Tag Archives: North Korea

March 25, 2017

Mosul’s children were shouting beneath the rubble. Nobody came

Coalition bombs buried more than a hundred people in the ruins of three houses and raised fresh questions about US rules of engagement

 

By the time rescuers finally arrived no one was left alive. For almost a week desperate neighbours had scraped through the rubble, searching for as many as 150 people who lay buried after three homes in a west Mosul suburb were destroyed by coalition airstrikes.

The full picture of the carnage continued to emerge on Friday, when at least 20 bodies were recovered. Dozens more are thought to remain buried in what could turn out to be the single most deadly incident for civilians in the war against Islamic State (Isis).

Rescuers at the scene in the suburb of Mosul Jadida said they had driven the 250 miles from Baghdad but had not been able to enter the area until Wednesday, five days after airstrikes hit the houses where local residents had been sheltering from fierce fighting between Iraqi forces and Isis.

Neighbours said at least 80 bodies had been recovered from one house alone, where people had been encouraged by local elders to take shelter. Rescuers were continuing to dig through the ruins, and the remains of two other houses nearby, which had also been pulverised in attacks that were described as “relentless and horrifying”.

The US military said it was launching an investigation. Cololnel Joseph Scrocca, from the US-led command in Baghdad, said “the coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation” from Mosul.

The destruction took place in a district that was last week a frontline in the battle for Mosul. Locals said militants had positioned a sniper on the roof of the home that had sheltered the largest number of people. It has raised fresh questions about rules of engagement in the war against the terror group, after two recent US airstrikes in Syria resulted in at least 90 casualties, nearly all of them thought to be civilian.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/24/mosuls-children-were-shouting-under-the-rubble-nobody-came

Was Westminster terrorist guided by a mastermind? Killer’s phone was STILL connected to another on Whatsapp when he died raising fears he was taking instructions

  • Khalid Masood murdered four and injured at least 29 in Westminster attack
  • Jihadist Masood, 52, drove 4×4 into pedestrians along Westminster Bridge 
  • MailOnline revealed that Massod was on Whatsapp minutes before the attack
  • Police are now focusing their investigation on the killer’s online communications
  • However WhatsApp messages  are visible only to the person who has sent them and the individuals that were meant to receive

The Westminster attacker’s online communications have now become the core of the investigation around the terror raid with security forces keen to ascertain if he was receiving instructions from a jihadist master moments before he unleashed carnage.

Khalid Massod was on WhatsApp at 2.37pm on Wednesday, approximately two minutes before ploughing into people on Westminster Bridge and four minutes before he was shot dead by armed officers outside the Palaces of Westminster, the MailOnline exclusively revealed yesterday.

Now, Masood’s messages with others on the encrypted messaging service have prompted police to up their search for jihadist associates of the killer.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4348392/Was-Masood-guided-terror-mastermind-WhatsApp.html#ixzz4cL3OI0rb

Saudi embassy confirms UK attacker had been in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi Embassy statement released late Friday said that Khalid Masood taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009.

The embassy said that he had a work visa. It said he returned for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent.

The Saudi Embassy said that he wasn’t tracked by the country’s security services and didn’t have a criminal record there.

Before taking the name Masood, he was known as Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes.

Masood drove his rented SUV across the crowded Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, striking pedestrians. Then he jumped out and attacked police officer Keith Palmer, who was guarding Parliament, fatally stabbing him before being shot dead by police.

In all, he killed four people and left more than two dozen hospitalized, including some with what have been described as catastrophic injuries. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/25/saudi-embassy-confirms-uk-attacker-had-been-in-saudi-arabia.html

Thousands attend funeral of slain Hamas terrorist as group vows revenge

Organization claims Israeli agents assassinated Mazen Faqha, in an attempt to ‘wage clandestine war’ against it

 

Thousands attended the funeral of a top Hamas terrorist in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, as leaders of the terror group continued to blame Israel for his killing and threatened retribution.

Mazen Faqha, a Hamas official freed as part of the 2011 deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and deported to Gaza, was assassinated on Friday evening by unknown gunme.

A Hamas official quoted by Army Radio said Israel was “trying to force a new model of a clandestine war on Hamas, as it has failed in the open war model.” He said Hamas would know how to respond to such tactics.

Khalil al-Haya, Hamas’s deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, said at the funeral that Israel “will bear responsibility for the killing.” On Friday al-Haya said that only the Jewish state would have had something to gain from the death.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/thousands-attend-funeral-of-slain-hamas-terrorist-as-group-vows-revenge/

Syria said threatening to fire Scud missiles at Israel

Assad regime says attacks by IDF on Syrian targets will be met with counter strikes on military bases, Haifa port

The Syrian leadership has sent messages to Israel warning that any further strikes by the IDF on targets within Syria’s borders would be met with Scud rockets fired deep into the Jewish state, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar reported Saturday.

The Assad regime conveyed the message to Israel via Russian mediators, the report said.

According to the report, Syria warned that Israeli strikes on Syrian military targets would be met with the firing of Scud missiles capable of carrying half a ton of explosives at IDF bases, while an attack on civilian targets would see Syria launching a counter strike on the Haifa port and the petrochemical plants in the area.

The report warned that Syria has over 800 Scud missiles and that Syria would not issue any warnings before the missile strikes because Israel does not warn before it hits.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/syria-threatens-to-fire-scud-missiles-at-israel-report/

 

Two charged over arms supply to French airport attacker

Remanded suspects indicted for weapons possession and ‘association with terrorist criminals’ in connection with attack on Paris airport

March 25, 2017, 2:31 pm

PARIS — French anti-terrorism judges have charged two men suspected of involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking soldiers, a judicial source said Saturday.

