Posts Tagged ‘Extremists’

New gaffe by France’s Macron fuels ‘out of touch’ image

October 5, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP / by Gina DOGGETT | French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with students in Egletons, where he made the controversial remark about workers
PARIS (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron came under fire Thursday after a remark directed against union activists fuelled accusations from opponents that he has disdain for working people.

Macron made the comment Wednesday while visiting the central town of Egletons, referring to trade unionists who clashed with police during a rally against layoffs at the region’s GM&S auto parts plant.

“Some, instead of stirring up shit, would be better off looking for work” at a foundry in Ussel, Macron said. The foundry, located 140 kilometres (85 miles) from the auto plant, is having difficulties finding workers.

The remark follows several others seen as contemptuous of ordinary people or dismissive of critics, contributing to a steep drop in popularity for the 39-year-old centrist since his election in May.

Last month, days before a union-led protest against his flagship labour reforms, Macron said he would not back down “to slackers, cynics and extremists”.

The remark became a rallying cry for protesters who coined slogans such as “Slackers of the world, unite!”

“Macron does it again,” the opposition Socialist Party said in a tweet Wednesday, calling on the president to “watch his language and respect the French people”.

A lawmaker of the hard-left France Unbowed party, Adrien Quatennens, said Macron “doesn’t know what it means to look for work.”

But government spokesman Christophe Castaner defended Macron, saying presidents should be able “to use the words we all use”.

Macron has sought to restore lost prestige to the presidency, hosting events in grandiose settings such as the former royal palace in Versailles and likening his role to that of Jupiter, king of the Roman gods.

The former investment banker’s ambitious agenda includes labour reforms pushed through by decree, with critics seizing on his use of executive orders as an example of an autocratic leadership style.

– ‘President of the rich’ –

Macron is also planning major tax cuts for the wealthy, forcing him to fend off accusations that he is a “president of the rich”.

France’s youngest president sees the tax cuts as essential to spurring investment and stemming the exodus of millionaires such as celebrated actor Gerard Depardieu and ageing rocker Johnny Hallyday.

An overhaul of the wealth tax that would discount yachts, private jets, race horses and luxury cars as taxable assets has provoked particular ire on the left.

Wednesday’s remark “further alienates the president by bolstering the image of heavy-handedness and indifference to the least fortunate,” said Emmanuel Riviere of the Sofres polling institute.

Macron’s approval rating stood at 32 percent in a YouGov poll released Thursday.

But he insists he has a mandate for change after his presidential win was followed by a thumping parliamentary victory for his Republic on the Move (LREM) party.

Political scientist Jerome Sainte-Marie told AFP the president’s latest remark “was not very good in terms of popularity, but that won’t prevent him from passing reforms — he has overwhelming power.”

Three big demonstrations have been staged in the past month, but they were low-key compared with massive street protests seen last year over efforts by Macron’s Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande to overhaul France’s complex workplace regulations.

by Gina DOGGETT
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Indonesian Militants Planned ‘Dirty Bomb’ with highly radioactive uranium

August 25, 2017

JAKARTA — Indonesian militants planned to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, security sources said, highlighting the rising ambitions of extremists to wreak destruction in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

But experts cast doubt on their expertise, equipment and chances of success.

The plot was foiled when police raided homes and arrested five suspects in Bandung, West Java, last week, the sources with direct knowledge of the plot said. After the raids, police spoke of a plan to explode a “chemical” bomb but provided no other details.

The plot comes as Indonesia grapples with an influx of militants deported from other countries and the fallout from the Islamic State-led siege in the southern Philippines city of Marawi that regional leaders and analysts worry has energized militants across Southeast Asia

The three counter-terrorism sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the militants had hoped to transform low-grade radioactive Thorium 232 (Th-232) into deadly Uranium 233 (U-233).

The highly radioactive uranium would be combined with the powerful home-made explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) to create a “nuclear bomb”, according to an instruction manual used by the militants and reviewed by Reuters.

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 Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist, “Santoso”

In fact, the device would be, at best, a radiological dispersal device or dirty bomb that could spray radioactive material when the conventional bomb exploded.

A spokesman for Indonesia’s national police, Inspector General Setyo Wasisto, declined to confirm or deny the plot to construct the device, but said it would have been more potent than the two bombs made from TATP that killed three police in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta in May.

