Posts Tagged ‘terrorists’

Israeli Police Evacuate Train Station After Bomb Scare — An object suspected of being a bomb was found in a bag belonging to an Arab-Israeli citizen

August 16, 2017

Police evacuated the Rehovot train station in central Israel  Wednesday after reports that a suspicious object was found on the premises.

Image result for Rehovot train station, Israel, Photos

Rehovot train station

Police and bomb squad personnel scanned the area and after about an hour gave the “all clear.”

A gag order has been placed on the case, but it was reported that an object suspected of being a bomb was found in a bag belonging to an Arab-Israeli citizen.

Train service throughout the area was halted as a result of the bomb scare.

Kuwait arrests 12 ‘terrorists’ with alleged ties to Iran

August 12, 2017
 August 12 at 5:33 AM
Israel sees Iran and Lebanese ally Hezbollah (pictured) as its greatest existential threat, a view shared by the leaders of the region’s main Sunni Arab states
KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s Interior Ministry says 12 men with links to a terrorist group associated with Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been arrested.The ministry said in a statement late Friday that the men were among a group of 26 who had received prison sentences from Kuwait’s Supreme Court in June but they refused to turn themselves in. They were accused of weapons possession and planning “hostile actions” inside Kuwait.

One Iranian man was tried in absentia and the rest are Kuwaiti nationals. Four men remained at large.

The case spurred Kuwait to shutter the Iranian cultural mission and reduce the number of Iranian diplomats stationed there last month, deepening a rift between the Gulf Arab states and Tehran.

The government says the terror group was uncovered in 2015.

French Security Forces Now Top Targets of Islamic Radicals

August 10, 2017

PARIS — French soldiers taking part in Operation Sentinelle are the highest profile symbols of the fight against Islamic extremism — but along with other security forces patrolling French streets are increasingly the main targets of attacks.

Operation Sentinelle was created to guard prominent French sites after a string of deadly attacks in 2015. The soldiers’ status as representatives, and defenders, of the state, has put security forces in the line of fire. But experts offer other reasons, too, for why attacks in France have recently focused on heavily armed protectors.

No civilians have been attacked this year — although intelligence services have foiled seven planned attacks, France’s interior minister said recently. More than 230 people, many of them out for a night of fun, were killed in 2015 and 2016.

Islamic radicals may seek extra media visibility presumably afforded by going after emblematic targets or be tempted by the wish to die as a “martyr,” several experts said. Or they may want to up assurance of redemption with an especially “heroic” act in the ultimate stage of a life spent mainly in delinquency in which security forces were the top enemy, the experts added.

Knives, machetes, hammers and vehicles have been used in the seven attacks this year — in each case against security forces — despite France’s state of emergency. In the latest, on Wednesday, a BMW slammed into six soldiers as they left their barracks outside Paris for duty in what authorities said was a “deliberate” attack. The suspect, an Algerian living legally in France, was arrested after a highway manhunt and hospitalized with bullet wounds.

“We need to finally suppress the idea that there is a common profile for terrorists,” said Alain Bauer, a leading criminologist and security expert. But, he added, attacking security forces is “a la mode” now in France.

In 2015 and 2016, soft targets were more common, after a Syrian who served the Islamic State group as its high-profile spokesman and strategist before being killed urged sympathizers in Europe and the U.S. to launch attacks against civilians — “especially the spiteful and filthy French.” High-level attacks, from the November 2015 massacres in Paris to last year’s Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, followed, with 216 dead.

This year, one person, a police officer on the crowded Champs-Elysees Avenue, has been killed. One attacker died in a second incident on the avenue after his car laden with weapons caught fire after he rammed it into a convoy of gendarmes.

Not all the attacks were claimed by IS, and like the attacker who plowed his car into the soldiers, not all were French. Except for Wednesday’s car attack, the attackers chose tourist haunts — going after security forces, not the crowds.

A study released in March by the Center for Terrorism Analysis, or CAT, showed that France isn’t alone. Attacks on security forces have been a constant in the West. Between 2013 and 2016, a majority — 53 percent — of 72 targeted attacks, either carried out, attempted or planned, were aimed at society’s protectors. The study also showed that France, with the highest number of Western jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and largest Muslim population in Western Europe, was the most targeted Western country.

IS cites France’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition when claiming attacks in the country.

“They want to die as martyrs,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the CAT center.

