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09.09.07 Thompson linked to work for Libyans

September 9 - A little over three years after Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, Fred D. Thompson provided advice to a colleague about one of his law firm's new clients: The man representing the two Libyan intelligence officials charged in the terrorist bombing. The colleague, John Culver, a partner at the Washington firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn began advising the two suspects’ Libyan lawyer in February 1992. Mr. Thompson, according to a memorandum from that era written by his secretary, held “discussions with Culver re: Libya” that same month.

At the time, Libya was facing international outrage for refusing to comply with a United Nations demand that the two suspects be extradited to the West for trial in the 1988 bombing, which killed 270 people. Revelations that American firms were representing Libyan interests provoked a furor among the Pan Am victims’ families. Some law firms refused to represent the country or the suspects, while others withdrew.

The involvement of Mr. Thompson, who worked part-time for Arent Fox as a lawyer and lobbyist from 1991 until shortly before his election to the Senate in 1994, never became public. But Arent Fox's chairman, Marc L. Fleischaker, confirmed that Mr. Thompson, who is now seeking the Republican presidential nomination, briefly provided Mr. Culver with advice about the suspects’ case, billing the firm for 3.3 hours of his time. [More>>nytimes.com]

09.09.07 Frankfurt bombplot: Islamic centre had "calamitous role'

September 9 - An Islamic centre in the southwest German town of Ulm has emerged as the cradle of radical Islam frequented by at least one of the suspects arrested last week for an alleged plot against US military facilities in Germany.

Fritz Gelowicz, one of two German converts to Islam arrested along with a Turkish national last Tuesday, came under the influence of a radical preacher at the Multicultural House in Neu-Ulm in Bavaria which was shut down as a security threat in 2005. After that, Gelowicz went to the Islamic Information Centre in his home town of Ulm, according to German officials. Police have been to the centre in their search for clues as they widen their manhunt for accomplices of the three. Islam specialist Udo Steinbach said the Ulm centre had played "a calamitous role".

Details are emerging of the massive nine-month investigation, involving 300 officers and agents, that led to the arrests. The breakthrough reportedly came last year when US intelligence intercepted suspicious communications between Pakistan and Stuttgart, which prompted German police to stake out a dozen internet cafes in the German city before placing the chief suspects under surveillance, according to the Los Angeles Times. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See more details, dw-world, September 9, "Details of terror suspects' plan slowly emerge" : The investigation into the terrorist bomb plot in Germany is likely to take months, the federal prosecutors office said Saturday, while the justice minister called on Muslims to report radicals to the authorities.The federal prosecutors office in Karlsruhe confirmed a report from Germany's Focus newsmagazine that three suspects arrested in a German town on Tuesday had bought three small delivery vehicles second hand in France and brought them over the border. But a spokeswoman for the office would not confirm reports saying investigating officers assumed the vehicles were to be used to deliver massive bombs on or around Tuesday next week to mark the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. The three arrested suspects - two German converts to Islam and a Turk - were reported to have received their instructions from Pakistan as well as detonators from Syria...

09.09.07 Iraqi suspected in deadly truck bombings is killed

BAGHDAD, September 9 - A US air strike killed a man suspected of directing the Aug. 14 truck bombings in northern Iraq that caused the deaths of more than 400 Iraqis, the deadliest single terrorist attack since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, military officials said today. The man, Abu Mohammed Afri, was a leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, US officials said, and was responsible for the synchronized bombings in three villages that targeted members of the Yazidi religious sect, a minority that is neither Muslim nor Christian.

The bombings leveled neighborhoods of crude earthen homes and shops, burying victims and overwhelming local medical facilities in the northern province of Nineveh. Hundreds of others were wounded and hundreds of homes were destroyed.

09.09.07 Bin Laden a 'needle in a friendly haystack'

KABUL, September 9 - Six years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many presume that the man behind the murders of nearly 3,000 people is hiding in the tribal areas that straddle the Afghan-Pakistani border, not far from where he evaded American forces and their Afghan allies in 2001. After nearly three years, Osama bin Laden reappeared Friday in a video that U.S. intelligence officials said appeared to be authentic and to have been made recently.

