Posts Tagged ‘terrorists’

ISIS fanatics ‘plotting new 9/11’: Homeland Security chief says jihadists are working on a ‘big explosion’

October 19, 2017

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  • Elaine Duke, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, issued a warning
  • She said recent attacks are keeping jihadis engaged ahead of ‘big explosion’
  • Terrorists plotting to take down planes to inflict mass civilian casualties, she says
  • Yesterday, MI5 boss Andrew Parker warned UK was facing biggest terror threat

A fiery blasts rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building September 11, 2001 in New York

Islamic State fanatics and other terror groups are planning another massive attack on the scale of 9/11, a top US security chief warned today.

Elaine Duke, Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Homeland Security, said jihadists were using crude knife and van attacks to keep their members engaged and their finances flowing as they plot another ‘big explosion’ similar to the September 2001 atrocities.

Speaking at the US embassy in London, she said intelligence is pointing to extremists plotting to take down planes to inflict mass civilian casualties.

Mrs Duke said ISIS is currently in an ‘interim’ period focusing on a much bigger endgame.

The security chief, who has served three US presidents, said: ‘The terrorist organisations, be it ISIS or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that.

‘However, in the interim they need to keep their finances flowing and they need to keep their visibility high and they need to keep their members engaged, so they are using small plots and they are happy to have small plots.’

Islamic State fanatics and other terror groups are planning another massive attack on the scale of 9/11, a top US security chief warned

She added: ‘Creating terror is their goal and so a van attack, a bladed weapon attack, causes terror and continues to disrupt the world – but does not mean they’ve given up on a major aviation plot.’

Elaine Duke, Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Homeland Security

Yesterday Mrs Duke said the prospect of a terrorist blowing up an airline using a laptop was just one of the threats facing airlines worldwide.

She said the free movement of goods and people means security has to be tightened in individual countries around the world.

She said: ‘The laptop is one of the many aviation threats, we will never be comfortable and we will always be evolving.

‘What we believe is that because of the movement of goods and people, we have to raise the baseline worldwide, we can’t only consider our borders.’ Mrs Duke went on: ‘We think the level of terrorist threat against the United States too is extremely high.

‘I think that it is challenging for you because you have the proximities to other countries, the ease of movement from some of the terrorist safe havens is a little easier for you, but we feel the terrorist threat is very high in the United States.’

Asked how the US is tackling the threat of another 9/11-style atrocity, she said: ‘We have worked on some strong measures that we can’t talk about. We are trying to play the away game and that is working against them in their terrorist safe havens and homes.

‘We do have some terrorist groups on the move, you just saw the take-over of Raqqa and so if we can keep them declining and moving they have less time to sit and prepare.’

They want to take down aircraft
Elaine Duke, Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Homeland Security

Mrs Duke warned that the number of home-grown violent extremists, mostly inspired by terrorist organisations, is increasing in the US. She said the ability of IS militants to put terrorist propaganda on the internet will appeal more and more to extremists as they are pushed out of Syria and Iraq.

Mrs Duke said web giants need to do more to detect extremist content online, and one way of doing this could be using the same technology used to identify people in passenger lists.

‘Terrorists are strong, they are adaptable and the terrorist threat is the highest it has been since pre-9/11. We have got to have every tool that’s possible,’ she added.

A total of 2,996 people were killed during the September 11 attacks, when al-Qaeda suicide attackers hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

Earlier in the day she met the British interior minister Amber Rudd to discuss how to force internet giants to do more to tackle terrorism ahead of the G7 summit.

Following the recent wave of attacks in Manchester and London, police chiefs have said the threat facing the UK is a ‘new norm’ that will not change.

Her chilling remarks came 24 hours after MI5 director general Andrew Parker warned Britain is facing its worst-ever terrorist threat in his first major speech since the UK was hit by a wave of attacks.

The British spy chief said it was taking terrorists just days to hatch plots as violent extremists exploit ‘safe spaces online’ to evade detection.

It is harder for the UK to protect itself because of its proximity to other countries and the ease of movement from terrorist safe havens, she suggested.

