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09.24.10 Obama slams 'hateful' Ahmadinejad 9/11 remarks

NEW YORK (AFP) September 24 - US President Barack Obama on Friday slammed ‘hateful,’ "inexcusable" and "offensive" remarks by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the September 11 attacks in 2001. Ahmadinejad sparked outrage in the United States on Thursday and a partial walkout in the UN General Assembly chamber when he said in a speech that most people believe the US government staged the attacks. "It was offensive, it was hateful," Obama said in a television interview with the BBC Persia service, according to an excerpt released by the White House. Obama said it was particularly offensive for Ahmadinejad to make such a statement in Manhattan, just north of the Ground Zero site of the felled twin towers of the World Trade Center. The president described the site as a place "where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation — for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable." [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

independent.co.uk, September 24, "EU chief slams Iran's 9/11 attack claims"
: Europe's foreign policy chief today condemned Iranian claims of US government complicity in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. Baroness (Cathy) Ashton took part in a mass walkout from the United Nations General Assembly meeting yesterday during a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he claimed the majority of Americans believed in the theory of Washington's involvement. Mr. Ahmadinejad said there was worldwide speculation that "some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime."

He added: "The majority of the American people, as well as other nations and politicians, agree with this view." The American-led walkout was joined by officials from all 27 EU countries. Baroness Ashton was there as the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and said in a statement today: "The assertions made by the Iranian president at the UN that the United States was in any way responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, or that the majority of people in the US believe this to be the case, is outrageous and unacceptable. "It is for this reason that all representatives of the 27 nations of the EU walked out of the United Nations General Assembly hall." .../blogs>>

09.24.10 Sweden joins Europe-wide backlash against immigration

September 24 - In a country that elevated social democracy into the natural form of government for decades, Maria has been a loyal stalwart. The 66-year-old retired canteen worker has always voted for Sweden's Social Democratic party, like the vast majority in her working-class suburb of Malmo. Until last Sunday, that is. That morning Maria broke the habit of a lifetime and in doing so helped redraw the map of Swedish politics. She voted for an extreme-right movement accused of being Islamophobic that broke into parliament in Stockholm for the first time, probably condemning the country to a fragile minority government. She was not alone...Maria pointed across the dual carriageway to the neighboring housing scheme of Rosengård, known locally as "the ghetto." It is home to almost 20,000 immigrants, overwhelmingly Muslim, almost half of them jobless. "It's become crazy around here. You can't go out in the evening," said Maria, who like other locals, did not want her surname revealed. "I've got nothing against foreigners. I've been married to a Bulgarian for 40 years. But these people don't share our values. If you don't like the color of our flag, I say, I'll help you pack your bags." [Full story>>guardian.co.uk]

09.24.10 Olmert urges 'international trusteeship' for Holy Basin

September 24 - In 'Post' op-ed former PM sets out terms Israel should present to ‘transform’ talks - relinquishing sovereignty over Western Wall, Temple Mt. Israel should agree to an international trusteeship in Jerusalem's Holy Basin, should allow non-Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem to serve as the capital of a Palestinian state, and should offer to solve the Palestinian refugee problem within the framework of the Arab peace initiative, former prime minister Ehud Olmert urges in an op-ed article in today's Jerusalem Post... A source close to Olmert told the Post that the positions he sets out in the article reflect the terms he offered to PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of their two years of negotiations "terms which Abbas now regrets not responding to," the source said. The source confirmed that Olmert's reference to an international trusteeship in the Holy Basin, which "will not be a sovereign part of either the State of Israel or the state of Palestine," would involve Israel relinquishing sovereignty at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

"There would be complete and unlimited access for all believers
of course, for Jews to these sites. Basically," the source said, "this would represent a maintenance of the status quo, but under international trusteeship. "This was part of his proposal for a permanent accord with the Palestinians," the source said. "The trusteeship proposed to Abbas constituted Israel, the Palestinian state, the US, Saudi Arabia and Jordan." The source added that the terms Olmert sets out are known to be acceptable to the United States and the Europeans. [Full story>>jpost.com]

09.24.10 UN atomic body rebuffs resolution against Israel

VIENNA, September 24 - After Arab states' push for Israel to join anti-proliferation. The UN atomic watchdog threw out on Friday an Arab-backed resolution urging Israel to accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency, on the last day of its annual general conference, voted against the resolution, with 51 votes against, 46 votes for and 23 abstentions. Israel warned the UN nuclear watchdog on Friday that an Arab-led push to target the Jewish state in a resolution could deal a "fatal blow" to future cooperation on boosting Middle East security...Arab representatives said Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal threatens regional peace and stability. The Jewish state is the region's only country outside the NPT...The United States has urged Arab states to withdraw the non-binding resolution, saying it could derail broader efforts to ban such arms in the Middle East and also send a negative signal to the relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "It is...unfortunate that this resolution is being pursued at a time when peace talks in the Middle East are being restarted after a long delay," US Ambassador Glyn Davies said. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]

09.24.10 LeT planning to use women ultras to trigger violence: report

JAMMU, September 24 - Militant outfit Lasker-e-Toiba (LeT) plans to trigger blasts using trained women terrorists who will intermingle with protesters to carry out attacks as part of a strategy to intensify violence in Kashmir Valley, according to intelligence intercepts. "It has come to the notice of the intelligence agencies through various inputs received that terrorists belonging to LeT are likely to intermingle with the protesters," a brief report of the Army said today. According to inputs received, LeT operatives have sought permission from their handlers across the border to lob grenades or explode IEDs during demonstrations to trigger large scale casualties and incite protesters to resort to violence, it said. [More>>indianexpress.com]

09.24.10 Pakistan erupts over jailing of scientist Aafia Siddiqui

(AFP) September 25 - Pakistani police used tear gas to disperse protesters who shouted "Death to America" in outrage after a US court jailed a woman scientist for 86 years for attempting to murder US officers. In a case that has been condemned across the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 167 million, the government said it would petition Washington to secure the mother of three's repatriation on humanitarian grounds. A New York court found Aafia Siddiqui, the once brilliant scientist dubbed "Lady Qaeda" by the US tabloids, guilty of the attempted murder of US military officers in Afghanistan in 2008 five years after she disappeared. In Karachi, Siddiqui's home town and Pakistan's largest city, police fired tear gas shells to prevent scores of people from marching on the US consulate at the behest of the youth wing of Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The protesters shouted "Death to America," "Allahu akbar" (God is greater), "Free Aafia Siddiqui" and "Down with the US system of justice." [More>>news.com.au]

09.24.10 FBI serves terror warrants in Minn., Chicago

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) September 24 - The FBI said it searched eight homes in Minneapolis and Chicago as part of a terrorism investigation on Friday, and two subjects said the agency is targeting leaders of the anti-war movement. FBI spokesman Steve Warfield told The Associated Press agents served six warrants in Minneapolis and two in Chicago. "These were search warrants only," Warfield said. "We're not anticipating any arrests at this time. They're seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism." The home of Minneapolis anti-war activists Mick Kelly and Jess Sundin were among those searched, they told the AP. "The FBI is harassing anti-war organizers and leaders, folks who opposed US intervention in the Middle East and Latin America," Kelly said before agents confiscated his cell phone. Sundin called the suggestion they were connected with terrorism "pretty hilarious and ridiculous." [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

09.24.10 Mexican mayor slain in drug-plagued northern state, 4th in more than a month

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) September 24 - Gunmen killed a town mayor near the drug-plagued industrial city of Monterrey, authorities said Friday, the fourth mayor in northern Mexico to be murdered in little more than a month. Prisciliano Rodriguez Salinas was gunned down late Thursday along with one of his personal employees in the town of Doctor Gonzalez, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Monterrey, the Nuevo Leon state Attorney General's Office said. Eliseo Lopez Riojas was killed as he was picking up equipment from the mayor's house, and a white car waiting outside started firing. Investigators found 19 shells from two different weapons at the scene. More>>foxnews.com]

09.24.10 One ex-Marine's combat with Israeli commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara

BELFAST, September 24 - On May 31, former US Marine Kenneth O'Keefe was aboard the Mavi Marmara in the Free Gaza flotilla. He witnessed the passengers' preparations for a clash and the confused takeover by Israel troops that resulted in nine dead. "I don't remember exactly how long we were at sea. Maybe three-four days. There were all kinds of delays, but the atmosphere was good and our spirits were high. I was certain we would succeed in entering Gaza. I brought my expensive possessions a computer, cameras. People came to me two-three hours before [the takeover of the ship] and told me, 'There will be an attack.' I replied, 'No, that can't be.' I really didn't believe it. In the 2008 flotilla I was the captain of one of the ships and there, too, Israel said they would stop us by force, but in the end let us through. I was convinced that it would be the same this time."