“If this bomb was finished, it would have had a more destructive impact than the bomb made from ‘Mother of Satan’,” he said, using the nickname for TATP.

“It could burn anything and make it hard for people to breathe.”

Thorium-232 can be transformed into Uranium-233 but requires the Thorium to absorb a neutron, a process that needs powerful irradiation, generally from a nuclear reactor, according to three analysts contacted by Reuters and the website of the World Nuclear Association, which represents reactor vendors and nuclear engineers, among other industry stakeholders.

The militants’ manual advised an X-Ray machine or microwave be used instead.

“X rays would not have enough punch to overcome the binding energy of the Thorium atoms,” said Peter Hayes, an expert in radiological devices from the Nautilus Institute, in an email.

“And, no, you can’t cook Th-232 to make U-233 in a microwave and, if you could, you would have a painful and rapid death from the radioactive nature of the co-present U-232 produced alongside U-233.”

One senior Indonesian counter-terrorism source said the Bandung-based cell had bought a large amount of a household item and had begun to extract the Thorium. Reuters has chosen not to name the item.

“They needed three weeks. It was still only one week (into the process when police raided),” the source said.

“A MUSLIM’S DUTY”

Indonesia has suffered a series of mostly small attacks by extremists over the past 18 months, although police have disrupted many more.

Indonesian terrorism analyst Rakyan Adibrata fears militants have been inspired by the events in Marawi, where IS fighters continue to occupy part of the city despite a three-month offensive by Philippines force to re-take it.

“They don’t have the ability to occupy a city like has happened in Marawi, but they want to do something big that pleases their bosses in Islamic State,” said Adibrata.

A radiological bombing could fit the bill, although Adibrata said that it was highly unlikely that the Bandung cell had either “the equipment or the knowledge” to succeed.

Most of Indonesia’s recent attacks have involved members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a pro-IS alliance of Indonesian militants. Many have been directed from Syria by an Indonesian national and JAD leader Bahrun Naim, according to police.

Naim is identified as the author on the front page of the 47-page Indonesian-language bomb instruction manual – named “Nuclear for Dummy” (sic) – and posted on a blog that has since been taken down.

“Mastering weaponry is essentially every Muslim’s duty,” it says.

“This paper, we hope, also can motivate the Muslim mujahideen to learn nuclear science easily and apply it.”

Last week, police said the militants had been working off Naim’s manual, but did not disclose its contents.

According to police, the suspected Bandung plotters were members of JAD and were considering targets like the presidential palace in Jakarta and police headquarters in Bandung and the capital.

Two of the five suspects are Indonesian migrant workers deported from Singapore and Hong Kong this year for posting radical Islamist material on social media.

They spent a month or less in a deradicalization shelter before joining up with the other militants, sources told Reuters.

About 177 Indonesian militants have been deported from other countries this year, according to Adibrata, citing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(Reporting by Tom Allard and Agustinus Beo Da Costa Additional reporting by Stefanno Reinard; Editing by Ed Davies and Nick Macfie)

Egypt’s insurgency by the Islamic State: 30 extremists killed in the Sinai Peninsula

July 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Egypt is battling an insurgency by the Islamic State group in the Sinai that has killed hundreds of members of the security forces

CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian forces have killed 30 extremists during several days of security operations in the Sinai Peninsula involving the army, air force and police, the military said Saturday.The Egyptian authorities are battling an insurgency by the Islamic State (IS) group in North Sinai that has killed hundreds of members of the security forces.

The military did not specify to which group the 30 extremists belonged but described them as “extremely dangerous”.

Five others were arrested as Egyptian forces imposed a “tight siege” on the North Sinai provincial capital El-Arish and the cities of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, a military statement said.

Egypt has struggled to quash attacks led by IS, whose local branch is based in North Sinai, after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The bombing by IS of a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from a South Sinai resort in 2015 killed all 224 people on board and severely damaged the country’s tourism sector.

Related:

Russian state security services have admitted that a bomb brought down a Metrojet aircraft over Egypt 

Russian Metro Jet crash,  31 October 2015 — All 224 people on board were killed, including 219 Russian citizens, making it Russia’s worst ever air disaster and the country’s deadliest terrorist attack since the 2004 Beslan school siege.

