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10.18.09 Pakistan army strikes Taliban bases

October 18 - The Pakistani military says it has seized Taliban bases during the first day of a ground offensive in South Waziristan. At least five soldiers and 60 fighters were killed in the first 24 hours of fighting, Pakistani officials said on Sunday. As many as 150,000 civilians have left the area in recent months after the army made clear it was planning an assault. But there are perhaps as many as 350,000 still in the region. Security forces said they had captured Taliban strongholds near the towns of Tank, Jandola and at Spinkai Raghzai on Saturday after the fighters withdrew from their fortifications and took refuge in nearby mountains, officials said.

Earlier, the officials reported that gun battles were taking place outside Spinkai Raghzai as well as Kalkala and Sharwangai. Intelligence officials said the ground troops were advancing on two flanks and a northern front of a central part of South Waziristan controlled by the Mehsuds. The areas being surrounded include the Taliban bases of Ladha and Makeen, the officials said. The army says about 28,000 soldiers are battling an estimated 10,000 Taliban fighters, including about 1,000 Uzbeks and some Arab al-Qaeda members.
[More>>aljazeera.net ; See more details,

indianexpress.com, October 18, "60 militants killed in Pakistan's Waziristan offensive"
:...Five soldiers were also killed and 11 more injured in clashes that erupted yesterday after thousands of troops began advancing from three directions towards areas inhabited by the Mehsud tribe, considered the main base of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Hakimullah Mehsud. The Inter-Services Public Relations said 60 militants had been killed over the past 24 hours during "Operation Rah-e-Nijat" (Path to Salvation), the codename for the offensive in South Waziristan. TV news channels reported that jets targeted militant positions in Ladha and Sarvakai, two key strongholds of the Taliban...Check posts have also been established in Kotkai, where Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's home is located. Thirty militants and two soldiers were killed as troops moving along the Jandola-Kotkai-Sararogha axis secured the areas up to Mandana, Kund and Tarakai. Four soldiers and many militants were injured in this region.

Security forces have taken control of Spinkay Raghzai and Ghazai areas in South Waziristan following fierce fighting yesterday, even as militants offered "stiff resistance" at Shahwangi and Khesora areas, officials said. Troops moving along the Shakai-Kaniguram-Ladha axis moved seven kilometers into Taliban-held territory and captured strategic features. Fighting is going on around Sherwangi, where security forces have been facing stiff resistance since yesterday. Twenty militants and a soldier were killed in this area, the military said. Security forces had also secured important features and tactical heights around and south of Razmak, a key town in North Waziristan that is being used as one of the staging posts for the operations. Ten militants and two soldiers were killed in this area. Four soldiers, including two officers, were also injured. As the troops pushed into Taliban-held areas, they destroyed several vehicles and six 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun positions. Another gun position was captured in Wuzi Sar area. The troops also recovered IEDs, mines, arms and ammunition...

khaleejtimes.com, October 18, "Pakistan, Taliban both claim success in fighting" :
MIR ALI - ...The army said 60 militants had been killed on the first day of the operation, while six soldiers had died. The Taliban claimed to have inflicted “heavy casualties” on the army and to have pushed invading soldiers back into their bases. It was not possible to independently verify the conflicting claims because the army is blocking access to the battlefield and surrounding towns. "We know how to fight this war and defeat the enemy with the minimum loss of our men," Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told The Associated Press from an undisclosed location. "This is a war imposed on us and we will defend our land till our last man and our last drop of our blood. This is a war bound to end in the defeat of the Pakistan army."

...A resident in Wana — the main town in South Waziristan and in the heart of Taliban-held territory — said the insurgents had left the town and were stationed on the borders of the region, determined to block any army advance. "All the Taliban who used to be around here have gone to take their position to protect the Mehsud boundary," Azamatullah Wazir said by phone Sunday. "The army will face difficulty to get in there." Intelligence officials said Saturday that the ground troops were advancing on two flanks and a northern front of a central part of South Waziristan controlled by the Mehsuds. The areas being surrounded include the insurgent bases of Ladha and Makeen, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief the media...

thenews.com.pk, October 18, "SWA: 60 terrorists killed, 5 soldiers martyred"
: ...The details revealed that on Jandola-Kotkai-Sararogha Axis, area up to Mandana, Kund and Tarakai feature has been secured by security forces and during the securing process reportedly 30 terrorists have been killed and many injured...On Shakai-Kaniguram-Ladha Axis, Operation has progressed 7 km north of Shakai and features like Boya Narai and Wuzi Sar have been captured. Fighting is going around Sherwangi where around 20 terrorists have been reported killed and many others injured....Important features and tactical heights around and south of Razmak have been secured by security forces where 10 terrorists were learnt to be killed...During another effective advancement by the troops, six 12.7mm anti aircraft gun positions of terrorists were effectively engaged and destroyed in different areas and one 12.7 mm gun position was captured in Wuzi Sar area. A lot of IEDs and mines were also recovered.

The security forces have also destroyed a number of vehicles, which were under the use of terrorists. Due to security forces advance, terrorists are vacating their posts area leaving behind arms and ammunition. As far as the operation Rah-e-Raast in Malakand and Swat is concerned, the security forces conducted search operation[s] at Kaldar Khwar and Mulla Banda Nullah near Fatehpur and Miandam and apprehended 4 terrorists besides recovering 9 caves of 12 feet length and 8 feet width. Security forces conducted [a] search operation at Mian Milli near Matta and recovered one 12.7 mm gun while in another search operation at Hamwarai near Khawazakhela, two terrorists were apprehended. During [a] search operation security forces discovered a cave at Tiligram and recovered few weapons from there.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, October 18, "60 militants killed in anti-Taliban offensive: Pakistan army"
: ...There was no independent verification of militant casualties. About 28,000 soldiers are battling an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taliban, including about 1,000 tough Uzbek fighters and some Arab al-Qaida members. The militants have had years to prepare their defences in the land of arid mountains and sparse forest cut by dried-up creeks and ravines. The army says it has surrounded the militants in their main zone, a wedge of territory in the north of South Waziristan, and soldiers backed by aircraft and artillery are attacking from the north, southwest and southeast.

Government forces pushing down from the north were clashing with militants in Nawaz Kot town, intelligence officials and residents said...Security officials said soldiers advancing from the southwest met dogged resistance as they tried to push into the Taliban-held town of Khaisora early on Sunday...But a Taliban spokesman said the army was being repulsed and he vowed attacks on supporters of President Barack Obama. "They're trying to enter our land from all sides but we've repulsed their assault and they've suffered heavy losses," spokesman Azam Tariq said by telephone...

nytimes.com, October 18, "Pakistan moves farther into Taliban land"
: ...Sounding a confident tone on the second day of the campaign against Taliban and Qaeda forces, a senior military official said “the level of resistance from the militants is not very high.” Even so, said the official, who declined to be identified, the area had been heavily mined and Pakistani forces had encountered a lot of homemade bombs. But the Taliban said part of their strategy was to encourage the military to progress deeper into the militant enclave in the center of South Waziristan, and then tie the soldiers down with hit-and-run tactics that would keep the soldiers in a protracted campaign in the inhospitable terrain over the winter.

The government forces would be hit hard once they penetrated further into the mountains, the favorite fighting areas for the militants, a Taliban organizer who is not involved in the current fighting said by telephone on Sunday from Wana, the capital of South Waziristan. As Pakistan's boldest and most difficult offensive against the Taliban unfolded, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American military commander for the region, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday to consult with Pakistan's military leadership and civilian government.
..The Americans have quietly provided the Air Force with new imaging systems for the F-16s that the Pakistani military says will be crucial in South Waziristan, according to an American official familiar who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

...The chief Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, said in a telephone call to reporters in Peshawar that the “army has launched attacks from all sides.” He said the militants had killed 60 soldiers...The Taliban had been calling in forces from all over the tribal area, particularly from Orekzai and Kurram tribal agencies, since June, the Taliban organizer said. The new head of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, has used Orekzai, an area north of South Waziristan, as his base until now. He had been able to call on fighters loyal to him there to come to South Waziristan as reinforcements, the organizer said. These fighters were joined by others from southern Punjab Province, where militant groups that have been nurtured by the government are based, he said.