...O'Keefe, who lives in Ireland with his wife and son, devotes most of his time to Aloha Palestine CIC, created to promote trade with Gaza. According to him, he boarded the Turkish ship in order to reach Gaza and advance his organization's goals..."We knew there was at least a theoretical possibility that the Israelis would try to stop us, and Fehmi Bulent, the president of IHH [the Turkish NGO that organized the flotilla], told us from the outset that this time we were not simply going to sit and wait for the soldiers," O'Keefe continues. "He said this publicly even before the flotilla set out. When we were at sea, the IHH asked some of us, the passengers, if we would agree to take part in the defense. I was asked whether I wanted to film or help out. Team leaders were assigned to every area of the ship. Our area was the stern. I was one of a group of six and there was a Turk who was in charge of us. Because of my background and military experience, I was appointed his deputy. On the night before the attack, a meeting was held of all those who had volunteered to take part in the ship's defense. We were told that our goal was to prevent the soldiers from boarding the vessel, and that if they did board, maybe to try to disarm them..."

..."I went from the stern to the middle deck, below the upper deck, on which the soldiers landed. Just as I got there, one of the commandos fell from the upper deck, just a meter and a half from me, in front of my eyes. I think it was the soldier whose photograph was later published looking straight into the camera. The first thing I saw was the 9 mm pistol he was carrying, and I immediately tried to take it. The soldier was conscious but pretty much in shock, and it was easy to deal with him. I took his firearm but didn't know what to do with it. The whole time I heard shots from the upper deck, both the sound of paintball guns and firearms, simultaneously..."

...He believes that the United States government was involved in the 9/11 attacks and views Zionism as an offshoot of Western imperialism. Personally, he does not call for an armed struggle and thinks that "the most powerful weapon the Palestinians have is the truth; violent resistance is nothing in comparison."
[Full story>>haaretz.com]

09.23.10 UN probe finds 'clear evidence' of 'wilful killing'

(AP) September 23 - A UN probe said on Wednesday there was "clear evidence to support prosecutions" against Israel for "wilful killing" and torture committed when its troops stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May. A report by three UN-appointed human rights experts has found that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla killing nine activists earlier this year. The UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission concluded, in a report published Wednesday, that Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and described the military raid on the flotilla as brutal and disproportionate. The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded late Wednesday by saying the Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, had a "biased, politicized and extremist approach." The Islamic militant group Hamas that controls Gaza, meanwhile, praised the report and called for those involved in the raid to be punished. The 56-page document lists a series of alleged crimes committed by Israeli forces during and after the raid, including willful killing and torture, and claims there is "clear evidence to support prosecutions." [More>>france24.com; See also, haaretz.com, September 23, "Turkey: We expect formal apology, compensation from Israel." ; For background on flotilla see:

Maravot News 6.25.10 article 06.25.10 Iran cancels blockade-busting ship bound for Gaza "...the voyage was canceled as Israel "had sent a letter to the United Nations saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war..."
Maravot News 6.25.10 article 06.24.10 'Lebanon government may cancel flotilas' with links:
alarabiya.net (AP) June 24, "Israel claims flotillas seek to get arms to Gaza"
jpost.com, June 24, 'Put pressure on Hamas, not Israel'
06.20.10 Israel to allow all 'civilian' goods into Gaza
06.16.10 US Congressmen express ire toward Turkey with links haaretz.com, June 16, "Israel adds Turkish organizers of Gaza flotilla to terror watch list" ;
khaleejtimes.com (AFP) June 16, "Turkish flotilla organizers to send more Gaza ships" ;

Maravot News 7.30.10 article 07.27.10 David Cameron: Israeli blockade has turned Gaza Strip into a 'prison camp' with links. including:
Maravot News 6.25.10 articles : 06.18.10 'We will throw them into the sea' : IHH head calls for violence, "martyrdom" in new 'Marmara' footage. New footage from the Mavi Marmara was released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday afternoon, this time showing IHH head Bülent Yildirim inciting to violence against Israeli commandos hours before the encounter that claimed the lives of nine Turkish passengers...

Maravot News 6.16.10 article
06.14.10 Turkey dismisses Israel's flotilla probe with links.
Maravot News article and background links 06.11.10 'Marmara' captain: I opposed violence
Maravot News 06.09.10 Probe: Erdogan knew Gaza flotilla would be violent
Maravot News 06.08.10 Arabs urged to 'break' Israel borders. (article with background stories)

09.23.10 Six arrested for 'burning Korans' in UK

(AFP) September 23 - British police have arrested six people on suspicion of inciting racial hatred over a YouTube video apparently showing them setting fire to copies of the Koran. Police in northeastern England said that they had detained two men on September 15 and four more on Wednesday, adding that all of them had been bailed pending further inquiries. "The arrests followed the burning of what are believed to have been two Korans in Gateshead on September 11," a spokesman for Northumbria Police said. "The incident was recorded and a video placed on the internet." The YouTube video shows a group of masked men shouting "September 11, International Burn a Koran Day" and "This is for the boys in Afghanistan" before pouring petrol on what they claim are two copies of Islam's holy book. They then cheer and chant slogans as the books burst into flames, before kicking them. The police force and the local authority issued a joint statement saying that the "kind of behaviour displayed in this video is not at all representative of our community as a whole..." [More>>news.com.au]

09.23.10 The burqa mural: should it be painted over?

September 23 - This mural ["Say no to Burqas,"] has appeared in the trendy Sydney suburb of Newtown. It was painted by the owner of the property, shop owner Sergio Redegalli who also, apparently, has a ban-the-burqa bumper sticker. Locals have complained and council officials have visited the owner to talk to him about removing but have said in a statement that legally their hands are tied. There's a pretty simple freedom of speech issue at play here: should it be painted over? Redegalli told the local newspaper, The Inner West Courier: "This mural has come from frustration that political correctness has gone so far you can't say anything about Muslims without getting in trouble," he said. "This is a stance on rights for ourselves, we can say something peacefully without having violence." [More>>thepunch.com.au]

09.23.10 Hizbut Tahrir denounces HKBP, demands Islamic state

JAKARTA, Indonesia, September 23 - Say it with posters: Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) members unfurl banners and posters during a rally at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Thursday. The Islamic group demanded that the government enforce a ministerial decree on houses of worship. – JP/ J. Adiguna. Hundreds of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia members rallied at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Thursday to support a regulation on houses of worship and implementation of sharia. The hard-line Islamic group activists unfurled posters to denounce followers of Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) for failing to comply with a joint ministerial decree on development of places of worship, which requires a congregation to seek approval from local people’s consent if they wish to build a house of worship.

"HKBP commits treason against the state," read posters displayed by the Muslim group activists. The demonstrators asked the government to strictly implement the decree so as to avoid conflicts between people from different faiths in the country. An attack on HKBP leaders in Bekasi, West Java on Sept. 12 has sparked a controversy over whether the decree is needed or not in the country which claims to uphold religious tolerance and mutual respect. The Hizbut Tahrir activists also renewed calls for implementation of sharia and formation of an Islamic state, despite the fact that the People’s Consultative Assembly has declared the pluralistic state of Indonesia already final. The demonstrators said minority groups would be protected under an Islamic state.
[More with blogs & links>>thejakartapost.com:

Blogs, extracts:
(S. Anderson)
How dare those Christians want to worship in peace? They should behave as good, subjugated, oppressed, dhimmis, right? And worship in their houses, quietly! Of course, you cant even do that in Saudi Arabia. Religion or peace strikes again! (blech!)
(Zaki) ...You may go to Saudi Arabia or Iran if you want only Muslims [to] surround you, NOT INDONESIA!
(Marius) ...Asking for an Islamic state is betraying the constitution, they are spitting at the graves of the republic's founding fathers. Most of it is just due to peer pressure from their fanatical friends at their pengajian, or from their semi-educated brothers that came back from saudi. Stop this nonsense.

09.23.10 Kuwait asks Interpol to arrest Shiite cleric

DUBAI, September 23 - After remarks on prophet's wife and companions. The Kuwait government asked Interpol to arrest and hand over an exiled Shiite man after it had stripped him of citizenship after remarks he made about prominent Islamic figures, Kuwait's Al-Anba newspaper reported. Kuwait resorted to the Interpol one day after issuing a resolution to withdraw the Kuwaiti citizenship from Yasser Habib, who made derogatory statements about Aisha, Prophet Mohamed's wife and several of the prophet's companions, the rding to the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Kuwait government said it revoked Habib's citizenship because he holds a British passport, something it described as against the laws of Kuwait. The decision was welcomed by Kuwaitis inside and outside the country. It did not mention the move had anything to do with Habib's statements against the prophet's wife. If arrested, Habib would face charges of "deriding religious symbols and sowing the seeds of sedition among Kuwaitis, and inciting sectarian strife," said Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Rawdan al-Rawdan in a statement.

