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11.30.08 Foreign SIM cards, fake IDs from Bangladesh

NEW DELHI, November 30 - In the fresh leads from the Mumbai terror attack investigation intelligence sources say they intercepted conversation between Muzammil, Muzaffarabad chief of LeT [ Lashkar-e-Taiba] operations and a certain Yahya in Bangladesh. Yahya arranged SIM cards, fake ID-cards primarily from western countries like Mauritius, UK, US, Australia. A Mauritian identity card was found on one of the terrorists shot down. ( Watch )

The satellite phone found on the MV Kuber also has shown that calls were made to Jalalabad. These calls were traced to Zakir Ur Rehman, a chief of training of the LeT. Intelligence sources have also revealed that in the second week of July, intelligence officials knew about 25 terrorists training in the Pakistan village of Durbari Mitho, and that an ISI agent was also involved in the training.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story:

khaleejtimes.com (AFP, IANS) November 30, "Minister resigns, India probes Pakistan attack links" : India's interior minister resigned Sunday as anger grew over intelligence failures leading up to the attacks on Mumbai and investigators focused on a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group. Home Minister Shivraj Patil said he took "moral responsibility" for the assault by groups of heavily-armed militants which left nearly 200 people dead and transformed parts of Mumbai into a war zone for three days.

With tensions escalating in South Asia, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari urged India not to"over-react" after Indian and US officials suggested the gunmen could have been members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Lashkar, which is fighting Indian control of the disputed Kashmir region, was behind a deadly 2001 assault on the Indian parliament that pushed New Delhi and Islamabad to the brink of war.

Indian media reported that the only surviving militant had identified all the Mumbai attackers as Pakistanis who had been trained by Lashkar. Ajmal Amir Kamal, 21, who was caught on a CCTV camera wearing a T-shirt with a 'Versace' logo, was being interrogated in a safe house in Mumbai, reports said. US counter-terrorism officials told AFP evidence was emerging that Lashkar could have been behind the attacks, while Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said "elements in Pakistan" were responsible.

One militant holding hostages in a Jewish cultural centre in Mumbai had suggested that the treatment of Muslims in Indian Kashmir was a prime motivation behind the attack...Some militants entered Mumbai by boat, while others had arrived a month ago to stockpile arms and explosives and infiltrate the targets. One senior state minister said they had enough ammunition to kill 5,000 people.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.30.08 German convoy hit in Afghanistan

November 30 - At least two people have been killed and three others injured in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, after a suicide bomber struck a German embassy vehicle, police say. The embassy vehicle was attacked on Sunday opposite a high school on the main road leading to the parliament building. The force of the blast broke windows in several buildings nearby, witnesses said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.30.08 Explosions injure 51 in Thai protests

BANGKOK (AP) Thailand, November 30 - At least 51 anti-government protesters were wounded in several explosions early Sunday, raising fears of widening confrontations in a standoff that has strangled Thailand's economy and shut down its airports. The first blast went off inside Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's office compound, which protesters seized in August and have held ever since. At least 49 people were hurt, including nine who were hospitalized, said Surachet Sathitniramai at the Narenthorn Medical Center. He said four were in serious condition.

Suriyasai Katasiya, a spokesman for the protest group, said a grenade landed on the roof of a tent under which protesters were resting. It rolled down and fell to the ground before exploding, he said. The demonstrators, who call themselves the People's Alliance for Democracy, accuse the government of being a puppet of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup and fled overseas to escape corruption charges. The protesters overran Bangkok's international Suvarnabhumi airport Tuesday night as part of their campaign to force Somchai from office.

11.30.08 Mass grave containing 33 bodies found in Iraq

BAGHDAD, November 30 - Iraqi security forces have found a mass grave containing 33 decomposed bodies in a village in the volatile province of Diyala, an Interior Ministry source said on Sunday. Based on information from local residents, the forces discovered the site of the mass grave on Saturday in the Albu-Tu'ma village near the town of Khalis, 75 km northeast of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.  Bodies of children and women were among the bullet-riddled bodies, the source said, adding that the remains have been buried for more than a year.

The forces believe the victims were kidnapped and killed by the al-Qaeda members who were controlling the area at that time, said the source. Diyala province, which stretches from eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border, has been the stronghold of al-Qaeda network in Iraq and other insurgent groups since the US-led invasion in 2003. US and Iraqi security forces frequently discover mass graves in different parts of Iraq for people killed in chaos and sectarian strife.
[>xinhuanet.com; See also cnn.com, November 30, "Bodies, some tortured, found in Iraq graves, police say"]

11.29.08 Battle for Mumbai ends, death toll rises to 195

MUMBAI, India, November 29 - The war on terror in Mumbai was on Saturday wrapped up by the security forces who eliminated three terrorists in Taj hotel after 60 hours of intense battle with the band of ultras who struck the country's financial capital killing 195 people. ( Watch )

"All operations are over. The NSG has formally reported that the operations are complete and now Taj, Oberoi and Nariman House are being sanitized. There are no more terrorists now in Mumbai. All have been liquidated or captured alive," M L Kumawat, Special Secretary in the Union Home Ministry told reporters in Delhi. ( Watch ) Mumbai disaster official R Jadhav told that 195 people had been killed and nearly 300 injured in the battle, which began when the dozen or so militants split into groups to attack multiple targets across the city, including the main railway station and a hospital. ( Watch )

The magnitude of the attack by suspected Lashkar-e- Taiba elements, who are believed to have come by the sea route from Karachi, could be gauged from the statement of Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra R R Patil who said with the ammunition the terrorists had, they could have killed 5,000 people. The elimination of the three terrorists in Taj came on Saturday morning after intense battle between the commandos, who believed there was a lone gunman holding out, and the terrorists who kept exploding grenades at periodic intervals. n all, nine terrorists were killed while one was captured alive in "Operation Tornado" executed by the NSG along with the army and naval commandos and Maharashtra police.