The most hardened fighters on the Taliban side, and most feared by the Pakistani military, is a group of about 1500 Uzbeks centered around the village of Kaniguram. The Taliban loyal to the Mehsud tribe, whose enclave inside South Waziristan is the army's chief target, had been asked not to go to Afghanistan this summer to fight American and NATO troops, but rather stay home and prepare the ground for the anticipated attack, the organizer said...

10.18.09 Three Taliban group commanders captured in N. Afghanistan

KABUL, October 18 - Afghan National Police (ANP) in Afghanistan's northern Baghlan province detained three Taliban sub-commanders in an operation targeting the rebels, provincial police chief said on Sunday. "An operation has been conducted since Friday in Baghlan-e-Markazi to target a known group of rebels believed to coordinate and direct militants activities in the area," police chief of Baghlan Kabir Andarabi told Xinhua. "As a result, three Taliban commanders Mullah Shahzada, Mullah Shikh and a foreign national were detained." ANP searched the compound discovering weapons and other related items, Andarabi added. "An ambulance which has been taken by militants form district hospital was also found." The official also said that the operation would be continuing to wipe out all militants form the province. Taliban militants have been attempted to infiltrate in Northern provinces as NATO forces recently used northern part of the post-Taliban country as a new corridor to their military convoys. [>xinhuanet.com]

10.18.09 Iran's supreme leader rumored to be dead

DUBAI, October 18 - Closure of Khamenei's official website fuels rumors. The closure of the official website of Iran's supreme leader fueled rumors that have been circulating for the past few days that Ali Khamenei has died after he collapsed last week. Further fueling the rumors were the closure of the official websites of Iran's radio and television all of which were not said to have been closed due to technical problems, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday. The 70-year-old supreme leader reportedly collapsed last Monday and drifted into a coma but the Iranian media has stayed mum on the issue, which analysts say is because officials are waiting to resolve internal matters and chose a successor. [More>>alarabiya.net]

10.18.09 Suicide bomber kills 31 in attack on Iran Guards

TEHRAN (Reuters) October 18 - A suicide bomber killed six senior Revolutionary Guards commanders, including two of its top officers, and 25 other people on Sunday in one of the boldest attacks against Iran's most powerful military institution. The attack highlighted deepening instability in the Islamic Republic's southeast bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, where many of Iran's minority Sunnis live and which has seen a spate of deadly bombings and other violence in the last few years. State media said a local rebel Sunni group called Jundollah (God's soldiers) claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest on the elite Revolutionary Guards in recent years, which also wounded some 30 people at a meeting of tribal chiefs. The southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan is the scene of frequent clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and heavily-armed drug traffickers. The region has also been the focus of attacks in recent years by Jundollah, which accuses Iran's Shi'ite-led government of discrimination. Iranian officials have accused Jundollah of receiving backing from al-Qaeda and the United States. [More>>thestar.com.my; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) October 18, "Bombers used Pakistan territory as springboard : Iran" :
TEHRAN - Iran summoned Islamabad's envoy to Tehran over Sunday's deadly bombing against the nation's Revolutionary Guards, claiming those behind the attack had used Pakistani soil as a springboard, the ISNA news agency said. It said the foreign ministry had called Pakistan's charge d’affairs and "expressed Tehran's regret to Pakistan's envoy (that) members of the terrorist group involved in the incident entered Iran through Pakistan." The ministry also “protested against the use of Pakistani territory by the terrorists and rebels against the Islamic Republic of Iran and urged Pakistani authorities to act firmly to prevent the movement of those terrorists and rebels in their country.” [end]

10.17.09 Pakistan troops begin ground offensive in Waziristan

ISLAMABAD, October 17 - With jet fighters pounding militant positions sporadically for several weeks, the Pakistani troops have finally started a ground offensive in the volatile tribal region of South Waziristan, said officials of the political administration for tribal areas. "The military offensive has been launched in Mehsud areas of South Waziristan which will continue till the elimination of all terrorists from the area,"said Tariq Hayat, secretary of the tribal regions. Curfew has been imposed in the area and all communication lines have been jammed, he added.

The green signal of ground offensive was given during a high-level meeting of the country's top political and military leadership on Friday late. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had invited leaders of all political parties for a briefing on a national security situation of the country. The leaders were briefed by the army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani. According to media reports, the army chief told politicians that [the] situation had become so dangerous, because of terrorist activities being planned in South Waziristan, that a military operation had become unavoidable.

..Reportedly, two divisions of the army totaling 28,000 soldiers have been deployed in the region, blocking different routes into the area. Sources in the area have said that strong Taliban resistance and fierce clashes are feared at the militant strongholds of Spinkai-Raghzai area in the east, Tiarza in the west, Makin and Nawazkot in the North and Mulaikhan Serai in the South. On Saturday, suspected Taliban militants detonated a remote-controlled bomb as the army convoy left Razmak military base, killing two soldiers and wounding four others, officials said.

However, eyewitnesses said that jet fighters had been targeting different areas in the region for the last three days. A large number of people had started shifting for safer places in towns adjoining South Waziristan. Over 8,000 families of South Waziristan moved to the north western town of Dera Ismail Khan on Friday for shelter, officials said. Being aware of the aerial strikes and ground offensive, sources said, the militants had moved to their hideouts in mountains...Since, the government announced to launch a military operation in South Waziristan, thousands of Taliban fighters have arrived into the region from Afghanistan and other tribal areas, sources in the area told TOI.

"Around 4000 to 5000 hardcore Taliban fighters have entered into the area during the last two months. They include Uzbeks, Chechens, Turkmens, Arabs, Afghans and fighters from other tribal areas, particularly Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions," said Alamgir Bhittani, an independent Waziristan based journalist. The military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas put a figure of around 10,000 foreign militants in the area on Monday.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See other details:

indianexpress.com, October 17, "Pakistan army launches major ground offensives" :
Backed by tanks and fighter jets, Pakistan Army launched the much-awaited major ground offensive to flush out Taliban from their stronghold of Waziristan tribal region and immediately ran into heavy resistance. Troops were locked in fierce clashes with Taliban, who were reported using heavy weapons, to hold back the army advance, officials said. As fighter jets bombed Taliban bases, an estimated 30,000-40,000 troops advanced from three directions towards areas inhabited by the Mehsud tribe, the main stronghold of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Hakimullah Mehsud. Before the tanks and troops rolled out, the government clamped indefinite curfew in the entire Waziristan region to ensure that the movement by soldiers was not interfered with.

...Reports said the soldiers ran into resistance soon after the operation began. Militants armed with heavy weapons attacked troops at Sharwangi, one of the first Mehsud-dominated areas they encountered....Though there is no exact count, reports say about 10,000 militants belonging to the Taliban or al-Qaeda are present in South Waziristan. Besides these, there are another 1,000-1,500 Uzbek fighters. Pakistani forces are reported to be heading for Makeen and Ladha, the two main towns in Waziristan dominated by supporters of slain Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud...

khallejtimes.com, October 17, "Pakistan begins offensive against Taliban, Qaeda" :
Eleven militants died when the military jet destroyed two hideouts in South Waziristan, where more than 1,500 al-Qaeda fighters are also participating in the fighting, according to intelligence officials. Thousands of families were fleeing the conflict. According to the United Nations, some 80,000 people had so far been displaced since May, when the Pakistani jets started airstrikes to soften militant positions. Humayon Khan, the commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan district that borders South Waziristan, said the government expected the numbers of internally displaced people might reach 120,000. "We have set up four centres in Dera Ismail Khan where the (refugees) are being registered,"he added. The operation comes after a series of suicide attacks at security installations across the country that left more than 160 people dead, many of them civilians, in less than two weeks...

alarabiya.net, October 17, "Pakistan starts ground assault on Taliban bastion" :
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - Around 60,000 troops to be involved in operation in S.Waziristan. Pakistan's army began on Saturday a ground operation against Taliban militants in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border after weeks of air and artillery strikes, a senior government official said...The army says about 28,000 soldiers are in place to take on an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taliban. About 500 commandos arrived in the region on Friday, security officials said. According to a senior military official, three division of the military, paramilitary and police would be involved in the wider ground operation, eventually numbering around 60,000 troops before winter set in.

jpost.com, October 17, "Ground offensive begins in Pakistan al-Qaeda haven" :
...Aside from being the nerve-center for Pakistani insurgents opposed to the US-backed central government, South Waziristan is a key base for foreign and national jihadi groups planning attacks on American and NATO targets in Afghanistan and beyond. The US is racing to send in night-vision goggles and other equipment to aid the latest operation. The region is remote and mountainous. It has a leaky border with Afghanistan and fiercely independent tribes who have long resisted government interference. With winter snows just weeks away, the army has limited time to pursue a major ground attack there, and even if it does manage to wipe out its intended targets, it's unclear whether troops will occupy the area or for how long.