09.23.10 Texas Board of ED: Textbooks are anti-Christian

September 23 - Conservative activist school board declares history books pro-Islam, "Very, very, very, very biased" ; vote Friday. Texas' State Board of Education - following a long history of throwing itself into "culture war" issues is set to vote Friday on a resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books. The resolution cites world history books no longer used in Texas schools that it says devoted more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than Christian beliefs and practices. "Diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," reads a draft of the resolution, which would not be binding on future boards that will choose the state's next generation of social studies texts. The measure was first suggested to the board this summer by Odessa businessman Randy Rives, who lost his Republican primary bid for a seat on the panel earlier this year.

The conservative-leaning and heavily evangelical Christian board pushed the item to a vote...In the board's official resolution, members cite textbook passages that call Christian Crusaders "invaders" and "violent attackers," while claiming Muslims were "empire builders." ..The resolution concludes by warning publishers the "State Board of Education will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world's major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."
[Full story>>cbsnews.com]

09.23.10 India bans bulk text messages before mosque verdict

NEW DELHI (Reuters) September 23 - India has banned bulk mobile text messaging for three days to prevent the spreading of rumors and religious extremism as authorities prepare for a potentially explosive court verdict between Muslims and Hindus. A high court will rule on Friday whether Hindus or Muslims own land around a demolished mosque in northern India, a judgment haunted by memories of 1992 riots, when some 2000 were killed. It was one of the worst outbreaks communal violence since the partition in 1947. The government statement gave no reasons for the order, but a senior security official with knowledge of the order cited security reasons before the court verdict. The case over the 16th century Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh state is one of the biggest security challenges in India this year, along with a Maoist insurgency and a Kashmiri separatist rebellion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said. Hindu mobs demolished the mosque in the town of Ayodhya in 1992, claiming it was built on the birthplace of their god-king Rama. The demolition triggered religious riots. [>arabtimesonline.com]

09.23.10 Obama sees new era of US-UN cooperation

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 - President Obama on Thursday told world leaders gathered in New York that he has followed through on his vow one year ago to embrace the international body, and argued his policy of engagement has allowed the United States to make progress on nuclear non-proliferation and other key issues. Mr. Obama also used his second address to the UN General Assembly as president to prod Iran, saying the latest round of UN sanctions against Tehran are a result of Iran's defiance of international weapons inspection treaties. He did so while reiterating that cooperation is still possible if Iranian leaders agree to cooperate.

...The president devoted a good portion of his remarks to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, warning that "terror" and "petty politics" must not stand in the way of a peace agreement that would create a Palestinian state. He implored allies of both parties to move expeditiously to support a settlement...Any agreement, however, must leave Israel's sovereignty and right to exist unquestioned, Mr. Obama warned. "It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only be met by the unshakable opposition of the United States," he said. "And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people — the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is injustice."
[Full story>>washingtontimes.com]

09.23.10 UK opens world's biggest offshore windfarm

September 23 - Today's unveiling of the 100-turbine Thanet windfarm was unspectacular, but it marks an important milestone for the UK. It is a very rare thing for the UK to claim pre-eminence in the much-touted global green economy, so the assembled local dignitaries, industry folk and one cabinet minister were not letting the dismal maritime backdrop put a downer on proceedings. The official opening of the Thanet windfarm off the coast of Kent the biggest offshore project in the world means that Britain generates more power from offshore wind than the rest of the world put together. Launching the project on P&O's Pride of Burgandy ferry, the energy and climate change minister Lib Dem Chris Huhne promised that Britain would shed its traditional "dunce" status on renewable energy.

"We have enough energy to power all the homes in Scotland...The eight lines of turbines, running north-west to south-east, cover a total area of 35sq km off Foreness Point near Margate. With 100 turbines, each 115 metres high with 44-metre blades, it can generate 300 megawatts (MW) of power
enough for 200,000 homes. The project also takes the UK past a small but important milestone (although one Germany passed more than a decade ago) of having generated 5,000MW (5 gigawatts) from all renewable energy. The UK is still woefully short of its target of generating 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. [More>>guardian.co.uk]

09.23.10 25 militants killed in attack on Afghan-NATO camp

KABUL, Afghanistan, September 23 - Insurgents attacked a NATO and Afghan army outpost in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border and at least 25 of the militants were killed in the resulting skirmish, officials said Wednesday. Troops at the combat outpost in Spera district of Khost province returned fire with mortars late Tuesday, killing 25 to 30 insurgents, NATO said in a statement. Initial reports found there were no civilian casualties, it said. Gen. Raz Mohmmad Horya Khil, a senior commander of the Afghan National Army in the province, said 29 insurgents were killed. There were no casualties among NATO or Afghan troops, he said. Horya Khil said the attack, coming from the Pakistan side of the border, was directed at the Mir Safar joint-NATO and Afghan army camp and lasted for more than two hours. Helicopters were called in to provide support. [More>>japantoday.com]

09.23.10 Top rebel leader killed in Colombia

September 23 - A top leader of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) has been killed in an air raid, the Colombian military says. Jorge Briceno Suarez, also known as Mono Jojoy, headed Farc's military operations in the Macarena region in eastern Colombia. His death would the biggest setback to the Farc since mid-2008, when its foreign minister was killed and soldiers rescued 15 hostages including Ingrid Betancourt, the former Colombian presidential candidate. [More>>aljazeera.net]

09.23.10 CIA runs 3,000-strong covert army to hunt down al-Qaeda in Pakistan

NEW YORK, September 23 - America's CIA is running a 3,000-strong covert army to hunt down key leaders of Taliban and al-Qaeda in not only Afghanistan but across the border in Pakistan. This heavily-armed irregular force manned entirely by Afghan personnel operates in small units called Counter- terrorism Pursuit Teams, the New York Times reported today quoting extracts from a new book 'Obama's wars' by journalist Bob Woodward. The stunning disclosures in the book which is making waves for laying bare the policy divisions and the personality clashes among the Obama advisors on the Afghan policy may complicate relations between Washington and Islamabad, the paper said.

...These forces, the paper said, conducted clandestine raids into Pakistan as part of stepped-up campaign against al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban havens there. The CIA directs and funds the force, which is being billed as the best Afghan fighting force which has made major contributions to stability and security, the book claims. "The covert army captures and kills Taliban fighters and seeks support in Tribal areas," the NYT reported and quoted Pentagon officials as saying that these Afghan units were closely working with American Green Berets to go after Taliban fighters.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

09.23.10 End illegal occupation in parts of J-K: India tells Pakistan

NEW YORK, September 23 - Stating that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has asked Pakistan to end its illegal occupation of some parts of the state before advising New Delhi. "Kashmir is an internal matter of India," said Krishna, who is here on a 10-day visit to attend the annual UN General Assembly meeting. Pointing out that Pakistan is in "illegal occupation of some parts of Jammu and Kashmir," Krishna said, "it is desirable that they vacate that and then start advising India as to how to go about doing things in Kashmir." [More>>indianexpress.com]

09.22.10 Violent riots erupt in Jerusalem's Temple Mount

September 22 - 1,000 join funeral procession of Palestinian killed by Israeli security guard in Silwan; ten people, 3 police officers injured; buses, police cars, other vehicles destroyed, set ablaze; police dispersing rioters. Large riots erupted in east Jerusalem on Wednesday as approximately 1,000 people joined a funeral procession for a Palestinian man killed by an Israeli security guard in Silwan on Wednesday morning. Ten people were injured, including a 35-year-old Israeli in moderate condition who was stabbed in the back near Mount of Olives, and three police officers. Police reported that attendees threw stones at officers, vehicles and buses causing injuries and damage, and that a police vehicle and several other vehicles were set alight near Jerusalem's Old City. Three buses were destroyed.

Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen arrived at the scene of rioting in east Jerusalem and received a briefing from police commanders. Police are holding ongoing assessments of the situation and have deployed large forces as part of an effort to contain the disturbances. There were also riots in Silwan on Wednesday morning after the 32-year-old east Jerusalem resident was killed. The security guard was driving a security vehicle on his way to a settler home when residents blocked the street with trash cans and began hurling rocks at him. The guard, fearing for his life, then allegedly opened fire with his personal firearm at a group of rock throwers and killed a resident. Police found two knives and screwdriver on the body of the victim who had a previous criminal history and was known to police.
[More>>jpost.com; See also msnbc.msn.com, September 22,"Israeli police storm Jerusalem mosque compound."]