The security forces rescued 250 people in Oberoi, 300 in Taj and 12 families of 60 people in Nariman House. Security forces recovered two AK-47 rifles, nine magazines, two pistols and mobile phones from Nariman House, a Jewish residential complex, while in Trident-Oberoi two more AK-47 rifles, eight magazines and two pistols were seized. Recoveries from Taj hotel were yet to be disclosed. Patil said the state government had "enough proof" that the terrorists were in constant touch with their masters in Pakistan giving updates on every move of theirs and taking orders.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories:

independent.co.uk, November 29, "Four Mumbai terrorists 'had links with Britain' " : UK security agencies are sifting through information sent by Indian authorities to establish whether British Muslims were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that traumatised India. The search to track down the "British connection" in the carnage began after a number of Indian officials claimed that evidence had been found on dead and captured gunmen linking them to the UK. Senior Whitehall sources confirmed that police and the security and intelligence services were combing through information sent by Indian authorities to ascertain whether any of the group which carried out the assault were UK citizens or had visited or lived in this country.

According to one report, four of the terrorists, two of them dead, had connections with Britain. The Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told Associated Press that two British-born Pakistanis were among the eight gunmen arrested by Indian authorities. However, British officials stressed they had not yet received "hard" evidence that the men were British nationals. "There is a hell of a lot going on at the minute and it is not just a matter of citizenship — that's a bit of a red herring," said one source. "We are trying to establish whether any of these men had been in this country and who they lived with, who they associated with, but it is very early days."...

nytimes.com, November 29, "US intelligence focuses on Pakistani group" : WASHINGTON — American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Friday that there was mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group based in Kashmir, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for this week's deadly attacks in Mumbai. The officials cautioned that they had reached no firm conclusions about who was responsible for the attacks, or how they were planned and carried out. Nevertheless, they said that evidence gathered in the past two days pointed to a role for Lashkar-e-Taiba or possibly another group based in Kashmir, Jaish-e-Muhammad, which also has a track record of attacks against India.

The officials requested anonymity in describing their current thinking and declined to discuss specifics of the intelligence that they said pointed to Kashmiri militants. In the past, the American and Indian intelligence services have used communications intercepts to tie Kashmiri militants to terrorist strikes. Indian officials may also be gleaning information from at least one captured gunman who participated in the Mumbai attacks. According to one Indian intelligence official, during the siege the militants have been using non-Indian cellphones and receiving calls from outside the country, evidence that in part led Indian officials to speak publicly about the militants’ external ties...

11.29.08 India minister wants all school kids to learn yoga

CHENNAI, India (Reuters) November 29 - India's health minister on Saturday said he wants to push all school-going children to learn yoga, in the hope that it can reduce the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension in years to come. Last week, Malaysia's National Fatwa Council, comprising Islamic scholars, sparked widespread protests when it told Muslims to avoid yoga because it uses Hindu prayers that could erode Muslims’ faith.

"There should be extensive scientific deliberations on yoga. And today I blatantly put that yoga reduces diabetes, yoga reduces hypertension, yoga reduces stress," Anbumani Ramadoss told a regional diabetes summit in Chennai in southern India. "I am going to make yoga mandatory for all school-going children in India (from) the coming year." The Malaysian Islamic scholars’ decision drew a sharp rebuke from many Muslims and saw Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi move to contain the damage, telling national news agency Bernama that Muslims could carry on doing yoga but minus the chanting...India carries the highest diabetes burden in the world.. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.29.08 Malaysia government sued over seized Christian CD's

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) November 29 - A Malaysian Christian is suing the government for allegedly violating her religious rights after airport officials seized Christian educational CDs that she brought from Indonesia, the woman's lawyer said. Customs authorities in this Muslim-majority country confiscated eight CDs from Jill Ireland when she flew back to Kuala Lumpur on May 11 after a trip to Jakarta, her lawyer, Annou Xavier, said late Thursday. The Home Ministry informed her in a letter that the CDs were seized mainly because their cover titles contained the word "Allah," which is prohibited in non-Muslim religious material, Xavier said. Ireland wants the Kuala Lumpur High Court to issue a declaration allowing her to transport any religious material for her own personal use, Xavier said. The court on Thursday scheduled Jan. 30 for a preliminary hearing. [More>>thejartapost.com]

Editorial note: Confusion on the Islamic faith. Malaysia's ban on the use of "Allah" in non-Muslim literature is an issue that points to the root of the chaos being experienced throughout the world It's from confusion on the Islamic faith. The source of the confusion has to do with Islamic teachers who have no idea that the Koran was intended to confirm the Old Testament and New Testament, even confirming that Jesus is the Messiah. There are many verses in the Koran referring to the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) and Gospel (New Testament Gospels) that claim this confirmation. Logic dictates that one cannot contradict that which one confirms. Thus, the Koran's description of God as "Allah" can only refer to the God of the Old and New Testaments. (See Maravot News 7.08.08, article 7.04.08 Sikh group joins protest against ban on use of word "Allah" in Malaysia regarding other details on the ban and scriptural references. Other comments on the Koran's confirmation of the Bible, using the Bible as its source, can be read at Maravot News "Why the Crusade and Jihad?")

