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News Headlines & Trends

11.17.09 Australian involved in kickback scheme in Afghanistan

LOS ANGELES, CA, November 17 - An Australian security coordinator faces five years in a US prison after admitting his role in a kickback scheme in Afghanistan. Scott Anthony Walker, 36, appeared before US District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Eastern District of Virginia where he entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to solicit a kickback. Walker began working for an American engineering company joint venture in Afghanistan in February, but was terminated in June after US government investigators uncovered the scheme. The US Department of Justice alleged Walker offered to use his position on an influential committee in Afghanistan to award a security subcontract to a vendor in return for payment of $US250,000 ($267,000), "at a minimum."

An American co-accused, Bryan Lee Burrows, entered a guilty plea to the same charge. According to court documents, the subcontracts provided for private security services to protect US Agency for International Development personnel and contractors in Afghanistan operating under the $US1.4 billion Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project contract. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $US250,000. Walker was employed in Afghanistan by US infrastructure engineering firms Louis Berger Group and Black & Veatch. The firms, under a joint venture, were awarded the contract by the US government in 2006. The contract required numerous subcontracts to be awarded to other companies, including subcontracts for the provision of security services to protect AIRP workers in Afghanistan.

11.17.09 Kuwaiti firm indicted for overcharging US Army

ATLANTA, Ga. November 17 - US grand jury indicts firm for fraud and conspiracy. A US grand jury indicted a Kuwaiti company on Monday for fraud and conspiracy for allegedly overcharging the US Army on $8.5 billion worth of contracts to supply food to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. The grand jury in Atlanta indicted logistics firm Public Warehousing Company, K.S.C. (PWC) on multiple charges of fraud and conspiracy in connection with contracts issued by the Department of Defense between 2003 and 2005. The charges stem from a probe into abuses in vendor contracts in the Middle East that involve the illegal inflation of prices, said Gentry Shelnutt, acting US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. "The indictment alleges PWC submitted false information and manipulated prices to overcharge for food," Shelnutt said. "This indictment is only the first step. Our investigation of entities and persons who have defrauded the United States and our military is ongoing," Shelnutt said. [>alarabiya.net]

11.17.09 Major towns in South Waziristan under our control: Pakistan army

PESHAWAR, November 17 - [The] Pakistan Army on Tuesday claimed that its forces waging a tough ground offensive in the lawless South Waziristan tribal region have captured most of the towns and populated centers from the Taliban...The Army claimed that Sararogha believed to be a bastion of Uzbek and Arab fighters had been captured after a five day fight in which 180 Taliban militants were killed, Geo TV reported. Abbas said that the Army had captured most of the populated centres in South Waziristan and completely crippled Taliban supply lines. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, November 17, "Extremeists blow up girls school in Kyber Agency" :
BARA, Pakistan - The extremists blew up a girls school in Khyber Agency, Geo News reported Tuesday. Also, at least 24 extremists surrendered..to the security agency in Bajaur Agency...of them, 14 are important militant commanders...

thenews.com.pk, November 17, "Taliban leader Fazlullah in Afghanistan" :
LONDON - Taliban leader in Swat Maulvi Fazlullah said he has safely arrived in Afghanistan, Geo News reported Tuesday. Talking to a British news television by phone, he said he is now in Afghanistan. It should be mentioned here that there were reports regarding his death or that he is hiding in critically injured state. [end] [See details, bbc.co.uk" ...."We are soon going to launch full-fledged punitive raids against the army in Swat." ...]

Editorial note: One may fairly ask whether the Obama administration is sitting idly by in not catching the Taliban as they flee the Pakistan Army into Afghanistan. The Roman slogan "Carpe Diem" (seize the day) seems to be lacking in the nonstrategic Obama administration.

Mel Copeland

11.17.09 Pirates free Spanish ship, seize chemical tanker

MOGADISHU (Reuters) November 17 - Somali pirates on Tuesday freed a Spanish tuna fishing boat hijacked last month and said a $3.5 million ransom had been paid for the vessel and its crew. The release of the Alakrana, seized along with its 36 crew in the Indian Ocean on Oct. 2, came soon after news that pirates had captured another ship, a Virgin Islands-owned chemical tanker heading for Mombasa...Earlier, pirate Nor told Reuters that Spain had agreed a ransom of $3.5 million for the Alakrana, one of at least 13 ships held off the Somali coast along with more than 230 crew as hostages. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.16.09 No Mandarin word for 'town hall" : Obama introduces China to US political tradition

SHANGHAI, China, November 16 - Obama talks human rights, censorship with Chinese students but event is not broadcast nationally. At the Museum of Science and Technology Monday afternoon, President Obama took questions from a docile audience of more than 400 Chinese university students handpicked by officials of eight different Chinese universities. The town hall meeting was one of the few unscripted moments on the president's trip. It was supposed to be carried live on Chinese state television but at the last moment, the Chinese government changed its mind and only local stations in Shanghai, and the White House Web site, carried it live. The president opened with a short speech, saying that America and China's rocky past shouldn't influence the future.

"Our relationship has not been without disagreement and difficulty. But the notion that we must be adversaries is not predestined," he said. But Obama did not shy away from those disagreements -- including the issue of human rights, a subject that has weighed on the US-China relationship in recent years. "These freedoms of expression and worship and access to information and political participation, we believe are universal rights," he said. "They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities -- whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation. Indeed, it is that respect for universal rights that guides America's openness to other countries; our respect for different cultures; our commitment to international law; and our faith in the future." The questions were wide-ranging but fairly unchallenging. [More>>abcnews.go.com; See whitehouse.gov, November 16, "Video of president's town hall in Shanghai."]

11.16.09 Fears grow over Iran nuclear sites

November 16 - Iran's belated revelation of a second uranium enrichment site has raised concerns about possible further secret nuclear sites in the country. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raised its fears in a report obtained by several news agencies on Monday. The UN nuclear watchdog's report said Iran had claimed that work on the second bunkered site near Qom had started in 2007. However, the IAEA says it has evidence the project began in 2002, was paused in 2004 and resumed in 2006. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.16.09 Saudi cleric accuses Iran of ties to Yemeni rebels

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) November 16 - Saudi Arabia's most senior cleric is accusing Iran of supporting Shiite rebels whose war with the government of neighboring Yemen has spilled across the border and drawn in Saudi firepower. Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh said the purported collaboration between Iran and the rebels was one of "sin and aggression," according to Al-Watan newspaper. Yemen and the Saudis have accused Iran of sending money and weapons to the rebels. Iran denies the charge. Al Sheikh said the kingdom has the right to defend itself against the rebels, who prompted Saudi intervention this month with an attack on Saudi forces across the border. According to Monday's report, the cleric urged the rebels to "repent ... and know that their actions are wrong." [>khaleejtimes.com]

11.16.09 Rocket attack in Afghan market kills four, injures over 40

KABUL (RIA Novosti) November 16 - Four people were killed and another 40 injured when militants fired three rockets into a crowded marketplace in central Afghanistan on Monday, local police said. The attack occurred in the Kapisa province 70 km northwest of Kabul. Matyullah Safi said the rockets were Chinese-made. The attack is believed to have been timed to coincide with a meeting between French soldiers and local elders taking place in the area. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has said no foreign personnel were injured. [>en.rian.ru; See also nytimes.com, November 16, "10 killed in rocket attack near Kabul."]

11.16.09 Blast near Pakistan police station; 5 killed, several wounded

ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR, November 16 - A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a police station in Peshawar today, killing at least five persons and injuring 20 others in the latest in a wave of deadly terrorist attacks in northwest Pakistan. ( Watch Video ) The attacker targeted a police station at Badabher on the outskirts of the provincial capital at 7.45am, local residents said. A mosque and a house located near the police station were reduced to rubble by the powerful blast, they said.

Five bodies were pulled out of the rubble, state-run PTV reported. Witnesses and rescue service officials said 20 others were injured. "The bomber came in a car from the direction of the Khyber Agency. The car struck the wall between the police station and the mosque. The mosque collapsed due to the blast and the police station was damaged. A nearby market was also damaged," said Shahibzada Anees, the district administration chief.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, November 16, "Lahore: police capture explosive-laden truck" :
LAHORE: Police have captured an explosive-laden truck here today. According to sources, 38 boxes of highly explosive material were being carried to Peshawar from Lahore. A person, named Kamran, in Lahore had the truck booked for Dr. Abdul Sammad in Peshawar, sources added. [end]

11.16.09 Sunni politician, 12 other men killed execution-style west of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, November 16 - A Sunni politician and 12 other men, including some of his relatives, were killed execution-style over the weekend in a small village west of Baghdad. The slayings in the area formerly controlled by insurgents — one of the key gateways to the capital — ignited fears that extremists could be making inroads in Sunni enclaves as US troops withdraw and the ranks of local paramilitary forces established by the Americans thin out.