That bin Laden apparently has been able to survive says a lot about the problems the United States faces in bringing him to justice. Among the factors working in his favor, according to local officials and American analysts, are conservative Muslim tribes with a tradition of protecting guests and a war-torn region of grueling terrain, seething anti-Americanism and poor intelligence-gathering.

...The United States can't take the entire blame. Pakistan's inability to manage the unruly border region has turned it into a deathtrap for the Pakistani military and a semi-permanent sanctuary for Afghanistan's toppled Taliban regime and the al-Qaida units who allied with it. And Afghan forces — under-equipped, poorly trained and at times beholden to local warlords — haven't had much of an effect on their side of the border.
[Full story>>stltoday.com (via yemendaily.com) ; See also thenews.com.pk, September 9, "S. Waziristan: 234 abducted security men couldn't be retrieved yet."]

09.08.07 Two faces of British youth in thrall to sinister Muslim sect

September 8 - Yesterday The Times revealed the growing domination of Britain's mosques by the ultra-conservative Deobandi movement. Today, our correspondent exposes extensive links between British Deobandis and the sect's radical leadership in Pakistan. Here is a tale of two young British Muslims who travelled to Pakistan. Yasir is 19, comes from Rotherham, supports Liverpool FC and is studying Islam in a Pakistani madrassa that will teach him to hate the West.

There are two reasons why he should not be in a Deobandi seminary in the teeming, dusty back streets of Karachi. The first is that Pakistan banned all foreign students from its religious schools in 2005 after it emerged that two of the bombers responsible for the July 7 attacks on London that year had spent time in the country.

And the second? Yasir is miserable. He told The Times last month that he was desperate to "get home," was struggling to cope with life in Karachi and uncomfortable with the seminary's anti-Western agenda...The former engineering student gave no explanation as to why he was at Jamia Binoria, whose principal, Mufti Mohammad Naeem, challenged The Times to inspect the seminary to "see if you can find any terrorists." There were no bomb factories, but for incendiary rhetoric there was Muhammed, a young man from Manchester who was visiting a friend in the seminary's fatwa (religious edict) department.

Muhammed, who would not give his full name, teaches English to asylum-seekers and, in stark contrast to Yasir, exemplifies Deobandis’ deep hostility towards the West. He was eager to tell The Times that the public had been entirely misled about the real perpetrators of the July 7 attack on London. According to Muhammed, the Government, Mossad, assorted Jews, Freemasons and Scotland Yard had conspired to commit mass murder to demonize Muslims. "These are not my opinions. These are facts. The aim was to create terror in the hearts of the British people in order to control them," he said.

The media were also part of the cover-up. "Why don't you tell the public that they are being brainwashed and that there is a conspiracy to destroy Islam, as the Prophet told us? Why don't you tell them that the media is controlled by Jews, that the word 'British' is a Jewish word? If someone attacks your house, you have a right to defend what is rightfully yours. We follow the way of the Prophet. We will defend Islam. We will defend the Koran."

Yasir and Muhammed illustrate the complex challenge that Britain's security services face in countering the threat posed by Islamic radicals. More than 400,000 people travel from Britain to Pakistan each year. The great majority of them go for innocent reasons but some young Britons do go to study in jihadi madrassas and train in terrorist camps. And then they return to Britain. Jamia Binoria has 3,000 students, 500 of them foreigners from 29 countries, including Britain and the US. In its crowded halls children as young as 5 sit in groups on the floor, rocking back and forth as they recite the Koran. [Full story>>timesonliine.co.uk]

09.08.07 Afghan bombers 'foreigners' - UN

KABUL, September 8 - More than half the suicide bombers used by the Taleban to launch attacks in Afghanistan are not Afghan nationals, the United Nations says in a report. It says more than 80% are recruited, trained or sheltered in neighboring Pakistan, noting a steep increase in attacks over the past two years. The UN mission in Afghanistan released the report on the sixth anniversary of the country's first suicide attack.