Running counter to the Koran as a "confirmation of the Bible" are arguments from the Koran and teachings of Mohammed that encourage the persecution and murder of unbelievers (kuffar). This doctrine sourced in the Koran became a focal-point in a more conservative, militant (jihadist) form of Islam, adapted by the Saudis, known as the Wahhabi Sect. See Maravot News 9.07.08, article 9.05.08
Saudi cleric says celebrating birthdays un-Islamic and editorial note, "An interesting review of the Wahhabi sect" and related links. The Wahhabi teachings are at the foundation of Islamic schools (madrassas) in Pakistan. The teachings migrated to Britain with the migrants from Pakistan to Britain. In this new age of terrorism it is no wonder, then, that Islamic terrorists are rooted in Britain and Pakistan, with Pakistan being the preferred source of Islamist teachings. At the foundation of the teachings is the return to the original Caliphate, of spreading Islamic rule and law throughout the world. For further reading see Maravot News 8.08.05, article 08.07.05 Inside the sect that loves terror with editorial note and links. If Islamic, Christian and Jewish authorities can come to an agreement, that the "Koran says it confirms the Bible," then they ought to be able to isolate the creed of hatred and murder professed by Islamists as un-Islamic, and certainly un-Christian. In so doing more lives can be saved.

At work within the various jihadist activities is, of course, the element of tribal and political conflicts. For instance, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan express their principal mission as evicting foreigners (NATO) from their land. But the issue goes much further than that, since the Taliban not only wage war under the name of Allah but also persecute those who do not adhere to their strict law. It is an irony of history that Taliban generals punish women and young girls who endeavor to obtain an education, they force them to cover themselves up completely with their burkahs and yet are captured being dressed as women. They and al-Qaeda send their young men and women out to commit suicidal mayhem and murder on civilian populations under the guise of a freedom fighter. Plans for the mayhem are crafted under the leadership of immams in their mosques and schools. The first part of Islamic terrorism begins with the teachings.

Mel Copeland

11.29.08 Saudi Arabia removes extremist literature

RIYADH, November 27 - In the latest drive to combat terrorism and extremism, the Saudi Arabian authorities have started removing offensive books from all school libraries. The Ministry of Education, keen to protect the younger generation from deviant ideology, issued orders banning a number of controversial books containing extremist ideas. They include two controversial books The lies about Sayyid Qutb and The Jihad in the way of God. Several leading Saudi academics and thinkers hailed the ministry's decision, describing this as manifestation of their firm determination to remove all sources of ideological and religious extremism, to protect youths, easily lured into terror networks. [More>>gulfnews.com]

11.29.08 6 killed, 58 injured, 7 vehicles torched in Karachi

KARACHI, November 29 - Separate incidents of violence in Karachi on Saturday resulted in deaths of 6 persons while 58 others were injured. Unknown men also set on fire 7 vehicles in different parts of the city. The riots started in Banaras area where unknown armed-men opened fire at passing vehicles and also pelted them with stones, killing six and injuring 58 others. Three of the deceased have been identified as Muhammad Ali, Mukhtar and Matiullah. The dead and injured have been shifted to Qatar Hospital in Orangi Town. Medical superintendent of Qatar Hospital, Dr. Saif 15 of the injured were brought in with bullet wounds. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story:

cnn.com, November 29, "Suspected US missile kills 3 in Pakistan" : ISLAMABAD - A suspected US missile from an unmanned drone killed three people Saturday in Pakistan's tribal region, according to a Pakistani military source and a North Waziristan official. The strike hit a village near Miran Shah, in North Waziristan, the military source and Muhammad Nasim, a North Waziristan political official, said. The military source asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

This is the latest in a series of deadly missile strikes in Pakistan's border region over the past two months. Pakistan has repeatedly blamed the United States and condemned the strikes, saying they cost lives, violate the nation's sovereignty and undermine public support for its counterterrorism efforts. The US-led coalition and NATO
based in Afghanistan have been seeking a way to effectively battle Taliban and al-Qaeda militants who they believe are launching attacks from Pakistan's swath of tribal areas along the border...

11.29.08 Baghdad attack targets UN office

November 29 - At least two foreign contractors have been killed and 15 others wounded after a rocket fell near a UN compound in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, according to a UN official. In a separate incident on Saturday, three people died and 13 others were injured when a car bomb went off in central Baghdad. The car bomb exploded in al Tayaran Square, which is much used as a meeting point for Iraqi workers.

A UN official said several of the injured in the rocket attack on the organization's compound are in serious condition and that the death toll might rise. Their nationalities of the victims have not been released. The incident took place in the heavily guarded Green Zone in the centre of Baghdad where the Iraqi parliament and a number of government buildings and foreign embassies are located. [>aljazeera.net]

11.29.08 NATO forces kill 44 rebels in Afghanistan

KABUL, November 29 - Troops killed 44 militants in Afghanistan, officials said Saturday, as around a dozen police and soldiers were still missing following a major clash and believed to be in Taliban hands. Thirty-three of the militants were killed in a firefight Friday in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold where several districts are said to be in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents...Seven "enemies" were killed in a battle with Afghan troops in the southwestern province of Farah on Friday, the defence ministry said separately. And coalition troops killed four Taliban, including a commander who had disguised himself as a woman by wearing a burqa to cover his face, in central Ghazni province, another statement said...[Full story>>thenews.com.pk]

11.29.08 Nigeria: 300 bodies taken to mosque on 2nd day of riots

JOS, Nigeria (AP) - Mobs burned homes, churches and mosques Saturday in a second day of riots as the death toll rose to more than 300 in the worst sectarian violence in Africa's most populous nation in years. Sheikh Khalid Abubakar, the imam at Jos, Nigeria's, main mosque, said more than 300 dead bodies were brought there on Saturday alone and 183 could be seen lying near the building waiting to be interred. Those killed in the Christian community likely would not be taken to the city mosque, raising the possibility that the total death toll could be much higher. The city morgue wasn't immediately accessible Saturday. Police spokesman Bala Kassim said there were "many dead," but couldn't cite a firm number.

