February 18, 2017

Angela Merkel says Europe must take MORE refugees and Islam ‘isn’t source of terror’

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has launched a staunch defence of her refugee policy.

The embattled leader says Europe has an obligation to take displaced people from Syria and Iraq. 

She also said Islam “is not the cause of terrorism” and that combatting extremism needs the cooperation of Muslim countries.

In a wide-ranging speech at a Munich security conference, the German chief also vowed to work closely with Vladimir Putin’s Russia in the fight with ISIS in the Middle East.



Captured ISIS jihadi reveals how he killed 500 civilians and raped 200 women during the terror group’s barbaric raids on Yazidi settlements… and boasts: ‘It was normal’

  • ISIS jihadi Amar Hussein was captured and imprisoned by Kurdish forces in Iraq 
  • He said that he raped more than 200 women while fighting for the terrorists
  • Hussein boasted about shooting 40 people at a time, blindfolding them first
  • A second prisoner, Ghaffar Abdel Rahman, was also interviewed but gave little away 

Amar Hussein says he reads the Koran all day in his tiny jail cell to become a better person, yet he shows little remorse for the 200 women he raped as he pillaged Iraqi villages.

Hussein and another Islamic State militant were both captured during an assault on Kirkuk in October that killed 99 civilians and members of the security forces, as well as 63 Islamic State militants.






Britain’s 110 nuclear alerts are revealed: Safety watchdog makes a mockery of the MoD’s claim of just 27 ‘incidents’ in 65 years

  • A catalogue of more than 100 incidents show how close we came to disaster
  • The figure is four times higher than the Ministry of Defence has ackowledged 
  • This included a truck carrying weapons overturning and two submarines nearly colliding 

A chilling catalogue of more than 100 accidents involving Britain’s nuclear weapons reveals for the first time how often we may have come close to disaster.

The shock report by an independent nuclear watchdog documents 110 major alerts – four times higher than the Ministry of Defence has acknowledged.

Among the incidents in the dossier by the Nuclear Information Service (NIS), which has been seen by The Mail on Sunday, are:

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of a still image taken from video of the missile firing from HMS Vigilant, which fired an unarmed Trident II 

Undated handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of a still image taken from video of the missile firing from HMS Vigilant, which fired an unarmed Trident II

  •  British warships carrying nuclear depth charges by mistake in the 1982 Falklands War;
  •  a mid-Atlantic collision between nuclear-armed British and French submarines in 2009;
  •  a truck carrying nuclear warheads overturning on an icy road in Wiltshire in 1987;
  •  the deaths of 116 UK nuclear workers from accidents and cancer.


David Petraeus says he will NOT be Trump’s new national security adviser: Disgraced ex-CIA head takes himself out of running over fears the president will control the hiring and firing of staff

  • David Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, will not be Trump’s new NSA
  • He expressed concern about Trump’s reluctance to grant new adviser full discretion over policy and staffing
  • Officials said Petraeus’s prerequisites for the job were not acceptable
  • Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward declined offer to become the next NSA on Thursday
  • Trump said Friday that acting NSA Keith Kellogg and ‘three others’ are in contention for job
  • Michael Flynn was fired on Monday following controversy over Russia contacts

David Petraeus will not be replacing Michael Flynn as Donald Trump‘s next national security adviser.

Trump ousted Flynn on Monday in a controversy over the retired lieutenant general’s contacts with Russia.

Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, expressed concern about Trump’s reluctance to grant the new adviser full discretion over policy and staffing.


Mike Pence widens US rift with Europe over Nato defence spending

On first visit to Europe since taking office, US vice-president tells Munich conference Nato allies must step up their contributions

The US vice-president has delivered the most uncompromising message yet from the Trump administration to Nato allies that they have to step up financial contributions towards defence spending.

On his first visit to Europe since taking office, Mike Pence said “some of our largest allies do not have a credible path” towards paying their share of Nato’s financial burden. Although he did not name individual countries, his targets included Germany, France and Italy. “The time has come to do more,” he said.