It killed the mujahideen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. But it was only after 2005 that suicide strikes became common here, used by the Taleban in their insurgency. Last year there were 123 and this year 103 by the end of August. During the first six months of the year, such attacks killed 193 people - 121 of them Afghan civilians, 62 Afghan security forces, and 10 foreign troops.

Different bombers

The report says Afghans should accept the fact that their compatriots do mount such attacks. In the past, Afghan leaders have sometimes said Afghans simply do not commit suicide. Nonetheless, the UN believes more than half the attackers here are foreign, coming mainly from Pakistan and also Arab and Central Asian states. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

09.08.07 In a new video, bin Laden predicts US failure in Iraq

September 8 - Ending a nearly three-year absence from public view, a dark-bearded Osama bin Laden surfaced yesterday in a new video in which he repeatedly taunted the Bush administration but made no overt threats of renewed terrorist attacks. The al-Qaeda leader appeared visibly older and spoke in somber tones as he delivered a rambling, 25-minute monologue that included a lengthy tirade against Western capitalism sprinkled with references to recent news events and cultural and political figures.

Addressing his message to "the people of America," bin Laden predicted failure for US forces in Iraq and warned against what he described as the continued oppression and humiliation of Muslims by the West. "The blood of the Muslims will not be spilled with impunity," he said.

The tape was undergoing technical evaluation by US intelligence analysts, but an initial review indicated it was authentic. "The analysis suggests that the voice on the tape is indeed that of Osama bin Laden," said a US intelligence official, speaking on the condition that he not be identified by name. [More>>washingtonpost.com ; click here, washingtonpost.com, for the video ; of interest is a post, sfir-arabicsource.blogspot.com, February 18, 2007, "How to join al-Qaeda," which can be translated via Google Translation (link from haganah.org)]

09.08.07 50 Taleban killed in Afghan, US operations

KABUL (AFP) September 8 - At least 50 Taleban rebels have been killed in two days of operations by Afghan and US-led troops across insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said Saturday. In a single operation in the southern province of Kandahar, more than 40 rebels were killed, the ministry said in a statement.

The casualties occurred in Sha Wali Kot, an area of the province badly hit by Taleban unrest in the recent weeks, it added. Dozens more were killed in similar sweeps elsewhere in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province, the statement said without giving an exact figure. The rebels were killed in a two-day long sweep in the region, it added. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

09.08.07 Suicide car bomb kills at least 28 in Algeria

DELLYS, Algeria (AFP) September 8 - A suicide car bomb at a naval barracks in northeast Algeria killed at least 28 people and wounded 60 on Saturday, hospital sources told AFP. The new toll was a sharp rise on previous figures of 17 dead, all but one of them service personnel, and more than 30 injured. The bomber smashed a van packed with explosives through a back gate of the coastguard barracks at Dellys, some 60 miles (100 kilometres) east of Algiers and blew it up, witnesses said. [>turkishpress.com]

09.08.07 Peshawar car bomb explosion injures 18

PESAWAR, Pakistan, September 8 - A car bomb exploded in the parking lot of a military-owned bank in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, wounding 18 people, police said. The attack happened outside the Askari Bank in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan. Ijaz Khan, an area police chief, said all 18 wounded were hospitalized and they are in a stable condition. The explosion damaged several vehicles and smashed office windows. TV footage showed soldiers guarding the scene of the blast and officers inspecting several scorched cars. [>thenews.com.pk]

09.08.07 Shockwaves from melting icecaps are triggering earthquakes, say scientists

September 8 - High up inside the Arctic circle the melting of Greenland's ice sheet has accelerated so dramatically that it is triggering earthquakes for the first time. Scientists monitoring the glaciers have revealed that movements of gigantic pieces of ice are creating shockwaves that register up to three on the Richter scale.

The speed of the arctic ice melt has accelerated to such an extent that a UN report issued earlier this year is now thought to be out of date by its own authors. The American polar expert Robert Correll, among the key contributors to the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued in February, described the acceleration as "massive."

Estimates of the likely rise in sea levels this century vary, and the IPCC published a conservative range of between 20cm-60cm. But those estimates are now heavily disputed, with many scientists insisting that new data collected since the IPCC report suggested a rise closer to two metres. Professor Correll said there was now a "consensus" that a significant acceleration in the loss of ice mass has occurred since the last report.