The hostilities mark the worst clashes in the restive West African nation since 2004, when as many as 700 people died in Plateau State during Christian-Muslim clashes. Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has a long history of community violence that has made it difficult to organize voting. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people. The city is situated in Nigeria's "middle belt," where members of hundreds of ethnic groups commingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.

11.29.08 Blast hits Thai government house

November 29 - An explosion has injured at least 11 people inside the opposition-occupied government house in the Thai capital Bangkok. The blast came as the authorities were trying to end a blockade of Bangkok's two main airports by protesters who are demanding the prime minister's sacking. A grenade was reportedly thrown at the protesters at government house. A grenade attack there last Saturday injured eight of the protesters from People's Alliance for Democracy group. [>bbc.co.uk]

11.29.08 Amazon deforestation accelerates

November 29 - The destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has accelerated for the first time in four years, Brazilian officials say. Satellite images show 11,968 sq km of land was cleared in the year to July, nearly 4% higher than the year before. The government said the figure was unsatisfactory but could have been a lot worse if it had not taken action against illegal logging. High commodity prices had allegedly tempted farmers to clear more land. In recent years the Brazilian government has been able to celebrate three successive falls in deforestation. But the latest estimate from the National Institute for Space Research, known as INPE, shows that this trend has come to a halt. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See INPE report; See related story:

cnn.com, November 29, "New rifts form on Antarctic ice shelf" : Scientists have identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice shelf that could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula, the European Space Agency said. The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a large sheet of floating ice south of South America, is connected to two Antarctic islands by a strip of ice. That ice "bridge" has lost around 2,000 square kilometers (about 772 square miles) so far this year, the ESA said. A satellite image captured November 26 shows new rifts on the ice shelf that make it dangerously close to breaking away from the strip of ice and the islands to which it's connected, the ESA said.

Scientists first spotted rifts in the ice shelf in late February, and they noticed further deterioration the following week. The period marks the end of the South Pole summer and is the time when such events are most likely, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder... [See ESA report]

11.29.08 US stocks end shortened session with moderate gains

NEW YORK, Novembe 29 - Wall Street kept up a broad winning streak Friday, giving blue chip stocks their fifth straight advance as investors looked for clues about whether dire predictions for the holiday shopping season would prove accurate. The stock market closed three hours early the day after Thanksgiving and locked in gains of 9.7 percent for the week for the Dow Jones industrial average and 12 percent for the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index. The Nasdaq, which had moderate losses in recent sessions, still logged a weekly advance of 10.9 percent.

It was the first time the Dow rose for five consecutive sessions since July 2007. Analysts largely looked past Friday's moves, however, as they came in light trading volume. A better test of market sentiment will come next week as traders return from the long weekend and as Wall Street digests a slew of economic data ranging from a reading on the manufacturing sector on Monday to the all-important employment report from the Labor Department on Friday.
[More>>thestar.com.my; See related stories:

cbsnews.com, November 29, "A new foreclosure wave hits the jobless" : There's a new wave of foreclosure sweeping across the country, and the people who are getting swept up are not greedy investors, or people who got in over their heads with bad loans, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. Rather, the crisis is hitting home for those who never expected to be in trouble until the slumping economy put them out of work. As a code enforcer, Judy Jones' job was to make sure foreclosed homes, often trashed by owners on their way out the door, got cleaned up. With a government job, good credit, and a 30 year fixed rate loan on her southern California house, Judy never planned on taking her work home. But last month she was laid off, joining a new wave of homeowners who paid their mortgages on time but now can't because they're out of work...

gulfneews.com, November 29, "Saudi shares bounce back amid global market rally" : RIYADH - Saudi shares surged 9.5 per cent on Saturday, led by blue chips, as investors took heart from a global stock rally and reassuring remarks by King Abdullah on the state of the economy. "We had a good performance in international markets on Thursday and Friday and this translated into a positive way in the Saudi bourse after the king's statement," said John Sfak-ianakis, chief economist at SABB bank, HSBC's Saudi subsidiary...

11.28.08 NSG secures Nariman House, Taj encounter still on

MUMBAI, November 28 - The National Security Guards stormed into the Nariman House and got full control of the building by killing the armed terrorists. However, the last of the militants holed up in Taj Mahal hotel kept crack commandos at bay engaging them in a fierce gunbattle. "Five hostages were killed by the terrorists. First floor of the Nariman House is yet to be cleared," NSG DG J K Dutta said.

The last of the militants holed up in Taj Mahal hotel kept crack commandos at bay engaging them in a fierce gunbattle even two days after the attack that saw two luxury hotels bear the brunt. Bodies of hapless victims — some of them hostages — shrouded in white were being brought out from the Taj. The heavily armed terrorist is reported to be holed up in the ballroom of Mumbai's iconomic [iconic?] landmark and remained elusive with police saying there was no let up in his aggressive stance with grenades being hurled at regular intervals setting off fire at different places. Police said the militant appeared to have a huge stock of grenades. [>indianexpress.com;
See related stories:

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, November 28, "Terrorists seemed to be sure of Taj hotel terrain" : MUMBAI: The battle-scarred Marine Commandos, engaged to flush out terrorists from the Taj hotel, are surprised at the level of training their adversaries evidently received and the money and the massive firepower at their disposal. The The commandos have also been shocked by the familiarity and ease with which the terrorists operated inside the Taj and the Trident. The Marine Commandos, popularly known as Marcos, are men handpicked by the Indian Navy to undertake combat and rescue operations on sea and, if required, on land. Maharashtra chief secretary Johnny Joseph was quick to seek their help on Wednesday evening till the National Security Guards (NSG) team arrived from Delhi on Thursday morning.