09.22.10 Officials: homegrown extremism new terror front

September 22 - Threats tied to domestic radicalization becoming more pronounced as al-Qaeda inspires array of terrorist groups. Efforts by terrorists abroad to radicalize and recruit US residents are an evolving problem, three top Obama administration officials told Congress on Wednesday. The threat posed by homegrown extremists shows that the battle against terrorism has become more complex in the past year, underscoring the challenges of pinpointing and blocking terrorist plots, said Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. "Groups affiliated with al-Qaeda are now actively targeting the United States and looking to use Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures," FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It appears domestic radicalization and homegrown extremism is becoming more pronounced," Mueller said. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said al-Qaeda has inspired an array of terrorist groups. "We are all seeing more diverse activity" by a more diverse collection of groups, Napolitano said. [More>>cbsnews.com]

09.22.10 3 journalists arrested in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, September 22 - Two Afghan journalists were arrested during raids on their homes in the early hours of Monday and Wednesday on suspicion of collaborating with the Taliban, according to the United States military. The arrests of the journalists came about because "coalition and Afghan forces have a responsibility to interdict the activities of these insurgent propaganda networks," a spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Maj. Sunset Belinsky, said in an e-mailed statement.

The journalists included a staff correspondent for Al Jazeera, Mohammed Nader, arrested about 4 a.m. Wednesday in Kandahar, and a freelancer who worked both for Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, Rahmatullah Nekzad, arrested just after midnight Monday in Ghazni, according to accounts by colleagues and family members Wednesday. In addition, a third Afghan journalist, Hojatullah Mojadadi, a radio reporter who was the head of the Kapisa Province journalists’ association, was arrested on Saturday by the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence agency, said Abdul Halim Hayar, a spokesman for the governor. He refused Wednesday to say what the charges were.
[More>>nytimes.com (isaf.nato.int)]

09.22.10 10 militants killed in FR Peshawar raids

PESHAWAR, Pakistan September 22 - Pastwana area of FR Peshawar has been cleared through a search operation during which 10 militants were killed, Geo News reported Wednesday. According to sources of security forces, raids against terrorists continue in different areas of FR Peshawar while Pastwana area has been declared clear. The security forces recovered 25 toy bombs, mortars and explosives prepared for use in suicide attacks during the operation. They said 10 militants were taken out during the search operation while 3 security men were martyred and 4 more sustained injuries. The security forces are presently in the process of clearing Pakhai area in FR Peshawar. [>geo.tv]

09.22.10 Yemen government says 28 militants captured in anti-al-Qaeda siege

September 22 - The fighting between al-Qaeda militants and the Yemeni military appears to be intensifying after the Yemeni army destroyed five homes suspected of hiding al-Qaeda militants in the southwest of the country Tuesday. The director of security for Shabwa province in Yemen told Fox News that 28 militants had been captured Wednesday by authorities, as a siege of the southern village entered its third day. Medical sources there also said four Yemeni soldiers have been killed. However, officials denied earlier reports that US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was among those surrounded, but he is believed to be hiding out in a town 60 miles from the fighting. Government forces moved into the village of Hawta with tanks and armored vehicles and thousands of people have fled the area to escape the fighting, which officials say is targeting a 120-man militant cell. Militants holed up in the town are reportedly using civilians as human shields. [More>>foxnews.com]

09.22.10 Medvedev bans sale of S-300 missiles, other weapons to Iran

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) September 22 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree banning the delivery of S-300 missile systems, armored vehicles, warplanes, helicopters and ships to Iran, the Kremlin said Wednesday. The decree is part of measures Russia is taking to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010. [>en.rian.ru]

09.22.10 Italy seizes 7 tones of Iranian explosives in port

REGGIO DI CALABRIA, Italy (Reuters) September 22 - Italian authorities have seized 7 tones of powerful RDX explosive being shipped from Iran to Syria, police said on Wednesday. Anti-mafia police found the cargo in a shipping container on a Liberian-registered ship that docked in the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy last month and said it would have been enough to destroy the port. The cargo, hidden among packs of powdered milk, was seized on August 27 but police, who were tipped off by intelligence services, did not make an announcement until this week. Carmelo Casabona, the local police chief, said the cargo arrived in Italy "with the involvement of international criminal organizations." But the Ndrangheta, the powerful Calabrian mafia, did not appear to be involved, he said. Authorities were originally considering whether some of the explosives may have been intended to be unloaded in Italy for local use but they said this did not now appear to be the case. RDX, sometimes known as T4, is a high explosive designed for military and industrial use. [>khaleejtimes.com]

09.22.10 Ten killed as bomb targets Iran military parade

TEHRAN, September 22 - While marking 30th anniversary of Iran-Iraq war. A bomb tore through a military parade in Iran Wednesday killing ten people, mostly women and children, as the country marked the 30th anniversary of the start of the bloody Iran-Iraq war, reports said. Dozens of people were wounded in the blast, which occurred during an annual military parade in the northwestern Kurdish town of Mahabad, Arabic-language television channel al-Alam said. "The explosion happened in the morning as people were watching the military parade and it left nine dead and dozens wounded, mostly women and children. The explosives were in a bag," al-Alam said. The attack took place as Iran marked the 30th anniversary of the start of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, during which army parades are traditionally staged across the country.

Provincial governor Vahid Jalalzadeh confirmed the casualties to the official IRNA news agency. "Counter-revolutionaries committed this savage act with the aim of taking revenge on the people of Mahabad" in West Azarbaijan province, he said. "This bomb was a time-bomb planted on a tree among the people and it went off at 10:20 (0650 GMT)," the website of state-run television IRIB quoted a military official as saying. IRIB said at least 57 were injured in the blast. Western Iran, which has a sizeable Kurdish population, has seen deadly clashes in recent years between the Iranian security forces and Kurdish rebel groups, mainly the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) operating from bases in neighboring Iraq.

09.22.10 Three French nationals kidnapped off Nigerian coast

(AFP) September 22 - Three French workers have been kidnapped after an attack on their ship off the coast of Nigeria, a spokesman for marine services company Bourbon has confirmed. Pirates boarded an oil industry supply vessel off Nigeria on Wednesday and seized three French seamen, in the second hostage drama for French energy workers in West Africa in less than a week. The men's employer, French maritime services firm Bourbon, and the French foreign ministry said they had contacted the kidnapped workers' families and were working with Nigerian authorities to secure their release. A spokesman for the Nigerian military taskforce deployed to protect the west African giants's oil industry confirmed the attack, but said that in total four hostages were taken. Wednesday's drama came just six days after five French nationals working in neighboring Niger's uranium fields were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants, in an unrelated attack that has already stretched French assets in the region. [More>>france24.com]

09.21.10 France at 'imminent' risk of terrorist attack, intelligence indicates

(AFP) September 20 - France may be facing an "imminent" terrorist attack with public transport one possible target and police are looking into reports that a female suicide bomber may be planning a strike in Paris, interior ministry sources said on Monday. France is at immediate risk of a major terror attack by Islamist radicals and has further reinforced already urgent security measures since last week, officials said Monday. Asked about reports that an attack might be imminent, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said: "The threat is real, we have stepped up our vigilance." Separately, a source close to the ministry confirmed that police are probing reports that a female suicide bomber may be preparing a strike in Paris, but added: "That's not necessarily the most worrying thing." Instead, he explained, Paris is concerned with intelligence received from an allied foreign spy agency that al-Qaeda's North African branch, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was planning an "imminent" attack in France. [More>>france24.com]

09.21.10 France steps up military efforts to find hostages

(AFP) September 20 - France dispatched dozens of specialised military personnel to Niger as it stepped up efforts to locate seven hostages held by suspected al-Qaeda militants, diplomatic and military sources said Monday. The 80-strong technical group has set up a base in the capital Niamey and are working in five teams, using a long-range reconnaissance plane to scour the desert and a specially modified Mirage jet with detection equipment. "The goal is to detect radio broadcasts and electromagnetic emissions in a bid to locate the hostage takers," a government source in Paris told AFP. The defence ministry refused to confirm or deny the information.