Iraqi officials did not blame a specific group for the slayings, but local residents said the murders bore the signature of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a dogmatic Sunni group that lost the ability to operate freely in Baghdad and its suburbs after the 2007 surge of US troops and the formation of the paramilitary groups, known as Sons of Iraq. Iraqi authorities said a band of assailants wearing Iraqi Army uniforms kidnapped the men Sunday around midnight from their homes in the villages of Abid and Khodeir Zaidan in the Abu Ghraib district. Hamid Salam Thamir, the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party in the area, was among those killed, officials said.

11.16.09 Sicilian mafia fugitive arrested

November 16 - Italian police have captured Domenico Raccuglia, one of Sicily's senior mafia fugitives, who had been on the run for 15 years, officials said. Uberto Di Maggio, the Sicily regional president of the anti-Mafia organization Libera, said on Monday Raccuglia's arrest marked a "great day" for the battle against organized crime. "He was one of the big legendary bosses," Di Maggio said, adding: "People thought he was impossible to arrest."

Raccuglia, 45, part of the Cosa Nostra crime syndicate and considered one of Italy's 30 most dangerous fugitives, was arrested in an apartment in a town near Trapani on Sunday night. At the time of his arrest, Raccuglia tried to escape from a balcony in the apartment where he was hiding, but police had surrounded the building and caught him. He had been convicted of five murders, including the kidnapping and killing of a rival's son, whose body was thrown into a vat of acid. Raccuglia faces several life sentences. 

11.15.09 Terrorists smuggle fatwas out of secure prison

November 15 - Some of Britain's most dangerous al-Qaeda leaders are promoting jihad from inside high-security prisons by smuggling out propaganda for the internet and finding recruits. In an authoritative report, Quilliam, a think tank funded by the Home Office, claims “mismanagement” by the Prison Service is helping al-Qaeda gain recruits and risks "strengthening jihadist movements." Abu Qatada, described by MI5 as "Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe," has published fatwas — religious rulings — on the internet from Long Lartin prison, in Worcestershire, calling for holy war and the murder of moderate Muslims, it reveals. Abu Doha — said to be al-Qaeda's main recruiter in Europe — has taken courses in Belmarsh prison, south London, enabling him to mentor other inmates.

Abu Hamza, jailed in 2006 for inciting murder, has preached radical sermons to followers using water pipes in his Belmarsh cell, and Rachid Ramda, the Algerian leader of the Paris Métro bomb plot, led Friday prayers in the same jail. Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, shadow security minister, said prisons risked becoming "incubators of extremism." Qatada, a radical Islamist cleric who is wanted on terrorism charges in Jordan, is held in the the "supermax" segregation wing of Long Lartin. Built at the height of the IRA's bombing campaign and designed to house dangerous inmates, it should be one of the most secure buildings in the country.
[More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related story,

alarabiya.net, November 15, "Iraq US jail was al-Qaeda breeding ground: inmates" : RAMADI - Camp Bucca housed up to 22,000 prisoners in 2007. Iraq's Camp Bucca, the US-run jail where around 100,000 prisoners were kept over six years, was a breeding ground for the al-Qaeda terror network, according to police and former inmates. Bucca, located in an isolated desert north of the border with Kuwait, was a school for scores of Takfiris, or Sunni extremists who usually ended up in al-Qaeda, said Abu Mohammed, freed in 2008 after 26 months behind its bars. "The illiterate and straight-forward people were the easiest prey for indoctrination," said the 32-year-old resident of Ramadi, the former insurgency stronghold 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Baghdad.

Opened after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Camp Bucca was the biggest detention centre in Iraq housing up to 22,000 prisoners in 2007. At its closing on September 17 this year, there were only 8,000 inmates who were transferred to Camp Cropper in Baghdad and Camp Taji, north of the capital. "The two suicide bombers and the majority of suspects detained after the twin bombings of August 19 against the foreign affairs and finance departments, which killed 95, were released shortly before from Camp Bucca," a senior interior ministry official told AFP. "We reached the same conclusion for the double attack of October 25 which left 153 dead," the official said of the almost simultaneous blasts at the justice and public works ministries, after which 73 people were arrested...

11.15.09 China: No media censorship of Obama

November 15 - A White House official says China has assured the US there will be no media censorship of President Barack Obama's remarks during a three-day visit that will take him to Shanghai and Beijing. The official told CBS News the administration secured a Chinese government promise to carry the President's remarks "as spoken." The official also said the White House would be ready to "make it a big story" if China blocks out any of the President's words. [More>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

xinhuanet.com, November 15, "Obama's exchange with Chinese youth to be braodcast live online"
: SHANGHAI - US President Barack Obama will start his four-day China visit Sunday in Shanghai, and the highlight of his visit in the eastern city will be broadcast live by Xinhuanet, the online news service of the Xinhua News Agency... Obama is scheduled to meet with Chinese youth on Monday in Shanghai, during which he will pick up a number of questions out of more than 3,200 put forward by China's Internet users over the past two days...

11.15.09 French, Afghan troops push into hostile valley

TAGAB VALLEY, Afghanistan (AP) November 15 - Hundreds of French and Afghan troops on Sunday pushed into a hostile valley in eastern Afghanistan where militants launch quick attacks, then disappear into hillside villages. The mission: secure the area for a planned bypass road around the Afghan capital to move supplies from neighboring Pakistan. About 700 French troops, joined by 100 Afghan soldiers, moved into the Tagab valley before dawn with more than 100 armored vehicles. US and French attack helicopters roared overhead as insurgent snipers fired from the roofs of houses onto the advancing column of vehicles, according to a reporter for The Associated Press traveling with the French troops.

NATO forces have bases in the wide-bottomed valley, but they have had difficulty securing the mountainous area connected by small footpaths. Just 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Kabul, the valley is seen as a launching pad for attacks in the capital. In a neighboring valley last year, militants killed 10 French troops...Separately in the eastern province of Paktika, which borders Pakistan, a joint NATO and Afghan force killed a group of militants while pursuing a commander tied to the militant network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, NATO said. It did not specify how many were killed.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.15.09 Pakistanis fighting in Yemen with Houthis: report

DUBAI, November 15 - Saudi arrests sorcerer planting magic on Yemen border. Yemen's Houthi rebels have Pakistani fighters in their ranks, press reports revealed Sunday, as Saudi Arabia arrested a sorcerer on its border with Yemen attempting to plant magic spells in the conflict zone in support of the rebel group. Pakistani fighters are helping the Houthi rebels with their conflict against Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya TV reported, quoting Yemen's Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi as saying: "The way the Houthi militias operate and the amount of money they spend on the conflict make the involvement of foreign powers almost a certainty." [More>>alarabiya.net]

11.15.09 Militants attack anti-Taliban mayor in Pakistan

(AP) November 15 - More than a dozen militants opened fire on the house of an anti-Taliban mayor in northwestern Pakistan today, but security guards repelled the attack, killing three assailants who had disguised themselves by wearing women's burqas, police said. Militants have staged a wave of attacks in northwestern Pakistan in recent weeks in retaliation for an army offensive launched last month in the tribal area of South Waziristan, where al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding. Three militants who initiated the attack in the town of Bazid Khel against Mayor Mohammad Fahim Khan's house concealed themselves by donning all-encompassing burqas traditionally worn by Muslim women, police official Nabi Shah said.