The suspects, aged 30 and 43, were charged Friday for “association with terrorist criminals” over the March 18 attack and are being held in custody, the source said.

The younger one was also charged with arms possession related to a terror plot. They are both from the Paris area and lived close to the assailant, Ziyed Ben Belgacem, according to a preliminary investigation.

Ben Belgacem, 39, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he attacked the capital’s second busiest airport, according to judicial sources.

Ben Belgacem, born in France to Tunisian parents, grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly’s southern terminal and put a gun to her head and seized her rifle, saying he wanted to “die for Allah.”

His father insisted his son — who had spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing — was not an extremist.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/two-charged-over-arms-supply-to-french-airport-attacker/

Flynn, Turkish officials talked about removal of Erdogan foe from US, former CIA boss says

Retired Army Lt. Mike Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, met last summer with top Turkish officials to discuss removing the cleric Turkey blamed for last year’s failed coup and delivering him to Ankara, a former Central Intelligence Agency director told The Wall Street Journal.

James Woolsey said the meeting occurred in September inside the Essex House hotel in New York. Woolsey told the paper that he arrived in the middle of the conversation, but said the basic idea was a “covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” The group as reportedly refering to Fethullah Gulen.

Woolsey told the paper he found the conversation startling and possibly illegal. But he did not say anything because there were no specifics. Woolsey said he notified Vice President Biden through a mutual friend.

People briefed on the meeting told The Journal that the ideas were raised hypothetically. Woolsey, who served under President Clinton, told The Journal that the conversation “seemed to be naïve.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/24/flynn-turkish-officials-talked-about-removal-erdogan-foe-from-us-former-cia-boss-says.html

Putin meets French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at Kremlin

Putin meets with Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin

  • French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has sought closer ties with Russia
  • Vladimir Putin spokesman: Russia isn’t trying to influence upcoming French election

(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the “great importance” of ties between his country and France as he met French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin on Friday, Russian state-run news agency Tass reported.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that Russia was not seeking to influence the upcoming French election but had the right to communicate with French politicians.

Russia had no intention of “interfering in anyone’s internal business or electoral processes,” Peskov said.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/24/europe/putin-le-pen-kremlin/

Russia denies supplying Taliban after Scaparrotti claim

Moscow rejects NATO commander’s remark that it is ‘perhaps’ aiding the Taliban in fighting against US and allied forces.

Russia’s foreign ministry has dismissed a US general’s allegations that it may be supplying Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as “fabrications”.

Curtis Scaparrotti, the top US general in Europe, said on Thursday that he had witnessed Russia’s influence grow in many regions, including in Afghanistan.

In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scaparrotti, who is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, said Moscow was “perhaps” supplying the Taliban in fighting against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/russia-denies-supplying-taliban-scaparrotti-claim-170324173505618.html

Iran TARGETS weapons at US warships that scramble deadly helicopters in FIERCE stand-off

ALARM are ringing in Washington after American warships were “harassed” by “aggressive” Iranian forces – who trained their weapons against the vessels.

The incident was condemned by US security forces who said Iran had been acting increasingly provocatively and unpredictably in recent months.Despite being in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, the American ships were aggressively approached by members of the Iranian Navy on Tuesday.

Iranian forces trained their weapons on the US flotilla, which was made up of five ships and included the huge aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/783548/iran-usa-navy-military-warships-strait-of-hormuz

US-backed Syrian fighters reach IS-held dam in north Syria

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters reached a major dam held by the Islamic State group in northern Syria Friday as Syria’s U.N. ambassador said hundreds of American personnel are “invading my country,” insisting that any effort to liberate the city of Raqqa — the de facto capital of the Islamic State group — should be done in coordination with the Damascus government.

The push toward the Tishrin Dam came three days after U.S. aircraft ferried Syrian Kurdish fighters and allies behind IS lines to spearhead a major ground assault on the IS-held town of Tabqa where the dam is located. Tabqa is west of the city of Raqqa.

IS has been pounded in Syria in recent months with attacks against the extremists from three fronts, the U.S.-backed fighters, Turkish troops and their allies near the border with Turkey, and government forces in the northern province of Aleppo.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said government forces captured late Friday the town of Deir Hafer, the last IS stronghold in Aleppo province, after troops stormed the town under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-defense-chief-battle-syrias-raqqa-days-46344501

Muqtada al-Sadr threatens to boycott Iraq elections

Powerful Shia leader demands changes to electoral law at Baghdad demonstration attended by thousands of supporters.

Influential religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr has told thousands of supporters in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, that he will boycott upcoming elections unless the country’s electoral law is changed.

Supporters of the Shia cleric have repeatedly rallied for changes to the law and the country’s electoral committee, which is dominated by affiliates of powerful political parties.

If “the law remains … this means that we will order a boycott of the elections,” Sadr said in remarks televised at Friday’s demonstration in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Iraq is set to hold holding provincial elections later this year, and parliamentary elections in 2018.

Sadr, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, did not specify the specific changes he wants to take place, but the current law has been criticised as being biased towards large political parties over smaller ones.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/muqtada-al-sadr-threatens-boycott-iraq-elections-170324152533689.html

Central Congo militia decapitates 40 police officers in ambush

Militia fighters in central Democratic Republic of Congo decapitated about 40 police officers in an ambush, local officials said on Saturday, the deadliest attack on security forces since an insurrection in the region began last August.