The Marcos managed to rescue almost 200 people, locked up in a room on the second floor of the Taj's new wing, on Thursday morning. "The terrorists fired several rounds at us though they did run away to another floor after the Marcos closed in from all sides," Joseph said. The Marcos found a rucksack, containing seven fully loaded AK-47 magazines, 400 empty rounds of AK-47 and four made-in-China grenades. The hotels had four-five terrorists, each carrying haversacks, leading commandos to admit that the terrorists together had enough firepower to remain holed up for days together if they were not gunned down.

The bag the terrorists left behind also contained seven credit cards and a Mauritian identity card, all apparently belonging to one person. The bag had Rs 6,840 and $1,200 (about Rs 60,000). "The terrorists were well-informed about the layout of both the Taj Mahal Palace and the Oberoi Trident. It's absolutely certain that these men had done a survey of the hotel interiors before the strike on Wednesday night," the Marcos' commandant said. The terrorists even knew which room had the closed-circuit television cameras, which would give them a clear view of the alleys and lobbies of the entire Taj, and reached and captured the room before the commandos did...

jpost.com, November 28, " 'Gunment aim to halt India's international ties' " : The multiple terror attacks that have rocked India's financial capital Mumbai were aimed at halting India's increasingly close relationship with the US, Britain and Israel, a senior Indian defense source told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, noting that nationals of each country had been targeted. The attacks were also aimed at fomenting strife between India's well-integrated, sizable Muslim minority (third only in size to the Muslim population of Indonesia and Pakistan) and the Hindu majority, according to Colonel Behram A. Sahukar, who has extensive practical experience in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism in the Indian subcontinent.

"There have been growing strategic ties between India and the US... and growing ties between India and Israel," Sahukar said. Indian-Israeli relations have "been getting stronger by the day," Sahukar noted, though he stressed that this did "not come at the expense of India's relations with Arab countries." Americans, British nationals and Israelis had been singled out in Mumbai as a result "of the closeness of their governments to us," Sahukar explained. The attackers perceive India's close ties with these countries and its partnership in the global war on terror "as a war against true Islam," he added...

timesonline.co.uk, November 28, "Jewish hostages killed as British terrorists linked to Bombay (Mumbai) attacks" : At least five Jewish hostages held by Islamic terrorists in a Bombay apartment block have been killed, an Israeli diplomat has said, as it emerged that two of the attackers in India's commercial capital may have been British-born Pakistanis. "Five bodies of hostages have been found. They are Israeli nationals," Eli Belotsercovsky, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, told the AFP news agency. After a day of drama during which Indian commandos blasted their way through the six-storey block to rescue an unknown number of hostages at a Jewish outreach centre, it was unclear whether any had survived.

An Israeli rescue service which had sent a mission to help with the siege at the Chavad Lubavitch centre said that it thought all the hostages had been killed. "Apparently the hostages did not remain alive," the Zaka service said in a brief statement, quoting its staff in Bombay. It did not identify the hostages or say how many may have died. The death toll from the coordinated terror attacks today reached at least 143, seven of them foreign, including one Briton. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra state, Vilasrao Deshmukh, said today that two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen arrested by Indian authorities...

nytimes.com, November 28, "India's suspicion of Pakistan clouds US strategy" : ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The terrorist attacks in Mumbai occurred as India and Pakistan, two big, hostile and nuclear-armed nations, were delicately moving toward improved relations with the encouragement of the United States and in particular the incoming Obama administration. Those steps could quickly be derailed, with deep consequences for the United States, if India finds Pakistani fingerprints on the well-planned operation. India has raised suspicions. Pakistan has vehemently denied them. But no matter who turns out to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks, their scale and the choice of international targets will make the agenda of the new American administration harder.

Reconciliation between India and Pakistan has emerged as a basic tenet in the approaches to foreign policy of President-elect Barack Obama, and the new leader of Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus. The point is to persuade Pakistan to focus less of its military effort on India, and more on the militants in its lawless tribal regions who are ripping at the soul of Pakistan. A strategic pivot by Pakistan's military away from a focus on India to an all-out effort against the Taliban and their associates in al-Qaeda, the thinking goes, would serve to weaken the militants who are fiercely battling American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

cnn.com, November 28, "Rabbi, wife among Mumbai terror deaths" : Security forces believe one gunman is still holed up inside a luxury hotel in Mumbai as it appears military operations against the terrorist gang are winding down at two other sites. As the death toll from two days of violence rose to 160, details of some of those killed were emerging including Indian police and military, a rabbi, an American father and teen daughter, and a British yacht magnate. The bodies of five hostages were found at the Chabad House Jewish center where commandos stormed the building through a hole blasted in the wall.

After several hours of gunfire and explosions from inside all went quiet and CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson said it appeared the operation was over. The death toll from attacks in nine locations was 160 — including three Germans, an Italian, an Australian and one Chinese among the at least 15 foreigners killed — with a further 327 injured. Maharashtra state official Bhushan Gagrani said the death toll is expected to rise further and includes civilians, 16 police and two commandos. Eleven terrorists have also been killed...