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Iran warned on blatant interference in the internal security of the kingdom of Bahrain — Iran holds 160 terrorist Bahraini fugitives wanted by Bahrain

October 19, 2017

Trump’s tough stance on Iran will end its political privileges that it has exploited for years, says minister

Published: 15:38 October 18, 2017Gulf News

Manama: Iran is harbouring 160 fugitives wanted by Bahrain for carrying out acts of terror targeting security and stability, the kingdom’s interior minister has said.

At least 25 police officers have been killed in the terrorist acts while up to 3,000 have been wounded, Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa told Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat.

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“There is a direct link between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and terrorist acts in Bahrain,” he said.

“Intelligence revealed that the IRGC had trained terrorist elements in its camps to make explosive devices, use automatic weapons and hand grenades, and contribute to smuggling them into Bahrain. They also provided support and funds and trained, formed and recruited terrorist groups targeting the security of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, including the so-called terrorist organisation Saraya Al Ashtar. “

Some of the arrested suspects confessed they had received weapons training from the IRGC.

More than 24 kilogrammes of explosive material has been seized by authorities, Shaikh Rashid said.

Iran has released 254 “hostile” statements against Bahrain since 2011, he added.

Bahrain has repeatedly warned of the seriousness of Iran’s blatant interference in the internal security of the kingdom and the region through supporting extremist and sectarian cells and organisations.

“Iran’s dangerous interference focuses on the export of intellectual and sectarian extremism, which calls for intensifying regional and international efforts to address all areas of terrorism, particularly combating Iran’s funding of extremist militias and supplying them with weapons.”

Shaikh Rashid told the daily that strategy announced by US President Donald Trump against Iran has put an end to the political privileges that have been exploited by Tehran to interfere in the internal affairs of countries and to continue exporting its terrorist activities through its various branches, including the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.

“This strategy undoubtedly leads to the establishment of international peace and security in general and the protection of the security of the Gulf region in particular.

Bahrain supports regional and international efforts, particularly the US position, which contributes to reinforcing the fight against terrorism, its extremist ideological and sectarian motives and its funding.

The minister also praised the US stance in tackling the flow of explosives into Bahrain.

G7 to focus on foreign fighter fallout from rout of IS

October 19, 2017


© AFP / by Ella IDE | A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walks through a heavily damaged a street in Raqa, Syria on October 18, 2017

ISCHIA (ITALY) (AFP) – The threat of fresh attacks on the West by foreign fighters fleeing the fallen Islamic State stronghold of Raqa is set to dominate a G7 meeting of interior ministers in Italy.The two-day gathering, which kicks off Thursday on the Italian island of Ischia, comes just days after US-backed forces took full control of the jihadists’ de facto Syrian capital.

Most foreign fighters are believed to have fled over the past few months. Experts say those who stayed are now likely to head for Turkey in the hope of travelling on to Europe to seek revenge for the destruction of the “caliphate”.

Tens of thousands of citizens from Western countries travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the group between 2014 and 2016, including extremists who then returned home and staged attacks that claimed dozens of lives.

France, whose some 1,000 nationals were among the biggest contingent of overseas recruits to join IS, stated frankly this weekend that it would be “for the best” if jihadists die fighting.

While border crossings have since tightened making it more difficult for fighters to return, security experts have warned of renewed possibilities of strikes as the pressure on IS intensifies.

“With an Islamic military defeat in Iraq and Syria we could find ourselves facing a return diaspora of foreign fighters,” Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti told a parliamentary committee last week.

“There are an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries. Some of them have been killed of course, but… it’s possible some of the others will try to return home, to northern Africa and Europe,” he said.

– Catching boats to Europe –

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said a group of 130-150 foreign fighters, including Europeans, had turned themselves in before the end of the battle in Raqa.

Other reports suggested a convoy of foreign fighters had been able to escape the city towards IS-held territory, a claim denied categorically by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officials.

The SDF is expected to contact the home countries of any foreign fighters it holds, to discuss the possibility of turning them over to face prosecution.