In a previous interview with AP, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the assault would be limited to slain Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud's holdings a swath of territory that stretches roughly 1,275 square miles (3,310 square kilometers). That portion covers about half of South Waziristan, which itself is slightly larger than the US state of Delaware. The plan is to capture and hold the area where Abbas estimates 10,000 insurgents are headquartered and reinforced with about 1,500 foreign fighters, most of them of Central Asian origin. "There are Arabs, but the Arabs are basically in the leadership, providing resources and expertise and in the role of trainers," he said. Taliban spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday. Communications in and around the region appeared jammed, making it difficult to reach local residents or other witnesses.

...Despite sometimes rocky relations with the Pakistani military, the US is trying to rush in equipment that would help with mobility, night fighting and precision bombing, a US Embassy official told The Associated Press in a recent interview, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue is politically sensitive. In addition to night-vision devices, the Pakistan military has said it is seeking additional Cobra helicopter gunships, heliborne lift capability, laser-guided munitions and intelligence equipment to monitor cell and satellite telephones. The army has considered the weather in the timing the offensive. Snows in the region could block major roads. At the same time, a harsh winter could work to the army's advantage by driving fighters out of their unheated mountain hideouts...

thenews.com.pk, October 17, "11 terrorists killed in SWA operation" : WANA: Fighter jets of security forces pounded militants’ positions in South Wazirisitan, killing 11 terrorists and destroying 2 hideouts during the ongoing military operation on Saturday. Two security personnel were martyred and five injured in two separate attacks in SWA, sources said. According to details, a security man was martyred and three others injured in a remote detonated bomb attack on a vehicle of security forces in Karkunray area near Jandola in SWA. The military forces repulsed and pounded militants’ positions in Karkunray with the help of fighter jets. As a result, 11 terrorists were killed and 8 others injured. Two militants’ hideouts were also destroyed.

Meanwhile, the military's planes also targeted suspected positions of militants in Tehsil Ladha and Sarvekai. The militants attacked FC's convoy in Razmak area of SWA, killing one security man and severely wounding two more. Political administration has said that the military's infantry have begun operation against terrorists from three sides. It said over 4000 to 5000 terrorists are present in the area, most of them are hiding in Mehsud area. [end]

washingtonpost.com, October 17, "Pakistan army launches ground assault" :...
In a phone interview, the intelligence official said the offensive began from three sides and targeted villages that are strongholds of the Mehsud network. One of the top targets, the official said, is Qari Hussein, a Mehsud ally considered a mastermind of suicide bombings. "The problem will be whether you're able to shatter and sort of neutralize totally, forever, the network that is working against the state, which would include the leadership of the terrorists that are working there," Masoon Sharif Khattak, a former intelligence official, told the Express 24/7 news network...

pbs.org, map of tribal areas, and N. & S. Waziristan adjacent to the old al-Qaeda Bora Bora stronghold.

10.16.09 Indicted NY financier gave big to Hillary and terror charity

October 16 - Raj Rajaratnam accused in $20 million insider trading Case. The New York hedge fund billionaire indicted today in an alleged $20 million insider trading scheme, Raj Rajaratnam, was a major contributor to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and also the single largest known US contributor to a charity linked to the Tamil Tiger terror group in Sri Lanka, according to records obtained by ABCNews.com. Rajaratnam is accused of operating an elaborate insider trading operation through his Galleon Group hedge fund, which made him one of the wealthiest men in America with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

The case against Rajaratnam and the five others indicted alleges they netted over $25 million in profits and marked the first time a court authorized wire taps were used in a hedge fund case. A Sri Lankan native, Rajaratnam gave more than $3.5 million to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), whose assets were frozen by the US Treasury Department in Nov. 2007 because of its alleged ties to the Tamil Tigers...Sri Lankan government officials alleged that contributions funneled through US and Canadian-based charities prolonged the group's bloody campaign...Rajaratnam and his wife were also major contributors to a number of Democratic campaigns, giving a total of $118,000 to, among others, the Senate campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer and the presidential campaigns of Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama.
[Full story>>abcnews.go.com]

10.16.09 WHO: Viral pneumonia more common with Swine Flu than common flu

October 16 - The World Health Organization urged doctors Friday to treat suspected swine flu cases as quickly as possible with antiviral drugs, warning that the virus can cause potentially life-threatening viral pneumonia much more commonly than the typical flu, sometimes in relatively young, otherwise healthy people. "It's not like seasonal influenza," said Nikki Shindo, a medical officer in the WHO's Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response Department. "It can cause very severe disease in previously healthy young adults."

Shindo's comments came at the conclusion of a special three-day meeting in Washington of more than 100 experts from around the world. The WHO called the meeting to review the latest research on the new H1N1 virus and to revise guidelines for treating the infection. Unlike the seasonal flu, Shindo said, the virus appears more likely to travel deep into the lungs, where it can cause viral pneumonia. Such a condition can cause severe lung damage and a life-threatening condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome.

10.16.09 Israel rejects 'unjust' UN council Goldstone endorsement

October 16 - Israel's Foreign Ministry rejected on Friday the United Nations Human Rights Council decision to endorse a Gaza report that accused Israel of committing war crimes, calling the decision "unjust." During the UN Human Rights Council session Friday, several countries condemned Israel over the findings stated in the 575-page long report on the conduct of Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas during Israel's offensive in Gaza last winter.

The Palestinian UN delegate said during the session that "Israel denies Palestinians basic human rights and this issue cannot be compromised." The Foreign Ministry issued an official response to the UN vote, saying that "Israel will continue to exercise its right to self defense and to preserve the security of its citizens." "Israel believes," the statement continued, "that the decision harms efforts to protect human rights in accordance with international law and hinders efforts to promote the peace process as well as encouraging terror organizations around the world."
[More>>haaretz.com; See related story,

jpost.com, October 16, "Weapons lab discovered next to Ma'aleh Adumim" : A weapons lab containing explosives and pipes that were apparently meant to be used to assemble rockets was discovered in a joint Border Police-IDF-Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] operation last month in Abu Dis, next to Ma'aleh Adumim, security officials announced Friday. Three Palestinians were arrested. The discovery followed intelligence gathered by the defense establishment. The Shin Bet revealed in a report last year that Hamas terror operatives in the West Bank had increased efforts to obtain a rocket capability and to develop Kassam rockets that could be fired into central Israeli cities. [end]

10.16.09 Somali hardliners whip women for wearing bras

MOGADISHU (Reuters) October 16 - Men whipped for shaving, women made to shake breasts. Somalia's hardline Islamist group al-Shabaab has publicly whipped women for wearing bras they say violate Islam by constituting a deception, north Mogadishu residents said on Friday. The insurgent group, which seeks to impose a strict form of sharia (Islamic law) throughout Somalia, amputated a foot and a hand each from two young men accused of robbery earlier this month. They have also banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing or watching soccer.

Residents said gunmen had been rounding up any woman seen with a firm bust and then had them publicly whipped by masked men. The women were then told to remove their bras and shake their breasts. "Al-Shabaab forced us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts," a resident, Halima, told Reuters, adding that her daughters had been whipped on Thursday. "They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands stiffly on women's chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat."