"Seeing three burqa-clad women early in the morning, Fahim Khan's security guards challenged them, and the men threw away their disguise and opened fire," Shah said. "But the guards were alert and they retaliated quickly." The guards killed the three militants, but several others joined the fight, Shah said. The two groups waged a gunbattle before the remaining militants fled, he said. Khan is the second mayor to be attacked in the last week who has organized a local militia to fight against the Taliban.
[More>>independent.co.uk; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, November 15, "Security forces kill 11 extremists in S. Waziristan, Swat":
SWAT/WANA - Security forces continue operation[s] in Swat and Southern Waziristan and at least 11 extremists have collectively been killed in both the areas. According to sources, security forces carried out action against extremists in Gurrai area of Tehsil Barikot of Swat the previous night killing four extremists. It may be mentioned that security forces had to face stiff resistance during Operation Rah-e-Rast in Gurrai area, and they succeeded in taking control of Gurrai after 15 days of fierce clashes, sources said. On the other hand, security forces killed seven extremists and wounded nine others destroying two of their strongholds in Marobi area of Makeen and Ahmed Wam Area of Sararogha in Southern Waziristan. Meanwhile, three dead bodies of extremists have also been found in Janadhar Latka area. [end]

thenews.com.pk, November 15, "Another mastermind of attacks on Islamic University nabbed"
ATTOCK - One more mastermind of orchestrating bomb attacks on International Islamic University on October 20 has been arrested from Attock, brining the total number of arrested in the case to 4. The attack on the University had killed 9 people including students. The mastermind, identified as Zahid, and his accomplice have been arrested from Attock. Police sources said two persons have already been arrested from Islamabad in this case. Investigation from the arrested is underway. [end]

thenews.com.pk, November 15, "8 alleged terrorists held in Peshawar" : PESHAWAR - Peshawar police have arrested 8 alleged terrorists and recovered huge cache of arms in a search operation. Peshawar police presented before media the arrested persons as well as the recovered weapons. DSP Saddar Circle Khursheed Khan said Badh Bir and Matni police stations conducted search operations in the outskirts of the city. Eight Kalashnikovs, 15 pistols, 7 mm rifle and thousands of cartridges were recovered, he said. He said cases under anti terrorism act have been registered against the arrested. [end]

11.14.09 Scores die in China snowstorms

November 14 - Scores of people have been killed in China due to heavy snows, some of which were artificially created. The dead included children crushed when the roof of their school canteen fell in under the weight of the snow. Thousands of homes have also collapsed and half a million acres of crops have been blighted. By Saturday, officials put the death toll at 40 in north-central China. According to the civil affairs ministry website most deaths had been caused in traffic accidents. The snowfall is the heaviest in the northern and central provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Shandong and Henan since record keeping began after the establishment of the Communist state in 1949, the ministry said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.14.09 Iran sets up internet monitoring unit

(AP) November 14 - Iranian police have set up a special unit to monitor Web sites and fight Internet crimes, in a possible attack on the opposition, which relies on that medium to broadcast its message, local newspapers reported Saturday Police Colonel Mehrdad Omidi, who heads the Internet crime unit, said the unit will fight "insults and the spreading of lies," terms widely used by the judiciary to describe opposition activities. "Given the spread of Internet use, police must confront crimes taking place in the Web atmosphere," he said. "A special committee has been set up to monitor the Internet and deal with crimes ... such as fraud ... insults and the spreading of lies." Omidi specifically said the 12-member committee will intervene in "political matters on the Internet should there be an illegal act." The official said the unit will operate under the direction of the prosecution office.

Iranian authorities have banned most Web sites linked to Iran's opposition or those containing articles supporting the reform movement. The opposition has continued to set up new Web site within days of the old ones being blocked. The opposition has no access to state media and has been promoting its message largely through the Internet. Iranian newspapers are warned by authorities from time to time not to publish articles in support of the opposition leaders. Iran's state radio and TV are directly controlled by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who strongly endorsed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June. The opposition maintains the election was marred by fraud. It was not immediately clear exactly how the new unit would carry out its surveillance.
[>jpost.com; See related stories,

alarabiya.net, November 14, "Iran student gets 8 years for protesting vote result" : TEHRAN -
Mousavi's brother-in-law set to stand trial: official. An Iranian court on Saturday sentenced a student who took part in protests following Iran's disputed election to eight years in prison as opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi condemned a government decision to put his brother-in-law, Shahpour Kazemi, on trial. The June 12 vote triggered big street demonstrations by opposition supporters accusing the authorities of rigging the result, which gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in charge.

The wife of the detainee, Abdullah Momeni, told website Mowjcamp, which backs defeated candidate Mousavi, that Momeni was sentenced to six years for taking part in post-election protests and two years for previous activities concerning national security. Several other post-election detainees have received jail terms and three people have been sentenced to death, according to Iranian media. Last week a court sentenced a man to seven years in jail and 74 lashes for post-election activities, Mowjcamp reported...

khaleejtimes.com, November 14, "Iran rulers more brutal than shah: opposition"
TEHRAN - Iran's opposition leaders say the country's clerical rulers are more brutal than the shah's regime. Two of Iran's top pro-reform figures say police used excessive force against anti-government protesters who took to the streets last week on the sidelines of state-sanctioned rallies to mark the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi say authorities even struck women on their heads with batons. In a Web posting Saturday, they called such treatment an ugly act that was not even seen during the shah's response to the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled him. Mousavi and Karroubi have led a protest movement rejecting the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June re-election. [end]

11.14.09 Bomb blast in Peshawar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, November 14 - In [a] continuing wave of violence in Pakistan's northwest, a suicide car bomber blew himself up at a police check post on Peshawar's outskirts on Saturday, killing 10 people, including women and children, and injuring over 25 others. ( Watch Video ) The bomber detonated his explosive-laden vehicle, packed with 50 kg of explosives, when he was flagged at the checkpoint at Pishtakhara Chowk, the main entry point to Peshawar from the troubled Khyber tribal region. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, November 14, "2 militants killed, 6 hurt in Mohmand Agency" :
PESHAWAR: Two militants have been killed and six injured during clashes between militants and security forces in Mohmand Agency. FC sources said two militants were killed and two wounded in retaliatory action of forces after militants attack in Bhahay Daak camp in tehsil Baizai. Four militants injured in exchange of fire whey they attacked house of head of peace committee in Manziri Chena area. [end]

11.14.09 Roadside bomb kills 2 Iraqi soldiers at checkpoint

BAGHDAD (AP) November 14 - Iraqi police say a roadside bomb has exploded near an army checkpoint west of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding two more. Police Col. Saad al-Shamari says the bomb exploded early Saturday outside Fallujah, which is 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of the Iraqi capital. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

alarabiya.net, November 14, "Iraq's Kurdish forces arrest Qaeda suspect" :
ARBIL - Suspect wanted by the Iraqi and US security forces. The security services of Iraq's northern Kurdish area said Saturday they had arrested a key al-Qaeda figure allegedly behind a string of bomb attacks, in an operation backed by the US military. An official statement named the suspect as Muthanna Hani Nassar and said he had been a high-ranking official in the Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein. The US army said separately that he was wanted in connection with major bombings in northern Iraq. Nassar, 36, from Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and hotbed of the once fierce Sunni insurgency against US forces, was arrested in Sulaimaniyah city last weekend under a warrant issued in his home city, Kurdish intelligence said...

11.13.09 Iran's Supreme Leader cannot be removed: official

TEHRAN (Reuters) November 13 - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cannot be removed from his post because his legitimacy comes from God, an official close to Iran's most powerful figure was reported on Friday as saying. Khamenei, whose public persona is usually above politics, stoked controversy in Iran when he endorsed the disputed victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June's presidential elections, which plunged Iran into its deepest internal crisis since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Supporters of defeated candidates staged protests that were crushed by police, saying the vote was rigged.

Mojtaba Zolnour, a Khamenei representative in the elite Revolutionary Guards, told a gathering of Khamenei's representatives in Iranian universities that the clerical body that chose him, the Assembly of Experts, could not remove him. "The members of the assembly ... do not appoint the Supreme Leader, rather they discover him and it is not that they would be able to remove him any time they wish so," he said, according to a report on the website Mowjcamp, which backs Ahmadinejad's opponent Mirhossein Mousavi. In theory Khamenei can be removed by the 86-man Assembly of Experts, which approved him as successor to Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. But the system has never been tested.

11.13.09 Madoff IT workers arrested over $65bn scam

November 13 - Two computer programmers who worked for Bernard Madoff were arrested today for assisting the 71-year-old fraudster's $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Jerome O'Hara and George Perez face criminal charges of conspiracy, falsifying books and records of a broker dealer and falsifying books and records of an investment adviser. Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the two men, who worked for Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities from the early 1990s, created computer programs that were filled with false information such as incorrect client names, trading details and accounts. The false programs were used by Madoff to deceive the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and an unnamed European accounting firm during at least five reviews of his Manhattan firm, Mr. Bharara alleged. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

11.13.09 US moves to seize 4 Iran-linked sites

(AP) November 13 - In what could be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in US history, federal prosecutors sought to take over four US mosques and a New York City skyscraper owned by a Muslim organization suspected of being controlled by the Iranian government. Prosecutors on Thursday filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets. The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres (40 hectares) in Virginia; and a 36-story Manhattan office tower. Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which the US government has accused of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb. [More>>jpost.com]

11.13.09 NASA moon crash found 'significant amount' of water

November 13 - It's official: There's water ice on the moon, and lots of it. When melted, the water could potentially be used to drink or to extract hydrogen for rocket fuel. NASA's LCROSS probe discovered beds of water ice at the lunar south pole when it impacted the moon last month, mission scientists announced today. The findings confirm suspicions announced previously, and in a big way. "Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn't find just a little bit, we found a significant amount," Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator from NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. [More>>foxnews.com]

11.13.09 Key 9/11 suspect to be tried in New York

WASHINGTON, November 13 - Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and four other men accused in the plot will be prosecuted in federal court in New York City, the United States attorney general announced Friday. But the administration will prosecute another set of high-profile detainees now being held at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen, and four other detainees — before a military commission. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced those decisions in a news conference Friday at the Department of Justice.