The Kamuina Nsapu militants attacked the police on Friday as they drove from Tshikapa to Kananga. The militia members stole arms and vehicles, Francois Kalamba, speaker of the Kasai provincial assembly, told Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-violence-idUSKBN16W0HN

 

Turkey threatens again to take actions regarding Cyprus’ natural gas

Turkey has condemned Cyprus’ research for natural gas in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

“These contacts clearly demonstrate yet again how the Greek Cypriot Administration disregards, in its unilateral pursuit of hydrocarbon-related activities, the inalienable rights on natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, the co-owners of the Island,” the statement reads, about meetings President Nicos Anastasiades had with natural gas companies in the US on March 22.

Ankara has also condemned the fact contracts were signed in the Republic of Cyprus for exploration of the EEZ, and that the Greek Cypriot side “is still not able to grasp the win-win-based potential for economic cooperation that can ensue on the Island and in the Eastern Mediterranean from a comprehensive settlement, towards which the Turkish Cypriot side and turkey have been expending intensive efforts.”

http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/tourism-businesses/new-investments/24162-turkey-threatens-again-to-take-actions-regarding-cyprus%E2%80%99-natural-gas.html

Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report

U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.

In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian separatists.

VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.

CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence. The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.

After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by “Fancy Bear,” a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

http://www.newdelhitimes.com/cyber-firm-rewrites-part-of-disputed-russian-hacking-report123/

Serbia says no to NATO on alliance’s airstrikes anniversary

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s prime minister pledged on Friday that the Balkan country will never join NATO or any other military alliance as Serbia marked the 18th anniversary of the start of NATO airstrikes that stopped its crackdown in Kosovo.

Aleksandar Vucic spoke at a ceremony near a railway bridge in southern Serbia where the Western military alliance’s missiles struck a passenger train, killing at least 28 people and injuring dozens.

“We will never be part of the alliance which killed our children, nor of any other alliance,” Vucic said. “They wanted to destroy and humiliate small Serbia and kill its children.”

Anti-NATO sentiments run high in Serbia since the 78-day bombing in 1999 over a bloody crackdown by Serbian forces against Kosovo Albanian separatists. Serbian officials claim that more than 2,000 people were killed in the airstrikes while independent estimates put that figure at about 800, mostly soldiers and police.

Some 10,000 people died and 1,660 are still missing from the 1998-1999 Kosovo war that ended with the NATO intervention and the withdrawal of Serbian troops from its former, majority ethnic Albanian-populated province. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Serbia doesn’t recognize.

Although it is a member of a NATO outreach program and is formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has lately been boosting its military cooperation with Russia, which has agreed to deliver fighter jets, tanks and anti-aircraft systems.

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/serbia-says-no-to-nato-on-alliances-airstrikes-anniversary

N. Korea invents ‘quantum code communication’ tech: Naenara

Quantum communication system would make hacking or eavesdropping more difficult

North Korea claims it has invented a system for secure quantum-cryptographic communications, according to a report from the state-run Naenara news outlet published on Friday.

Quantum cryptography leverages the intrinsic properties of quantum theory to secure communications against outside interference or hacking.

“The scientists of Kim Il Sung University have succeeded in developing a quantum code communications technology, which makes it possible to open up a bright prospect for blocking various kinds of hacking and wiretapping from their sources by taking hold of its core technologies,” the Naenara report claims.

The article adds that DPRK scientists have solved “all the problems” associated with the technology, having designed bespoke circuits, and go on to say they can securely encode “all communications concerning images, sound and documents.”

“I’m guessing they are talking about quantum key distribution.  These systems are used to establish the cryptographic keys between two parties,” Dr Matthew Rose-Clarke, former Ph.D. researcher at CERN told NK News.

https://www.nknews.org/2017/03/n-korea-invents-quantum-code-communication-tech-naenara/

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March 23, 2017

London Terror Killer Named as Convicted Criminal Khalid Masood

London’s Metropolitan Police named the man responsible for Wednesday’s Westminster terror attack as British born Khalid Masood.

In a press release from Scotland Yard Thursday afternoon approximately 25 hours after the attack took place, the force revealed 52-year-old Khalid Masood, born in Kent but lately a resident of the West Midlands was responsible for Wednesday’s deadly attack that killed three, including a British-Spanish woman, an American tourist, and a police officer.

Revealing that the killer wasn’t being monitored for terror reasons but had previously been convicted of criminal offences, Scotland Yard said: “Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.

“However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.

“His first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

“He has not been convicted for any terrorism offences”.

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/03/23/london-terror-killer-named-convicted-criminal-khalid-masood/

London attack: Theresa May reveals ‘Islamist’ terrorist was British citizen who had been investigated by MI5 over extremism

The Westminster terrorist who brought bloodshed to the heart of London was a British citizen who had been investigated by MI5 over violent extremism, Theresa May has disclosed to the Commons.

The Prime Minister said the attacker – believed to have been inspired by Islamist terrorism – was known to the police and security services, as she defiantly vowed: “We are not afraid and our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism.”

Mrs May said the assailant who killed three people, including a police officer, was a “peripheral” figure and added: “He was not part of the current intelligence picture.”

She was speaking as it emerged eight people have been arrested in connection with the terror attack. Scotland Yard said six addresses have been raided in London, Birmingham and elsewhere overnight following the attack linked to “Islamic terrorism in some form”.

Police revised the death toll from Wednesday’s atrocity down from five to four – the attacker, who has not been identified but who police believe acted alone; Pc Keith Palmer, who he stabbed; Aysha Frade, a Spanish teacher and mother of two, and a man in his 50s – both of whom where mown down as the terrorist sped across Westminster Bridge in his car.