10.16.09 Italians bribed the Taleban all over Afghanistan, say officials

October 16 - A Taleban commander and two senior Afghan officials confirmed yesterday that Italian forces paid protection money to prevent attacks on their troops. After furious denials in Rome of a Times report that the Italian authorities had paid the bribes, the Afghans gave further details of the practice. Mohammed Ishmayel, a Taleban commander, said that a deal was struck last year so that Italian forces in the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, were not attacked by local insurgents. The payment of protection money was revealed after the death of ten French soldiers in August 2008 at the hands of large Taleban force in Sarobi.

French forces had taken over the district from Italian troops, but were unaware of secret Italian payments to local commanders to stop attacks on their forces and consequently misjudged local threat levels. Mr. Ishmayel said that under the deal it was agreed that "neither side should attack one another. That is why we were informed at that time, that we should not attack the NATO troops." The insurgents were not informed when the Italian forces left the area and assumed they had broken the deal. Afghan officials also said they were aware of the practice by Italian forces in other areas of Afghanistan.

10.16.09 4 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan

October 16 - Two American soldiers were instantly killed and two others died of their wounds after their patrol vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan, military officials said on Friday. The explosion took place sometime on Thursday, but no other information was released, pending notification of family members, said Lt. j.g. Tommy Groves, a Navy spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan. In a separate episode, an Afghan woman and school-aged child were killed in cross-fire in southeastern Afghanistan during an operation to find militants suspected of carrying out a series of attacks, the international forces in Afghanistan said.

The Afghan national police and international forces were jointly carrying out the operation in Ghazni Province when they came under fire from a two-story building. After the firefight, during which a number of militants were killed, the international forces entered the building and found the two wounded civilians, who later died. Their deaths sparked protests in a nearby town, Reuters reported. Civilian casualties related to actions by international forces are highly contentious in Afghanistan, and the anger they generate hurts the chances of success of the international operation, according to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who took command of foreign forces in Afghanistan in June, and other analysts. Protecting Afghan civilians is the focal point of General McChrystal's reworked strategic plan for the war.

10.16.09 Sydney terror quintet facing life in jail for plotting murder on a massive scale

October 17 - The Sydney men found guilty yesterday of terrorism offences had been plotting murder on a massive scale, having stockpiled 30,000 rounds of ammunition, bomb-making equipment and explosive chemicals with the intention of exacting revenge on Australia for its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. After one of the longest and most expensive trials in Australian history the combined cost of the NSW police investigation and the taxpayer-funded Legal Aid defence of the five accused was almost $30million the terrorist quintet were convicted of conspiracy to do acts in preparation for a terrorist act or acts. The men are now facing the possibility of life in prison when they are sentenced by NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy in coming months.

And it can now be revealed that four other men involved in the conspiracy pleaded guilty to terrorism offences before the trial began in November last year...the jury accepted the prosecution argument that the men were plotting violent jihad on Australian soil. One of the men had links to Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, another was observed buying thousands of rounds of ammunition from a Sydney gunshop, others stockpiled large quantities of chemicals known to be precursors for high-powered explosives; while most of the men attended bush training camps in rural NSW, where they underwent paramilitary exercises that police claimed were in preparation for violent jihad.
[Full story>>theaustralian.news.com]

10.16.09 Lahore terror attacks: Pakistan arrests 36 suspects

LAHORE, Pakistan, October 16 - Pakistani law enforcement agencies have taken 36 suspects into custody in connection with the near-simultaneous terror attacks on three security facilities here that left 28 people dead, officials said on Friday. Twenty suspects were picked from Gulshan-e-Daud Colony in Manawan, where terrorists attacked a police training centre yesterday, officials said. Eleven suspects were detained from localities on Bedian Road where terrorists targeted another police training centre, four from Temple Road where a gunman was killed while attacking a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) office, and one more from the cantonment, they said. A senior police officer said Qari Ishaq, an accomplice of the attackers, was among those arrested. "A fake police identity card and weapons have been recovered from Ishaq, who was living in rented accommodation in the cantonment. He made calls from his cell phone to some persons in Waziristan," the official told PTI. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, October 16, "6 militants among 12 killed in SWA: ISPR report" :
WANA - At least six militants among 12 persons were killed during security forces’ operation in parts of South Waziristan Agency (SWA) while 18 others sustained injuries, ISPR said on Friday. According to a foreign news agency, as many as three army soldiers embraced martyrdom and three sustained injured in Taliban's rocket attack at Landi Nor Camp set up in Shakai area of SWA. According to sources, 12 persons including six miscreants were killed as security forces’ jet planes shelled suspected militants’ sanctuaries located in Makeen, Ladda, Badr, Seena Taga, Oasta, Nano and Saam areas of SWA, leaving 18 others wounded. Total six militants’ hideouts were pounded during bombardments through security forces’ jet planes which was part of forces’ operation being carried out for last two months in different stronghold areas of Mehsud, sources said. The fresh security forces’ troops have arrived Razmak area in order to launch a massive operation against Taliban, sources added. [end]

thejakartapost.com (AP) October 16, "Double-bombing kills 13 at Pakistan police station" :
Three suicide attackers, including a woman, attacked a police station in northwestern Pakistan, killing 13 people Friday while army airstrikes killed a dozen suspected militants in a Taliban stronghold ahead of an expected ground offensive. The bombing in Peshawar city was the latest in a surge of terrorist attacks over the last 11 days that has killed more than 150 people and underscored the power of the Taliban, who have warned the army against launching any operation in the militants' base close to the Afghan border.

In Islamabad, the army chief met with the prime minister and other political leaders for talks that included plans for an offensive in South Waziristan, a military and an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. The bombings targeted a heavily fortified police station in Peshawar, the main city in the northwest. One attacker drove a car filled with explosives to the main gate of the police station, as a motorcycle carrying a man and a woman pulled up behind it, Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan said. The woman jumped off and ran toward a nearby housing complex where army officers live, while the man smashed the motorcycle into the car, which exploded into a huge fireball, he said. Police shot at the woman, who detonated explosives she was wearing. [end]

10.16.09 Suicide bomb kills 15, injures 90 in Iraq mosque

MOSUL, Iraq, October 16 - Bomber blew himself up in Iraq mosque during Friday prayers. A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people and wounded 90 on Friday in a Sunni Muslim mosque in northern Iraq whose imam had criticized al-Qaeda, officials said. Police said the bomber attacked the mosque in Tal Afar in Nineveh province, 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, during Friday prayers. An official said the attacker shot dead a local judge praying there before detonating the explosives.

Suicide attacks are the hallmark of Sunni Islamist groups and it is rare for them to target Sunni rather than Shiite places of worship. The Tal Afar mosque was probably attacked because its imam had spoken out against al-Qaeda and also to kill the judge, the official said...Nineveh is seen as the last major holdout of insurgents who have been largely driven out of Baghdad and western Anbar province by Sunni tribal sheikhs allied to US forces. Tal Afar, mainly home to minority Turkmen Shiites, has been hit by many bombings, including two on July 9 that killed at least 34 people and one of Iraq's deadliest, which killed 152 in Mar. 2007.
[Full story>>alarabiya.net; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com, October 16, "Malaysia detains Iraqi lawmaker on fake passport" : KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has detained a fugitive Iraqi lawmaker, Mohammed al-Daini, after he was caught using a fake passport at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, local media reported on Friday. Daini was detained on Oct. 10 when an immigration officer at the departure checkpoint stopped him after checks revealed he was carrying someone else's traveling document, according to the online version of the New Straits Times...Daini, a Sunni legislator, has been accused by the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of ordering car bombings, mortar attacks and mass murders during the height of the violence unleashed by the 2003 US invasion.

10.15.09 Goldman Sachs reignites pay row with 46% rise

NEW YORK, October 15 - Workers at Goldman Sachs have racked up an average $527,192 (£324,607) in salary and bonuses so far this year after the American investment bank made a $3.1 billion profit in the third quarter. Average pay for staff at the group, which employs around 5,500 staff in London, is 46 per cent higher compared to last year. The news is likely further to enrage taxpayers who blame excessive risk-taking by banks for the global recession. So far, over the first nine months of its financial year, Goldman Sachs has set aside $16.7 billion to compensate its 31,700-strong global workforce — a 46 per cent rise in the same period in 2008. The bank needs to top $21 billion to match the bumper bonus year of 2007. In the most recent quarter, covering the three months to September 25, Goldman Sachs ring-fenced $5.3 billion for salary and bonuses, which is a rise of 84 per cent in the third quarter last year.