Qatar changes anti-terror law amid Gulf row

July 21, 2017

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DOHA (AFP) – Qatar announced on Thursday changes to its anti-terror legislation, one of the controversial issues at the core of the crisis between Doha and its neighbours who accuse it of backing extremists.

The decree from Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani establishes two national lists for individuals and terrorist entities and sets out the requirements for being included on them.

It also defines terrorists, terrorist crimes, terrorist entities as well as the financing of terrorism.

The decree follows the signing of a US-Qatar agreement to combat terror funding, later dismissed by the Gulf nation’s neighbours.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson arrived in Doha, Qatar. Credit Qatar News Agency, via Associated Press

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have put in place a boycott on Qatar since June 5.

They have imposed sanctions on Doha, including closing its only land border, refusing Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from Qatar.

They also presented the emirate with a list of 13 demands with which to comply to end the worst political crisis in the region for years.

Qatar denies the charges of extremism and has called the demands unrealistic.

Related:

US-led coalition building jihadist database

June 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The Islamic State’s black flag being taken down by a Syrian rebel in the town of Tabqa in April as the extremist group faces setbacks in Syria and Iraq

HERZLIYA (ISRAEL) (AFP) – The US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group is building a database of foreign fighters to track jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria at home, a senior US official said Thursday.

Brett McGurk, the White House envoy to the anti-IS coalition, told an Israeli security conference the effort aimed to help prevent attacks like those recently carried out in Europe.

“Our coalition is building a global database of foreign fighters, through information-sharing networks and Interpol, to ensure that anyone who fought with ISIS in Syria and Iraq can be identified in either routine traffic stops, border entry points or in the course of routine police work,” McGurk said.

Speaking at the annual Herzliya security conference near Tel Aviv, McGurk said the coalition was also having success in preventing more foreign fighters from joining IS, also known as ISIS or Daesh, in Syria.

“On foreign fighters we’ve largely halted the flow into Syria from Turkey; from hundreds a week to now a handful at most a month,” he said.

Qatar Says Won’t Negotiate Until Economic Boycott Ends

June 19, 2017

DOHA — Qatar will not negotiate with Arab states that have cut economic and travel ties with it unless they reverse their measures, its foreign minister said, ruling out discussions over Qatar’s internal affairs including Al Jazeera TV.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar had still not received any demands from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed relations two weeks ago, triggering the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahmanal-Thani

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants and stirring up unrest, charges Doha denies.

“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters in Doha. “Until now we didn’t see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward.”

He said Kuwait’s ruler was the sole mediator in the crisis and that he was waiting for specific demands from Gulf states in order to take resolution efforts forward.

“We cannot just have (vague) demands such as ‘the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism,'” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Anything that relates to the affairs of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council is subject to negotiation, he said, referring to the body comprising Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

“Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar’s affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar’s affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs,” he said.

Qatar’s Gulf critics have accused Al Jazeera of being a platform for extremists and an agent of interference in their affairs. The network has rejected those accusations and said it will maintain its editorial independence.

Image result for LNG, Qatar, photos

The crisis has hit civilian travel, some food imports, ratcheted up tensions in the Gulf and sown confusion among businesses. But it has not affected energy exports from Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar would rely on other states if the boycott continued, including Saudi Arabia’s arch regional foe Iran.

“We have a back-up plan which depends mainly on Turkey, Kuwait and Oman,” he said. “Iran has facilitated for us the sky passages for our aviation and we are cooperating with all countries that can ensure supplies for Qatar.”

(Reporting by Tom Finn; writing by Sylvia Westall; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Philippine Troops Retake Parts of Marawi City From Islamist Militants; City 90% Clear of Civilians

May 27, 2017
The provincial capitol in Marawi City and town hall of Saguiaran is currently an evacuation center catering to 1,832 families. Women and children are yet to receive aid from the government and non-government organizations. Even DSWD food aid can’t pass through AFP checkpoints. Facebook/Sandugo

LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines — Parts of Marawi City had been cleared from Islamic militants and soldiers are now trying to restore control over five more enclaves where gunmen are still displaying the iconic black Islamic State flag.

Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Saturday called on private physicians to help in their relief missions for more than 100,000 displaced residents.

Thousands of evacuees are now confined in gymnasiums and government buildings in nearby Iligan City in Administrative Region 10.

“Doctors are badly needed to help our medical and rescue teams working round-the-clock since Tuesday,” said Lucman, concurrent regional secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development-ARMM.