But captured fighters could prove a legal headache, with questions raised over what evidence, collected by whom, would be used in a domestic court. Jihadists also become security risks in jails for their potential to radicalise.

French European lawmaker Arnaud Danjean said Wednesday there would be “negotiations with the countries concerned” over what to do with returners.

Minniti warned fighters could take advantage of the confusion and “use the human trafficking routes” to return home — raising the spectre of extremists embarking on the migrant boats which regularly head to Italy.

It meant controversial efforts currently spearheaded by Italy to close the land and sea trafficking routes which cross Africa into Libya and on across the central Mediterranean sea to Europe were “essential”, he added.

– Intelligence war –

The Seven, from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, will also tackle the hot issue of terrorism online, with analysts warning IS’s loss of territory will turn street-to-street fighting into an intelligence war.

The ministers are due to arrive Thursday afternoon at a medieval castle on the volcanic island off Naples, before retiring for an informal dinner and knuckling down to working sessions on Friday.

They are set to be joined by the EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, European safety commissioner Julian King, and Juergen Stock, secretary general of the international police body Interpol.

In a G7 first, representatives from Internet giants Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter will also be taking part.

by Ella IDE

MI5 boss Andrew Parker warns of ‘intense’ terror threat

October 19, 2017

BBC News

MI5 chief Andrew Parker: ‘Over 3,000 extremists in the UK’

The UK’s intelligence services are facing an “intense” challenge from terrorism, the head of MI5 has warned.

Andrew Parker said there was currently “more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly” and that it can also be “harder to detect”.

The UK has suffered five terror attacks this year, and he said MI5 staff had been “deeply affected” by them.

He added that more than 130 Britons who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with so-called Islamic State had died.

MI5 was running 500 live operations involving 3,000 individuals involved in extremist activity in some way, he said.

Speaking in London, Mr Parker said the tempo of counter-terrorism operations was the highest he had seen in his 34-year career at MI5.

Twenty attacks had been foiled in the last four years, including seven in the last seven months, he said – all related to what he called Islamist extremism.

The five attacks that got through this year included a suicide bomb attack after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May, killing 22.

Five people were also killed in April during an attack near the Houses of Parliament, while eight people were killed when three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and launched a knife attack in Borough Market.

A man then drove a van into a crowd of worshippers near a mosque in north London in June, while a homemade bomb partially exploded in tube train at Parsons Green station last month, injuring 30 people.

In some cases, individuals like Khuram Butt – who was behind the London Bridge attack – were well known to MI5 and had been under investigation by the security services.

People leaving flowers in Manchester city centre one week after the Manchester Arena attack
People left flowers in Manchester city centre after the Manchester Arena attack. PA photo

Mr Parker was asked what was the point of MI5 surveillance when someone who had made “no secret of his affiliations with jihadist extremism” had then been allowed to go on to launch a deadly attack.

He said the risk from each individual was assessed on a “daily and weekly basis” and then prioritised “accordingly”.

“One of the main challenges we’ve got is that we only ever have fragments of information, and we have to try to assemble a picture of what might happen, based on those fragments.”

He said the likelihood was that when an attacked happened, it would be carried out by someone “that we know or have known” – otherwise it would mean they had been looking “in completely the wrong place”.

And he said staff at MI5 were deeply affected on a “personal and professional” level when they did happen.

“They are constantly making tough professional judgements based on fragments of intelligence; pinpricks of light against a dark and shifting canvas.”

‘Not the enemy’

Mr Parker said they were trying to “squeeze every drop of learning” from recent incidents.

In the wake of attacks in the UK, there had been some, including some in the Home Office, who questioned whether the counter-terrorist machine – featuring all three intelligence agencies and the police, and with MI5 at its heart – was functioning as effectively as previously thought.

However, there was no indication of a fundamental change in direction in his remarks, with a focus on the scale of the threat making stopping all plots impossible.

“We have to be careful that we do not find ourselves held to some kind of perfect standard of 100%, because that is not achievable,” he said.

“Attacks can sometimes accelerate from inception through planning to action in just a handful of days.

