commission] has found clear and convincing evidence of fraud" in Ghazni, Paktika and Kandahar provinces, the ECC said in a statement on Thursday. The ECC said it had found unfolded and miscounted ballots and lists of voters with numerous fictitious card numbers. With almost all ballots counted, preliminary results released earlier this week gave Hamid Karzai, the incumbent president, 54 per cent of votes. That would be enough to avoid a runoff with his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister...Most of the discarded polling stations were in areas where pro-Karzai voting was particularly visible. [Full story>>aljazeera.net]

9.10.09 Japan's space freighter in orbit

September 10 - Japan has successfully launched its new space freighter from the Tanegashima base in the south of the country. The 16.5-tonne unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is on a mission to re-supply the space station. Its role is vitally important to the station project, which is set to lose the servicing capability of the US shuttle fleet next year. The freighter left Earth atop an H-IIB rocket at 0201 local time on Friday (1701 GMT, Thursday).

Separation from the rocket's upper-stage was confirmed some 15 minutes later. The HTV mission is being directed by engineers in Tsukuba, Japan, and at the US space agency's (NASA) mission control in Houston. The vehicle must conduct a number of tests of its navigation and rendezvous systems before making a close approach to the International Space Station (ISS). Docking is not expected to take place until at least day eight of the mission. The freighter is carrying about 4.5 tones of cargo on this maiden flight. It has the capacity to carry six tones.

Over the next few years, the HTV, and the other robotic re-supply ships like it, will be central to the operation of a fully crewed, fully functional ISS. "This HTV-1 vehicle is a demonstration flight to verify its functionality and performance," said Masazumi Miyake, one of the Japanese space agency's (Jaxa) senior officials in the US. "After completion of this mission we are planning to launch one operational HTV per year on average."...As the freighter's supplies are used up, the ship will be filled with station rubbish. Ultimately, it will undock from the ISS and take itself into a destructive dive through the atmosphere somewhere over the south Pacific. When the US shuttles retire at the end of next year or the beginning of 2011, the ISS project will become dependent on five robotic freighters for its logistics:
[Full story w/illustrations>>bbc.co.uk]

9.10.09 Iraq cries for help to restore ancient sites

BAGHDAD (Reuters) September 10 - Restoring Babylon, other sites to cost millions. Iraq appealed to other nations on Thursday to help save its archaeological treasures from ruin, saying ancient Babylonian and Assyrian artifacts and priceless medieval Islamic monuments were at risk without more funds. Iraq, which the ancient Greeks called Mesopotamia or "land between two rivers" because of its Tigris and Euphrates, is regarded by archaeologists as the cradle of civilization. Many believe it gave birth to such milestones of human development as agriculture, codified law and the wheel. But historic sites have been woefully neglected and damaged by decades of war, sanctions and looting. Iraqi officials say they need to spend millions of dollars to reverse the damage. Iraqi officials are hoping a sharp improvement in security will draw Western tourists to ancient sites like the biblical city of Babylon, home to King Nebuchadnezzar's Hanging Gardens. [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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