The arrangements would mean that civilian prosecutors would handle those detainees accused of the 2001 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, northern Virginia and Pennsylvania, while the 2000 attack against the Cole would remain within the military system. No detainee is being moved right away. Under a law Congress enacted this year, lawmakers must be given 45 days notice before the executive branch moves any Guantánamo Bay detainee onto United States soil.

11.13.09 Car bomber strikes near Kabul US base

KABUL (Reurters) November 13 - A suicide car bomber struck a convoy of civilian vehicles outside a US military base in Kabul early on Friday, wounding three Afghans and causing several casualties among foreigners, police said. The head of criminal investigations for Kabul police, Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, said 3-4 foreign casualties had been taken from the scene by Western troops, but he could give no details of the extent of their wounds. A damaged white civilian vehicle could be seen at the debris-strewn blast site on a main road about 100 metres (yards) from Camp Phoenix, a large US military base also used by troops from other NATO countries near the airport. Witnesses said a second civilian vehicle that was destroyed in the blast had been removed, while US troops in armored vehicles blocked off the site. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

independent.co.uk, November 13, "Obama's advisers at war over Afghan conflict" : The West's military strategy in Afghanistan slipped even deeper into confusion yesterday after President Barack Obama flatly rejected all four options for increases in troop levels presented to him by his team of national security aides. The delay was prompted in part by a last-minute bombshell from the US ambassador in Kabul. In two cables to the President, Karl Eikenberry argued it would be a bad idea to increase troop levels because of the ineptitude of President Hamid Karzai, who finally secured a second term last week after the fraud-marred mess of the August elections.

By speaking up, Mr. Eikenberry has put himself on a direct collision course with the US military leader in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. US commanders in Kabul greeted the envoy's intervention with dismay although some civilian officials believe the development gives Mr. Obama a valuable breathing space in which to explore the least harmful ways out of a seemingly intractable situation. The procrastination may point to a possible swing in sentiment in Washington toward those who fear a Vietnam War-type quicksand.

...American and British commanders are desperate for more troops to stem the tide of the Taliban insurgency and say that every day that slips by without a clear commitment from Washington makes their task more difficult. The open divisions in the US, say diplomats, will make it even more difficult for the US to persuade other NATO members to expand their contributions. The Western strategy for the next phase of the war has been predicated on General McChrystal getting a significant proportion of the 40,000 troops he had asked for if the Afghan mission is not to fail...

msnbc.msn.com, November 13, "US Army: Troop morale falls in Afghanistan" : WASHINGTON - Morale has fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, where troops are seeing record violence in the 8-year-old war, while those in Iraq show much improved mental health amid much lower violence, the Army said Friday. Soldier suicides in Iraq did not increase for the first time since 2004, according to a new study. Though findings of two new battlefield surveys are similar in several ways to the last ones taken in 2007, they come at a time of intense scrutiny on Afghanistan as President Barack Obama struggles to come up with a new war strategy and planned troop buildup. There is also perhaps equal new attention focused on the mental health of the force since a shooting rampage at Fort Hood last week in which an Army psychiatrist is charged. Both surveys showed that soldiers on their third or fourth tours of duty had lower morale and more mental health problems than those with fewer deployments and an ever-increasing number of troops are having problems with their marriages...

news.sky.com, November 13, "PM calls for 5,000 extra NATO troops to Afghanistan" : The Prime Minister has confirmed he is sending envoys to European and NATO countries to persuade them to deploy an extra 5,000 troops to Afghanistan. "I have taken the responsibility of asking others in Europe, and outside Europe actually, if they will back this strategy which is partnering the Afghan forces, mentoring the Afghan forces," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We need our other NATO allies to help. I am asking them to help. I think we can probably get another 5,000 forces into Afghanistan... and Britain will be part of that." However in the US, there appears to be discord over increasing the troop numbers...

11.13.09 20 killed as bombers hit ISI office, police station in NWFP

ISLAMABAD, November 13 - Suicide bombers on Friday struck Pakistan's powerful ISI hitting its operational headquarters in northwestern city of Peshawar and a police station nearby in Bannu, killing 20 people, including seven personnel of the spy agency. The strike on the spy agency overseeing Pakistan's anti-terror campaign and on the police station left 85 people wounded and came as 30,000 troops were pressing Taliban and foreign militants in their stronghold in lawless Waziristan. A suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden truck into the gate of the ISI office within the cantonment of Peshawar city at 6.40 am, killing at least 12 people and injuring 60 others, police said. The bomber's car was packed with about 200 kg of explosives, IGP Malik Naveed Khan told reporters. Though the well-armed guards opened fire on the car to stop it, the attacker rammed his vehicle into the three-storey building reducing it to rubble, police said. [More>>indianexpress.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, November 13, "Six terrorists killed, 12 soldiers martyred in SWA - ISPR report" :
RAWALPINDI - Six terrorists have been killed while 12 soldiers embraced shahadat and 2 soldiers injured during the ongoing operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan. According to ISPR, security forces successfully secured important feature point 5376, 3 kms north of Ahmed Wam on Jandola – Sararogha Axis. Exchange of fire took place between security forces and terrorists at Ahmed Wam, resultantly 2 soldiers embraced Shahadat and 2 were injured, while 6 terrorists were killed.

[A] Clearance operation at Khawasai is underway. Security forces conducted [a] search operation in area around Torwam on Shakai – Kaniguram Axis, cleared compounds, and recovered cache of arms and ammunition. 10 wounded soldiers due to engagement with terrorists of Langar Khel yesterday succumbed to injuries and embraced shahadat. Total casualties are 15 soldiers shaheed.

Security forces have fully secured the area from Makeen to Marobi Raghzai and road block has been established at Shah Wali Algad on Razmak- Makeen Axis. Security forces cleared built up area of Rogha and Mir Khoni. Terrorists fired rockets at Razmak Camp and Laghr Manza, which was effectively responded [to] by security forces. Security forces apprehended wanted terrorist Qamar Ali at Shangla during operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat – Malakand. Security forces conducted [a] search operation at Shalpin, Amankot, Ghalagai and apprehended 3 terrorists. [end]

11.13.09 Saudi villages evacuated over Yemen violence

GENEVA (Reuters) November 13 - Some 240 villages in Saudi Arabia have been evacuated and scores of schools closed due to fighting which has now spilled over from Yemen. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, launched an offensive last week after Yemeni rebels seized Saudi territory along the mountainous border from which they said the Saudis had been allowing Yemeni troops to use to attack their positions. "Fighting has now spilled into Saudi Arabia, reportedly causing 240 villages to be evacuated and more than 50 schools to be closed," Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. The information came from UNICEF's contacts on the ground, a spokeswoman said in Geneva, giving no further details. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.12.09 Rights activist calls for Iran to free detained US citizens

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) November 12 - Iranian human rights activist and lawyer Shirin Ebadi called for Iranian authorities to free US citizens accused of espionage, Iranian news agency IRNA reported. Three US hikers, who hold visas for Syria and Iraq, have been jailed since July when they crossed the Iranian border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Families of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal said that they crossed the border accidentally as it is not marked properly. It was later reported that the young Americans, all graduates of the University of California at Berkeley, were charged with spying. According to a Teheran court inspector, investigations are still ongoing.

Ebadi, a Nobel laureate, said she feels very sorry that the Iranian government has arrested these people as she knows that in that region the border is not clear. She also thinks that even if the border was marked and one had passed the border, they could have been released by paying a fine, adding that she is surprised that hikers were kept in prison for so long. In August, the White House demanded Iran free the young people, insisting they were tourists traveling in Iraq and crossed the border accidentally.