ARMM officials and Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. on Saturday said 90 percent of the more than 200,000 residents of Marawi City have evacuated to neutral grounds for fear of the gunfights between government troops and combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

“Marawi City is virtually a ghost city now,” said ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

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Hataman and Adiong are jointly directing relief operations from the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol compound in Marawi City.

Marawi City is the capital of Lanao de Sur, a component province of ARMM.

Policemen and soldiers have cleared the surroundings of the old Marawi City hall, the Toros, Bangon, Kadingilan, Moncado, Buadi Sakayo and Colony areas from occupation by militants, according to city officials and traditional Maranaw elders helping in relief works for displaced residents.

Officials of the Army’s 103rd Brigade and the Regional Police Office-ARMM said on Saturday that clearing operations are now focused on Moncado, Guimba, Malimono, Marinaut and Caloocan areas in Marawi City.

The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) of ARMM is trying since Friday to reach out to hundreds of ethnic Maranaws in villages where extremists are still holding out, displaying the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The provincial government of Lanao del Sur has distributed more than 10 tons of relief supplies to evacuees since Wednesday, according to Adiong, a first-termer vice governor and member of the inter-agency peace and order council in the province.

A senior ARMM executive, who requested anonymity, said the police should also check on the exorbitant charges of fares for public conveyances and overpricing of rice and petroleum products by unscrupulous merchants in Marawi City.

“I was informed that there are drivers of passenger vehicles charging P1,500 per passenger for a ride from Marawi City to Pagadian City. Gasoline is retailed at P100 per liter and rice is sold at P5,000 per sack, accordingly,” the source said.

Efforts to locate more than a hundred missing people, among them a policeman and a Catholic priest gunmen snatched on Tuesday are still underway.

Lawyer Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of ARMM, said six male adolescents, some of them with shrapnel wounds, were rescued at past 4:00 p.m. Friday from a village where soldiers are fighting militants.

“They were caught in the crossfire,” Alamia said.

She said hundreds of students in the campus of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City had been relocated to a safe area through the efforts of school president Habib Macaayong and emergency teams.

“Our concern now is how to extricate many villagers who can’t leave their barangays because of the ongoing encounters there and the presence of militants probably preventing them to leave,” Alamia said.

Alamia said rescue workers cannot get through to the barangays where there are skirmishes.

“We are hoping there would be a lull in fighting so we can rescue those trapped in the crossfire,” she said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/27/1704135/troops-reclaim-parts-marawi-maute-90-residents-evacuated

Philippines: After Attack Foiled, ASEAN Site ‘Most Secure’

April 17, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials say more than 200 Association of Southeast Asian Nation delegates will meet in a central resort province this week despite a foiled attack there by Abu Sayyaf extremists.

Acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy said Monday that Panglao Island in Bohol province could be considered “the most secure place in the country right now.” The two-day ASEAN trade meeting on the island starts Wednesday.

The foiled attack and ensuing battle with government forces occurred in a hinterland village about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. Philippine forces killed four of several Abu Sayyaf extremists who had traveled to Bohol to stage kidnappings and bombings. Two villagers, three soldiers and a policeman were also killed in the clashes last week.

No Sign of President Trump Changing His Mind About Immigration, Refugees

February 13, 2017

By Ivan Couronne
From AFP

February 12, 2017

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US President Donald Trump aimed to halt resettlement of all refugees for 120 days and that of Syrian refugees indefinitely (AFP Photo/Brendan SMIALOWSKI)

Washington (AFP) – The courts may have halted his travel ban but that hasn’t caused President Donald Trump to shy away from planning new action on immigration in the name of keeping Americans safe.

As thousands of Mexicans protested against Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and vow to make the country pay for his “big, beautiful border wall,” the White House confirmed the president’s plans to weigh a new executive order to speed up deportations of illegal immigrants.

His ban now frozen, Trump is “considering and pursuing all options” including a new executive order on the matter, his aide Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday.”

The issue is sure to be at the top of the agenda when Trump meets Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made it clear in the wake of Trump’s ban that America’s northern neighbor welcomes with open arms “those fleeing persecution, terror and war.”

While Trump’s restrictions on refugees and other travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries played out in the courts, a separate executive order prioritizing the deportation of undocumented migrants paved the way for the arrest of hundreds of people, many of them Latinos, this week.