The revelations came at a conference in the north of Greenland, which has drawn world religious leaders, scientists and environmentalists to the Ilulissat Icefjord. Ilulissat is home to the most active glacier in Greenland and it was one of the immense icebergs that calve from it on a daily basis that is believed to have sunk the Titanic. The Arctic is acknowledged as the fastest warming place on earth. [More>>independent.co.uk]

09.07.07 Bush has Sydney in stitches

SYDNEY (RIA Novosti) September 7 - With President George W. Bush's final term set to expire in 16 months, the US leader seems to have used his recent visit to Sydney for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit as an opportunity to hone his talents in other fields.

Bush in Sydney 9/07. Image: rian.ru

Bush's time in the White House has seen him mix up places and names, and display an uncanny knack for unforgettable gaffes, leading many in the US and beyond to suggest that the 43rd president of the United State would be well-advised to seek a career as a stand-up comedian if he ever gets tired of political life.

The ongoing Sydney APEC talks saw the man who once said "My pro-life position is I believe there's life," and "I believe that the human being and the fish can peacefully co-exist," refer to APEC as OPEC, and to the Australian prime minister's visit to 'Austrian' troops in Iraq. [More>>rian.ru ; See related APEC story, aljazeera.net, September 7, "Bush and Roh in awkward exchange."]

09.07.07 Employers cut 4,000 jobs in August

September 7 - Stocks Plunge on Surprising Report. Job creation in the United States came to a standstill in August, according to a Labor Department report today, as the worsening housing market led employers to sharply slow hiring. The nation lost 4,000 jobs in August, the first time employment has shrunk since August 2003. Economists had expected a gain of about 125,000 jobs.

The report also revised previous months' job growth downward and indicated that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.6 percent.

"We did not expect a report as awful as this," said Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist with the High Frequency Economics consulting firm. Stocks were down sharply on the news at mid-day, as investors concluded the risks of a serious economic downturn have been heightened. At noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.4 percent, or 187 points, to 13,176. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had comparable drops. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

09.07.07 Terror suspect arrested in Philippines

MANILA, Sepember 7 - A Muslim extremist linked to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has been arrested in the western Philippine island of Palawan after fleeing a military offensive in the south, the military said today. The Philippine military chief of staff, General Hermogenes Esperon, confirmed that Abu Moguera, an alleged Filipino associate of Bali bomber Dulmatin, was arrested in Palawan. Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro later said two other Abu Sayyaf members were also arrested along with Abu Moguera on a street in the Palawan capital of Puerto Princesa yesterday. [More>>news.com.au]

09.07.07 US says Shiite militant chief held in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AFP) September 7- US and Iraqi troops have detained a suspected Shiite militant who leads around 750 fighters, and is involved in attacks in Baghdad, the US military said Friday. It said the man was known for carrying out bomb and sniper attacks, and was seized with another suspected militant Thursday in a raid in the Rahmaniyah area of central Baghdad.

The US statement said the senior militant was a brigade commander of a group of 750 fighters and was responsible for attacks in the capital's southwest Amel neighborhood. "Intelligence reports indicate the suspects are cooperating with foreign fighters and assisting other insurgents in acquiring sniper training in Iran," the military said, in an oft-repeated charge of Iranian involvement, which Tehran denies. The military also said the two detainees were suspected of carrying out an attack in May, targeting Sunni residents in the Saddam Place apartments in Rahmaniyah, which killed 13 civilians.

09.07.07 Seven US soldiers killed in Iraq's Anbar

BAGHDAD (Reuters) September 7 - Seven US troops have been killed in Iraq, including four in the western province of Anbar, where gains in security were hailed this week by US President George W. Bush during an unannounced visit to the region. The US military said on Friday that four Marines were killed in the vast desert province on Thursday while conducting combat operations. It gave no further details on one of the deadliest days for troops in Anbar in months.