11.12.09 Jordan: Jerusalem is a ticking time bomb

November 12 - Jerusalem is a ticking time bomb where an attack by Jewish extremists on Muslim holy sites could erase any chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, undermining stability in the entire Muslim world, Jordan's US Ambassador Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein told the Washington Times in an interview published on Thursday. The Jordanian envoy referred to clashes between security forces and Arab rioters in Jerusalem in recent weeks, and explained that the Hashemite Kingdom was worried those events could lead to another incident such as the 1969 fire at the Aksa Mosque set by Australian Denis Michael Rohan. Rohan, a Christian, was arrested and later found to be mentally ill. "We are worried that, in the short term, something like this might happen," he said. "It would unleash emotions of an extreme nature [and] the consequences would be very severe," Zeid told the paper. He went on to warn that the US does not seem to realize the serious ramifications such an incident could have on the peace process and on the entire region. [More>>jpost.com]

11.12.09 China evokes Lincoln to warn Obama about Dalai Lama

BEIJING (Reuters) November 12 - A Chinese government spokesman said Barack Obama should be especially sympathetic to China's opposition to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence, as a black president who lauded Abraham Lincoln for helping abolish slavery. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the comments at a news conference on Thursday, four days before Obama arrives in China for a summit that will cover the two big powers' vast and sometimes tense economic, diplomatic and security ties. Obama did not meet Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, when he was in Washington in early October.

But the Dalai Lama has said they may meet after Obama's visit to China, which condemns the Buddhist monk as a separatist for demanding Tibetan self-determination. China is sure to condemn such a meeting, and spokesman Qin underscored
and possibly intensified the political temperature of the issue by citing Obama's background and admiration for President Abraham Lincoln, who opposed the secession of the southern states and sought to abolish slavery, which Qin likened to Tibetan society under the Dalai Lama. [More>>indianexpress.com]

11.12.09 Iran mission official shot dead in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, November 12 - Gunmen shot dead a Pakistani spokesman for the Iranian consulate at point-blank range Thursday as he set off for work in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said. Attackers targeted Abu al-Hasan Jaffry, director of public relations and protocol at the consulate in Peshawar, after he left home in his car, senior police official Nisar Marwat told AFP...Police declined to speculate on a motive for the killing of Jaffry, which came almost exactly a year after an Iranian diplomat was abducted in the same city. The diplomat is still missing. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]

11.12.09 3,000 Afghan held in Mardan, Swabi

MARDAN, Pakistan, November 12 - More than three thousand illegal Afghan immigrants and 50 imams have been apprehended from Mardan and Swabi. DP inspector general police Mardan region, Syed Akhtar Ali Shah told the press in Peshawar that police have issued red alert in Mardan and Swabi in the wake of Peshawar and Charsadda bomb blasts. Thirty special police squads have been formed for checking on the check posts along with installation of close circuit cameras in [the]12 most vulnerable localities of Mardan in compliance with the new security plan, Akhtar Ali said. The inspector further revealed that 50 special under cover squads have been formed to gather sensitive information. [>thenews.com.pk; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, November 12, "40 suspects nabbed in Bajaur" : KHAR - Security forces and political administration have apprehended 40 suspects during a joint search operation in Khar, the capital of Bajaur agency, Geo News reported Thursday. The security men have held these 40 suspects for interrogation, meanwhile police continue to raid in different areas during the ongoing search operation under strict security arrangements all over Bajaur agency. FC and levies have been heavily deployed in the area and strict traffic checking is carried out on all the entry/exit routes of Bajaur agency. [end]

thenews.com.pk, November 12, "3 militants arrested in Swat" : SWAT - Three militants have been arrested whereas seven surrendered during [an] ongoing operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat. Sources said a body of local militant commander Shaukat [was] found near Brem Bridge in tehsil Matta. Security forces arrested three militants during [a] search operation in Manglore whereas seven militants surrendered to security forces in Kabal and Matta. According to Swat media center, curfew remained relax till 12:00 mid night in Mingora, Fizzagat, Charbagh, Kanju, Kabal and adjoining areas and till 10:00pm in other areas of the district. [end]

thenews.com.pk, November 12, "2 militants killed in S. Waziristan"

abcnews.go.com, November 12, " Pakistanis blame US for Taliban terror bombings" : PESHAWAR - ...Most people in this city blame the United States instead of radical Islamist militants for the increased violence. Some blame the U.S. for launching the attacks, or accuse the U.S. of pushing the Pakistani army into an operation against a Taliban that are fighting back with suicide attacks against mostly civilian targets...Like many of the residents in this working class section of Peshawar, Ameen blamed a "foreign hand" for the violence, suggesting the United States, India or Afghanistan. Anyone but the Taliban. "I don't think any Muslim could have done this. Muslims can't spill blood of Muslims," he says. "These are foreign forces. Hindus and white men together want to destroy Pakistan. This is an American trick. On the surface, they pretend to be friends, but they strike Muslims in the back."...

11.11.09 Missing US soldier's body found in Afghan river

KABUL, November 11 - Military divers have found the body of one of two US soldiers who went missing last week as they tried to recover airdropped supplies that fell into a river in western Afghanistan, NATO said on Wednesday. The two paratroopers, from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, disappeared in Badghis province, a remote area that borders Turkmenistan, on Nov. 4. Local police had said the two had been swept away by the river as they tried to recover the supplies. Afghan and international forces are still searching for the second soldier, NATO said in a statement.

During the first days of the search, intense fighting broke out with militants in the area. Eight Afghans, four soldiers, three policemen and an interpreter were killed, while 17 Afghan troops and five American soldiers were wounded. Afghanistan's Defence Ministry had said at the time that the deaths and injuries likely happened "during an air attack by NATO forces" during the fighting. NATO has said authorities are investigating whether some of the casualties were caused by a friendly fire airstrike.

Separately in the south, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives near a NATO military convoy in the province of Zabul, killing a man and a woman and wounding another three passers-by, the province's governor said. Gulab Shah Ali Khail said the bomber struck in the district of Shajoy. Afghan Army officer Aimal Khan also said the motorcycle bomber killed two and wounded three.

11.11.09 S. Korea military on alert for retaliation after naval clash

SEOUL, S. Korea, November 11 - South Korea's military was on alert on Wednesday for any retaliatory moves after a North Korean patrol boat was set ablaze in a naval clash, as Washington warned Pyongyang against escalating tensions. Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young ordered army, navy and air force commanders in charge of border areas to step up surveillance and respond immediately to any provocation, a spokesman for Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Tuesday's clash near the disputed Yellow Sea border raised tensions just over a week before US President Barack Obama arrives in Seoul as part of an Asian tour. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called on the North to avoid any further actions "that could be seen as an escalation."

But Washington also announced it was accepting an invitation to send an envoy to Pyongyang to try to bring the communist state back to nuclear disarmament talks.
The State Department said the US envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, would visit at an appropriate time, probably before year-end. Military sources quoted by Seoul newspapers said one North Korean sailor was killed and three wounded in the brief but fierce exchange of fire. The defence ministry said it could not confirm the figure. No South Koreans were injured. [>indianexpress.com; See other details,

koreaherald.co.kr, November 11, "Military keeps vigil against N. Korea" : ...
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young later told lawmakers that Pyongyang may seek revenge as the South Korean Navy reportedly afflicted significant damage on the North Korea ship. The South Korean vessel sustained no damage. North Korea reportedly suffered one casualty, but Seoul refused to confirm the reports. Shortly after the incident, Pyongyang demanded an apology from the South, accusing Seoul of initiating the skirmish. The two-minute battle erupted at around 11:37 a.m. on Tuesday. After the North Korean patrol ship crossed the NLL, the South Korean vessel fired warning shots, after which the N.K. ship instigated a gun battle. Washington also criticized the North for the naval instigation...

11.11.09 Soldiers killed in Pakistan attacks

November 11 - At least 10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in two separate attacks near the Afghan border, officials have said. A roadside bomb killed eight security officers travelling along a road in the Mohmand tribal region on Wednesday evening, officials said, while two soldiers were killed in an ambush in the same district. "Eight soldiers were martyred and two were wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine buried on the roadside," Major Fazal ur-Rehman, spokesman for the Frontier Corps, told the AFP news agency. "The soldiers were on a routine patrol. The landmine was buried by militants. The explosion damaged the pick-up," he said.