...The planes are believed to be flying north of Niamey and into the mountainous desert region of northeastern Mali, where various sources in the region say the hostages are being held. The seven, including five French nationals, were kidnapped on Thursday from their homes in Arlit in northern Niger by suspected al-Qaeda-linked gunmen, or Tuareg bandits who may have planned to sell them on to the Islamists. They are five French nationals, including a married couple, one Togolese and one Madagascan. Most worked for French companies involved in uranium mining in the Arlit region.
[Full story>>france24.com]

09.21.10 Thousands of Yemenis flee battle with al-Qaeda

SANAA, September 21 - Qaeda militants using human shields in Yemen town: official. Thousands of Yemenis have fled a village in the south where security forces are laying siege to al-Qaeda militants, a security official said, signaling an escalation in the government's US-backed campaign to uproot the terror network's local offshoot. Government forces have moved into the village of Hawta with tanks and armored vehicles and 90 percent of its residents have fled, Abdullah Baouda, police chief for the surrounding district, said on Monday. One family fleeing Hawta said forces have shelled the village and another nearby trouble spot, the city of Lawder for the past two days to flush out the militants, killing two civilians and wounding three others, according local government and medical officials. Hawta is in Yemen's mountainous Shabwa province, one of the areas where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken root over the past year and a half, beyond the reach of a weak central government that has little control outside the capital. [More>>alarabiya.net]

09.21.10 New global lineup lists India 3rd most powerful nation

WASHINGTON, September 21 - Recognizing India's growing clout in the world, an official US report on global governance has declared the country the third most powerful nation after the United States and China. The new global power lineup for 2010 compiling the world's most powerful countries or regions recognized India as the third-most powerful country behind the US and China, and predicted that its clout as well as that of China and Brazil would further rise by 2025. "Global Governance 2025" a follow-on to the NIC's 2008 report was jointly issued by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) of the powerful Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the European Union's Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). In 2010, the US tops the list of powerful countries/regions, accounting for nearly 22 per cent of the global power. The US is followed by China (more than 12 per cent), European Union (more than 16 per cent), India (nearly eight per cent), and less than five per cent each for Japan, Russia and Brazil. [More>>indianexpress.com]

09.21.10 Netanyahu to US Jews: Israeli troops should guard border with future Palestinian state

September 21 - Palestinians reject the idea and have proposed deploying international force along the border between the West Bank and Jordan, as part of a peace settlement, but PM says that won't be enough to ensure Israel's security. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel would want to keep its troops on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state, telling American Jewish leaders that an international force alone could not ensure Israel's security. Palestinians reject the idea and have proposed deploying international force along the border between the West Bank and Jordan, as part of a peace settlement. Netanyahu told US Jewish leaders in a conference call on Monday that the only force that can be relied on to defend the Jewish people is the Israel Defense Forces. "I don't believe that under these circumstances international troops will do the job," Netanyahu said, according to the transcript posted on his office's Web site.

"We live in a very tough neighborhood and the peace will be tested constantly." Netanyahu fears Palestinian militants will attack Israel from within a Palestinian state if IDF troops are withdrawn from the West Bank-Jordan border. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas maintains that an Israeli troop presence would infringe upon Palestinian sovereignty. The Palestinian Authority and Israel are currently engaging in direct negotiations, after nearly two years of stalled face-to-face talks. While both have agreed that the establishment of a Palestinian state is a main goal of the talks, they are at odds over Israel decision not to extend its temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements after it expires next week.

09.21.10 'We can't say Iran is pursuing nukes without evidence'

UNITED NATIONS (AP) September 21 - Turkish president speaks of wanting ME free of atomic weapons, relations with Israel after flotilla raid, canceled meeting with Peres in NY. Turkish President Abdullah Gul will call for a Middle East totally free of nuclear weapons when he addresses the UN General Assembly later this week, he told the Associated Press in an interview on Monday. "We would like to see our region free of nuclear weapons," Gul said in the interview. "The region should not be under such a threat." Gul has called in the past for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, but his latest comments come amid deteriorating relations with Israel following the May 31 IDF interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine Turks were killed. Israel is generally assumed to have assembled a sizable arsenal of nuclear warheads since the 1960s, but declines to discuss its status as a nuclear power.

The US has been more concerned about the nuclear program in Iran, which is under four sets of Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop its uranium enrichment and ignoring other UN demands meant to ease global concerns that it is seeking to make atomic weapons. Gul said Turkish officials do not assume that Iran has a fully peaceful nuclear program, but "of course we cannot accuse Iran" of pursuing nuclear weapons without evidence. "We want Iran to be transparent" with the IAEA officials, he said. "We in Turkey would like to see a peaceful, a diplomatic solution to this problem."
[More>>jpost.com; See related stories,

nytimes.com, September 21, "Iranian president defends record" 
: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran ran through his standard talking points at his annual gathering with American journalists on Tuesday — denying that dissidents languish in jail or that economic sanctions were biting, and rejecting the idea that Tehran deserves anything less than a gold star for its nuclear inspection record. But this time, he embroidered his remarks with a little fresh bluster. Seated at a conference table surrounded by news editors and television producers, the Iranian president told his breakfast guests that, should the United States attack Iran over its nuclear program, it would get embroiled in a war that would make previous American conflicts pale in comparison...

washintonpost.com (AP) September 21, "Ahmadinejad says capitalism faces defeat" :
UNITED NATIONS -- Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Tuesday that capitalism faces inevitable defeat and called for the overhaul of "undemocratic and unjust" global decision-making bodies. In a speech on the second day of a UN anti-poverty summit, the Iranian leader blamed capitalism and transnational corporations for "the suffering of countless women, men and children in so many countries." Ahmadinejad's speech to the 192-member General Assembly never mentioned the Millennium Development Goals — the UN targets set by world leaders in 2000 to combat global poverty by 2015 — that are the focus of the three-day summit called by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to spur their implementation...

jpost.com, September 21, "Ahamadinejad: Iran will never recognize 'Zionist regime' ": Iranian president makes comments on Israel, capitalism and the death penalty whilst on visit to New York for UN General Assembly. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to a group of Muslim figures in New York on Monday night, saying that "The Iranian nation will never recognize the Zionist regime," Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday. Ahmadinejad went on to reiterate Iranian support for the Palestinians, as well as the Lebanese. "Palestinians can cut the hands of the aggressor and put an end to the Zionist regime's presence in the region," he reportedly said. The Iranian leader also criticized Western media for having a double standard in reporting on the case of an American woman facing the death penalty. Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a "heavy propaganda" campaign against the case of an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery but failing to react with outrage over the imminent execution of Teresa Lewis in Virginia, according to state-run IRNA...

khaleejtimes.com (AP) September 21, "Turkish conditions for meeting unacceptable: Peres" : UNITED NATIONS - A planned meeting between Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Turkish counterpart was scrapped because of the Israeli leader's refusal to apologize for the deadly commando raid on a Turkish-led flotilla that tried to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said on Monday. In the latest bid to repair Israel's relations with its only Muslim ally in the region, Peres told reporters he had agreed to join Turkish President Abdullah Gul at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, then accepted Gul's invitation to meet on the sidelines. But Israeli officials said Gul then set unacceptable conditions for the meeting. Gul on Monday denied that any such meeting had ever been planned. "That is not true," the Turkish president told The Associated Press. "There was never a meeting scheduled between us." A report by Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Gul as telling reporters in New York on Sunday that he would not meet with Peres because of a scheduling problem...

abcnews.go.com, September 21, "Iran President Ahmedinejad threatens US 'war without boundaries' " : Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad warned the Obama administration today that if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked, the US will face a war that "would know no boundaries." The Iranian president, who is in New York for the annual meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, spoke at a breakfast meeting with reporters and editors at Manhattan's Warwick Hotel. He said that Iran is on the brink of becoming a nuclear power, and warned Israel and the US against attacking its nuclear facilities...

09.21.10 Europe votes in law to send back illegal Afghans, Pakistanis

STRASBOURG (AFP) September 21 - Europe voted today a controversial deal to send back thousands of illegal Afghan and Pakistani immigrants. The "re-admission agreement" passed by the European parliament after years of negotiations with Islamabad is intended to ensure such returns meet international rules on human rights protections. About 13,000 Pakistani nationals were picked up in Europe in 2008 without correct paperwork, according to the Strasbourg-based parliament. It did not have figures for Afghan immigrants in a similar situation, who invariably pass through Pakistan. The European Union, which has brokered 11 such deals with other countries, sees this agreement as a means to undermine people smuggling networks. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

09.21.10 Anti-immigration sentiment grows in Sweden

STOCKHOLM, September 21 - A far-right group's election breakthrough has shattered Sweden's reputation as a bastion of tolerance after years of being seemingly inoculated against the backlash on immigration seen elsewhere in Europe. Sunday's election showed that the country's welcome to refugees is not universally accepted: Nearly 6% of the population voted for a nationalist group that accuses immigrants — especially Muslims — of eroding Sweden's national identity and its cherished welfare state. It's a bitter pill for a nation that frowned upon Denmark's vitriol toward Muslim immigrants, Swiss attempts to ban minarets and France's crackdown on Gypsy camps. "The banner of tolerance has been hauled down and the forces of darkness have finally taken the Swedish democracy hostage, too," the Expressen tabloid wrote in a post-election editorial. [More>>japantoday.com]