 

A total of 29 people were treated in hospital following the carnage, with seven people remaining in a critical condition on Thursday morning. The injured included 12 Britons, including three police officers who were returning from an event to recognise their bravery.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/23/london-attack-seven-arrested-police-raid-properties-linked-islamist/

Ukrainian arms warehouse storing 138,000 TONNES of rockets and tank ammunition is blown up by saboteurs forcing 20,000 to be evacuated

  • Military base was blown up in the early hours of Thursday morning in Balakleya
  • Rescue teams are helping residents in nearby villages evacuate in Kharkiv region
  • Explosions caused several sites in the warehouse storing weapons to blow up
  • Base is located 60 miles from Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists 

The Ukrainian military said unknown saboteurs blew up a warehouse storing tank ammunition at a military base in the east of the country early on Thursday.

The base, which contained about 138,000 tonnes of ammunition including rockets and tank ammunition, is located in the city of Balakleya about 100 km (60 miles) from the frontline of Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists.

Rescue teams were helping residents nearby villages in the eastern Kharkiv region, the military said, and up to 20,000 were evacuated.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4341530/Ukrainian-arms-warehouse-blown-saboteurs.html

Former Russian lawmaker shot dead in central Kiev (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Former Russian lawmaker shot dead in central Kiev (GRAPHIC VIDEO)
Former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov has been shot and killed in central Kiev, Ukrainian police have said.

“There was an exchange of fire in front of the entrance to the Premier-Palace Hotel about 40 minutes ago. One man was killed and two other persons were injured. The identity of the killed man has been established. He is a Russian politician, a former State Duma member. Yes, I can confirm that he is Denis Voronenkov,” the head of Kiev police, Andrey Krishchenko, said, as cited by TASS.

Krishchenko said the assailant injured Voronenkov’s bodyguard, who fired at him in return.

“[The suspect]  is under police protection, he is being given priority medical assistance at a hospital,” Krishchenko told reporters.

Voronenkov, a former member of the Russian Communist Party, emigrated from Russia to Ukraine in October 2016. He received Ukrainian citizenship in December, having given up his status as a Russian citizen. He was highly critical of the Russian authorities.

https://www.rt.com/news/381997-voronenkov-kiev-shot-dead/

10 Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai roadside bombings

15 jihadists also killed in clashes as soldiers raided ‘extremely dangerous’ hideout, army says

Illustrative. Smoke rises after a house was blown up in a military operation in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on November 20, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Illustrative. Smoke rises after a house was blown up in a military operation in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on November 20, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

CAIRO, Egypt — Ten Egyptian soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings as they clashed with Islamic State group jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula, the military said on Thursday.Fifteen jihadists were also killed in the fighting, the military said in a statement, without saying when the incidents took place.

The military said the clashes broke out when soldiers raided “an extremely dangerous” jihadist hideout.

The Islamic State group had said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that it blew up two army vehicles during clashes south of the Sinai city of El-Arish.

The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/10-egyptian-soldiers-killed-in-sinai-roadside-bombings/

WikiLeaks Vault 7 Leak Claims CIA Bugs ‘Factory Fresh’ iPhones

A new WikiLeaks Vault 7 leak titled “Dark Matter” claims, with unreleased documents, that the Central Intelligence Agency has been bugging “factory fresh” iPhones since at least 2008. WikiLeaks further claims that the CIA has the capability to permanently bug iPhones, even if their operating systems are deleted or replaced.

The documents are expected to be released after an 11:30 a.m. EDT “press briefing” that WikiLeaks promoted on its Twitter.

WikiLeaks Vault 7 Leak Claims CIA Bugs ‘Factory Fresh’ iPhones

Japanese nationalist claims cash from Abe as scandal deepens

Hiroshi HIYAMA
AFP NewsMoreA controversial nationalist educator said under oath Thursday he had received a donation for his school from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe despite the premier’s repeated denials in an intensifying political scandal that has gripped the country.

The nationally televised testimony by Yasunori Kagoike came as his purchase of government land at a huge discount has dominated media coverage for weeks.

Abe, whose high approval ratings have taken a hit, has repeatedly denied giving Kagoike money and on more than one occasion offered to resign if he was found to be involved in the land deal.

Analysts have said that there would likely be nothing illegal in such a donation, but if proven it could damage Abe’s credibility given his steadfast denials.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/japanese-nationalist-claims-cash-abe-scandal-deepens-083605336.html

Russian Citizens Detained, Weapons Seized in Arms Smuggling Case From US – FSB

The Russian Federal Security Service said that it had detained Russian citizens for smuggling arms from the US.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian citizens have been detained across four cities and 19 weapons were seized in an illicit arms trafficking case from the United States, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said Thursday.

“The activity of an interregional criminal group involved in the illegal trafficking of firearms, its main parts and ammunition, as well as the organization of a channel for their smuggling to Russia from the United States through international mail, has been stopped,” the FSB said.

Among the weapons seized by the FSB were: two machine guns; two US-made assault rifles; eight foreign and domestic pistols and revolvers; seven foreign and domestic carbines and rifles; cartridges, main parts and components for various small arms.

https://sputniknews.com/russia/201703231051871401-weapon-russia-arms-seizure/

Podesta Was Board Member Of Firms Linked To Russian Investors

RICHARD POLLOCK
Reporter

Rep. Louie Gohmert, an outspoken House Republican from Texas, is calling for a congressional investigation of John Podesta’s role with Rusnano, a state-run company founded by Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

Podesta — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman and former President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff — first made contact with the Russian firm in 2011, when he joined the boards and executive committees of three related entities: Boston-based Joule Unlimited; Rotterdam-based Joule Global Holdings; Joule Global Stichting, the company’s controlling interest. All are high-tech renewable energy enterprises.