The sharp rise in pay has been revealed amid the first criminal case of the credit crunch which is continuing today. Two Bear Stearns managers, Ralph Cioffi, 53, and Matt Tannin, 48, are on trial accused of securities fraud after their hedge funds imploded in 2007, signalling the start of the crisis. Global governments have pledged to stamp out risk-taking by banks and yesterday Goldman Sachs was one of a number of the world's biggest banks which signed up to new rules on bonuses agreed at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last month...Mr. Viniar insisted that Goldman Sachs, which has come under fire for its generous compensation just months after paying back a $10 billion taxpayer loan, was aware of the difficulties that ordinary consumers faced in the tough economic environment.
[Full story>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories,

independent.co.uk, October 15, "The people vs Wall Street": Bear Stearns bankers on trial in first criminal case of the credit crunch. Amidst the economic wreckage, after 7 million job losses and approaching 2 million home foreclosures in the US alone, with businesses and consumers around the world still struggling to get finance after the long credit crunch, Wall Street is finally on trial. A little piece of Wall Street, at least. In the first major case against bankers at the heart of the financial meltdown, a jury of 12 mainly working-class New Yorkers will decide the fate of the two Bear Stearns managers whose hedge funds imploded in 2007, signalling the start of the crisis. Ralph Cioffi, 53, and Matt Tannin, 48, pocketed millions of dollars in pay during the boom years, but the events of 2007 left their investors nursing losses of $1.6bn (£1bn) and ruined forever the reputation of Bear Stearns, one of the oldest investment banks on Wall Street...

cbsnews.com, October 15, "Wall St. in neutral after hitting 10,000" :
Goldman Sachs, Citigroup earnings reports dampen investor spirits day after Dow reaches milestone mark. Investors turned cautious. Thursday after earnings reports from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. stirred worries about the troubles banks still face. Stocks slipped in early trading, sending the Dow Jones industrials back below 10,000. The Dow had breached that level the day before for the first time in a year, helped by a strong earnings from JPMorgan Chase & Co...

10.15.09 Jordan jails 12 Qaeda suspects for church attack

October 15 - Five get death penalty, 7 others get 15 years. A court in Amman on Thursday imposed jail sentences of 15 to 20 years on 12 Jordanian alleged al-Qaeda members accused of attacks against a church in the kingdom last year, a court official said. Five of the men, aged between 19 and 28, received the death penalty but the state security court commuted the sentence to 20 years in prison "because they are young and should be given a chance to repent," the official told AFP. The other seven collected 15-year sentences.

The convicts, most of them of a Palestinian origin, were charged in July 2008 with "carrying out terrorist attacks and manufacturing and using explosives." "The al-Qaeda members tried to attack a Latin church in Irbid (in the north) in July last year after a Christian boy allegedly insulted the Prophet Mohammed, but the attempt failed," he said. "Following that, they attacked the same church again using Molotov (cocktail bombs) and a Christian cemetery in Irbid, but caused no casualties." In March, the military tribunal sentenced three Jordanians to 22 and a half years in prison for plotting a suicide car bomb attack on a church in Amman last year. They plotted to bomb a Roman Catholic Church in Amman's eastern district of Marka after initially planning to strike against a police battalion in protest at the jailing of Islamist suspects.

10.15.09 Turkey arrests 50 suspected of planning attacks

(DPA) October 15 - Turkish police and security forces have arrested some 50 suspected members of al-Qaeda who were planning attacks against US, Israeli and NATO targets in the country. The broadcaster CNN-Turk reported that some of those arrested had had contact with Ayman Al Zawahri, the Egyptian believed to be second-in-command of the al-Qaeda group. The broadcaster added that the militants were planning attacks against NATO assets in Germany. The raids took place in a total of nine provinces across the country, including Istanbul, and the provinces of Van and Erzurum in eastern Turkey. The Hurriyet daily reported that computers, CDs and documents were seized in the raids. Al-Qaeda was blamed for bomb attacks in 2003 in Istanbul, in which 57 people died. Hurriyet reported that the raid in the eastern city of Van recovered an unlicensed weapon, as well as ammunition. The arrested were alleged to have handled logistics in support of al-Qaeda training camps abroad. [>Khaleejtimes.com; See more details,

hurriyetdailynews.com, October 15, "Police detain 50 in al-Qaeda raids" : ISTANBUL - ...The suspects, believed to be members of the Islamic Jihad League, a group linked to al-Qaeda, were allegedly plotting to attack NATO installations in Turkey and Germany...The Islamic Jihad League is suspected of terrorist activities in Central Asia and members were recently said to be planning attacks on NATO installations in Turkey and Germany. It was reported that those detained were trained in Afghanistan and had planned to attack NATO installations as revenge for NATO operations in Afghanistan. It is believed that remarks in which al-Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, threatened Turkey hastened plans to carry out attacks on NATO installations in the country. It is also believed that the leader of the Turkish terror cell tasked with planning the attack was killed in a NATO operation in Afghanistan. One of the Turkish members of the Islamic Jihad League was arrested in Germany in 2007...

10.15.09 Libya frees 88 with al-Qaeda links

TRIPOLI (AFP) October 15 - Libya on Thursday freed 88 Islamists with al-Qaeda links from Abu Slim prison in Tripoli, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported. "45 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and 43 members of other jihadist groups were freed thanks to the efforts of the Islamic Foundation," lawyers' groups said in a joint statement with the Foundation, headed by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam. "Apart from the LIFG members, the other people freed were former al-Qaeda members who were active in Afghanistan or Iraq," Saleh Saleh Abdessalem, an aide to Seif al-Islam, said. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

10.15.09 Italy denies paying off Taliban in Afghanistan

ROME (AFP) October 15 - The Italian government on Thursday denied a newspaper report that its secret services paid the Taliban thousands of dollars to keep an area in Afghanistan controlled by the Italians safe and did not tell allies about the payments. Premier Silvio Berlusconi's office called the report in the Times of London "completely groundless." The defense minister denounced it as "rubbish" and said he wanted to sue the newspaper. The Times reported that Italy had paid "tens of thousands of dollars" to Taliban commanders and warlords in the Surobi district, east of the capital, Kabul.

The newspaper cites Western military officials, including high-ranking officers at NATO, speaking on condition of anonymity. It accused Rome of failing to inform its allies, misleading the French, who took over the Surobi district in mid-2008, into thinking the area was quiet and safe. Shortly thereafter, the French contingent was hit with an ambush that killed 10 soldiers and had big political repercussions back in Paris.
[More>>thejakartapost.com;See also

timesonline.co.uk, October 15, "French Opposition demands answers on bribe claim in Sarobi ambush" :
The French Defence Minister was called on today to give an urgent account to Parliament of the Taleban ambush that led to the deaths of ten soldiers in Afghanistan. As the Socialist Party reacted with anger to The Times report, the ministry said that it had long been aware of “rumors” that linked Italian bribery to the ambush in Sarobi, east of Kabul in August 2008. The reports had no basis, it said. Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Socialists’ parliamentary leader, told Hervé Morin, the Defence Minister that the denial was not enough. "This is very serious, if it is true, and I ask the minister to come in the immediate future before the Defence Committee to explain and tell us what information he has," said Mr. Ayrault.

"If operations of this type are being used to administer certain areas . . . distributing money to the Taleban creates a general problem for the coordination of military operations," he added. Socialist MPs, who voted this year against the continuing presence of the 2,900-strong French contingent in Afghanistan, said that the reports appeared to reflect the failure of the NATO operation there, which they call an army of occupation....

10.15.09 40 killed in four terror attacks across Pakistan

LAHORE / ISLAMABAD, October 15 - Pakistan was in the grip of a terror wave with suspected Taliban militants storming three security facilities in Lahore and carrying out a suicide attack in a police station in Kohat and an explosion in Peshawar in NWFP, leaving at least 40 people dead. Police said 18 people -— 13 security personnel and five civilians — were killed in coordinated attacks on an office of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and two police training facilities in Lahore by three groups of terrorists between 9:15am and 9:40am local time, the fifth terror strike in the country within 11 days. Ten of the attackers were also gunned down by security forces or blew themselves up.