The military also said three soldiers were killed in the northern province of Nineveh on Thursday when an explosion hit their vehicle. The deaths take to more than 3,750 the number of US soldiers killed since the start of the US-led invasion in 2003. Eighteen US soldiers have died so far this month. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

09.06.07 Algeria suicide bomb 'kills 15'

September 6 - At least 15 people have been killed and scores injured in a suicide bombing in Algeria, local security sources said. The attack happened in the town of Batna, about 450km (279 miles) east of the capital, Algiers. Witnesses said the attack apparently targeted crowds awaiting an expected visit to the town by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. However, the bomb went off before the president was scheduled to arrive and he was not involved. [More>>bbc.co.uk ; See update, khaleejtimes.com (AFP) September 7, "Algeria suicide attack kills 22, wounds 107."]

09.06.07 US air strike in Baghdad kills 14 sleeping civilians

BAGHDAD (AFP) September 6 - US air strikes on a Baghdad neighbourhood before dawn on Thursday killed 14 civilians while they were sleeping and destroyed several houses, angry residents and Iraqi officials said. Defence and interior ministry officials said US helicopters fired on houses in the Al Washash neighbourhood of Mansour district in west Baghdad between 2.00 am and 3.00 am while in pursuit of insurgents.

"The attacks on the houses took place while people were sleeping. There were no clashes. The area had been quiet." said an interior ministry official who did not want to be named. At least 10 people were wounded and were admitted to the nearby Al Yarmuk hospital. "Two to five houses were destroyed. Among the wounded are several women," the official said.

Abu Ali Saad, a resident of the mainly-Shia Al Washash enclave in the middle of the Sunni-majority Mansour neighbourhood, said US military vehicles had arrived in large numbers during the night. "There were tanks and armored vehicles and many troops," 35-year-old Saadtold AFP while surveying the rubble of his neighbour's house. "The tanks started firing then the helicopters came. Missiles were fired from the air. Houses were destroyed. A family of five were killed in this house," he said, referring to his neighbours. "We are a peaceful neighbourhood. There are no militia here. There were no exchanges of fire. We were all sleeping." [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

09.06.07 Russian Bears force RAF to scramble

September 6 - The RAF was involved in its biggest scrambling mission since the Cold War today, launching four Tornados to intercept eight Russian long-range Bear bombers which were approaching Britain in formation. The four Tornado F3 air-defence aircraft from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire headed off the Russian Tupolev-95 Bear-H bombers which turned away before entering UK airspace.

The bombers had first appeared over the Arctic and were approaching Norwegian airspace. Four Norwegian air force F16s scrambled to shadow them. The bombers had flown in international airspace from the Barents Sea to the Atlantic before heading for Britain.

Although there have been several incidents this year in which pairs of Russian Bears have flown towards UK airspace and have been intercepted by RAF aircraft on quick-reaction alert duty, today's was the first time that the Russians had deployed so many of their strategic nuclear-capable bombers to test Britain's air defences. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

09.06.07 Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act

NEW YORK (AP) September 6 - A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers. US District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law, complaining that it allowed the FBI to demand records without the kind of court order required for other government searches. The ACLU said it was improper to issue so-called national security letters, or NSLs - investigative tools used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information - without a judge's order or grand jury subpoena. Examples of such businesses include Internet service providers, telephone companies and public libraries.

Editorial note: The access to Internet Providers' records carries a double-edged sword. While there is a need to protect individual privacy, there is the reality that one of the main recruiting and promotional channels of al-Qaeda and other terrorists has been through the internet. As everyone who owns a domain and publishes an internet site knows, personal information - including address and phone numbers and credit card information for billing purposes - is retained by the Internet Service Providers. Some of this information can be obtained by a "Who is" search on domain names, which is available to anyone. Access to Internet Provider records - particularly those that relate to terrorist sites - can prevent future bombings.
See related story, Maravot News 5.25.06, "American involvement in keeping Islamic extremist websites online." and 5.24.06, 'Bin Laden' denies Moussaoui role."