Three months after Podesta’s arrival, Joule Unlimited accepted a 1 billion ruble investment from Rusnano, amounting to $35 million in U.S. currency. The firm also awarded a Joule board seat in February 2012 to Anatoly Chubais, Rusnano’s CEO, who has been depicted as a corrupt figure.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/21/exclusive-podesta-was-board-member-of-firm-linked-to-russian-investors/#ixzz4cAP16wUH

Report: Iran sending explosive drones to Yemen rebels

According to sources in the region Iran is sending advanced weapons to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement

(WASHINGTON, DC) Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi’ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say.

Iran’s enemy Saudi Arabia is leading a Sunni Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian peninsula – part of the same regional power struggle that is fuelling the war in Syria.

Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, said that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the two-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.

A senior Iranian official said Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis.

“At this meeting, they agreed to increase the amount of help, through training, arms and financial support,” the official said.

“Yemen is where the real proxy war is going on and winning the battle in Yemen will help define the balance of power in the Middle East.”

Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis, told Reuters: “We don’t lack information or evidence that the Iranians, by various means, are smuggling weapons into the area.

http://www.trunews.com/article/report-iran-sending-explosive-drones-to-yemen-rebels#sthash.g8wabOtP.dpuf

Russia Deals Major Blow to Turkey’s Syria Policy

Dorian Jones

Russian and Turkish soldiers are facing off over the Syrian Kurdish canton of Afrin. Ankara says the area that borders its territory is under the control of PYD ‘terrorists’ affiliated with the Kurdish insurgent group the PKK. But Moscow, like Washington, views the PYD and its YPG militia which controls Afrin as key to fighting Islamic State.

Moscow took Ankara by surprise when it deployed forces in the canton to monitor a cease-fire between YPG and the Free Syrian Army, which is backed by Turkey. On Wednesday violence erupted again. Ankara said one of its soldiers was killed by a sniper shooting across the border, prompting Turkish artillery to retaliate.

The YPG-controlled region has been under threat since Turkey launched a military incursion into Syria in August. Operation Euphrates shield has twin objectives, of removing Islamic State and the YPG militia and its political wing PYD. But Russian deployment puts Euphrates Shield in question.

“Practically it means the end of Operation Euphrates Shield,” said former senior Turkish diplomat Aydin Selcen, who served across the region. “The military operation cannot move down south towards Raqqa, because there is the Syrian Arab Army or Assad together with the Russians. It cannot turn east towards Manbij as it’s suggested by the Turkish government. Why? Because there is [the] Syrian Army backed by … Russia and also you have the U.S. special forces there along [with] U.S. Army Rangers. Militarily it means the end of the operation.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/russia-turkey-syria-kurds/3777443.html

Turkey to Suspend Plan to Sell $10 Billion of Seized Firms

Fund said trying to resolve legal issues around ownership
Companies were confiscated after failed coup last July

Turkey put on hold a plan to sell almost 600 companies worth about $10 billion that were seized in the aftermath of a failed military coup, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

It’s not clear whether the Istanbul-based Savings Deposit Insurance Fund, known as the TMSF, will ever go ahead with the sales because of concern over legal battles regarding their ownership, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private.

The companies form part of the more than 850 firms confiscated by the government last year and which have assets that are estimated to be worth a combined 48 billion liras($13.2 billion). All of the companies were taken over for their alleged support of self-exiled Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused of plotting the failed coup last July. Gulen has denied any involvement in the botched takeover.

Turkiye Sinai Kalkinma Bankasi AS, or TSKB, Vera Varlik Yonetim AS and Garanti Yatirim Menkul Kiymetler AS were picked to advise on the sale in December. The fund hasn’t held any meetings with the advisers on strategy since nor has it signed a contract on the mandate to advise the sale process, the people said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-23/turkey-said-to-suspend-plan-to-sell-10-billion-of-seized-firms

EU-bound senior Daesh terrorist arrested by police in Turkey’s Adana province

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL

Turkish police arrested a Canadian man, who is allegedly a senior figure in Daesh terrorist group, and was heading to Europe, in southern Adana province, reports said on Thursday.

According to reports, counter-terror police teams at Adana Airport detained Wassim Bouhadou, who has dual Algerian citizenship, and was planning to head to Europe after going to Istanbul on March 10.

The suspect was reportedly detained after boarding the plane, shortly before take off based on police intelligence claiming that he illegally entered Turkey from Syria and was planning to head to Europe through Istanbul.

The man was reportedly transferred to the court following testimony at police headquarters and was sent to prison after being charged for ‘being a member of an armed terrorist organization, recruiting for a terrorist organization and providing financial support for a terrorist organization.’

https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2017/03/23/eu-bound-senior-daesh-terrorist-arrested-by-police-in-turkeys-adana-province

France’s Hollande says French suspect likely involved in attempted Antwerp attack

French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that a French national appeared to have been involved in a suspected, attempted attack in the Belgium city of Antwerp.

“It seemed to involve a French national, with possibly a certain number of weapons in his boot – it’s up to the judges to make a statement on that – who was looking to kill or at the very least create a dramatic incident,” Hollande told reporters.

“Therefore we must continue to be on high alert and mobilize all our forces,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Belgian prosecutors said that a man who had tried to drive at high speed into a shopping district in Antwerp was a French national, living in France, with knives and other weapons in his car.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-security-belgium-france-idUSKBN16U1Z0

Taliban captures Sangin, the Afghan town where more than 100 UK soldiers died

An Afghan town that more than 100 British soldiers died trying to defend has been captured by the Taliban.

The strategic district of Sangin in Helmand province was the deadliest battlefield for UK forces in Afghanistan and 104 British troops died in the effort to keep it out of the Taliban’s hands.

But the town fell early on Thursday morning as Taliban forces continued a years-long offensive to extend their reach in southern Afghanistan.