In November 2015, when teams of extremists stormed into Paris from Brussels and killed 130 people enjoying a weekend on the town, they “waited for intervention forces to arrive to die with weapons in their hands facing apostate forces,” Brisard claimed.

For another expert, Alain Rodier, a former intelligence officer, many French Islamic extremists who go after symbols of the state had spent much of their lives doing just that as small-time delinquents. In France, police and youth in tough neighborhoods have notoriously bad relations with authorities in uniform and some delinquents who radicalize repeat old habits, he said.

“In reality, they’ve transferred what they did before,” Rodier said. They are people who haven’t traveled to combat zones and take action “on their own initiative,” he said, adding that the notion of redemption also can also motivate the choice of targets. They are often fed by extremist preachers whose message is “the more heroic the action the more their sins are pardoned.”

Wednesday’s attack threw the spotlight on the Sentinelle force, currently 7,000-strong with half of its members posted in the Paris region. Some have questioned why soldiers are patrolling sensitive sights from train stations and airports to places of worship — when they have never stopped an assault since their deployment after attacks in January 2015 on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a Kosher grocery.

The soldiers are “a presence that reassures, protects,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday, but also symbols “and therefore direct targets.”

They are also magnets for attacks, Bauer said.

The force’s real purpose, Bauer said, is “just trying to convince your population that you’re safe … (and) let everybody go to work every day.”

Be they soldiers, police or gendarmes — all of whom have been attacked this year — the crucial determinant is media attention, according to Bauer.

“Terrorism is about communication and violence,” he said.

France: Car ramming into soldiers being treated as a probable act of terrorism

August 9, 2017

PARIS — French counter-terrorist investigators have been asked to probe an incident in which a car rammed into a group of soldiers in a Paris suburb on Wednesday, a source in the judiciary said.

A judicial source told Reuters that the department had taken up the matter and was working alongside colleagues from the DGSI internal intelligence agency – a move that in France shows the matter is being treated as a probable act of terrorism.

A statement from French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly added that police forces were looking for a suspect on the run after the incident, in which police said six soldiers were injured, two of them seriously.

(Reporting by Myriam Rivet; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Brian Love and Alison Williams)


Militant Group Jamaat-Ud-Dawa Launches New Party in Pakistan to Make Pakistan “A Real Islamic and Welfare State”

August 7, 2017

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s banned militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa is seeking to enter the political sphere by launching a new party.

Saifullah Khalid, a religious scholar and longtime official of the group, is president of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party. He told reporters in Islamabad Monday that his party will work to make Pakistan “a real Islamic and welfare state” and that it’s ready to cooperate with like-minded parties.

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Saifullah Khalid, a religious scholar and longtime official of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Photo: Anjum Naveed, AP

The U.S. has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of JuD’s founder Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan placed him under house arrest earlier this year.

The JuD widely is believed to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group behind the 2008 deadly attacks in Mumbai, India.

In Manila this week, ASEAN faces difficult balance between US and China

August 5, 2017
Workers install a giant lantern with the logo of ASEAN, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in preparation for the Aug. 2-8, 2017 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its dialogue partners at the Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — As the foreign ministers of Southeast Asian Nations meet in Manila, the regional bloc sees the need to strengthen itself as an institution while facing a tough balancing act between the US and China.

The meetings in Manila are expected to demonstrate the difficult position ASEAN countries found themselves in as they try to align their interests with or against those of the Americans and Chinese, whose foreign ministers will also be in Manila for a security forum.

Without engagement with the two economic powers, ASEAN, an amalgamation of democracies, monorchies, and dictatorships, would have difficulty achieving what it wants.

“I would say because I think ASEAN countries realize that they cannot prosper without engaging these great powers outside ASEAN,” said Philips Vermonte, an expert of the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

For ASEAN to better do this, it should start to change some principles it has followed in the past years and begin to strengthen its institutions, especially its secretariat.

According to Vermonte, ASEAN member countries should contribute more to finance the region’s activities.

He said that each country provides a measly $2 million to the ASEAN Secretariat, making the bloc more susceptible to outside interference.

“This is something that needs to be fixed. If they don’t do that, we will rely on external powers in financing our activities, and that opens the way for great powers to interfere,” Vermonte said at a media forum in a posh hotel in Manila attended by dozens of regional journalists.

ASEAN to blame?