09.19.10 Report: Egypt warns of immediate terror threat from Sinai

September 19 - Hamas militants reportedly smuggled Grad rockets from Gaza to Egypt, with intention of firing them at Israel and Jordan. Egyptian security forces have raised their security alert across the Sinai Peninsula after receiving detailed warning that Palestinian militants were planning to fire rockets from within the territory at Israel and Jordan, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported on Sunday. The security forces believe that a militant cell comprising mostly Hamas members infiltrated the peninsula through tunnels dug along the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt, smuggling with them long-range Grad rockets. The militants were planning to launch their attacks in the near future, according to the news agency. Five Grad-type Katyusha rockets were fired last month from Sinai at Eilat and the neighboring Jordanian port city of Aqaba. [More>>haaretz.com]

09.19.10 Gunmen torch Gaza beach club shuttered by Hamas

(AFP) September 19 - Masked gunmen on Sunday set fire to a Gaza beach club that had earlier been ordered closed by the territory's Hamas rulers, an owner said. Alaa al-Araj, one of the owners of the "Crazy Water" club and a former Hamas minister, said about 40 gunmen had tied up and blindfolded a nightwatchman before setting fire to an administrative building and restaurant overnight. "The fire engulfed different parts of the club, including an administrative building, and then spread to the main restaurant and cafeteria, which is three storeys high," he said. He said the club had been ordered to close for three days last month by the Hamas-run government because it had hosted parties in which men and women mingled. [More>>france24.com]

09.19.10 Indonesia church defies authorities

September 19 - Christians hold prayers in closed church near Jakarta, citing equal rights to worship as their Muslim brethren. Dozens of Christians have defied police and threats of attack from Muslim groups to hold prayers inside their boarded-up church near the Indonesian capital. The group held their Sunday service surrounded by hundreds of police and security guards, saying they had as much right as any Indonesian to worship in the Muslim-majority country. Local officials used bullhorns to remind members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church that they were banned from the site following an attack last week by suspected Muslim activists on two church leaders. "We just want to carry out our obligations as Christians, but authorities are treating us like terrorists," Advent Tambunan, a member of the congregation in the industrial city of Bekasi, said. "There's no justice for us in this country."

Police have arrested 10 people following the attack, which left one churchgoer hospitalized with a stab wound. A local leader of the Islamic Defender's Front, which has led calls for the Christians to leave, was among those detained. In recent months, the hardliners have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of "infidels!" and dumped piles of faeces on the land. Local officials had seven empty buses on standby outside the Batak Christian's shuttered church on Sunday, ready to transport them to an alternate site of worship provided by the government. But members of the congregation, numbering about 100, refused to move. After lengthy negotiations, they were allowed to carry out Sunday service, with the agreement that they would talk later this week about ways to help defuse religious tensions in the neighbourhood. Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal, and violent, in recent years.

09.19.10 Armenians celebrate rare mass in Turkey

AKDAMAR ISLAND, Turkey (AFP) September 19 - Ankara opens historic church as goodwill gesture. Hundreds of Armenians gathered Sunday for their first mass in nearly a century at a historic church in eastern Turkey after Ankara opened it for prayers as a good will gesture. Boats ferried worshippers to the rocky Akdamar Island Akhtamar in Armenian in Lake Van, where the 10th-century Church of the Holy Cross stands as a rare reminder of a community that fell victim to mass killings by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Turkey gave permission for the mass the first here in 95 years hoping it will help reconciliation with Armenia, but its failure to install a cross on the church dome has sparked controversy. The two-meter-tall (six-foot) cross stood on a wooden pedestal at the church entrance, to be hoisted to the dome later. Officials blamed the delay on red tape restricting any work on the listed historical monument, which is officially a museum. [More>>alarabiya.net]

09.19.10 China halts top-level ties with Japan over boat dispute

September 19 - China has suspended top-level exchanges with Japan in a row over the detention of a Chinese ship captain following a collision near disputed islands. Chinese state media said ministerial and provincial-level contacts had been suspended, including talks on aviation and coal. Earlier, a Japanese court extended the detention of the captain, held after the collision in the East China Sea. The disputed islands are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. China had warned it would be taking "strong measures" against Japan after a court in Okinawa, southern Japan, said the sailor could be held for a further 10 days. A foreign ministry statement read out on Chinese state television said the decision had "seriously damaged Sino-Japan bilateral exchanges." It read: "[Foreign ministry spokesman] Ma Zhaoxu said China has repeated many times that any judicial measures Japan has taken against the Chinese captain are illegal and invalid. We demand Japan return the Chinese captain unconditionally and immediately. Japan continues to take the wrong course, China will take strong counter-measures and Japan will have to take all the consequences." [More>>bbc.co.uk]

09.19.10 Curfew clamped in all major Kashmir Valley towns, toll hits 102

SRINAGAR, India, September 19 - Barring Baramulla, curfew was re-imposed in all major towns of the Kashmir Valley on Sunday notwithstanding the separatists' decision to exempt the day from protests and strikes. Meanwhile, three persons injured during alleged firing by security forces over the last three days succumbed to their wounds, taking the death toll in the ongoing unrest to 102, official sources said here. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

09.19.10 Twin Baghdad car bombs kill 31, wound dozens

BAGHDAD (AP) September 19 - Two car bombs exploded in Baghdad on Sunday killing at least 31 people, breaking what has been a period of relative calm since the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The biggest blasts in the Iraqi capital in a month occurred as commuters were starting their work week, underlining the challenges facing Iraqi security officials in stabilizing Baghdad as the US forces end combat operations and Iraq's police and military assume responsibility for protecting the capital. At least 10 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in western Baghdad's affluent Mansura neighbourhood, said General. All Feudal, who is responsible for the western half of the city. He said another 10 were wounded in the attack, and security officials are investigating whether it was the work of a suicide car bomb targeting a crowded commercial area near an AsiaCell store, one of Iraq's biggest mobile phone providers. [More>>indianexpress.com]

09.19.10 Eight die as the Taliban disrupt Afghan elections

September 19 - Some voters too scared to cast ballots, but officials claim 92 per cent of polling stations remain open. Afghans braved Taliban rockets and polling site bombings yesterday to vote for a new parliament in elections seen as a measure of the government's competence and commitment to democratic rule. It was the first nationwide balloting since a fraud-marred presidential election last year undermined international support for President Hamid Karzai. Security has worsened since then, and the Taliban made good on threats to disrupt yesterday's polling. At least three civilians and five militiamen were killed, and the governor of Kandahar province survived a bomb attack. Observers had expected the vote to be far from perfect, but hoped it would accepted by the Afghan people as legitimate. About 2,500 candidates were vying for 249 seats in the parliament. [More>>independent.co.uk]

09.19.10 Taliban kill 7 Afghan security forces

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, September 19 - A Taliban attack near a polling station in Afghanistan's north killed one Afghan soldier and six pro-government militiamen on Saturday, police said. "One national army and six Arbaki (militiamen) were killed in the attack," Baghlan's police chief, Abdul Rahman Rahimi, told reporters by phone. Five others were wounded in the attack in Baghlan province, which took place near a polling station and an adjacent security outpost. [>thenews.com.pk]

09.19.10 Ahmadinejad asks US to free detained Iranians

(AFP) September 19 - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked Washington to free eight Iranians who he said were “illegally arrested and detained,” in an interview to be aired on Sunday. "It would not be misplaced to ask that the US government should take a humanitarian gesture to release the Iranians who were illegally arrested and detained here in the United States," Ahmadinejad said, according to excerpts of the interview released by ABC News. The request came days after Iran freed 32-year-old US national Sarah Shourd after holding her and fellow hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal for more than a year. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

09.19.10 Iranian court jails human rights activits for 'waging war against God'

September 19 - Shiva Nazar Ahari convicted of crime known as 'moharebeh,' usually punishable by death. An Iranian court has jailed a prominent human rights activist and journalist for six years after convicting her of "waging war against God" and other charges. In another indication of the regime's determination to punish those who took part in protests after last year's disputed presidential election, Shiva Nazar Ahari was convicted of the crime known as "moharebeh" usually punishable by death. The 26-year-old, who founded the Committee of Human Rights Reporters in Tehran, was also convicted of plotting to commit crimes and agitating against the ruling system, Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency reported. Ahari was fined about £250 as a substitute for receiving 76 lashes. The activist's family and supporters say the charges were politically motivated. [More>>guardian.co.uk]

09.19.10 American woman freed from Iran arrives in US

NEW YORK, September 19 - An American woman who was held in Iran for more than 13 months and accused of spying returned Sunday to the United States, a spokeswoman said. Sarah Shourd arrived in the country Sunday morning after leaving Oman Saturday, spokeswoman Samantha Topping said. She wouldn't specify where Shourd's flight landed but said Shourd was on her way to New York for a news conference later Sunday, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also is due to arrive in the city to attend the UN General Assembly. [More>>cbsnews.com]