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, November 28, "Mubai emergency contact numbers" : Following are the emergency contact numbers in Mumbai for the public:

Emergency contact numbers:
1. Police hotline 100
2. BMC Disaster Management Cell 22694725
3. Blood Banks 1910
4. Ambulance Services 1298
5. General Complaints 1916
6. Railway Any Emergency 23004000
7. Travel Agents Mumbai 149
8. Airport Police Helpline 28225709
9. Indian Red Cross Society for Blood bank 22663560
10. Missing Persons Bureau 22621547
11. Police Control Room Helpline 22620111, 22151855
12. Traffic Control Room Helpline 24937747, 24937755
13. Mantralaya Nariman Point Helpline 22024243
14. Collector of Bombay 22661231
15. Traffic Helpline 25181717
16. J J Hospital Blood Bank: Dr. Ganesh, Dr.Nair -- 022 23739400
17. Bombay Hospital: Ms Purohit -- 22067676 Extn 216
18. St George Hospital Direct Blood Bank:
Tarun - 22620344
19. Taj Hotel: 022-66574322, 022-66574372, 1800 111 825
20. Trident Hotel: 022-23890606

11.28.08 No surrender

BANGKOK, November 28 - The government indicated on Friday it would try to talk protesters out of the Bangkok airports without using force but the demonstrators sneered at a request from a senior person to leave and claimed they would "fight to the death" against any police attack. A police proclamation read at the airports: "All protesters must leave the rally site, otherwise law enforcement officers will carry out appropriate and necessary measures to solve the situation." The state of emergency declared by the embattled cabinet of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat sparked widespread fears that any attempt to use force to clear Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports could spark a bloody confrontation with the anti-government activists.

Mr. Somchai fired the national police chief Pol Gen. Patcharawat Wongsuwanbut
moving him to an inactive post .and replaced him with the police inspector-general, Pol Maj. Gen. Prateep Tanprasert. An officer at Don Mueang used a megaphone to tell protesters they had to leave the rally site. Otherwise "law enforcement officers will carry out appropriate and necessary measures to solve the situation." [More>>bangkokpost.net; See related stories:

bangkokpost.net, November 28, "Haj blocked" : More than 5,000 Thai Muslim pilgrims had planned to make the haj but are unable to leave since the PAD forced the shutdown of the airport on Tuesday. A senior Islamic official has begged the People's Alliance for Democracy to allow Muslims to board aircraft at Suvarnabhumi airport so they can join the annual haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Pridi Chueaphudee, adviser to the Chularatchamontri, the leader of Thailand's Islamic community, and the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, said the annual pilgrimage to Mecca was spiritually important to all Muslim people. An airport blockade could send a wrong message of religious intolerance to Saudi Arabia...

independent.co.uk, November 28, "Stranded tourists strain old Thai air base."

Editorial note: Another place in the world where there has been ongoing Islamic violence against others is Thailand's south. The PAD protesters would seem to me to be inviting an extraordinary flare-up in violence by Moslems against the Thai Buddhist population.

Mel Copeland

11.28.08 'Impoverished' 101-year-old leaves £1.7 million in her will.

November 28 - A 101-year-old who was so thrifty villagers clubbed together to buy her groceries, has left £1.7million in her will. Nancy White appeared impoverished, and locals near the nursing home in Cornwall where she lived would often help her out. Her only apparent luxury was a pony called Gipsy, who lived to be 42. But it appears she had inherited money, possibly from her family's timber business which had closed in the 1930s, and invested wisely.

Heather Fraser, from St. Mawes, Cornwall, who knew Mrs. White for more than 60 years, says people were shocked by the pensioner's wealth. She said: "Many people will be surprised by Nan's fortune, she was well-supported in the village because people used to think she was in need herself. Nan was a very careful woman and never threw anything away. But she was generous too, and went around quietly doing good, for example taking flowers to the elderly ladies of Eschol Nursing Home, and always helping anyone in trouble."

Mrs. White, who lived at Roseland Parc nursing home, Tregony, died in February but her will has now been published. She was described as a loner, whose only close friend was her sister, who died in 1994. Her husband was killed during the Second World War just weeks after Mrs. White learnt she was pregnant. Mrs. Fraser said: "The shock made her lose the baby." [More>>telegraph.co.uk]

11.28.08 Bomber strikes Shia mosque after Iraq approves US pact

HILLA, Iraq (AFP) November 28 - A suicide bomber shattered Friday prayers in a Shia mosque south of Baghdad, killing nine people the day after Iraq's parliament approved a landmark pact allowing US troops to remain until 2011. The attack came as the hardline Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared three days of mourning to protest at parliament's approval on Thursday of the accord, which will govern the presence of some 150,000 US troops across the country. The blast ripped through the main mosque in the town of Musaib after the attacker, strapped with explosives, darted past guards and into the crowd of abut 300 worshippers inside, police Lieutenant Kadhim al-Shammari said.

One of those killed was an old woman begging for alms at the entrance to the mosque, he added. Another 15 people were wounded in the attack, which destroyed the building's windows and doors and filled it with smoke. It was unclear whether the attack was linked to the approval of the military pact or Sadr's declaration of mourning, but the mosque's congregation is considered loyal to the reclusive cleric, who is believed to be in Iran.

11.28.08 Lebanon to establish ties with 'Palestine'

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) November 28 - Lebanon has decided for the first time to establish diplomatic relations with the "state of Palestine," and has approved the opening of an embassy in Beirut. The cabinet has approved the establishment of diplomatic relations with the state of Palestine," Information Minister Tarek Mitri said following a cabinet meeting late on Thursday. A Palestinian embassy would replace an office in Beirut representing the Palestine Liberation Organization, but Mitri said no date had yet been fixed to implement the move.

The PLO, which is headed by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and groups the main Palestinian political movements, is recognized by most country's as representing the Palestinian people. Abbas's predecessor the late Yasser Arafat symbolically proclaimed the state of Palestine in 1988 but the Palestinians have yet to win independence given the lack of a peace deal with Israel. Abbas was elected president of Palestine on Sunday by a key decision-making body of the PLO.