The ambush, which occurred at a security outpost in Mohmand, saw dozens of fighters armed with automatic weapons and rocket launchers attack forces, local officials said. The army responded by shelling militant positions there, killing 10 suspected fighters, intelligence officials told the AP news agency. Mohmand lies some 200km north of South Waziristan, where the army is undertaking a major offensive against the Taliban.
[More>>aljazeera.net; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, November 11, "36 Afghans among 1000 arrested in Peshawar search operation" :
PESHAWAR - At least 1000 persons including 36 Afghan refugees have been arrested during search operation in Peshawar. According to sources, Peshawar police have arrested 36 Afghan refugees under Foreign Act 14 and 70 other anti social elements during search operation launched against illegal Afghan immigrants. Seventy other criminals also nabbed and three Kalashnikovs, three pistols and three kilogram of Charras recovered from their possession. [end]

thenews.com.pk, November 11, "7 more militants killed in Operation Rah-e-Nijat : ISPR report" : RAWALPINDI - Seven terrorists have been killed while 2 soldiers embraced Shahadat and as many were injured including an officer in the ongoing operation Reh-e-Nijat in South Waziristan in the last 24 hours. According to ISPR, security forces are consolidating their gains and area domination is being carried out in parts of Jandola – Sararogha Axis...Village Kaniguram has been completely searched and cleared. During clearance, 8 tunnels inside the compounds have been discovered along with number of weapons and ammunition...A intense fire exchange took place at newly established check post at Fort Knoll. Resultantly, 7 terrorists were killed. Two soldiers including an officer got injured...

news.com.au, November 11, "Landmine, ambush kills Pakistan troops" : PESHAWAR - A landmine and separate ambush killed 10 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border overnight, in a sign that violence is spreading away from the frontlines of an anti-Taliban offensive. Pakistan has pressed around 30,000 forces, backed by war planes and attack helicopters, into battle in a US-endorsed mission to wipe out the chief strongholds of Tehreek-e-Taliban in the tribal district of South Waziristan. The district, one of seven in Pakistan's tribal belt, is in the border area with Afghanistan where US officials say al-Qaeda is plotting attacks on the West and Islamist militants are embedded in large swathes of the mountains...

japantoday.com, November 11, "20 killed, 50 injured in suicide bombing in Pakistan" : ISLAMABAD - Twenty people were killed and 50 others injured in a suicide car bomb attack in a busy market in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, according to local television reports. The blast happened in Ghafoor Market in Chasada, about 110 kilometers northwest of the capital Islamabad, the reports said. At least 15 vehicles and nearly 5o shops were destroyed in the blast. The city's police chief, Mohammad Ilyas, said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber in a pickup truck. The death toll is expected to rise as several people were feared buried under the debris, according to officials. [end

11.11.09 Iran 'ready to aid Yemeni security'

November 11 - Iran has said that it is ready to help restore security in Yemen, which is currently engaged in a deadly conflict with an armed Houthi opposition group. Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's foreign minister, made the offer on Wednesday, a day after Tehran warned Middle Eastern governments against interfering in the affairs of the the Arab Peninsula country. "Iran is prepared to cooperate with the government of Yemen and other nations in order to restore security [in Yemen]," Mottaki said at a news conference.

Mottaki said that the fighting in north Yemen between government forces and the Houthis, who are from the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam, can be resolved by "collective efforts." "It can restore security, peace and tranquility among the  people of Yemen and the whole region. Any measure in contrast of such approach will serve the enemies of Islamic and Arab states. We believe that any approach other than this will not serve the interests of regional nations."
[More>>aljazeera.net; See related stories,

alarabiya.net, November 11, " Yemen rejects Iranian 'interference' in its affairs" :
JIZAN, Saudi Arabia - Saudi to pay compensation for displaced: prince. Yemen hit out on Wednesday at what it called Iranian "interference" in its affairs after Tehran's foreign minister said his country could help Sanaa restore security as it attempts to crush the Shiite Houthi rebels. "In response to the remarks of (Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr) Mottaki, we affirm that Yemen categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs by any party whatsoever," the official Saba news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying. "Yemen also rejects any attempt by any party to represent itself as the protector of sons of the Yemeni people." ...

arabtimesonline.com (AP) November 11, "US imam wanted in Yemen over al-Qaeda suspicions" : SAN'A, Yemen - A radical American imam who communicated with the Fort Hood shooting suspect and called him a hero was once arrested in Yemen on suspicion of giving religious approval to militants to conduct kidnappings. Yemeni authorities are now hunting for Anwar al-Awlaki to determine whether he has al-Qaeda ties. Al-Awlaki, who has used his personal Web site to encourage Muslims around the world to kill US troops in Iraq, disappeared in Yemen eight months ago, according to his father. Yemeni security officials say they believe he is hiding in a region of the mountainous nation that has become a refuge for Islamic militants...

11.09.09 Officials: US aware of Hasan efforts to contact al-Qaeda

November 9 - Army Major in Fort Hood Massacre Used 'Electronic Means' to Connect with Terrorists. US intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al-Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News. It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al-Qaeda figures, the officials said. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said that he requested the CIA and other intelligence agencies brief the committee on what was known, if anything, about Hasan by the US intelligence community, only to be refused.

In response, Hoekstra issued a document preservation request to four intelligence agencies. The letter, dated November 7th, was sent to directors Dennis Blair (DNI), Robert Mueller (FBI), Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander (NSA) and Leon Panetta (CIA). Hoekstra said he is "absolutely furious" that the house intel committee has been refused an intelligence briefing by the DNI or CIA on Hasan's attempt to reach out to al-Qaeda, as first reported by ABC News. "This is a law enforcement investigation, in which other agencies — not the CIA — have the lead," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a response to ABC News. "Any suggestion that the CIA refused to brief Congress is incorrect."

Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the US. In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people." According to his site, Awlaki served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia. The Associated Press reported Sunday that Major Hasan attended the Falls Church mosque when Awlaki was there. The Telegraph of London reported that Awlaki had made contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers when he was in San Diego.
[More>>abcnews.go.com; See related stories,

washingtonpost.com, November 9, "Fort Hood suspect's links to imam under scrutiny" : ...
On Monday, a private US intelligence group said that al-Aulaqi posted a message on his Web site praising Hasan as a "hero," saying that "any decent Muslim" could not serve as a US soldier because the United States is "leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a war against Islam." The report of the Web posting and translation was provided by SITE Intelligence Group of Bethesda, Md...

cbsnews.com, November 9, "Fort Hood suspect awake, army says" : ..
.CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports that an examination of Hasan's computer has revealed that he did visit Web sites promoting radical Islamic views, but investigators have not found any e-mail communications with outside facilitators or known terrorists. One senior official told CBS News, "Everything continues to indicate that Hasan acted alone." The official, however, described the investigation as "fluid and still in its early stages." According to those who knew him including soldiers Hasan repeatedly proclaimed that the United States' war on terror was a war on Islam, and that he wanted nothing to do with his pending deployment to Afghanistan later this month, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports...

news.com.au, November 9, "Australian MP: Forces 'at risk' with Muslims in ranks" : Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile has warned of the risks of allowing Muslims to serve in Australia's armed forces. The Rev. Nile says last week's killing spree in the United States in which an army officer shot dead 13 people should cause "all associated with the free world's military forces to feel serious concern." The NSW MP and former army officer said the Australian Defence Force could already harbour Muslim personnel who may be a threat to their comrades in arms. "Australians would like to be assured that our defence forces have in place a system of assessment and review which would identify any person whose adherence to any alien ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown," Mr. Nile said...

11.09.09 Iran charges three Americans with expionage

TEHRAN, November 9 - According to Iranian law espionage is punishable by death. Iran charged on Monday three detained American citizens with espionage, the official IRNA news agency quoted a judiciary official as saying, while US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said there was "no evidence" for Tehran to charge its citizens. The three were held after they strayed into Iran from northern Iraq at the end of July. "We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever," Clinton said on a visit to Berlin on Monday. The three, Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, crossed into Iran from Iraq and their families say they strayed across the border accidentally.

"The three are charged with espionage. Investigations continue into the three detained Americans in Iran," Tehran general prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told IRNA. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested in an interview with the American television network NBC in September that the Americans' release might be linked to the release of Iranian diplomats he said were being held by US troops in Iraq. According to Iranian law espionage is punishable by death.

11.09.09 Second bomb attack on Peshawar in 2 days, casualties reported

PESHAWAR, November 9 - A suicide bomber in an auto-rickshaw blew himself up in Pakistan on Monday, killing three people, when police stopped him at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar city, police said. Islamist militants have unleashed a campaign of attacks in Pakistan in recent weeks in retaliation for a major offensive by security forces on their main bastion of South Waziristan on the Afghan border. "It was a suicide attack. The bomber was in a rickshaw and detonated his explosives when the rickshaw was stopped for a check," said police official Zafar Khan.