09.19.10 Philippine troops kill wanted militant

MANILA, September 19 - Philippine troops killed a top Abu Sayyaf militant Sunday who had helped plan and carry out the 2001 kidnapping of three Americans and 17 Filipinos from a popular Philippine resort, military officials said. Abdukarim Sali, who also went by the names Benjami Sali and Ben Rafy, was killed during a 10-minute firefight with soldiers and police, said First Lt. Jinky M. Perez, a military spokeswoman in the southern Philippines. The incident occurred in the town of Lantawan on the province of Basilan Island, where Abu Sayyaf was founded in the early ’90s and maintains a presence despite a nearly decade-old US-backed campaign to flush it out. Mr. Sali, for whose capture the authorities had offered a reward of 350,000 pesos, or about $7,900, was one of a number of Abu Sayyaf leaders they have sought in the past decade. Lieutenant Perez said soldiers on Basilan had been conducting operations for weeks and chanced upon a GROUP of Abu Sayyaf militants early Sunday. Troops recovered weapons and mobile phones after the gunfight, she said. [More>>nytimes.com]

09.19.10 Two foreigners injured in firing near Jama Masjid in Delhi

NEW DELHI, India, September 19 - Raising security concerns ahead of the Commonwealth Games, two men on a motorbike fired several rounds on a tourist vehicle near the historic Jama Masjid in the walled city, injuring two Taiwanese nationals. A red alert has been sounded across the capital after the incident in which the two bikers are said to have fired 7-8 rounds on the stationary vehicle adjacent to gate number three of the mosque and 100 metres away from the house of Shahi Imam Ahmed Bukhari at around 11.30am. The two injured, who are from Taiwan, were taken to nearby government Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital in the same bus. Their condition is stated to be stable. One of them was injured when a bullet grazed his head while another was hit in the abdomen and is being operated, LNJP Hospital Medical Superintendent Amit Banerjee said. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

09.17.10 Karzai urges Afghans to vote, ignore Taliban

(AP) September 17 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged citizens to vote in Saturday's parliamentary election despite fears of violence and threats from the Taliban warning people not to leave their homes. Police set up extra checkpoints across Afghanistan on Friday to search for suicide bombers and insurgents ahead of the election that will test the government's ability to hold legitimate elections after last year’s disastrous presidential vote. "Tomorrow's election is very important," Karzai told reporters. "I hope that all our people in all corners of the country, in any village will go to the polling centers and to vote for their favorite candidate." The international coalition supporting Afghanistan with 140,000 troops and billions of dollars will be watching to see if the election will be safe and fair and not a repeat of the fraud-marred presidential vote in August 2009 that nearly undermined Karzai's credibility with his international backers. About 2,500 candidates are vying for 249 parliamentary seats allocated among the 34 provinces according to population. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related story,

aljazeera.net, September 17, "Taliban stage pre-poll abductions"
Taliban fighters are believed to have abducted more than 20 people connected to Afghanistan's parliamentary election, including two candidates, eight officials and a number of campaign workers, officials said. One candidate was snatched in the eastern province of Laghman and the other 18 men in Bagdhis, in the country's northwest, provincial chiefs of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said on Friday. "Abdul Rahman Hayat, a candidate for the Wolesi Jirga [lower house], was kidnapped in Alishing district today at around 7:00am [0230 GMT]," Abdul Rahman Muhabat, the head of the IEC in Laghman province, said. Another candidate, Qari Safiullah, a candidate in western Herat, has been missing for the past three days along with three campaign workers, his family told the Reuters news agency...

09.17.10 Pope's visit: Five arested in alleged terror plot

September 17 - Scotland Yard arrested five street cleaners today over an alleged terrorist threat to the pope. The men were arrested by armed officers in central London at 5.45am on the second day of the pope's visit. Sources say the men are believed to be Muslim and that some of them are Algerian. A spokesperson for Westminster city council said they were working for Veolia Environmental Services, a contractor which employs 650 on-street staff to keep Westminster's streets clean. The suspects, aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50, were held under the Terrorism Act 2000 at business premises in the central London. They were taken to a nearby police station, where they will be interviewed by detectives. [More>>guardian.co.uk]

09.17.10 IDF kills Hamas military commander in West Bank

September 17 - IDF says strongman ran towards soldiers in threatening manner, ignored requests to stop, resulting in him being shot. IDF soldiers killed a Hamas military commander overnight Thursday during security operations east of the West Bank city of Tulkarm, the IDF spokesperson's Unit said in a statement on Friday morning. The statement said that the Hamas member, Iyad Abu Shalabiya, ran towards IDF soldiers in a threatening manner, and had ignored the IDF's requests to cease his approach, resulting in him being shot. Military sources said that Shalabiya spent several years in Israeli prisons and was wanted for questioning. Twelve other suspects were arrested during the raid. The circumstances of the incident are under investigation.

Military sources said that Shalabiya spent several years in Israeli prisons and was wanted for questioning. Twelve other suspects were arrested during the raid. The circumstances of the incident are under investigation. The shooting comes two days after 10 rockets and mortar shells — including two containing phosphorus — were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip as defense officials predicted that the violence would quiet down after Succot. Rockets and shells pounded the Eshkol region throughout the day. One of the rockets — a 122-mm. Katyusha — hit just north of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported.
[>jpost.com; See other details,

khaleejtimes.com (Reuters) September 17, "Israeli troops kill Hamas commander in West Bank"
: TULKARM - Israeli soldiers shot dead a Hamas military commander in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the army and Palestinian officials said. Palestinian leaders condemned the killing and said it could jeopardise nascent Middle East peace negotiations being brokered by the United States. The Islamist Hamas group named the dead man as Iyad Shilbayeh, saying he was a local commander of their armed wing and vowed to carry on fighting. It accused Israeli soldiers of murdering him in "cold blood" — a charge rejected by the army. Hamas claimed responsibility for killing four Israelis last month, ahead of the resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and it was not immediately clear if Shilbayeh was suspected of involvement in those deaths. Relatives said he was shot dead in his house after troops arrived to arrest him. Soldiers knocked on his door then went inside, and Shilbayeh was heard saying “Who is there?” before three shots were heard, his brother Mohammed told Reuters...

09.17.10 Karachi shut down after killing of exile Imran Farooq

September 17 - Pakistan's largest city has come to a near standstill following the killing in London of an exiled leader of the powerful Muttahida Qaumi Movement. MQM supporters have gathered in Karachi to mourn Imran Farooq, who was stabbed outside his home on Thursday afternoon. A BBC correspondent in the city says the situation is tense, with most shops, restaurants and schools closed. The murder investigation has meanwhile been taken over by the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism unit, SO15. The BBC's home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw, says although no-one has yet been arrested over the stabbing of Mr. Farooq, the working assumption at this stage is that it was politically motivated. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

09.17.10 Bomb planted at Quetta hospital defused

QUETTA, September 17 - A remote controlled bomb planted by unknown miscreants at Civil Hospital in Quetta has been successfully defused, Geo News reported Friday. According police sources, the explosives were packed in a container of Ghee and planted in the Dental Section of Civil Hospital situated here at Jinnah Road. Police sprung to action and rushed to the site upon getting the report of the bomb in the hospital where bomb disposal squad successfully defused the remote controlled bomb. Police sources further said that explosives weighing 8 kilograms were packed in a Ghee container. The initial investigation disclosed that the bomb was planted to target security forces. [>thenews.com.pk]

09.17.10 Your email IDs, passwords on sale online!

September 17 - There's a full-fledged underground marketplace on the Web for all things considered most secure: your email IDs and banking and passwords, online banking passwords, mobile numbers and related authentication details. And what's more the 'merchandise' can be custom-ordered too. Here's a product'-wise rate list: credit card CVVs; dates of birth and fraudulent phone call service; flooding software, and a full trojan making set. The underground e- Commerce crackers' marketplace. CVV2 Data Sets: $1.50 - $3.00. The CVV2 data set consists of a credit card's 16-digit PAN, CVV2 code, expiration date, billing address and embossed name.

SSN (Social Security Number)
DOB (Date of Birth)
$1.50 - $3.00 per query
SSN: $1.00 -$3.00
DOB: $1.00 -$3.00

These personal details are very often used by banks to authenticate an individual's identity. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

09.16.10 Turks growing closer to Middle East: poll

ANKARA (AFP) September 16 - Turks have lost their appetite for European Union membership and believe their country should develop closer ties with the Middle East, according to a survey received on Thursday. The Transatlantic Trends study by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) found that only 38 percent of Turkish respondents in 2010 said they backed their country's integration with the EU, compared to 74 percent in 2004. The number of Turks who said they favoured closer cooperation between Ankara and Muslim countries in the Middle East has doubled from 10 percent in 2009 to 20 percent this year, said the survey.