In the northwestern Kohat, 11 people died and 22 others were injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the city police station. Witnesses said the bomber slammed his vehicle into the outer wall of the police station, causing a massive blast...In Lahore, the terrorists exchanged heavy gunfire with security forces at the FIA office on Temple Road located close to Mall Road, the Elite Force police training centre at Bedian Road which is six kms from the airport and the police training facility at Manawan on the outskirts of the city...Pakistani TV channels reported that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the Lahore attacks. Reacting to the claim, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan would deal firmly with the Taliban, which was also responsible for attacking the army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi last week.
[Full story>>indianexpress.com]

10.15.09 Terror strikes Pakistan again, powerful blast rocks Peshawar

ISLAMABAD, October 15 - A child was killed and nine persons were injured on Thursday in a bomb blast on a residential area in northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, hours after terrorists struck in Lahore and Kohat leaving 41 people dead. The blast occurred in the Gulshan-e-Rehman colony on Kohat Road in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province (NWFP). A large number of employees of the NWFP government live in the colony. Officials at the Lady Reading Hospital said they had received the body of a child and added that nine persons were also injured in the blast.[More>>indianexpresslcom; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, October 15, "Forces nab 14 terrorists, kill 5: ISPR report" :
RAWALPINDI - The security forces continued search and clearance operations in Swat and Malakand during the last 24 hours. According to a press release issued here by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday, at least 5 terrorist[s] voluntarily surrendered to security forces in Miandam, Barshaur and Tilligram. The security forces conducted [a] search operation in Delai and killed 5 terrorists. Another five terrorist[s] were arrested during [a] search operation in Fatehpur. The security forces conducted search operation[s] near Bara Bandai, Barama, Aloch and Matta and apprehended 9 terrorists. Terrorists fired 8 rockets on security forces check post Zahidullah in Waziristan, injuring four soldiers. The forces continued today the relief activities. 311,985 cash cards have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand. [end]

thenews.com.pk, October 15, "Police nab 48 suspects from Peshawar" :
PESHAWAR - Peshawar police arrested ..48 suspected people in the ongoing crackdown on Afghan refugees, Geo News reported Thursday. These suspected Afghans have been arrested.. in the suburban areas of the city during the crackdown...These arrested refugees would be deported to Afghanistan after presenting them before the local court. Police also arrested 46 alleged accused and recovered arms and drugs from them. [end]

10.15.09 God furious if women governors: Iran cleric

TEHRAN (AFP) Lawmakers approve one woman cabinet minister. A top hardline Iranian cleric said on Thursday that "God's fury" would be unleashed if Iran appoints women as governors of some provinces, as was raised as a possibility by a minister last week. "If some people want to change the principles and values of the revolution without considering the views of clerics, they will face the fury of God and of the people," Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayghani said on his website.

Golpayghani was reacting to remarks by interior minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar in the holy city of Qom last week, who when asked whether Iran would appoint women as governors of provinces, replied: "Yes. It is possible." Golpayghani said the appointment of women in such top jobs was against sharia (Islamic) law...Lawmakers, however, did approve one woman cabinet minister — the first female minister of the Islamic republic — during a vote of confidence in September. In recent years Iranian women have outnumbered men in universities but they still account for only around 15 percent of the official work force.
[Full story>>alarabiya.net]

10.15.09 Singaporean ship seized off Somalia

October 15 - Somali pirates have captured a Singaporean container ship in the Indian Ocean near
the Seychelles. The MV Kota Wajar was seized 300 nautical miles north of the Seychelles on Thursday morning, Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said. Mwangura said the ship, which was heading to the Kenyan port of Mombasa from Singapore, had 21 crew aboard.

10.15.09 Study: Arctic ice will melt in 10 years

October 15 - British Explorers Return from North Pole with Ice Data Suggesting it Will Soon Disappear in Summer Months. The North Pole will turn into an open sea during summer within a decade, according to data released by a team of explorers who trekked through the Arctic for three months. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that the explorers walked and swam 280 miles across the Arctic ice of the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, drilling hundreds of ice samples as they went. The Catlin Arctic Survey team, led by explorer Pen Hadow, measured the thickness of the ice as it sledged through the northern part of the Beaufort Sea earlier this year during their research project. Their findings show that most of the ice in the region is first-year ice that is only around six feet deep and will melt next summer. The region has traditionally contained, thicker multiyear ice which does not melt as rapidly. [More>>cbsnews.com]

10.15.09 Obama to visit New Orleans to survey Katrina recovery

October 15 - Four years later, local residents complain the short presidential visit is a 'glorified flyover.' Slightly more than four years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, President Obama is traveling to New Orleans today to fulfill a campaign promise to survey first-hand the city's recovery. Obama will visit the Martin Luther King Charter School in the city's Lower 9th Ward, a neighborhood devastated by the floodwaters of Katrina after the city's levees were breached. The charter school was the first to be rebuilt following Katrina. On the second anniversary of the hurricane, former President George W. Bush visited the school and met with Louisiana education officials. Obama will also hold a town hall meeting with members of the New Orleans community. But before the president even steps foot on the ground in Louisiana, critics in the region have taken aim at the administration on several fronts: They fault him for waiting nine months before going to New Orleans, staying for only four hours and not going to any of the other states affected by the devastating 2005 storm, such as Mississippi and Alabama. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

10.14.09 UK sends 500 more to Afghanistan

October 14 - Gordon Brown says the UK will send 500 more forces personnel to Afghanistan but only if key conditions are met. They will be sent as long as they have the necessary equipment, if other NATO allies boost their troop numbers and more Afghan soldiers are trained. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

10.14.09 NYC terror plot suspect Zazi contacted by al-Qaeda's Afghan head

NEW YORK, October 14 - Intelligence officials say the terrorist operative who contacted an Afghan immigrant accused of plotting a New York attack was the head of Afghanistan's Al Qaeda operations. The US officials say Mustafa Abu al-Yazid used an intermediary to contact the 24-year-old Najibullah Zazi, of Colorado, as he hatched a plot to attack New York's mass transit system. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case remains under investigation. Al-Yazid is an Egyptian, an al-Qaeda founder and a confidant of Usama bin Laden. The officials declined to describe his specific interaction with Zazi. Zazi has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. [>foxnews.com]

10.14.09 Pakistan jets pound militant hide-outs, kill 9

(AP) October 14 - Pakistani jets pounded militant hide-outs along the Afghan border overnight as hundreds of thousands of civilians fled South Waziristan in anticipation of an expected government offensive there. Government officials have threatened an operation in the lawless border area for months, but they said a string of recent suicide bombings blamed on the Taleban has strengthened their resolve to engage in what will likely be a long and bloody confrontation.

About 200,000 people have fled South Waziristan since August, moving in with relatives or renting homes in the Tank and Dera Ismail Khan areas in an exodus that has continued in recent days, a local government official said. About half of them registered with the government as displaced people, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. While there are no recent census data from South Waziristan, estimates of the population hover around 500,000.

10.14.09 Suit accuses S.E.C. of failing to detect Madoff scheme

October 14 - Two victims of Bernard L. Madoff's huge Ponzi scheme sued the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, saying that the agency's failure to detect the fraud years ago contributed to their financial losses. Echoing complaints that other victims have made for months, the two plaintiffs argued in the lawsuit that they would not have fallen prey to the fraud if the government had "simply done its job" and if the commission had not "closed its eyes to Madoff's obvious crimes."

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, is aimed at forcing the commission to repay $2.4 million lost by the two plaintiffs — Phyllis Molchatsky, a disabled retiree, and Stephen Schneider, a physician nearing retirement, both residents of New York. They had previously demanded compensation through administrative complaints to the commission, which have been denied. The S.E.C. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lawsuit, filed by lawyers with Herrick, Feinstein in New York, faces a significant uphill fight because the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity makes it extremely difficult to sue a government agency for the consequences of its official activity.