Mel Copeland

09.06.07 Russia signs US$1 billion defense deal with Indonesia

JAKARTA, September 6 - Russian President Vladimir Putin witnessed the signing of a US$1 billion defense deal Thursday that will allow Indonesia to buy dozens of helicopters, tanks and submarines - part of efforts to boost his country's military clout in Asia. President Vladimir Putin, making a one-day stopover in Indonesia, gave the cash-strapped government a US$1 billion loan for military hardware that can be paid back over the next 15 years.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, who will buy 20 tanks, 15helicopters, and two Kilo-class submarines, said he was happy to be able to "reduce dependence on the United States," once the country's largest supplier of weaponry.

09.05.07 Search for suspects continues after averted terror attacks

September 5 - Prosecutors arrested three men and are searching for five more suspects who are accused of planning "massive" terrorist attacks. Investigators suggested that US military facilities in Germany could have been the targets. German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said the three men arrested Tuesday were two German converts to Islam and a Turkish Muslim, all in their 20s. The men are being held on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and preparing a bomb attack.

Harms said the men were members of the Islamic Jihad Union, which has its origins in Uzbekistan. The three suspects attended a militant training camp in Pakistan last year, she said at a press conference Wednesday in Karlsruhe. Prosecutors in the German state of Saarland said investigators were still looking for another five suspects.

Harms said the men in custody, identified as Fritz G., Adem Y. and Daniel S., had been able to collect massive quantities of hydrogen peroxide. That same household chemical was used by suicide bombers in the 2005 London public transport attacks that killed 56 people. She said once turned into bombs, the material could have created an explosion with the same strength as 550 kilograms (1,210 pounds) of dynamite.

...Jörg Ziercke, head of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), said the Islamic Jihad Union had ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network and that the men accused of planning the attacks in Germany were "driven by a hatred of US citizens" ...Ziercke said over 300 police officers had been monitoring the suspects over six months, and that it was one of the largest police operations of its kind in Germany.
[Full story>>dw-world.de ; See more details, nytimes.com, September 5, "German police arrest 3 in 'imminent' terrorist plot."]

09.05.07 China targets UK with high-tech spy ring

September 5 - British officials have said China has been responsible for attempts to hack into government networks. Several recent attempts to hack into British Government computer networks have been traced to China, Whitehall sources said today. The attacks are part of a pattern in which China and Russia are switching from "old-fashioned espionage" techniques to electronic hacking into government computers to gain Britain’s military secrets, the sources added.

The growing theat from hacking was underlined yesterday when President Bush said he might raise the sensitive issue with Beijing when he meets President Hu Jintao, the Chinese leader, in Sydney tomorrow for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit. Asked to respond to allegations that China’s People’s Liberation Army had hacked into a computer system in the office of Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, Mr Bush said: "I’m very aware that a lot of our systems are vulnerable to cyber attack from a variety of places." [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

09.05.07 Taliban links to Pakistan blasts probed

ISLAMABAD (AFP) September 5 - Pakistan Wednesday probed suspected links between pro-Taliban militants and the twin suicide blasts that killed 31 people and heightened the crisis facing President Pervez Musharraf. The bombings Tuesday in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad where the army is based, added to insecurity in the country as military ruler Musharraf seeks reelection as president in the face of mounting opposition. One bomber blew himself up on a bus carrying defense ministry workers, and another struck on a route used by army officers to travel to the military headquarters in the sprawling-but-heavily-secured city.

Interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said there were suspected links to pro-Taliban militants backed by Al Qaeda, who are fighting military operations in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Investigators are focusing on Baitullah Mehsud, one of the most senior militant commanders in the region, who is based in the semi-autonomous district of South Waziristan, he said, an area largely contemptuous of Musharraf's rule.

"No one has claimed responsibility, but the previous several attacks were linked to Baitullah Mehsud," Cheema said. "The investigations are continuing." Officials have previously connected Mehsud with the radical clerics who ran the Red Mosque in Islamabad, which government forces besieged and stormed in July in an operation that cost more than 100 lives. Mehsud has reportedly claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on military and government targets since then, including what he claims is the abduction of around 150 soldiers in South Waziristan last week. The army insists the soldiers are stranded in the area due to a tribal dispute.