The bloc, which started as a crop of mostly authoritarian states, also needs a strong leadership, something that it has not recently seen, according to the Indonesian expert.

To address this leadership vacuum, Vermonte proposed the strengthening of ASEAN and its institutions.

“What we need to have is a strong institutionalization of ASEAN because we can’t rely on certain leaders,” he said.

Michael Vatikiotis, the Asia regional director of the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, said the weakness of ASEAN as an institution is what makes handling the “gargantuan” power struggle between the US and China all the more difficult.

ASEAN should come up with a set of guidelines and a code of conduct its member-countries could use as they negotiate with outside countries especially China, he said.

“Why is the code of conduct is being negotiated with China? Why can’t member states negotiate their own code of conduct and tell China that if you want to cooperate with us here’s our code of conduct?” Vatikiotis said, adding that the bloc is partly to blame for the complicated security problem it is now facing.

He said that a bolstered ASEAN could also help member-countries manage their security problems.

There should also be a review of the ASEAN’s principle of non-interference, which, Vatikiotis said, has been its weakness.

“There is no point in having these mechanisms and institutions for managing tensions and security of member states are too shy about involving themselves in one another’s affairs,” he said.

Another expert advised that the group hasten its community-building to add more political, economic and diplomatic muscle.

“We need to make our community more successful so we have more political weight and more diplomatic weight. We certainly need more economic weight,” said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, a research fellow at the ASEAN Studies Centre of the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Termsak said that its policies should not supplant the national policies of the member-states even if ASEAN as an institution was reinforced.

United States or China?

Some ASEAN countries may choose to be pro-US or pro-China, or they may also opt to benefit from a relationship with the two great powers. Others, meanwhile, “may want to be doing a hedging, making money from China but seeking security protection from the US. Some governments may want to be neutral just like Indonesia,” Termsak said.

This is especially the case as the US and China offer ASEAN countries different benefits in their bilateral relationship with Washington and Beijing.

Vermonte, the Jakarta-based expert, said while Southeast Asian countries acknowledge that the US is on an economic decline, it should also recognize that it is still the most powerful country with the largest military.

“On the other hand, China will be the most powerful, (economic) superpower, but in terms of military China is still lagging behind the United States,” he added.

In the end, internal factors, more than external ones, are what will spell the success or failure of the regional group founded half a century ago.

Termsak has one piece of advice for the 10 member-states as they plunge into meetings and forums this week in the Philippines, one of the bloc’s original founding members.

“One important thing that we have to consider is when governments come together at ASEAN, what are our choices? The most obvious choice is to be pro-ASEAN,” he said.


Southeast Asian Diplomats Open Talks in Manila

August 5, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — The Latest on annual meetings of Southeast Asian foreign ministers and their counterparts from the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas (all times local):

10:50 a.m.

Southeast Asia’s top diplomats have opened their annual meeting at a convention and theater complex by Manila Bay without the usual security overkill. Motorists were allowed through as joggers, cyclists and tennis players sweated under a cloudy sky.

Public traffic was only stopped when the foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as ASEAN, arrived mid-morning Saturday.

According to metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has shown disdain for security lockdowns that inconvenience the public. Still, police deployed more than 13,000 officers in the capital and declared no-fly and no-sail zones around the venue.

Topping the agenda are North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests, an attempt to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a siege by pro-Islamic State group militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, which has dragged on for more than two months.


South China Sea, North Korea tensions at security forum — Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism

August 5, 2017


© POOL/AFP / by Ayee Macaraig, Martin Abbugao | The gathering of ASEAN foreign ministers is expected to see a fiery few days of diplomacy, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks

MANILA (AFP) – Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, as a tense regional security forum began Saturday with North Korea also under fire over its nuclear programme.Ahead of the launch of the annual gathering of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam made a bold play against China with a raft of suggested changes to a planned joint communique.

It set the stage for what was expected to be a fiery few days of diplomacy in the Philippine capital, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks from Sunday.

The meetings will take place as the United Nations Security Council votes this weekend on a US-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea to punish the isolated regime for its missile and nuclear tests.

The United States said it would also seek to build united pressure on the North at the Manila event — known as the ASEAN Regional Forum — and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Pyongyang would receive a strong message.

But on the South China Sea dispute — one of Asia’s other top powder keg issues — there was far less consensus with Vietnam resisting efforts by the Philippines to placate Beijing, diplomats told AFP.

Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by AFP, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over “construction” in the sea, in reference to China’s explosion of artificial island building in the disputed waters in recent years.

Vietnam also wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be “legally binding”, which Beijing opposes.

– Tense talks –

The lobbying occurred when the ASEAN foreign ministers held unscheduled and informal talks late on Friday night.

“The discussions were really hard. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea. Cambodia and Philippines are not keen to reflect that,” one diplomat involved in the talks told AFP.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building the artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.

Alongside Vietnam, the Philippines used to be the most vocal critic of Beijing’s expansionism.

But under President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila has sought to downplay the dispute with China in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia and Laos, to support its diplomatic manoeuvring in the dispute.

At the ASEAN opening ceremony on Saturday morning, Cayetano confirmed there had been strong debates on Friday.

“You have to excuse my voice as my colleagues, we kept each other up until almost midnight last night. In the true ASEAN way we were able to passionately argue our national interest,” Cayetano said.

Various diplomats said that Vietnam was likely to lose its battle to insert the strong language against China, with the Philippines as host of the talks wielding greater influence.

ASEAN is set to this weekend endorse a framework for a code of conduct with China, which is meant to pave the way for more concrete action.

But security analysts point out that the framework comes 15 years after negotiations on the issue first began, and China has used that time to cement its claims with the artificial islands.

Another pressing issue in Manila will be the growing terrorism threat in the region.

The event is taking place as Philippine security forces battle Islamic State-aligned gunmen who have sine May been occupying parts of Marawi, the nation’s main Muslim city about 800 kilometres (500 miles) to the south of Manila.

by Ayee Macaraig, Martin Abbugao

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Anti-India Strike, Security Lockdown Shuts Disputed Kashmir After Indian Troops Killed Lashkar-e-Taiba Terrorist, 17-Year-Old Boy

August 2, 2017

SRINAGAR, India — A teenage boy has died in Indian-controlled Kashmir a day after he was wounded by government forces during anti-India protests, triggering a fresh strike by separatists.

The 17-year-old died early Wednesday at a hospital in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, where businesses and shops have been shut to protest his death.

Authorities clamped a curfew in the old parts of Srinagar in anticipation of more protests against Indian rule. The boy died Tuesday during demonstrations that erupted after troops killed two top rebels in a gunbattle and fatally shot a civilian.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both the countries claim it in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 against Indian rule. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.


France Closes Only De-Radicalisation Centre — “The experiment has not been conclusive.” — None of the de-radicalisation centre’s residents ever completed the programme

July 28, 2017


© AFP/File | None of the de-radicalisation centre’s residents ever completed the programme

PARIS (AFP) – France’s first jihadist de-radicalisation centre is set to close after less than a year, the government said on Friday.

The centre in Pontourny, western France, which opened in September 2016, was aimed at convincing radicalised 18 to 30-year-olds to turn their back on extremism.

But Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the experiment “has not been conclusive”.

“The experiment of this centre, which operates on a voluntary basis, has shown its limitations. The government has therefore decided to end the experiment,” the minister added.

The centre can accommodate 25 people, but has never had more than nine residents, none of whom have completed the de-radicalisation programme. The centre has been empty since February.

Collomb said the government would now look at ways of developing alternative de-radicalisation programmes.

The centre in Pontourny had been criticised by local residents alarmed that those at the centre could come and go freely in the town.

A Senate report published on July 12 was heavily critical of France’s de-radicalisation strategy and called for the centre to be closed.

France has been a consistent target for jihadists since 2015, with more than 230 people killed in attacks.

The deadliest was a series of shootings and suicide bombings targeting bars, a concert hall and the Stade de France national stadium in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people died.

Image may contain: one or more people, people walking, night and outdoor

13 Nov 2015, Paris, France — Paris, France. 13th November 2015 — Confusion and disorder in the area of the Republic in Paris, minutes after the multiple terrorist attacks. Police runs back and forth to the various warnings they receive. — French Government has closed the borders and mobilized the military, as President François Hollande declared a State of Emergency after at least 6 terrorist bombing and shooting attacks in Paris, the most deadly happening in a popular concert hall. — Image by © Cesar Dezfuli/Demotix/Corbis

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in revenge for French air strikes on its militants in Syria and Iraq.