“As a result of the president’s order, greatly expanded and more vigorous immigration enforcement activities are taking place,” Miller said of the deportation decree.

Earlier, Trump tweeted: “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Trump tweeted after raids on undocumented migrants this week.

Over the past week, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency rounded up undocumented individuals living in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities in what it called “routine” operations.

But Miller indicated Sunday that the raids, which follow Trump’s January 25 executive order prioritizing deportation of undocumented individuals convicted of or “charged with any criminal offense,” including misdemeanors, were made more robust under the decree.

“It is true that Operation Cross Check is something that happens every year. But this year we have taken new and greater steps to remove criminal aliens from our communities,” Miller said.

The large-scale raids began in 2011 under then president Barack Obama.

Many Democrats have called on the government to act in moderation, fearful that people without a criminal record will find themselves swept up and in the detentions.

The case of a mother in Phoenix, Arizona who was expelled to Mexico on Thursday crystallized such worries, even among some Republicans.

“There is a lot of worry here in Arizona by those who… are illegally here but they have not committed aggravated felonies,” said Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, adding that the only hope for permanent change lies in major Congressional reform.

– ‘New and additional actions’ –

Miller said the next step on Trump’s travel ban would be either filing an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, defending the merits of the order in lower courts or issuing a new one.

The order that Trump issued abruptly in late January aimed to halt resettlement of all refugees for 120 days and that of Syrian refugees indefinitely.

It also barred for 90 days the entry of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Miller insisted the president has the power to keep some people from entering the United States.

“We are contemplating new and additional actions to ensure that immigration is not a vehicle for admitting people into our country that are hostile to its nation and its values,” Miller said.

The ban was supposed to be in place while the government comes up with a new system of so-called “extreme vetting” of people seeking entry visas.

This could include checks on their social media accounts, according to John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security.

But a federal judge in Seattle issued a stay against the order on February 3. A three-judge appeals panel in San Francisco then voted unanimously against reinstating Trump’s ban.

The idea of the White House issuing a modified immigration order that would survive scrutiny in the courts does not convince Democrats, who from the outset have charged that Trump’s decree is simply anti-Muslim and plays into the hands of extremists.

“It will be used as a recruitment for terrorist organizations. It will put Americans at greater risk traveling abroad,” said Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

Turkey’s President Erdogan Says U.S., The West Support Islamic State Jihadists

December 28, 2016

AFP

© Ozan Kose, AFP | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech on December 20, 2016 in Istanbul

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-12-28

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said the West was breaking promises in Syria, accusing Ankara’s partners of backing “terror groups” including IS jihadists in the country.

At least 37 Turkish soldiers have died in Turkey‘s major incursion inside Syria since it was launched in August to back pro-Ankara Syrian fighters battling IS and Kurdish militia.

Casualties have mounted as the military seeks to take the town of Al-Bab from IS jihadists and Ankara has become more impatient over the lack of support from the US-led coalition against the extremists for the Turkish operation.

“The coalition forces are unfortunately not keeping their promises,” Erdogan said at a news conference alongside visiting Guinean President Alpha Conde.

“Whether they do or they don’t, we will continue along this path in a determined way. There is no going back on the path we have set out on,” he added.

Turkey has met the fiercest resistance yet of the campaign in the fight for Al-Bab, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the Turkish border.

Erdogan complained that rather than supporting Turkey, the West was backing the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD), who work with the United States on the ground in Syria, and also IS.

“They are supporting all the terror groups — the YPG, PYD but also including Daesh (IS),” Erdogan said.

“It’s quite clear, perfectly obvious,” he said, adding that Turkey could provide proof in pictures and video.

Erdogan had made a similar claim on a visit to Pakistan in November alleging that “the West stands by Daesh right now” and its weapons were Western-made.

But the Turkish leader expressed confidence over the assault saying “we now have the Daesh terror group surrounded on four sides in Al-Bab”.

“Yes we have martyrs… but now there’s no turning back,” he said.

Erdogan made no mention of a video purportedly showing two Turkish soldiers being burned to death by IS in Syria.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said earlier there was no information confirming the video.

Erdogan said that along with Russia, Turkey backed a plan to bring the parties in the conflict together with key powers for peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana.

But he said that “terror groups” must not be included and that Turkey also wanted to see its Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar involved.

(AFP)