09.05.07 50 Taleban, 4 NATO soldiers, killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (DPA), September 5 - Afghan and coalition forces killed more than 50 suspected Taleban insurgents in a series of clashes Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, while two NATO soldiers and two policemen were killed in separate attacks in the same region, officials said. Taleban militants attacked Afghan and coalition positions in two districts of the southern province of Ghazni in the early hours of Wednesday, resulting in the death of 28 suspected insurgents, police and coalition forces said.

Some 22 militants were killed in Nawa district of the province, while six others, including a district level commander by the name of Mullah Noorullah, were killed in Andar district, Alishah , the provincial police chief, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. Ahmadzai said the combined forces were moving towards the remote area of the province where a large number of the insurgents were suspected to be hiding.

09.04.07 Twin blasts kill at least 29 in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, September 4 - At least 29 people were killed and scores of others injured in twin bomb attacks, including one targeting an army bus, in crowded markets of Rawalpindi, Pakistani garrison city near the capital on Tuesday. The first explosion occurred in a bus ferrying Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission employees to work in the city's busy Qasim bazaar, police said.

Army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said 17 people were killed in the blast, which occurred at around 7.30 am and turned the white-coloured bus into a mangled heap of metal. The second bomb planted on a motorbike went off 15 minutes later at the bustling R A Bazaar killing at lest 12 people. [More>>expressindia.com ; See also khaleejtimes.com, "September 4, "Suicide bombers kill 25, wound 70 in Pakistan."]

09.04.07 Three cops among 16 militants killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, September 4 - Afghan police killed a Taliban militant alleged to be behind the July kidnappings of 23 South Korean church workers, authorities said Tuesday. Up to 27 other insurgents were also slain, while separate suicide attacks killed three police officers.

Mullah Mateen was among 16 militants killed in fighting late Monday and early Tuesday in Ghazni province, where the South Koreans were kidnapped, said Ghazni Deputy Governor Kazim Allayar. Two male hostages were killed early in the crisis, and two others, both female, were released last month. The remaining 19 were freed last week after direct talks between the Taliban and South Korean government representatives.

09.04.07 Denmark arrests 'terror' suspects

September 4 - Eight young men have been arrested in Denmark in connection with an alleged plot to carry out a bombing. Jakob Scharf, the director general of the Danish intelligence service PET, said the arrests near the capital Copenhagen on Tuesday had "prevented a terrorist attack". "We would describe the main suspects as militant Islamists with international contacts, including leading members of al-Qaeda," he said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

09.04.07 China hacked into Pentagon computer network

BEIJING (AFP) September 4 - China's military successfully hacked into the Pentagon's computer network, raising fears it could disrupt the US defence department's systems, the Financial Times reported Tuesday. The Chinese military's cyber attack was carried out in June following months of efforts, the London-based newspaper said, citing unnamed current and former US officials.

While the Pentagon declined to say who was behind the hacking, which led to the shutdown of a computer system serving the office of Defence Secretary Robert Gates, officials told the paper it was China's People's Liberation Army. "The PLA has demonstrated the ability to conduct attacks that disable our system," the paper quoted a former US official as saying. [More>>turkishpress.com]

09.04.07 Cut and run: Bush heralds cut in troops as British forces head for exit

September 4 - President George Bush flew into a US airbase in Anbar province in western Iraq yesterday to announce that recent American military successes would allow a reduction in the 160,000-strong US force in Iraq. He said that, judging by what he had been told by US commander General David Petraeus and ambassador Ryan Crocker, "it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces."

Mr. Bush chose to visit Anbar because the split between the Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda in Iraq has led to a sharp reduction in attacks on US forces in this vast western province which is mostly desert aside from the Euphrates valley.

The administration has had some success in persuading US public opinion and media that the military escalation known as "the surge" which started in February is having a measure of success. Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker are to report on the impact of "the surge" when they testify to Congress on 10 September. Since they will be reporting on their own efforts it is likely they will report significant progress.

The reduction in American troop numbers Mr. Bush suggested is probably inevitable given the strain Iraq is placing on American military resources and the public pressure domestically. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See related story, nytimes.com, September 4, "Envoy's letter counters Bush on Iraq Army."]


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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