10.14.09 Fayad: We won't take Mickey Mouse state

October 14 - Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad on Wednesday called the demilitarized Palestinian state envisioned by Israel "a Mickey Mouse state," and said the Palestinian people would not accept such a plan. "By all indications, [Israeli officials] have a Mickey Mouse state in mind" Reuters quoted Fayad as saying in a press conference in Ramallah. Fayad reportedly stressed the Palestinians would not readily accept Israel's ideas concerning their future state. "This is not about politics," Fayad reportedly said. "This is about physics. Israel is in control."

According to Israel Radio, Fayad went on to state that while PA officials saw the Jordan Valley as an inseparable part of the future Palestinian state, Israel might be seeking to occupy the disputed territory permanently, jeopardizing peace negotiations. Fayad was not the first PA official to suggest that Israel's refusal to freeze settlement construction had essentially frozen the peace process. Ahead of the tripartite meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama in September, PA President Mahmoud Abbas cited the issue as a precondition for resuming peace talks.

10.14.09 Islam linked to human rights: Iran Nobel winner

DUBAI, October 14 - Shirin Ebadi says Quran misinterpreted for political gain. As American President Barack Obama was winning a Nobel Peace Prize, an Iranian Nobel winner was speaking at a US university where she explained human rights and Islam are compatible and argued discrimination in Muslim countries was based on misinterpretations of Islam's holy book. Dr. Shirin Ebadi spoke to an audience of five hundred people at Naropa University on Friday to answer questions about Islam and human rights, discrimination against women and whether Muslims would be best to "promote human rights through a secular state,"

Denver's The Examiner quoted her as saying. Ebadi argued that Islam, like other religions, is open to interpretation and is compatible with human and women rights. She cited examples of Muslim countries who have banned torture and others who have female leaders. The Noble winner, however, acknowledged the discrimination that takes place in Muslim countries but stressed "that the root of discrimination lies not in Islam but in the way male leaders distort it to remain in power." She cited examples of leaders who distorted interpretations of the Quran after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 to create laws to disempower women causing her to loose her position as a judge.

10.14.09 Deaths as blasts hit Iraqi city

October 14 - At least eight people have been killed in three near simultaneous blasts in the Iraqi city of Karbala, police and medical officials have said. The first blast struck around the time of evening prayers on Wednesday, close to one of the Shia holy city's two major shrines, a police official said. Two more explosions followed soon after at the second shrine. "The attacks took place near the shrines of al-Abbas and al-Hussein," Mohammed al-Mousawi, a resident of Karbala, told Al Jazeera. Several buildings were damaged and a number of cars were reported to be on fire. Police said at least 40 people have been wounded in the blasts. The casualties have been confirmed by an official at the Karbala hospital. [More>>aljazeera.net]

10.14.09 US supports Russia's bid to join WTO, says Clinton

MOSCOW, October 14 - The United States is supportive of Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday. In a speech at the Moscow State University, Clinton said the United States believed that within a global range innovation should be encouraged through consolidating financial stability and ensuring free trade and investment. This is why the United States supports Russia's efforts to become a WTO member, she said. The United States and Russia should become partners, said Clinton, for the sake of both countries and the two peoples, and for the future of the entire world. Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in early June to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO, a decision opposed by the European Union and the United States. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

10.13.09 Russia accuses Georgia of al-Qaeda aid: reports

MOSCOW (AFP) October 13 - Georgia trains, transfers al-Qaeda agents to Chechnya: Russia. Georgia is training and lending safe passage to al-Qaeda agents planning terrorist acts in the Russian Caucasus, the head of Russia's FSB secret service charged Tuesday. "Audio evidence seized from insurgents shows that, together with emissaries of al-Qaeda, they had contacts with representatives of the Georgian secret services," Alexander Bortnikov said, quoted by Russian news agencies. Through these links, Georgia "participated in the training and transfer of terrorists to the territory of Chechnya," the FSB chief said. Bortnikov also accused Tbilisi of supplying arms and funding terrorist activities in the neighboring Caucasus region of Dagestan. [More w/blog comment>>alarabiya.net]

10.13.09 Pakistani jets bomb militants near Afghan border

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) October 13 - Pakistani jets bombed militant targets in the main insurgent stronghold along the Afghan border on Tuesday ahead of a ground offensive there. The army says 80 percent of the militant attacks plaguing nuclear-armed Pakistan are planned from South Waziristan, while the United States says insurgent leaders blamed for spiraling violence in Afghanistan are also based in the lawless, remote area. The army and the government have agreed to launch what is expected to [be] a bloody and difficult ground operation in the mountainous region. An army spokesman Monday declined to say when the operation would begin, but there has been speculation it could be imminent.

For the past three months, jets have been bombing target[s] in the region, and the military has been attempting to cut off militant supply and communication lines. Authorities are also trying to secure the support of militant factions that in the past have agreed not to attack Pakistani troops. Bombing runs Tuesday destroyed around 15 houses in the Makeen, Ladha and Barwand regions of South Waziristan, a local intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief..the media. In a reminder of the reach of the militants, authorities said helicopter gunship attacks killed 26 insurgents in Bajur, a tribally administered region that is 185 miles (300 kilometers) north of Waziristan.

The army undertook a major offensive there six months ago and declared it free of insurgents, but some still remain.
Abdul Malik, a local government official, said the attacks took place in Damadola and Sawai, known as militant-held areas. He said he got the information about militant casualties from intelligence and military sources. The militant threat to Pakistan has been highlighted by four major terrorist attacks over the last nine days, including a suicide attack on a UN office in the capital that killed five staffers and a 22-hour siege on the army's headquarters over the weekend. [>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories,

aljazeera.net, October 13, "Raid reveals Taliban's Punjab links" :
Pakistani officials have warned that ethnic Punjabi groups teamed up with Taliban fighters to carry out a recent attack on a military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Pakistani jets bombed suspected Taliban positions in South Waziristan on Tuesday, a day after the details of the Taliban's Rawalpindi assault began to emerge. The army says 80 per cent of the attacks plaguing Pakistan are planned from South Waziristan, but in an ominous development on Monday, Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said the Rawalpindi attack had been "carried out by our Punjab unit." Major-General Athar Abbas, the Pakistan military spokesman, confirmed that Muhammad Aqeel, an ethnic Punjabi also known as Dr Usman, had led the attack on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Aqeel, a former member of the army medical corps, is also believed to have orchestrated an ambush on Sri Lanka's visiting cricket team in Lahore in March. According to Zulfikar Hameed, a police investigator, he is also thought to have masterminded a failed attempt to shoot down then-president Pervez Musharraf's jet with an anti-aircraft gun, and a suicide attack that killed the army surgeon-general in February 2008. Hameed says that Aqeel was recruited into Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, armed groups based in Punjab province...The Punjab connection is significant because ethnic Punjabis dominate the army and the major institutions of the Pakistani state, Shuja Nawaz, head of the South Asia Centre at the Atlantic Council in Washington, has been quoted as saying...

thenews.com.pk, October 13, "Vice-president JWP shot dead in Quetta" :
The vice-president Jamhori Watan Party (JWP) Dr. Aslam Mirza was shot dead here in Shaal Kot area on Tuesday morning, Geo news reported. According to sources, his diver also lost his life during the ambush...

thenews.com.pk, October 13, "5 extremists killed, 5 nabbed: ISPR report" :
RAWALPINDI - The security forces continued search and clearance operations in Swat and Malakand during the last 24 hours. According to a press release issued here by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Tuesday, at least 26 terrorists voluntarily surrendered themselves to Security forces at Fazl-e-Haq College near Sakhra during [a] search operation. Seven terrorists voluntarily surrendered themselves to security forces in Runial, Barshaur and Chuprial.