“This pace, together with the way extremists can exploit safe spaces online, can make threats harder to detect and give us a smaller window to intervene.”

Troops from the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) marching past a ruined building in Raqqa, Syria
Many Britons still fighting in Syria and Iraq may not now return, Andrew Parker said. Reuters photo

He renewed the call for more co-operation from technology companies.

Technology was “not the enemy,” he added, but said companies had a responsibility to deal with the side effects and “dark edges” created by the products they produced.

In particular, he pointed to online purchasing of goods – such as chemicals – as well as the presence of extremist content on social media and encrypted communications.

Assassination risk

He said more than 800 individuals had left the UK for Syria and Iraq.

Some had then returned, often many years ago, and had been subject to risk assessment. Mr Parker revealed at least 130 had been killed in conflict.

Fewer than expected had returned recently, he said, adding that those who were still in Syria and Iraq may not now attempt to come back because they knew they might be arrested.

Mr Parker stressed that international co-operation remained vital and revealed there was a joint operational centre for counter-terrorism based in the Netherlands, where security service officers from a range of countries worked together and shared data.

This had led to 12 arrests in Europe, he added.

In terms of state threats, Mr Parker said the range of clandestine activity conducted by foreign states – including Russia – went from aggressive cyber-attack, through to traditional espionage and the risk of assassination of individuals.

However, he said the UK had strong defences against such activity.


China understands that India is no longer weak

October 15, 2017

Rajnath Singh (TOI file photo)

Rajnath Singh (TOI file photo)

Under Narendra Modi, India has become a powerful country and its prestige at the international level has grown.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said the country’s borders were “completely safe” and China has also understood that “India is no more weak”.

Mr. Singh said under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has become a powerful country and its prestige at the international level has grown.

“India’s borders are completely safe, and China has started to understand that India is no more weak. Its strength has grown,” he said.

Mr. Singh, who represents Lucknow in the Lok Sabha, was addressing people at a programme organised here by the Bhartiya Lodhi Mahasabha.

“Since the formation of government at the Centre under the leadership of PM Modi, India has become a powerful country in the world. India’s prestige at the international level has grown,” he said.

The Union home minister also hit out at Pakistan for “sending terrorists” to India.

“It (Pakistan) tries to break India, but our security personnel every day kill two to four terrorists,” he added.

Trump poised to walk away from Iran nuclear deal

October 11, 2017

President unlikely to certify pact this week, triggering complex battle in Congress and Europe over ultimate fate of agreement

By  in Washington and  in London
The Guardian

Wednesday 11 October 2017 

 Image result for iranian flag flying, photos

If Donald Trump decides this week to withdraw his endorsement of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, its fate and the potential for a major conflict will be determined by a complex battle in Congress.

No one is able to predict whether that struggle will lead to a reimposition of US sanctions, the collapse of the agreement and the rapid scaling-up of Iran’s nuclear programme. It could result in a compromise that leaves the deal alive but opens the way for a more combative policy towards Tehran on other fronts.

“We are on a tightrope. We don’t know what will happen,” a western diplomat said.

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Trump is expected to refuse to recertify the Iran nuclear deal

By Tracy Wilkinson
The Los Angeles Times

Any day now, President Trump is expected to take steps that have potential to unravel one of the most important nuclear anti-proliferation deals of the century.

Trump has indicated he will declare that the agreement the Obama administration and five other world powers reached with Iran in 2015 to suspend its nuclear program is not sufficiently strong to benefit “U.S. national security interests.” Iran should no longer be seen as in compliance with the accord, Trump is expected to say.

His judgment is shared by a number of conservative organizations and members of Congress. Many others, including several of his top Cabinet officials, most European diplomats and the United Nations, disagree with him and say the deal is working.

What impact would refusal to certify have?

Refusing to certify is not the same as withdrawing completely from the deal. It would not automatically reimpose economic sanctions on Iran. That is because the requirement to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal every 90 days is written into U.S. law and is not part of the international agreement.

With two tracks, Trump can do both: continue to attack the deal without officially voiding it.