This section of his speech to the Munich security conference, which is being attended by 500 delegates including government leaders and defence and foreign ministers from around the world, was greeted with lukewarm applause.


Kim Jong-nam: Malaysian police arrest North Korean man

Move is likely to escalate row as Pyongyang accuses Kuala Lumpur of ‘colluding with outside forces who want to damage the image of our republic’

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and half-brother Kim Jong-nam
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and half-brother Kim Jong-nam. A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with the killing of Kim Jong-nam. Photograph: Wong Maye-E, Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

The detained man, identified as Ri Jong Chol, 46, is the fourth person to be picked up by investigators and the only suspect from North Korea. They other three suspects hold Vietnamese, Indonesia and Malaysian documents.

People close to Kim Jong-nam say the former heir to the North Korean leadership had feared his younger brother, the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un – a man he’s reportedly never met but who has executed several senior officials including family members – might make an attempt on his life.


Merkel resists US demands to raise defence spending and warns that she won’t rush to meet Nato targets

  • Germany’s chancellor said her country was ‘conscious of its responsibility’
  • It will stick to the aim of raising defence spending to 2% of national income
  • EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday said Europe must not cave in to the US demands to raise military spending

Angela Merkel last night refused to concede to US demands to raise defence spending.

Germany’s chancellor said she was in no hurry to meet Nato targets because there were other issues to deal with.

She said her country was ‘conscious of its responsibility’ and would stick to the long-term aim of raising defence spending to 2 per cent of national income by 2024.


F-15s scramble to intercept unresponsive aircraft over restricted airspace over West Palm Beach

Two F-15s caused a ‘sonic boom’ as they raced from their base in Homestead, Fla., Friday to intercept an unresponsive general aviation aircraft that flew near Palm Beach during a stay by President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

The jets flew at supersonic speeds and residents were startled by the loud boom, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, said in a statement. The two fighters were able to establish communication with the aircraft. This incident occured at about 7 p.m. ET.  No further details were immediately available.

“The intent of military intercepts is to have the identified aircraft re-establish communications with local FAA air traffic controllers and instruct the pilot to follow air traffic controllers’ instructions to land safely for follow-on action,” the statement read.


House committee probes Russia payment to Flynn

Michael Isikoff

Chief Investigative Correspondent
Yahoo NewsFebruary 17, 2017

Citing a Yahoo News interview with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn last July, a House committee has opened an investigation into whether President Trump’s recently resigned national security adviser received an improper payment from the Russian government for a trip to Moscow in December 2015.

In an unusual bipartisan letter, House Oversight and Government Reform committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz and ranking minority member Rep. Elijah Cummings have asked a Washington-based speakers bureau, Leading Authorities, to turn over information on how much Flynn was paid for his appearance at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT — the Russian-government funded news organization — where he sat at the same table for dinner as President Vladimir Putin. Flynn also sat for a 44-minute interview with RT anchor Sophie Shevardnadze, granddaughter of former Soviet foreign affairs minister Eduard Shevardnadze, as part of the trip.


‘We’ll Field Robert Mugabe’s Corpse As Candidate For Election’, Says Wife Grace

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly said that if her husband President Robert Mugabe, 92, dies, the ruling Zanu-PF party would “field his corpse (sic) to participate in elections”.

According to media reports, Grace said this during a rally in Buhera.

“If Mugabe dies, we will field his corpse as a candidate for elections to prove that people love him,” Grace has been quoted as saying.

This was not the first time that the first lady insinuated that the nonagenarian leader would rule from the grave.



Tillerson, in diplomatic debut, urges Russia to pull back in eastern Ukraine

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his debut on the world stage Thursday, meeting the Russian foreign minister and urging Moscow to pull back in eastern Ukraine, then signing a joint statement condemning North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test.

He attended almost a dozen meetings with his diplomatic counterparts from the Group of 20 major world economies, all fairly routine for a secretary of state on an overseas trip.