"One of our constables, a passerby and the rickshaw driver were killed," he said. A suicide bomber killed an anti-Taliban village mayor and 11 other people in an attack near Peshawar on Sunday. On Sunday, at least a dozen people, including an anti-Taliban mayor were killed and 36 others injured when a suicide bomber struck a busy market on the outskirts of Peshawar Nearly two weeks ago, a massive car bombing in the city left 120 dead.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, November 9, "8 militants killed in aerial strikes in Kurram" :
PARACHINAR, Pakistan - Security forces killed eight militants and injured several others by targeting their hideouts with the help of jet fighters in different parts of Kurram Agency. According to sources, military's fighter planes bombed militants’ hideouts in Chanark, Wormegai and Spairkot areas of central Kurram, killing 8 terrorists and injuring many others. Nine militants’ dens were also destroyed. [end]

thenews.com.pk, November 9, "8 more extremists killed in SWA action - ISPR report" : RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - At least 8 terrorists have been killed while four security men embraced shahadat and one was injured in last 24 hours in South Waziristan areas during Operation Rah-e-Nijat...Security forces conducted search and clearance operation in Bangal Khel, Totai Langar Khel and Kanigurm and demolished terrorist commander Mumtaz Burki's hideout...Security forces cleared Tauda China Khola and established check post near Makeen. Terrorists fired rockets at security forces check post in Makeen..4 soldiers embraced shahadat and one got injured, while 8 terrorists were killed...

11.09.09 Roadside bomb kills 2, wounds 2 in E. Afghanistan

KABUL, November 9 - Two workers of a road construction company were killed and two others sustained injuries as a roadside bomb went off in Paktika province, in east Afghanistan, on Monday, a private television channel said. The blast occurred in Sarhawza district Monday morning, killing two workers on the spot and injuring two others, said Tolo report in its news bulletin. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]

11.09.09 Murdoch may block Google searches

November 9 - Rupert Murdoch has said he will try to block Google from using news content from his companies. The billionaire told Sky News Australia he will explore ways to remove stories from Google's search indexes, including Google News. Mr. Murdoch's News Corp. had previously said it would start charging online customers across all its websites. He believes that search engines cannot legally use headlines and paragraphs of news stories as search results. "There's a doctrine called 'fair use,' which we believe to be challenged in the courts and would bar it altogether," Mr. Murdoch told the TV channel. "But we'll take that slowly." Mr. Murdoch announced earlier this year that the websites of his news websites would begin charging for access. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

11.09.09 Somali pirates launch longest-range attack

BRUSSELS (AFP) November 9 - Somali pirates have launched their deepest attack into the Indian Ocean, firing rocket propelled grenades at a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker, the European Union anti-piracy mission said Monday. The tanker, the BW Lion, managed to escape the attackers and suffered no casualties during the incident Monday, some 400 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles and 1,000 nautical miles east of the Somali capital Mogadishu. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.09.09 Nine executed over Xinjiang riots

November 9 - Nine people have been executed for their involvement in July's deadly ethnic rioting in China's northwest Xinjiang region, according to local media. The executions followed a final review of the verdicts by the supreme people's court as required by law, the state-run China News Service reported on Monday. "The first group of nine people who were sentenced to death recently have already been executed in succession, with the approval of the Supreme Court," Hou Hanmin, a spokeswoman for the Xinjiang government, said. The nine defendants, who were believed to include ethnic Uighurs and at least one Han Chinese, were accused of committing murder and other crimes during the riots that left nearly 200 people dead. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.09.09 Solar power zapped from space by lasers

November 9 - Japan is aiming to collect solar power in space and zap it down to Earth using laser beams or microwaves. The island nation's government has picked companies and researchers to turn the multi-billion pound dream of unlimited clean energy into reality by 2030. Japan has few energy resources of its own and is heavily reliant on oil imports. The predicament has forced the country to become a leader in solar and other renewable energies. This year it set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, but its boldest plan to date is the Space Solar Power System.

It involves an array of photovoltaic dishes, reaching across several square miles, that hover in geostationary orbit outside the Earth's atmosphere...The solar cells would capture the sun's energy, which is at least five times stronger in space than on Earth, and beam it down to the ground through clusters of lasers or microwaves. These would be collected by huge parabolic antennae, likely to be located in restricted areas at sea or on dam reservoirs, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) said.

The researchers are trying for a one gigawatt system, equivalent to a medium-sized atomic power plant. It would produce electricity at eight yen (5p) per kilowatt-hour
six times cheaper than its current cost in Japan. Jaxa said the technology would be safe but conceded it might have to dispel fears of laser beams from above roasting birds or slicing up aircraft in mid-air. The government-selected consortium, called the Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer, includes Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Fujitsu and Sharp. [Full story>>news.sky.com; See details, usef.or.jp]

11.08.09 Dalai Lama's visit angers China

November 8 - The Dalai Lama has angered the Chinese government with a visit to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery town in the remote northeast Indian region of Arunachal Pradesh. The Tibetan spiritual leader said his visit on Sunday was only a lecture tour, but China, which claims the region as its own, has described the event as a provocation aimed at harming China-India ties. "It is quite usual for China to step up campaigning against me wherever I go," the Dalai Lama said after opening a museum at the Tawang monastery.

"It is totally baseless on the part of the Chinese communist government to say that I am encouraging a separatist movement. My visit to Tawang is non-political and aimed at promoting universal brotherhood and nothing else." The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India for the past 50 years, arrived by helicopter at the monastery, which sits at an altitude of 3,500 metres. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.08.09 Some saw trouble with Fort Hood suspect

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) November 8 - In retrospect, the signs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's growing anger over the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem unmistakable. But even people who worried his increasingly strident views were clouding his ability to serve the US military could not predict the murderous rampage of which he now stands accused. In the months leading to Thursday's shooting spree that left 13 people dead and 29 others wounded, Hasan raised eyebrows with comments that the war on terror was "a war on Islam" and wrestled with what to tell fellow Muslim solders who had their doubts about fighting in Islamic countries.

"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Dr. Val Finnell, who complained to administrators at a military university about what he considered Hasan's "anti-American" rants. "He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out." Finnell studied with Hasan from 2007-2008 in the master's program in public health at the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, where Hasan persistently complained about perceived anti-Muslim sentiment in the military and injected his politics into courses where they had no place. "In retrospect, I'm not surprised he did it," Finnell said of the shootings. "I had real questions about what his priorities were, what his beliefs were."

...Hasan's family described a man incapable of the attack, calling him a devoted doctor and devout Muslim who showed no signs that he might lash out. "I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others," said his brother, Eyad Hasan, of Sterling, Virginia, in a statement. "He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen."

..."I told him, 'There's something wrong with you,' " Osman Danquah, cofounder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right." Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates at the Maryland graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal complaint... Hasan reportedly jumped up on a desk and shouted "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — at the start of Thursday's attack. [Full story>>foxnews.com; See related stories,

foxnews.com, November 8, "New York-based radical Muslim hails Fort Hood massacre" :NEW YORK -
A New York City bicycle cabbie who mocked the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl and posted a prayer on the Web calling for the murder of Jews is now sending a "Get Well Soon" message to the suspected Fort Hood gunman, the New York Post reported. Yousef al-Khattab, 41, a radical Muslim in the borough of Queens who runs RevolutionMuslim.com, claims on the site that the soldiers massacred at the Texas base deserved to be massacred, and he insists the victims are in "eternal hellfire." As for the suspected gunman — Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — Al-Khattab hails him as a hero. "An officer and a gentleman was injured while partaking in a pre-emptive attack," al-Khattab wrote on the site. "Get well soon Major Nidal. We love you."

blogs.abcnews.com, November 8, FT. Hood: Gen. Casey doesn't rule out terrorism" : (Reporting and analysis from ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent and "This Week" Host George Stephanopoulos; article includes video and blog comments) The Army's top officer, General George Casey wouldn't rule out the possibility that the mass killing at Ft. Hood was an act of terrorism.  I asked General Casey about warning signs that could have been acted upon and if this was a premeditated act of terrorism or if this is a case of someone who just snapped.   Casey said, "I think we need to be very careful here on speculations based on anecdotes like that."

"We all want to know what happened and what motivated the suspect, but I think we need to be very, very careful here in these early days and let the investigation take its course," Casey told me on 'This Week.' General Casey told me on This Week that he's worried that diversity could become another victim of Thursday's mass killing at Ft. Hood.  The incident was not the first case of fratricide by a Muslim and when I asked how the military plans to deal with this potential problem in its ranks, Casey said, "Speculation could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers and what happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here. It's not just about Muslims, we have a very diverse army, we have very diverse society and that gives us all strength. But again we need to be very careful about that."...

bbc.co.uk, Novermber 8, "US Senate may probe army shooting" : Senior US Senator Joe Lieberman says he plans to open a congressional investigation into last week's deadly shooting at a Texas army base. Mr. Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told Fox TV that he wanted to find out whether it was a terrorist attack. Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim army major, is suspected of killing 13 people. Mr. Lieberman also said he hoped to determine whether the army missed signs that Maj. Hasan harboured extreme views.