The refusal to certify kicks the issue to Congress, opening a 60-day period for debate. The official deadline for certification is Oct. 15, although some White House sources have suggested Trump would act before that. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump had “reached a decision on an overall Iran strategy” but declined to say when the announcement would come.

What would Congress do?

When the deal was being negotiated, a majority in Congress opposed it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unprecedented appearance before a joint meeting of Congress to denounce the deal and what he described as the dangers posed by Iran, going around the White House to oppose one of President Obama’s top priorities.

Nonetheless, Congress allowed the deal to take effect, approving a compromise that included the certification requirement.

Today, opinion is more divided. Even among some lawmakers who have criticized the deal in the past, such as Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, there is a feeling that sticking with it, however flawed, is far better than blowing it up. The deal at least sustains control over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, they argue, at a time when tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea are at a fever pitch.

Backers of the deal worry that hard-line opponents could use the 60-day period to “snap back” into place nuclear-deal economic sanctions on Iran that were removed as part of the agreement.

Others, however, say that refusal to certify (often incorrectly described as “decertification”) would be the first step in strengthening the agreement and putting greater controls on Tehran.

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Iranian protesters burn representations of US and Israeli flags in their annual pro-Palestinian rally marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 23, 2017. AP photo

What did the Iran deal do?

In exchange for getting rid of most of its centrifuges, disabling its plutonium-producing heavy water reactor at Arak and agreeing to regular inspections, Iran received considerable sanctions relief: readmittance to the international banking system, permission to trade on the oil market and the unfreezing of billions of dollars in overseas assets.

How do we know the deal is working?

We don’t, with total certainty.

However, the U.N. watchdog charged with monitoring Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly said the country is complying with the technical aspects of the deal. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano reiterated that assessment again this week.

Most parties to the deal — Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, as well as the European Union — accept that judgment.

Why does the Trump administration say Iran is in violation?

Regardless of its technical compliance with the terms of the agreement, few would disagree that Iran is guilty of other behavior in the region that the U.S. labels as destabilizing, including the testing of ballistic missiles and support for militant groups in several countries.

Those sorts of acts, which don’t involve nuclear development, were not covered by the agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has supported sticking with the deal, has said he believes Tehran violates its “spirit” by continuing to promote destabilizing actions in the region.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., goes further than Tillerson. She has said she believes Iran has continued to secretly move ahead with efforts to develop nuclear capability. She contends that numerous Iranian military sites are hidden from U.N. inspections.

Some Obama-era officials had hoped the nuclear deal would give a boost to so-called pragmatists in Tehran over more hard-line factions. President Hassan Rouhani, who supported the agreement, won easy reelection in May.

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Hassan Rouhani — AP photo

But the rhetoric from the Trump administration seems to have unified Iran’s factions, and there has been no discernible decrease in Iranian support for armed militants in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.

What do U.S. allies say?

European diplomats in Washington and here at the United Nations in New York have been lobbying the administration vigorously to try to save the agreement, warning that U.S. credibility and trustworthiness are also at stake.

Going back on the deal with Iran would discourage other countries, like North Korea, from trusting any agreement the U.S. might negotiate, some allies warn.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement that she had called Trump and “reaffirmed the UK’s strong commitment to the deal alongside our European partners, saying it was vitally important for regional security.”

How would Iran react if the U.S. reimposed sanctions?

Reinstating sanctions, even if the U.S. could to do so without its European, Russian and Chinese partners, would anger Iran and perhaps cause Tehran to quit the deal.

“Over the long term, I think the Trump administration would not mind if it could goad Iran into violating terms of the deal,” Jon Wolfsthal, a senior nonproliferation official in the Obama administration, said in a recent forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.

The U.S. would likely lose much of its leverage with Iran if it snaps the sanctions back in place.

Doing so also might be an unnecessary provocation. Washington can impose sanctions on Iran without using those associated with the nuclear program. For example, in July, Congress approved new economic sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and on Russia, which made Trump reluctant to sign the bill).