The Afghan government said it intended to mount a counter-attack to recapture the town but it was not clear if they had the forces to immediately take it back.

sangin
UK forces handed control of Sangin to the US in 2010 and it was transferred to the Afghan security forces in 2013 CREDIT: JUSTIN SUTCLIFFE / TELEGRAPH 

The set back came as the top US general in Europe warned that Russia may now be arming the militants.

Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said Moscow appeared to an increasingly influential player in Afghanistan.

“I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” he told a Senate hearing in Washington.

Gen Scaparrotti’s comments come after a senior Pakistani military source told the Telegraph that Russia could be tempted to stage a Syria-style intervention in Afghanistan if Taliban and Isil strength continues to grow.

Russia has denied supporting the Taliban, saying its contacts with the group are aimed at bringing them to the negotiating table.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/23/taliban-captures-sangin-afghan-town-100-uk-soldiers-died/

Losing Neutrality: What’s Behind US Attempts to Incorporate Finland Into NATO

The new United States presidential administration goes on with its old defense policy in northern Europe. On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis held a meeting in Washington with his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto.

[Sputnik News is a Russian news source.]

“Secretary Mattis met today with Finnish Minister of Defense Jussi Niinisto. The two leaders discussed Russian aggression, Finland’s relationship with NATO as an enhanced opportunities partner, and the bilateral security cooperation … between the US and Finland,” according to a statement by Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

During their meeting, both leaders “identified ways to continue deepening and increasing the lasting security partnership between the two countries.”

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the first batch of British armored vehicles has arrived in Estonia as part of NATO’s drive to boost military presence in Eastern Europe. In January, US tanks were also deployed to the region.

Despite being a vocal critic of NATO during the electoral campaign, Trump is in close coordination with the alliance. He will have talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington on April 12 and will attend a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25.

“Trump is turning into a typical US leader. As a result, northern European countries will be dragged into NATO’s problems and will have more obligations to Washington and Brussels, including financial,” journalist and political commentator Alexander Khrolenko wrote in a piece for RIA Novosti.

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201703231051885587-us-nato-finland-russia/

Bringing Montenegro Into NATO ‘Absolutely Critical’ – US European Command Head

Accepting Montenegro into NATO alliance is crucially important, US European Command head Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — When asked about the importance of Montenegro’s inclusion in NATO, Scaparotti said, “It is absolutely critical that they’d be brought into NATO.”

“They’ve had this desire, they’ve met the map, and it underscores NATO’s outreach and ability to bring those who want to determine their own means of govern to become part of NATO,” he explained.

The Balkan nation is expected to join NATO in 2017. The authorities plan to decide on the membership not through a referendum, but through a parliament elected in October 2016.

Earlier in March, Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko told Sputnik that Montenegro’s dragging into NATO was an attempt to show that the open door policy was alive, however, many understand its erroneous nature.

In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that NATO used an alleged threat from Moscow as a justification for its expansion. Several countries are actively negotiating NATO’s accession, including Georgia and Ukraine.

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201703231051892487-montenegro-nato-critical/

Pentagon: US troops are going to be in Iraq ‘for years to come’

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told Senate leaders on Wednesday that even after ISIS is defeated in Syria and Iraq, US troops will be stationed in the region for at least a few years afterward.

“I believe it’s in our national interest that we keep Iraqi security forces in a position to keep our mutual enemies on their back foot,” Mattis told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense. “I don’t see any reason to pull out again and face the same lesson,” he added, referencing the removal of all US forces from Iraq in 2011.

Though President Barack Obama in 2008 campaigned on a promise to pull troops out of Iraq, the move has been criticized by conservatives in the years since as helping fuel the rise of ISIS.

In 2014, as ISIS militants seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, one senior military officer told Business Insider the rise of the terror group in the wake of US troop departures was inevitable.

“We said we won some success but this is reversible,” the retired senior U.S. military officer said, on condition of anonymity. “So what we’re seeing now is exactly what we forecasted.

http://www.businessinsider.com/pentagon-us-troops-are-going-to-be-in-iraq-for-years-to-come-2017-3

 

U.S. PREPARES FOR NORTH KOREA CHEMICAL WEAPON ATTACK IN ‘WARRIOR STRIKE 6’ DRILLS

U.S. and South Korean soldiers finished a two-day drill Wednesday that simulated an assault on North Korean chemical weapons laboratories as Washington and Seoul continued their massive, annual joint military exercises on the volatile Korean Peninsula.

Beginning Tuesday, the “Warrior Strike 6” drill saw the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division drop from Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to meet South Korean troops and storm an imitation village loaded with fake sarin gas facilities. While the military has units specifically tasked with identifying and destroying chemical weapons agents, infantry units were expected to first secure the perimeter, according to 1st. Lt. Stephanie Hetland, an officer in the Army’s chemical branch. The mock site was littered with traps, emphasizing the danger of the lethal agents.

“They kill very quickly with very small amounts, and the means to make them has been pretty widespread for a long time,” Hetland told Washington-based military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

http://www.newsweek.com/us-prepare-north-korea-chemical-weapon-attack-warrior-strike-572812

 

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March 22, 2017

Parliament in lockdown: Police open fire outside Westminster and shoot knife-wielding man amid reports of explosion and ‘at least 12 pedestrians mowed down on bridge’

  • Several shots have been fired at the House of Commons in Westminster
  • At least three people have been hit and emergency teams are on the scene 
  • Reports aslo suggest a car ploughed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge
  • The Prime Minister has been evacuated and staff told to stay inside

Armed Police have opened fire and shot an intruder inside the grounds of the Houses of Parliament amid reports a car drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

An intruder with a knife managed to break into the grounds of Parliament and stabbed a police officer before he was shot, reports suggest.