11.28.08 Ships held by Somali pirates

(Reuters) November 28 - Somali pirates have released the Greek MV Centauri, captured more than two months ago, a Kenyan maritime official said on Friday. The Centauri had a crew of 26 Filipinos and was due to discharge 17,000 tonnes of bulk salt in Mombasa in Kenya when it was hijacked in mid-September off Somalia. Below are some of the ships believed still to be held:

CAPT. STEPHANOS: Seized Sept. 21. The freighter was flying the Bahamas flag. It was carrying a cargo of coal and has 17 Filipinos, one Chinese and a Ukrainian aboard.

FAINA: Seized Sept. 24. The ship was carrying 33 T-72 tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition destined for Kenya’s Mombasa port. Pirates have demanded $20 million in ransom.

AFRICAN SANDERLING: Seized Oct. 15. The Panama-flagged, Japanese-operated, and Korea-owned bulk carrier has 21 Filipino crew aboard.

STOLT STRENGTH: Seized Nov. 10. The chemical tanker with 23 Filipino crew aboard was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. It was carrying 23,818 tonnes of oil products.

THE KARAGOL: Seized Nov. 12. The Turkish ship with 14 crew was hijacked off Yemen. It was transporting more than 4,000 tonnes of chemicals to the port of Bombay.

TIANYU 8: Seized Nov. 13/14. The Chinese fishing boat was reported seized off Kenya. The crew included 15 Chinese, one Taiwanese, one Japanese, three Filipinos and four Vietnamese.

CHEMSTAR VENUS: Seized Nov. 15. The combined chemical and oil tanker was travelling from Dumai, Indonesia to the Ukraine. It had 18 Filipino and five South Korean crew.

SIRIUS STAR: Seized Nov. 15. The Saudi supertanker, the biggest ship ever hijacked, held as much as 2 million barrels of oil. Captured off east Africa, it had 25 crew from Croatia, Britain, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

THE DELIGHT: Seized Nov. 18. The Hong Kong-flagged ship with 25 crew aboard is loaded with 36,000 tonnes of wheat bound for Iran. It was captured off the coast of Yemen.

ADINA: Seized last week. The Adina is a Yemeni-operated bulk carrier and carried seven crew, including three Somalis, two Yemenis and two Panamanians.

BISCAGLIA: Seized on Nov. 28. The Biscaglia is a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker with 30 crew on board, 25 Indians, three Britons and two Bangladeshis. [>khaleejtimes.com]

11.27.08 One terrorist left in Taj hotel, says NSG

MUMBAI, India November 28 - The NSG, which is engaged in a gun battle with the terrorists at Taj hotel here, said just one terrorist was still hiding and hoped to wrap up the flush-out operation at the Trident-Oberoi hotel and Nariman House very soon. "There is one terrorist in the Taj (hotel). He has been injured and I think we will be able to mop up the operation there very quickly," Director General of National Security Guard (NSG) J K Dutt said. He said the injured terrorist has not yet been captured but "we will be able to do so soon."

Dutt said two terrorists are holed up in the 8th floor of the Oberoi hotel while in the Trident section the combing operation has been completed. "As far as Trident is concerned, we have been able to completely clean up and we do not have any report of any terrorist being holed up over there. As far as Oberoi is concerned, yes, we have engaged two terrorists on the 8th floor," he said. He said that the operation to clean up the Nariman House was still going on.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories:

indianexpress.com, November 27, "2 Pak vessels apprehended off Gujarat coast" : NEW DELHI - In its search to find the 'mother ship' of the terrorists who have attacked Mumbai, India apprehended two Pakistani merchant vessels off the coast of Gujarat in a joint operation carried out by the Navy, Coast Guard and the water wing of the Border Security Force (BSF). "We have apprehended two cargo ships in a joint operation near the Gujarat coast while they were sailing to Karachi. They are suspected to be the ships that ferried the terrorists near to Mumbai coast yesterday," Home Ministry sources said.

The three sea-guarding forces were put on a high alert after intelligence agencies gave inputs about a merchant vessel, suspected to be involved in the Terror attacks on Mumbai since Wednesday, trying to move towards Karachi in Pakistan. The forces were, in fact, conducting their routine joint exercises in the general area of the Gujarat coast when they received the intelligence inputs and they immediately diverted their assets for searching the run-away merchant vessel.

alarabiya.net, November 27, "Islamists claim responsibility for India attacks" : MUMBAI, India - Army commandos laid siege Thursday to two luxury hotels in Mumbai where gunmen held around 200 foreign guests hostage as part of coordinated attacks across India's financial capital that killed at least 101 and injured hundreds. A group calling itself the "Deccan Mujahedeen" claimed responsibility for the attacks late Wednesday night on the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident hotels, and eight other locations, including the main train station, a hospital and an up-market restaurant. Meanwhile European nations announced plans to send a plane to rescue their stranded citizens, Spain's consul in the city said Thursday afternoon.

...One of the gunmen involved in Wednesday's multiple attacks told a television channel he belonged to an Indian Islamist group seeking an end to the persecution of Indian Muslims. Identifying himself as a member of the Deccan Mujahedeen, the gunman, who was holed up in the Oberoi hotel, called for the release of all fellow Islamic militants detained in India. "There are seven of us inside hotel Oberoi," the man identified as Sahadullah told India TV. "We want all Mujahedeens held in India released and only after that we will release the people."...

en.rian.ru, (RIA Novosti) November 27, "Terrorists who attacked Mumbai linked to al-Qaeda - Source" - The terrorist groups who attacked the Indian city of Mumbai are closely linked to al-Qaeda, a high-ranking Russian secret service source said Thursday. "Russian secret services have information suggesting that the groups that attacked Mumbai had had contact with al-Qaeda," the source said. "In particular, the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. This group's militants undergo special training in al-Qaeda camps on the border between Pakistan and India." The source also said that the Indian authorities had earlier considered the group an ordinary "criminal" gang. He also said that Russian secret services had not so far received any request to assist their Indian colleagues in the investigation into the attacks. Lashkar-e-Taiba has denied involvement in the attacks...