At the same time 48 percent of European respondents opposed letting Turkey join the 27-nation club, compared to 38 percent in favour. Turkey began accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, but the process has stalled amid opposition from some member states, lack of reform in Turkey and a trade row over the divided island of Cyprus. EU heavyweights France and Germany, are notable opponents of Turkey's EU aspirations, arguing that the mainly Muslim country of some 73 million people does not have a place in Europe.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

haaretz.com (Reuters) September 16, "Erdogan: Turkey wants to triple trade with Iran within 5 years"
: Turkish prime minister's statement comes at a time when sanctions are scaring off Western investors from Iran. Turkey wants to triple its trade volume with Iran within five years, Turkey's prime minister told businessmen on Thursday, at a time when sanctions are scaring off Western investors from the Islamic Republic. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi oversaw the meeting which brought together over a hundred businessmen, including Turkish investors eager to buy into Iran's mostly government-owned textile, machinery and automotive industries.

"Our bilateral trade ties have reached e10 billion ... When we take away the barriers to trade between ourselves, when we complete our preferential trade agreement we can reach a bilateral trade volume of e30 billion in five years," Erdogan told the businessmen from Turkey and Iran. Numerous rounds of sanctions on Iran by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union have hit the Islamic Republic, discouraging investment in its huge natural gas reserves as well as its banking sector...

09.16.10 Landmine kills 10 in Turkey: Security official

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AFP) September 16 - Landmine explosion occurs during PKK ceasefire. A landmine believed to have been planted by Kurdish rebels blew up a minibus in southeast Turkey on Thursday, killing 10 people in one of the bloodiest attacks on civilians in recent years. The vehicle was carrying Kurdish villagers to Hakkari city when it hit the mine near Gecitli, a remote village in Hakkari province, on the border with Iraq and Iran, a local security source said on condition of anonymity. The bodies were badly mutilated in the blast, which left three people wounded, among them a 15-month-old baby...Immediate suspicions for the blast fell on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting for self-rule in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]

09.16.10 Pakistan immigrant charged with unwittingly funding NY bomb plot

NEW YORK (Reuters) September 16 - A Pakistani immigrant pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to running an illegal money transfer business between Pakistan and the United States that was used to fund an attempt to bomb New York's Times Square. Mohammad Younis, 44, of suburban Long Island, provided failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad with money in April to pay for his attempted May 1 car bomb attack, but prosecutors did not accuse Younis of knowing how the money would be used. Shahzad, a Pakistani-born American, pleaded guilty in June to the attempted car bombing and said the payment he received to fund the attack had been organized by associates of the Pakistani Taliban Islamist extremist group.

"By engaging in the alleged conduct, Mohammad Younis unwittingly funded a terror plot that, if successful, would have caused mass casualties in New York City," US attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. Younis is charged with conducting an unlicensed money transfer business and conspiracy to conduct an unlicensed money transfer business. He appeared before US magistrate judge Andrew Peck in Manhattan federal court and was released on $100,000 bail. His lawyer, Phil Solages, told reporters Younis "is not a terrorist" and "has no ties to terrorism." If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each charge.

09.16.10 Iran agents 'raid opposition leader's office'

(AFP) September 16 - Iranian security agents have raided the office of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, his website reported on Thursday, saying it was a move to stop him from highlighting the nation's economic woes. "Last night, security agents raided the office of Mir Hossein Mousavi. They searched the premises and took some equipment" including computers, Kaleme.com said without giving the exact location of the office. With the attack by plainclothes security agents on the office of Mousavi, it seems that another phase of restrictions has started," it said. The report said the raid was an attempt to prevent Mousavi from commenting on the country's economic situation. "The upcoming economic crisis... is among the worries of the government... They are distracting public opinion by imposing restrictions on people of the Green Movement like Mousavi and (Mehdi) Karroubi who are trying to give news on the status of the country," Kaleme said. [More>>france24.com]

09.16.10 Europe plans large lunar lander

September 16 - Europe is pressing ahead with plans to send a sophisticated, unmanned spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. EADS Astrium has been awarded a 6.5m-euro contract by the European Space Agency (Esa) to do further detailed design work on the mission. The 700-800kg robot would be aimed at the lunar south pole, using automated systems to guide itself into a gentle, precision landing. Once down, it would release a small rover to trundle across the surface. "The lander will have a set of scientific instruments onboard but the science will be geared towards human exploration," said Simonetta Di Pippo, the director of human spaceflight at Esa. "We will be looking for minerals and, hopefully, water in the soil, to see if we can prepare for a sustainable presence on the surface of the Moon," she told BBC News. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

09.16.10 Wasteland: Europe stalked by spectre of mass unemployment

September 16 - Rise in UK claimants prompts calls for rethink in austerity plans. The UK's fragile economic recovery was exposed yesterday by disappointing employment figures and an unexpected rise in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits. The claimant count, which measures the number of people claiming jobseekers' allowance, increased by 2,300 in August, the first rise since December last year, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics. The jump confounded City forecasts, which had pointed to further declines and will alarm policy makers, coming as it does in the wake of this week's IMF warning that Europe risks becoming an employment "wasteland" in which joblessness threatens entire societies. Overall, unemployment in the UK fell by 8,000 in the three months to July on the preferred International Labour Organization (ILO) calculation. Joblessness in the UK now stands at 2.47 million, or 7.8 percent. [>independent.co.uk]

09.16.10 Census: 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty

September 16 - 14.3% Poverty rate highest since 1994; ranks of working poor reach level unseen since 1960s. The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s as the recession threw millions of people out of work last year, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty. The overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, the Census Bureau said Thursday in its annual report on the economic well-being of US households. The report covers 2009, President Barack Obama's first year in office. The poverty rate climbed from 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million people, in 2008. The share of Americans without health coverage rose from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent — or 50.7 million people — mostly because of the loss of employer-provided health insurance during the recession. Congress passed a health overhaul this year to address rising numbers of the uninsured, but the main provisions will not take effect until 2014. [More>>cbsnews.com; See also foxnews.com, September 16, "Poverty rate highest since '94; foreclosures up 25 percent"]

09.16.10 An American innovation in light bulbs, but will manufacturing stay in the US?

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla., September 16 - During the depths of the night, Fred Maxik is often struck by an idea for building a better light bulb. When that happens, he rolls over and scrawls a diagram or a few words on the wall beside his bed with an indelible black marker, a practice his wife tolerates because he offers to repaint their room every six months. "I don't want to lose the thought," says the graying, pony-tailed inventor. Now, in a coup for Maxik and the company here he founded, the object of those pre-dawn inspirations is going on sale at Home Depot, the nation's largest lighting retailer.

The bulbs, assembled at a plant here with about 250 workers, are illuminated not with electrified wires but energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs — a method many industry experts consider the future of lighting. Lighting Science Group is, as a result, just the sort of manufacturer that many, including the Obama administration, have said they would like to keep in the United States. But while the company's manufacturing roots lie here, they may not remain. The connection between American innovation and manufacturing, which for generations created US jobs, has been unraveling under the pressures of globalization, and the light-bulb industry may be a prime example.

09.16.10 Hillary Clinton says Mideast peace talks 'constructive'

September 16 - Peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis have been "constructive" and the United States hopes Israel will extend its moratorium on settlement construction, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an exclusive interview with Christiane Amanpour of "This Week." "It took a lot of political capital for Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu to achieve this moratorium," Clinton said today in Jerusalem. "It had never been done before. "At the same time, it's been in effect for the time that it was set for and the talks are just starting." The United States has worked hard to create a "conducive atmosphere" for negotiations, she said. Clinton is in Jerusalem for the second round of U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Israeli government, led by Netanyahu, and the Palestinian Authority, led by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. [More>>abcnews.go.com; See related story,

indianexpress.com, September 16, "Israel rejects 3-month extension of settlement curbs"
: Israel has rejected a proposal to extend by three months a West Bank settlement building freeze whose looming expiration threatens to sink peace talks, officials close to the negotiations said on Thursday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Israel's Channel 1 television on Thursday he proposed a three-month extension of the moratorium in a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended peace talks hosted by Mubarak in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday. Clinton met Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday in an attempt to break the deadlock.

Looming over the negotiations is a Palestinian threat to pull out of the nascent talks if new construction begins in the West Bank settlements when the 10-month moratorium ends on Sept. 30. I spoke with him (Netanyahu) about the issue and told him to give it another three months during the negotiations, Mubarak said in an excerpt from the interview aired on Israel Radio.

He said borders of a Palestinian state could be negotiated during the extension. Israel has said such a deal could entail a land swap under which it would keep major settlement blocs in the West Bank. Once frontier lines were agreed, Mubarak said, Israel could build within its future borders and Palestinians could do the same — effectively resolving the moratorium issue and keeping the peace talks alive. Officials close to the talks said the United States had made a similar proposal and Netanyahu, whose governing coalition is dominated by pro-settler parties, turned it down...


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