More than 10 people are said to have been hit by a car on Westminster Bridge after a vehicle described as a ‘4×4’ reportedly drove into pedestrians and cyclists.

Three bodies were visible on the floor outside Parliament and the Palace was placed on an immediate lock down.

Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have been bundled into a car by a plain-clothes police officer and driven quickly from the scene.

Emergency teams were seen carrying out CPR inside the palace grounds in New Palace Yard, the main thoroughfare in and out of Parliament 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4338998/Police-open-fire-outside-House-Commons.html#ixzz4c4HvpJta

FOUR people are dead – including police officer and terrorist – and 20 more injured – after killer mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before killer is shot attacking police in Parliament grounds

  • Four-wheel drive was driven over Westminster Bridge knocking down pedestrians this afternoon
  • Victims were said to have been left scattered in the road, with one woman knocked into the River Thames
  • Emergency services  treated at least 20 injured people on the bridge, with one woman dead under a bus 
  • ‘Asian’ knifeman got into the grounds of Parliament where he stabbed and killed a police officer
  • The ‘middle-aged’ attacker was then shot by armed officers and died after being taken to hospital
  • Parliament was suspended and the Prime Minister was rushed from the scene in her official car

At least 20 people were hit when a 4×4 drove along the pavement on the crowded bridge, knocking down and seriously injuring pedestrians before crashing into a fence below Big Ben.

The killer, described by witnesses as ‘middle-aged and Asian’, then managed to break into the grounds of the Parliament where he fatally stabbed a police officer with two knives.

The policeman died at the scene. The attacker, who was shot by armed officers, died after he was taken to hospital.

It is currently believed one attacker was involved and he killed three people, including the policeman, and left at least 20 pedestrians and three other police officers seriously injured.

Prime Minister Theresa May was bundled into her car by a plain-clothes police officer and driven quickly from the scene as the attack unfolded. She will chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra Committee tonight.

Scotland Yard said the attack, which comes a year to the day after the terrorist atrocities in Brussels, is being treated ‘as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise’.

A police officer was killed by a knifeman (pictured on stretcher) before the attacker was shot by other officers outside Parliament today. The suspected terrorist is also dead, along with two pedestrians killed when the attacker drove a 4x4 across Westminster Bridge, ploughing down and seriously injuring at least 20

A police officer was killed by a knifeman (pictured on stretcher) before the attacker was shot by other officers outside Parliament today. The suspected terrorist is also dead, along with two pedestrians killed when the attacker drove a 4×4 across Westminster Bridge, ploughing down and seriously injuring at least 20.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4338998/Police-open-fire-outside-House-Commons.html

Isil supporters cheer Westminster attack as ‘revenge’ for British air strikes on Syria

Injured suspect is taken away on a stretcher by emergency services
Injured suspect is taken away on a stretcher by emergency servies CREDIT: PA

Isil supporters have cheered the attack on Westminster, suggesting it was “revenge” for the UK’s airstrikes on the terror group in Syria and Iraq.

Followers on pro-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant channels on the social media service Telegram posted messages applauding the knife-wielding suspect and called the attack “blessed”.

One said the UK was paying “blood for blood” for its involvement in the US-led coalition’s campaign against the jihadists.

“Our battle on your land is only just beginning,” read one poster next to a photoshopped image of Big Ben being blown up.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/isil-supporters-cheer-westminster-attack-revenge-british-air/

 

 

China issues warning to US bomber flying in East China Sea

The Chinese military issued a warning to a U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber flying in the East China Sea Wednesday morning amid escalating tensions in the region, two U.S. officials told Fox News.

The Chinese said the U.S. bomber was flying in Chinese airspace. Both American officials said the bomber was flying in international airspace and continued on its mission.

The Chinese warning came over the emergency radio frequency known as “guard,” according to one official. The incident occurred when the American bomber was flying 70 miles southwest of the South Korean island of Jeju.

The episode occurred amidst rising tensions with North Korea, which tried to launch another ballistic missile Wednesday, but failed.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/22/china-issues-warning-to-us-bomber-flying-in-east-china-sea.html

 

North Korea missile test ends in failure as projectile “explodes within seconds” of launch

The launch made near the city of Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast, was detected by Japanese, South Korean and American systems

North Korea’s latest missile launch ended in catastrophic failure as it appeared the projectile exploded within seconds, say US officials.

The launch made near the city of Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast, was detected by Japanese, South Korean and American systems, leaving those countries scrambling to find out more about the type of missile that was launched and why it failed.

Neighbouring countries were preparing for the possibility of additional launches after the failed weapons test.

North Korea has launched a series of tests in recent months, with Wednesday’s launch coming after the nuclear-armed state claimed it had made a major breakthrough in its rocket programme.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/north-korea-fires-several-missiles-10072049?service=responsive

US Marines said to land behind Islamic State lines in Syria

Reported deployment of American troops to territory held by terror group part of offensive to retake city of Raqqa

An American-backed Syrian Kurdish coalition said Wednesday that the US had landed infantry behind Islamic State lines to spearhead an assault on the town of Tabqa.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said the US airlifted several Marines and SDF fighters by helicopter into Islamic State-held territory, capturing four villages, and cutting the main artery running between the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa and the western countryside.

It was not immediately possible to confirm the deployment with US commanders.

The group said in a statement on social media Wednesday that the operation was in preparation for an assault on Tabqa, an IS redoubt 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Raqqa.

The activist-run group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said 500 US and Syrian Kurdish forces were deployed in the operation Wednesday morning. The group relies on local contacts to smuggle information out of IS territory.Earlier this month, a couple of hundred Marines were deployed into Syria with heavy artillery guns, as part of the preparations to oust the IS from Raqqa.