“I’m very concerned they will let it die by a thousand cuts,” Wolfsthal said.

© KHAMENEI.IR/AFP/File | Iran will not give in to US “bullying” as Washington attempts to undermine Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, the Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said


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Gunman attacks Saudi royal palace in Jeddah

October 8, 2017

A gunman has attacked the Saudi royal palace in Jeddah, killing two guards and injuring three others. The attacker was killed.

Saudi-Arabien Konigspalast in Dschidda (Imago/Alexander Shcherbak)

Two royal guards were shot dead and three others were wounded on Saturday when a gunman opened fire outside the Saudi royal palace in Jeddah, the interior ministry said.

Guards killed the gunman, who was identified as 28-year-old Saudi national Mansour al-Amri.

“An outpost of the royal guard came under fire by a person who got out of a Hyundai car,” the interior ministry said in a statement run by state media. “He was immediately dealt with and his cowardly act also resulted in the martyrdom” of two guards, it added.

A Kalashnikov assault rifle and three Molotov cocktails were found on the attacker.

The royal palace in Jeddah is used for official business during the summer. Saudi King Salman is currently on a state visit to Russia. The whereabouts of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are unknown.

IS steps up attacks

The kingdom has been the target of several attacks carried out by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) group this year. Most attacks have targeted security forces and the country’s Shiite minority.

The attack comes after Saudi security forces on Thursday conducted raids an a suspected IS cell, killing two suspected militants and arresting five others.

Last month, Saudi officials said they had disrupted an IS plot to carry out an attack on the defense ministry in the capital Riyadh.

In June, security forces foiled a plot to blow up the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

cw/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Filipino wanted in US terror plots stands accused at home — alleged involvement in kidnappings and beheadings — “it would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter” people in New York

October 7, 2017
Russell Salic, a Filipino doctor is accused of sending money to help fund the planned attacks in New York City locations, including concert venues, subway stations and Times Square in the summer of 2016. News5

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino doctor accused of plotting terror attacks in the United States was arrested months ago in the Philippines for his alleged involvement in kidnappings and beheadings blamed on pro-Islamic State group militants, an official said Saturday.

Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras told The Associated Press that a Manila court is weighing a U.S. government request that Russell Salic be extradited to face terrorism financing complaints.

U.S. authorities said Friday that they disrupted a plot by Salic and two other Islamic State group sympathizers to carry out terrorist attacks at New York City locations, including concert venues, subway stations and Times Square in the summer of 2016.

Even if the court approves the U.S. extradition request, the Department of Justice in Manila would have to decide whether to let Salic face criminal complaints in the Philippines first or be allowed to be flown to the U.S. to answer the terrorism allegations there, Paras said.

“The U.S. can also request for a temporary surrender of Salic to its custody, but it’s in our options to require him to face criminal complaints here first,” Paras said.

Salic, 37, is accused of sending money to help fund the planned attacks, according to U.S. court documents, which have been made public. He allegedly told an undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamic extremist that his ultimate goal was to join the Islamic State group in Syria but that “it would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter” people in New York, the documents said.

Salic’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.

One of the defendants, Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, was arrested after traveling from Canada to New Jersey in May 2016 to stage the attacks, U.S. authorities said. An American suspect, Talha Haroon, was arrested in Pakistan last year.

Haroon’s extradition was halted in March by a Pakistan court. Haroon’s lawyer Tariq Asad told The Associated Press at the time that his client’s father, Haroon Rashid, told the court that his son is innocent and that his life would be in danger if he is extradited to the United States where President Donald Trump has “biased and prejudiced policy against the Muslims.”

Filipino state prosecutors say Salic was taken into custody around April of this year for alleged involvement in the abduction of six sawmill workers, two of whom were later beheaded, in the southern Philippine town of Butig in Lanao del Sur province in 2016.

The kidnappings and beheadings have been blamed on the so-called Maute group, a band of militants aligned with the Islamic State group that was largely unknown until they led a siege of southern Marawi city in May.

Nearly 1,000 people, including 771 militants, have been killed in the Marawi violence, which the military says will be contained soon following months of airstrikes and ground assaults.


Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.


Philippines is ‘breeding ground for terrorists’

October 7, 2017
© AFP/File | Multiple locations including New York’s subway, Times Square and certain concert venues were identified as targets in the plot that was foiled by an undercover FBI agent

MANILA (AFP) – A Filipino suspect in a thwarted jihadist plot targeting New York City had boasted that his country was “a breeding ground for terrorists”, the US Justice Department said Saturday.

Russell Salic and two others have been charged with involvement in the plan to carry out the attacks in the name of the Islamic State group during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016.

A statement released by the US embassy in Manila said Salic, 37, transferred money to the other suspects for the operation, saying he could safely do this from the Philippines without attracting attention.

Multiple locations including New York’s subway, Times Square and some concert venues were identified as targets in the plot that was foiled by an undercover FBI agent, US authorities announced Friday.

The agent posed as an IS supporter and communicated with Salic and his two alleged accomplices Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian who purchased bombmaking materials, and Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan.

El Bahnasawy told the undercover FBI agent that Salic was a trusted IS supporter who had provided funding to help the group on prior occasions, according to the Justice Department.

The statement quoted messages sent by Salic to others involved in the plot in which he described terror laws in the Philippines as “not strict” in comparison to countries such as Australia and the UK.

“Terrorists from all over the world usually come here as a breeding ground for terrorists… hahahaha… But no worry here in Philippines. They dont care bout IS… Only in west,” he added.

Salic was arrested in the Philippines around April 2017, the statement said.

It added that El Bahnasawy, who authorities say has pled guilty to “terrorism charges”, was arrested in New Jersey in May 2016 and Haroon was arrested in Pakistan around September 2016.

The extradition of Haroon and Salic to the US is pending, according to prosecutors. Philippine officials could not be contacted for comment.

US authorities said Friday that Salic had sent “approximately $423” to fund the attacks and had promised to send more.

The largely-Roman Catholic Philippines has been struggling for years with armed insurgencies arising from the Muslim minority in the country’s restive south.

Various Muslim militant groups have publicly pledged allegiance to IS in the past. Armed militants flying the black IS flag have been besieging the southern city of Marawi since May, leaving at least 955 people dead.

The fighting, which is still raging despite the Philippine military using artillery, airstrikes and US military assistance, has left the once-thriving city in ruins with thousands of civilians displaced.

Malaysian police arrest 8 suspected militants, including foreigners — Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State ties alleged

October 7, 2017


KUALA LUMPUR: Eight suspected militants, including those with alleged links to Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State, have been arrested in anti-terror raids, Malaysian police revealed on Saturday (Oct 7).

The arrests were made in the states of Sabah, Selangor and Perak, between Sep 27 and Oct 6.

In the first series of arrests in Sabah, two Malaysians, two Filipinos and one Filipino with Malaysian permanent residency are accused of helping Abu Sayyaf members infiltrate Malaysia through the Sabah.

The raid is a follow-up to the arrests of Abu Sayyaf sympathisers on Sep 14, when seven Filipinos were arrested, said Inspector-General of Police Mohamed Fuzi Harun.

Police arresting the suspects at Sandakan, Sabah. (Photo: Malaysian Police)

In a separate raid on Oct 1, an Albanian man was arrested in Selangor for allegedly communicating with Islamic State (IS) militants overseas. The 35-year-old is a guest lecturer at a local public university, added Malaysia’s top cop in a statement.

As for the remaining two suspects, they were previously arrested for terror links in 2013.

One of them, a 53-year-old man, had allegedly tried to recruit inmates from Tapah prison in Perak for an unnamed terror group.

A former Internal Security Act detainee, he had also planned to launch attacks at places of worship belonging to Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

His aim was to incite religious conflict, said the Inspector-General of Police, adding that the suspect also allegedly withheld information about a Tandzim Al-Qaeda Malaysia (TAQM) militant, who is on the run.

The last suspect is a 37-year-old who is believed to have recruited two Malaysians to join TAQM.

Source: CNA/ad