But in one sense it was a landmark day for Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil chief executive with no previous experience in public office. For the first time since addressing employees upon arriving at the State Department two weeks ago, he made a public statement about foreign policy, taking a firm line on Russia and Ukraine. That suggested that the stasis that has gripped the State Department in recent weeks may be ebbing.




UK faces embarrassment over Nato defence spending ahead of summit

Britain not meeting target it was supposed to urge other EU countries to meet, calculation says

The Government faces embarrassment at a key Nato summit tomorrow after an analysis warned the UK is no longer meeting the alliance’s spending target.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon is due to head to Brussels for a Nato defence ministers’ meeting just 24 hours after the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said Britain was no longer spending two per cent of GDP on defence.

The calculations are particularly key as Theresa May promised Donald Trump just last month that she would


Defence Ministry: UK offers Finland place in joint expeditionary force

The Ministry of Defence says it will analyse in detail an offer from the UK for Finland to join Britain’s seven-member Joint Expeditionary Force. The possibility of a new military cooperation will be looked at in the autumn.

The United Kingdom has offered Finland and Sweden the possibility of joining in the UK-lead Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a military rapid reaction force made up of seven countries.

“The cooperation offer is based on Finland and Sweden being in a so-called enhanced partnership with Nato and we have a good history with joint operation with the UK,” unit chief Janne Kuusela from the Defence Ministry says.

The JEF is made up of the UK (as the lead nation), Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway. The coalition, says Kuusela, aims to develop the UK’s rapid reaction military performance together with allied countries.

Last year both Finland and Sweden signed a framework agreement on defence cooperation with the United Kingdom. The JEF-offer is being considered in Finland both internally and jointly with Sweden.



Shocking report reveals ‘gaping holes’ left in UK’s defences after decades of cuts

Experts have called for the government to “re-bench” the armed forces against a resurgent Russia


BRITAIN’S military defences have been left with gaping holes including warships so noisy Russian subs can hear them 100 miles away and light tanks which are too big to fly anywhere, according to an investigation.

An investigation by the Sunday Times has uncovered huge equipment failures and bungled procurement deals – including spending £1billion on drones which haven’t entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered.

Now there are fears the armed forces would be unable to defend Britain from an attack after the damning information was revealed.

General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, called for the government to “re-bench” the armed forces against the threat of a resurgent Russia.

He told the Sunday Times: “You are dealing with a legacy of iterative hollowing out, which has reached a point where the frog has boiled.”

It comes as experts criticised warships, drones, spy planes and tanks which they say are not up to scratch.


Guide to Estonian strip clubs issued by UK Ministry of Defence in 2015

Freedom of Information request unearths X-rated guide for British troops partying in Tallinn during 2015 operation.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) prepared a guide to Estonian strip clubs and distributed it to soldiers during an operation in May 2015, a freedom of information request has revealed.

The British Army were taking part in a Nato training expedition, Steadfast Javelin, when the booklet ‘Tallinn guide for Friendly forces’ was handed out. Details of its contents have been unearthed by the BBC.

The pamphlet features reviews of local establishments, including:

  • Lasso Baar: a”big strip bar with one of the prettiest dancers”
  • Soho: the “biggest strip club in Estonia”
  • X Club: the “most professional strip club with various elements


Japan: The World’s Next Big Arms Dealer?

February 17, 2017

After decades of a self-imposed ban on arms exports, the Abe government in 2014 began to allow the country’s producers to export arms and military equipment. This is a significant development, albeit part of an evolutionary and incremental process. Still, it will be a while before Japan appears on the list of major global arms suppliers.

The 2014 ‘three principles on transfer of defense equipment and technology’ replaces the 1967 ‘three principles’ which virtually banned arms exports. While allowing exports of weapons in support of its proactive contribution to peace policy and to serve Japan’s national interest, the new principles still maintain restrictions on arms exports to those states that are either under UN embargoes or currently involved in a military conflict. The new rules also seek greater transparency to ensure that weapons exported from Japan are not sold to third parties without Japan’s knowledge.