The 39-year-old army psychiatrist opened fire at the Fort Hood base on Thursday. Besides those killed, 29 people were wounded. Maj. Hasan was shot by a fellow soldier and remains in a coma. Mr. Lierberman said that if Maj. Hasan had shown signs of becoming an Islamist radical, the army should have discharged him. The Associated Press news agency reports that some of Maj. Hasan's colleagues had expressed concern about his growing anger over the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...

11.08.09 12 killed in Peshawar suicide attack

ISLAMABAD, November 8 - , At least a dozen people, including an anti-Taliban mayor, were killed and 36 others injured when a suicide bomber struck a busy market on the outskirts of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, nearly two weeks after a massive car bombing in the city left 120 dead. Abdul Malik, a 'nazim' or mayor who was spearheading efforts against the Taliban, his nephew, a young girl and the head of a 'lashkar' or tribal militia were among the dead, officials said. Malik's son was among the injured, they said. Police said Malik was the target of the suicide attack at the cattle market in Mattani, a suburb of Peshawar.

Malik, who survived at least five previous attempts on his life, was once considered to be close to the Taliban but later turned against the militants. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A man named Omar, who claimed to be the Taliban spokesman in the area, told the media that Malik was targeted because he had formed a lashkar to take on the militants. The bomber struck shortly after 9.30am, when the market was packed with people shopping for sacrificial animals ahead of the Eid-ud-Zuha festival. The injured were taken to hospital in private cars and ambulances. Police cordoned off the market and collected the bomber's body parts while bomb disposal experts scoured the site for clues.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes; See other details, thejakartapost.com, November 8, "Pakistan suicide bombing kills anti-Taliban mayor" and related stories,

thenews.com.pk, November 8, "20 extremists killed in last 24 hours: ISPR report" : RAWALPINDI -
In [the] last 24 hours, at least 20 terrorists have been killed and 8 soldiers including an officer were injured during Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan Agency. According to a press release issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Sunday, security forces consolidated their positions around Sararogha, Raghzai, Sagar Langer Gel and recovered [a] huge cache of arms and ammunition. During [an] encounter 3 terrorists were killed. Security forces fully dominate and control the entire Shakai — Kaniguram Axis and conducted search operation around the axis.

Search and clearance operation was conducted in Totai, Langar Khel, Tapparghai, Gutsurai, Gadowai, Bangal Khel and Kund Mela. During [the] search and clearance operation, huge quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives were found. During [an] encounter, 8 soldiers got injured including an officer and 12 terrorists were killed. A factory for making electrical devices for IEDs (circuits, remote control) was found at Gadawai and huge quantity of circuits and remote controls were recovered. Security forces conducted clearance and search operation[s] in Bhadur Khel, Manza Kai and Wuchoba.

Terrorists fired with small arms and rockets in Blanki Sar, Lagar Manza, Kund Mela and Makeen, [and] during [an] encounter 5 terrorists were killed. Security forces discovered a cave used by terrorists in area Nakhtar near Shah Dhari and recovered cache of arms in Operation Rah-e-Rast. Security forces conducted [a] search operation in Roria near Gulibagh, Shalpin, Walahai and Mingora and apprehended 18 terrorists. At least 3 terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces in Roria and Kabbal. The security forces continued relief activities. 8,836 Cash Cards were issued amongst the displaced families of Waziristan. [end]

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) November 8, "Suicide bomber shot dead in Islamabad" : Pakistani police shot dead a would-be suicide bomber who approached a checkpoint in the capital Islamabad shouting "Allah Akhbar!" late Sunday, senior officials said. Police claimed the man came from South Waziristan, the district in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt on the al-Qaeda-infested Afghan border where the military is pursuing a major operation against the Taliban. "A double-cabin pick-up came at F-11 checkpost of Islamabad police and dropped off this suicide bomber on the opposite side of the road," Bani Amin, operations police chief in the capital, told AFP.

"The suicide bomber shouted 'Allah Akhbar!' and started advancing towards the checkpost. Police ordered him to stop but he continued advancing. Then police opened fire and killed him." The man's suicide jacket was recovered and police have launched a search for the vehicle that dropped him off. The vehicle is believed to have headed for Islamabad's sprawling twin city of Rawalpindi, officials said...

11.08.09 Key provisions of the House Health Care Bill

November 8 - The House passed H.R. 3962, called the "Affordable Health Care for America Act," in a 220 to 215 vote on Saturday night. Here's a look at some of the provisions in the $1.2 trillion dollar bill:

♦Creates a public health insurance option and a national exchange for the uninsured and small businesses to purchase health insurance. The Secretary of Health and Human Services would negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals on reimbursement rates.

♦The bill includes mandates for individuals to purchase and businesses to provide health insurance or pay a fine. Individual penalty is 2.5 percent of gross income unless they get a waiver. Businesses that don't offer insurance pay a fine equal to 8 percent of their payroll. Businesses with a payroll of less than $500,000 are exempt from the mandate.

♦Insurance companies are prohibited from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition. There are caps on deductibles and annual out of pocket spending is capped at $5000.

Eliminates the Medicare doughnut hole over ten years.

Allows individuals up to 27-years-old to stay on their parent's health insurance

Expands Medicaid from 100 percent to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Provides tax subsidies for individuals between 150 and 400 percent (sliding scale) of the Federal Poverty Level. There are also tax subsidies for small businesses.

  • ♦As amended, it prohibits federal funds from covering abortions. Women would need to purchase riders to insurance purchased on the exchange if they wanted that coverage.

  • ♦The bill taxes individuals making more than $500,000 and $1 million for couples. It is a 5.4 percent tax.

  • ♦Reduces overpayments to doctors who treat Medicare Advantage patients. It is estimated they are paid 14 percent more than doctors who treat Medicare patients. [>cbsnews.com]

  • 11.08.09 Abbas threatens to dismantle PA
  • November 8 - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is considering dissolving the PA and declaring the failure of the peace process with Israel, PA officials in Ramallah said over the weekend. Abbas was now waiting to see if the US and other parties would exert enough pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction and recognize the two-state solution before he makes any decision, the officials said. In his televised speech on Thursday, in which he announced that he has "no desire" to run in the upcoming presidential election, Abbas said that he would also consider taking "other measures" in the future, but did not elaborate. He was "threatening" to dissolve the PA in protest against Washington's failure to support his demand for a complete freeze of settlement construction as a precondition for the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel, the officials said. [More>>jpost.com]

  • 11.08.09 Celebrations begin as the German capital marks the fall of the Berlin Wall
  • BERLIN, November 8 - Thousands of curious Berliners in the center of the German capital have been sizing up over 1,000 giant dominos set to topple on Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 2.5-meter high (8 ft. 2 in.) colorful plastic foam dominos have been lined up along a 1.5 kilometer (one mile) stretch of terrain once occupied by the Berlin Wall in the area around the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag parliament building. The dominos will be tipped over in a ceremony on Monday to symbolically mark the toppling of the wall and the beginning of the end of communist East Germany on November 9, 1989. The dominos have been decorated by various artists as well as Berlin school children to reflect upon what reunification represents to the people of East and West Germany. [More>>dw-world.de]

  • 11.08.09 Saudi to phase out water intensive crops
  • DUBAI (Reuters), November 8 - Crops have depleted scarce water supplies. Saudi Arabia plans to phase out production of all water intensive crops that have depleted the desert kingdom's scarce water supplies, Saudi's water and electricity minister said on Saturday. "We have a plan to phase out all the production of water intensive crops in order to preserve water," Abdullah bin Abdul-Rahman al-Husayen told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Dubai. The crops include wheat, soya beans and animal fodder, he said, declining to comment on when the crops will be phased out. "It would be best to grow these kinds of crops outside Saudi Arabia."

    Agriculture accounts for 66 percent of human water consumption worldwide, according to the World Water Council. And in Saudi Arabia where the resource is already scarce, the government is towards more conservation in the agriculture sector. The kingdom needs around 2.6 million tones of wheat annually, and the government said last year it would rely entirely on wheat imports by 2016. "Imports and growing water intensive crops outside Saudi is a more feasible option for us," said Husayen.

    Like other wealthy Gulf states Saudi Arabia has been buying foreign farmland in Asia and Africa to secure food supplies after inflation had nearly doubled the price of food last year. So far foreign investors have acquired some 15-20 million hectares of farmland in poorer countries since 2006, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.


    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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