The security forces conducted [a] search operation in Baro Kandao and discovered / destroyed a small training camp comprising 4 tunnels and apprehended 3 terrorists. The security forces conducted search operation in Delai Bara Banda and killed 4 terrorists. Security forces conducted [a] search operation in Kuz Banjir Banda near Barikot and killed a terrorist while 2 were apprehended. Terrorists fired 31 rockets at [a] convoy near Razmak Camp of Waziristan, injuring two soldiers.. The security forces today continued relief activities. 311,331 cash cards have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand. [end]

10.13.09 Maoists on rampage: School blown up, office set ablaze

October 13 - Maoists went on the rampage on Tuesday as they targeted railway properties in Jharkhand and Bihar besides causing a blast in a school building and destroying mobile phone towers to protest against the Centre's decision to launch an offensive against them. Armed Maoists blasted railway tracks between Mccluskieganj and Mahuamilan in Jharkhand's Latehar district which caused 11 rakes of a goods train to derail, Railway PRO Amrendra Das said. The driver and staff of the train were unhurt, he said, adding the blast disrupted services on both the up and down lines.

The violence occurred during the second day of the two-day shutdown called by CPI-Maoist. Tracks were also blasted by another group of 100 cadres between Dania and Jageshwarbihar railway stations with overhead traction wires blown off under its impact, Das said. In Bihar's Lakhisarai district, around 150 ultras stormed the Banshipur railway station and torched a railway panel room and destroyed the traffic control system, official sources said. The Maoists also took hostage six railway officials, the station master and his assistant, but freed them later with a warning not to allow trains to run during a shutdown called by them.

10.13.09 Suicide bomber kills six Iraq's Diyala province

BAGHDAD (Reuters) October 13 - A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives at a cafe south of Baquba in Iraq's Diyala province Tuesday, killing six people and wounding 10, police said. The attack took place in the town of Buhriz, killing Leith Mishaan, the local head of a government-allied Sunni Arab militia, who was at the cafe with other members of his group. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

10.13.09 Update, 10.12.09 41 killed, 50 wounded in suicide attack in NW Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, October 12 - A suicide bomber threw himself at a passing para-military convoy near a crowded market killing 41 people and wounding 50 in Shangla district in Pakistan's Malakand division, two days after Taliban militants stormed the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Witnesses said the suicide bomber blew himself up near a security forces vehicle as it was passing through a security check post in the market at Alpuri and most of the dead were civilian passers by.

The attack occurred close to a police station. North West Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said 41 people, including six security personnel, were killed in the blast. Police officials said over 50 people, including soldiers and policemen, were injured. "The condition of five of the injured security personnel was reported to be serious," a local police official told private TV channel. The official said the target of the bomber was the security convoy, but lots of civilians were killed as they were huge number of people in the market at the time of the blast.
[More>>indianexpress.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, October 12, "Expolosion in government school in Hangu" :
HANGU, Pakistan - A massive blast has shattered a government building in Hangu here on Monday night but no loss of life was reported, Geo news said. According to sources, a loud explosion damaged a government's school building in Hangu but no group has claimed responsibility as yet. [end]

Update, 10.13.09: timesofindia.indiatimes.com, "13-yr-old kills 41 in Pakistan market" : PESHAWAR - A devastating suicide bomb hit northwest Pakistan killing 41 people on Monday, as the military geared up for an assault on Taliban rebels blamed for increasingly bloody and brazen attacks...

10.12.09 Iran's Mousavi sees Inquisition-style clampdown

TEHRAN (Reuters) October 12 - Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi has accused hardliners of using Inquisition-style methods to clamp down on reformers after the Islamic Republic's disputed election in June. He made the comment during a meeting with pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi, the Etemad newspaper reported on Monday. "It seems some people are trying to take us back to the Inquisition era," Mousavi said in Saturday's meeting, referring to the holding of mass trials, the closure of pro-reform newspapers and restrictions on political parties, it reported.

The Inquisition
a tribunal of the Catholic Church which used imprisonment and torture -- reached its height in the 16th century to counter the Reformation in Europe. Mousavi and Karoubi, who finished second and fourth respectively, say the June 12 poll was rigged to secure hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities have rejected the allegations and in August began a series of mass trials of at least 100 people accused of fomenting the huge opposition protests that erupted in the days after the election. Those in the dock include former government officials, journalists, lawyers and others. [More>>thestar.com.my]

10.12.09 Kashmir's main glacier 'melting at alarming speed'

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) October 12 - Indian Kashmir's biggest glacier, which feeds the region's main river, is melting faster than other Himalayas glaciers, threatening the water supply of tens of thousands of people, a new report warned on Monday. Experts say rising temperatures are rapidly shrinking Himalayan glaciers, underscoring the effects of climate change that has caused temperatures in the mountainous region to rise by about 1.1 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years. The biggest glacier in Indian Kashmir, the Kolahoi glacier spread over just a little above 11 sq km (4.25 sq mile), has shrunk 2.63 sq km in the past three decades, a new study said.

"Kolahoi glacier is shrinking 0.08 square kilometers a year, which is an alarming speed,” said the study, presented at a workshop on “Climate Change, Glacial Retreat and Livelihoods," in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital. The three year-long study was led by glaciologist Shakil Ramsoo, assistant professor in the department of geology at the University of Kashmir. The Kolahoi glacier is the main source of water for Kashmir's biggest river, the Jhelum, and its many streams and lakes. According to a United Nations Environment Programme and World Glacier Monitoring Service study, the average melting rate of mountain glaciers has doubled since the turn of the millennium, with record losses seen in 2006 at several sites.

10.12.09 Kuwait MP seeks to scrap Sharia election law

KUWAIT CITY, October 12 - Islamist lawmakers call on female MPs to comply with law. Kuwaiti female lawmaker Rula Dashti on Sunday submitted an amendment to the Gulf state electoral law that aims to scrap a requirement that women must comply with Islamic Sharia law guidelines. The guidelines were introduced four years ago when parliament voted to grant women full political rights but added a precondition that both women voters and candidates must comply with regulations dictated by Sharia law. The law does not explain the nature of the regulations, but last week the emirate's Fatwa Department ruled that under Islamic law, it is an obligation for Muslim women to wear the hijab head cover. [More>>alarabiya.net]

10.12.09 6 sentended to death in Xinjiang riots

BEIJING, October 12 - A Chinese court sentenced six men to death and a seventh to life in prison on Monday for their roles in the deadly ethnic rioting that convulsed the western regional capital of Urumqi in July, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. All seven had names that suggested they were Uighurs, the largest ethnic group in the vast region of Xinjiang. All were convicted of murder, and some were also found guilty of arson and robbery, Xinhua reported. The sentences were the first to be handed down by a court in response to the rioting of July 5, in which enraged Uighurs went on a rampage against Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, in the streets of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. At least 197 people were killed, most of them Han civilians, and 1,600 injured, the government announced.

The ethnic rioting was the worst in decades in China and prompted cycles of retaliation as well as protests against the regional government. Uighurs in Xinjiang have long complained of discrimination against them and of mass migrations to Xinjiang by the Han that have changed society in parts of the region they once clearly dominated. The six sentenced to death by the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi were Abdukerim Abduwayit, Gheni Yusup, Abdulla Mettohti, Adil Rozi, Nureli Wuxiu'er and Alim Metyusup, according to Xinhua. The seventh, Tayirejan Abulimit, was given a life sentence because he had confessed to murder and robbery and helped in the arrest of Mr. Alim Metyusup, Xinhua reported.
[More>>nytimes.com; See details,

xinhuanet.com, October 12, "Six sentenced to death over Xinjian riot" "...
The seven were the first to be sentenced over the riot, which left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Abdukerim Abduwayit killed five innocent people with dagger and pipe wrench during the riot. He also set fire to a downtown building, forcing 13 people to jump off the building to escape and causing an economic loss of more than 260,000 yuan (38,067 U.S. dollars). In the second case, Gheni Yusup led Abdulla Mettohti, Adil Roziand Nureli Wuxiu'er in beating four people to death and injuring another. They smashed and looted shops and vehicles.

Abdulla Mettohti and others also set a grain and oil shop ablaze, killing five people who were hiding inside and causing an economic loss of 1.37 million yuan.
In the third case, Alim Metyusup and Tayirejan Abulimit together killed three people and seriously injured one person. They also robbed the victims of their mobile phones. Alim Metyusup together with other mobs killed another two people and set fire to houses, resulting in an economic loss of more than 50,000 yuan. The public prosecutors presented testimonies of witnesses, autopsy reports and other evidences at the court, and played monitoring video of the scenes of crimes...


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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