Top US General Hears Turkey’s Complaints About Kurdish Fighters

February 18, 2017 7:15 AM
  • Dorian Jones

The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, and Turkey's Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar talk during a meeting in Incirlik Airbase in Adana, Turkey, Feb. 17, 2017.

The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, right, and Turkey’s Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar talk during a meeting in Incirlik Airbase in Adana, Turkey, Feb. 17, 2017.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, met his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar Friday at NATO’s Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. Talks between the NATO allies reportedly focused on Washington’s support for Syrian Kurdish militias in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The United States says it chooses carefully among Kurdish fighters when lending its support to Syrian rebels battling Islamic State. Ankara dismisses the Americans’ arguments and says they are actively supporting the People’s Protection Units, the YPG, whose fighters the Turks contend are terrorists group united with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, fighting against the Turkish state.

“Turkey has made its view on this organization (YPG) very clear,” says political columnist Semih Idiz of Al Monitor, “and any step back at this moment would entail a loss of face for the government in Ankara and of course indirectly for President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan.


British commander: Kurds will take ISIS-held Raqqa, not Turkey

A commander of the anti-ISIS Coalition has said that the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will take the ISIS-held city of Raqqa and not Turkey, who are struggling to take al-Bab in eastern Aleppo countryside.

“The force that looks most likely capable of conducting the liberation of Raqqa remains the SDF. Are we confident in the SDF? Absolutely we are,” Major General Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of the anti-ISIS Coalition, said.

“They re-took Manbij, in a very tough fight, and they prevailed in the face of a tough opposition,” he continued.


Kurds pledge to fight Turkey to retain Syria’s Manbij

Turkish president’s plan to clear Kurdish forces from Syrian city and set up a safe zone elicits Kurdish defiance.

The commander of Kurdish fighters in Syria’s Manbij city has told Al Jazeera that his forces will fight to defend any move by Turkey to take over the area.

Adnan Abu Amjad’s comment came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that when his country’s forces finish supporting Syrian opposition fighters to take over Al Bab from ISIL, they will move on to Manbij and then ISIL’s self-declared capital Raqqa.

Erdogan said he wants to set up a safe zone near the Turkish border and clear all Kurdish forces from the area.

Abu Amjad said: “If Erdogan wants to come to Manbij, it’s his business, but we will defend our city with all the strength we can find. As Syrian people, we’ll resist any interference in our internal affairs.”

Air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition and a long fight by mainly Kurdish ground forces freed Manbij from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group last year.


India to develop airborne early warning system with 360 degree sweep


Iran in new military drills despite US warnings

Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard is to conduct military drills next week, a senior commander announced Saturday, despite warnings from the United States and fresh sanctions over a ballistic missile test.

“The manoeuvres called ‘Grand Prophet 11’ will start Monday and last three days,” General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the force’s ground units, told a news conference.

He said rockets would be used without specifying which kind.

In early February, Iran conducted drills involving short-range missiles at a time of heightened tensions with the United States.

The Islamic republic said the exercises were aimed at demonstrating Iran’s “complete preparedness to deal with the threats” and “humiliating sanctions” from Washington.


Blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman sentenced to life in prison for plotting the 1993 World Trade Center attacks dies in prison

  • Egyptian cleric died in a South Carolina prison hospital, reports said Saturday
  • Was convicted for plotting attacks on World Trade Center and other landmarks
  • His son Anmar confirmed that the family had been informed of his death
  • The February 26, 1993 bombing left six dead and more than 1,000 injured

Blink sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was sentenced to life in prison for plotting the deadly 1993 World Trade Center attacks, has died in prison, authorities have said.

The Egyptian cleric died at a South Carolina prison hospital, senior law enforcement officials told NBC New York.

Rahman was one of six suspects convicted of participating in the 1993 bombing, which left six people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

He also plotted attacks on other landmarks in New York City, including the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations headquarters and the George Washington Bridge.


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