indianexpress.com, November 28, "3 terrorists including a Pakistani arrested from Taj" : MUMBAI - Three terrorists, including a Pakistani national, were arrested by the security forces from the Taj hotel in Mumbai tonight. Ajmal Amir Kamal, a resident of Faridkot, Multan in Pakistan and two others were arrested from the hotel, official sources said. The arrested militants belong to Lashkar-e-Taiba, they said. [end]

11.27.08 Taliban earns up to $470 million from opium trade

LONDON (Reuters) November 27 - The Taliban has earned up to $470 million from the Afghan opium trade this year alone, the United Nations said on Thursday, money that is being used to finance the insurgency against US and Afghan forces. As well as the income earned from directly taxing farmers' output and from levies on opium processing and on trafficking the drug, there is evidence the Taliban is hoarding opium stocks to prop up prices, the UN said in a report. This suggests the Taliban may not be overly worried in the short-term by US-led efforts to eradicate poppy fields because lower supply may end up lifting prices, potentially allowing the militant movement to increase its earnings.

"Despite the drop in opium cultivation, production and prices, the Taliban and other anti-government forces are making massive amounts of money from the drug business," the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime said in its 2008 Afghan opium survey. This revenue rise comes at a time when the Taliban is stepping up attacks throughout Afghanistan, especially in the south and east, across the border from Pakistan, where the U.S. military says al-Qaeda and Taliban cells are now based. The UN report estimated the Taliban earned $50-$70 million from imposing a 10 percent charge, called ushr, on economic activities such as opium farming this year, as well as $200-$400 million from levies on opium processing and heroin trafficking. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.27.08 Blast rocks Afghan capital

November 27 - At least seven people have reportedly been killed and 16 injured in a large explosion near the US embassy in the Afghan capital of Kabul, witnesses and police say. Officials suspect it was a suicide attack that struck a convoy of foreign troops close to the embassy entrance on Thursday. Reports say the bomber detonated explosives about 200 metres from the heavily guarded entrance to the US compound. The head of criminal investigations of Kabul police said four civilians had been killed in the blast, but Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, Kabul police chief, said only one civilian had been killed and six more wounded when the bomber blew up his Toyota saloon car on a road near the embassy and the health ministry. US embassy staff were off work for the Thanksgiving public holiday and were unlikely to be out on the roads at the time, an embassy spokesman said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

11.27.08 Iraqi Parliament approves US security pact

BAGHDAD, November 27- The Iraqi Parliament ratified a long-delayed security agreement on Thursday that lays out a three-year timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. For Iraq and the United States, the pact's passage through Parliament by a large majority — more than 140 of some 200 lawmakers present voted in favor — marks a watershed moment, heralding an increase in Iraqi sovereignty over American and other foreign troops on its soil. The pact, which took more than a year to negotiate, consists of two documents: a Status of Forces Agreement defining the rules under which American forces will operate, and a wider Strategic Framework Agreement outlining a broad bilateral view looking toward the future. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.27.08 Christians, Muslims clash when Copts open church opposite mosque

CAIRO, November 27 - Fears of growing sectarianism in Egypt were again realized this week after clashes between Christians and Muslims saw at least eight people arrested in the Ain Shams neighborhood of Cairo. Coptic Pope Shenouda III called for calm after the violence on Sunday sparked concerns that sectarianism in Egypt is gaining steam. The incident occurred Sunday after a group of Muslim demonstrators took to the street in front of an area converted by Christians into a prayer hall. According to reports, rock throwing and the burning of two cars ensued after Christians and the Muslim protesters began to fight. Police entered the fray and ended the violence before it spiraled out of control. But, not before religious leaders and activists began to worry that this is the beginning of more religious-based conflicts in the country that has long boasted of its religious tolerance. [More>>metimes.com]

11.27.08 Malaysia backs down from Yoga ban amid backlash

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) November 26 - Malaysia's prime minister said Wednesday Muslims should still take up yoga, reversing an outright ban that has drawn widespread protests amid concerns over growing Islamic fundamentalism in the multiracial nation. Malaysia's National Fatwa Council, comprising Islamic scholars, told Muslims at the weekend to avoid yoga because it uses Hindu prayers that could erode Muslims' faith. But the decision drew a sharp rebuke from many Muslims and even Malaysia's sultans, or hereditary rulers, who said that they should be consulted on any matters involving Islam. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

11.27.08 How turtles got their shells...and other evolutionary mysteries solved

November 27- The fossilized remains of an ancient reptile that lived 220 million years ago may have solved the puzzle of how the turtle got its shell and, in the process, cleared up one of the most enduring mysteries of animal evolution. It is the oldest known turtle-like fossil and its shell appears to be only half-formed, covering its belly but leaving its back unprotected. Scientists believe it shows the evolutionary transition from the shell-less state of the earliest turtle ancestor to the fully formed shell of all living turtles.

Turtle shells are among the most intriguing structures in the animal kingdom, and zoologists have long argued about how this protective device and unusual body plan could have evolved from previously existing anatomical structures. The latest discovery, made by palaeontologists excavating in China's fossil-rich province of Guizhou, shows that the shell of the turtle evolved from bony growths that expanded from the spine and ribs, rather than the merging of bony plates found in the skin of some reptiles. "Since the 1800s, there have been many hypotheses about the origin of the turtle shell," said Xiao-chun Wu, a palaeontologist with the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario, who was part of the research team. "Now we have these fossils of the earliest known turtle. They support the theory that the shell would have formed from below as extensions of the backbone and ribs, rather than as bony plates from the skin as others have theorized."


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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