The Marines moving into Syria were pre-positioning howitzers to be ready to assist local Syrian forces, a senior US official said at the time.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-marines-said-to-land-behind-islamic-state-lines-in-syria/

 

ISIS Supporters Are Tracking Americans In Ramadi

Pro-ISIS followers are threatening Americans who are helping restore the city that was once an ISIS stronghold

Mar 22, 2017 at 8:14 AM ET

Images of Americans inside the Iraqi city of Ramadi have roiled ISIS supporters, who are calling online for anyone near the western city to attack them.

A pro-ISIS channel on Telegram posted that over 60 American soldiers are in Ramadi, specifically seen inside Anbar University and being escorted by Iraqi security forces and tribal militiamen.

“They tour and walk inside the university like it is their own land,” someone in the channel posted. ‘Wake up and attack them.” Earlier this month the same channel reported “Americans are walking freely” in the area and that “civilians are greeting them, taking pictures and laughing with them.”

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs tweeted earlier this week that it was “demining work targets stockpiles of homemade explosives, IEDs, and improvised ordnance” and “clearing the mess” in one of Ramadi’s schools.

While ISIS was routed out of Ramadi nearly a year ago, the terror group has sympathizers and former members in towns on its outskirts. The presence of U.S. officials has been keenly monitored on the ground.

http://www.vocativ.com/413621/isis-supporters-are-tracking-americans-in-ramadi/

 

Fillon ‘was paid €50k to fix meeting between Vladimir Putin and Lebanese billionaire’

Beleaguered presidential candidate faces fresh allegations over 2015 meeting as prosecutors widen fake jobs inquiry

in Paris

The French presidential candidate François Fillon has been hit by allegations he was paid $50,000 (£43,000) to arrange a meeting between a Lebanese billionaire and Vladimir Putin as prosecutors investigating whether his wife was paid for fake jobs widened their inquiry into whether she had signed forged documents.

The latest accusations came a week after Fillon, 63, was formally put under investigation for a misuse of public funds over the €700,000 of taxpayers’ money British-born Penelope Fillon earned for acting as his parliamentary assistant.

French media reported on Tuesday that the inquiry was examining suspected “aggravated fraud, forgery and use of forgeries” to claim she had worked when she had not, which her lawyer denies.

The allegations of Fillon’s role in a meeting between the Russian president, Lebanese businessman Fouad Makhzoumi and Patrick Pouyane, the chief executive of energy giant Total, were made in the latest issue of the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé, which broke the alleged ‘fake jobs’ scandal in January.

The article said Fillon’s consultancy company 2F Conseil had earned $50,000 for setting up the 2015 meeting.

Fillon’s spokesman vigorously denied the allegation, saying Canard Enchaîné’s “insinuations” were “completely without foundation”. The Kremlin dismissed the report as “fake news”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/22/fillon-paid-50k-to-fix-meeting-vladimir-putin-lebanese-billionaire-allegation

Lawyer for family of Russian whistleblower ‘thrown from building’

Nikolai Gorokhov, who represents family of Sergei Magnitsky, is in intensive care after falling from fourth floor of apartment block

in Moscow

A Russian lawyer who represents the family of Sergei Magnitsky is in intensive care after falling from the fourth floor of his apartment building, according to unconfirmed reports.

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta suggested Nikolai Gorokhov had fallen after a winch snapped as he tried to lift a bath to a fourth-floor apartment, though details of the incident remained murky.

Magnitsky uncovered a massive fraud that implicated government officials, but was himself arrested in 2008 and died in prison in 2009, amid allegations he had been tortured and medical care had been withheld. Russia later put him on trial posthumously for tax evasion.

Gorokhov, 53, has represented the Magnitsky family since 2011, and was due in court on Wednesday as part of a case brought by Magnitsky’s mother against some of those allegedly involved in the fraud he uncovered.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/22/lawyer-for-family-of-russian-whistleblower-seriously-injured-after-fall

World leaders gather to discuss ‘secret plan’ to defeat Isil after laptop terror threat prompts UK flight ban

World leaders will gather for talks on how to defeat the Islamic State today after it emerged that an aircraft cabin ban on electronic devices was prompted by warnings of a new terrorist threat.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he had a “secret plan” to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil) and pledged to “bomb the hell out of” the terror group.

He has ordered his administration to “develop a comprehensive plan”, but is yet to set out the details.

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, will today host the first full meeting of the international coalition against Isil since 2014.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, is attending the major 69-nation conference in Washington DC.

It comes as British passengers on holiday flights from the Middle East and North Africa were told they would be banned within days from carrying laptops, tablets and other electronic devices on board the aircraft.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/laptop-terror-threat-prompts-uk-flight-ban-world-leaders-gather/

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was paid $10 million yearly in secret deal to help Vladimir Putin

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/trumps-former-campaign-chairman-paul-manafort-paid-10-million/

Laptop ban on flights ‘is based on intelligence about an ISIS plot to target the West gathered during the raid on Yemen which killed Navy SEAL’

[Editor’s Note: The press and members of Congress and others in Europe owe Donald Trump an apology for criticizing his decision to carry out the raid.]

  • The intelligence centered around al-Qaeda’s ‘successful development’ of compact battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices, sources claimed
  • Bombs would reportedly be manually triggered which explains cabin luggage ban
  • The US and the UK have instituted similar bans on large electronics in carry-on bags for direct flights from certain Middle East and North African nations
  • The US ban applies to 10 airports in Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates 
  • Britain’s restrictions apply to flights originating from the countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia 
  • Electronics cellphone sized and small will still be permitted in passenger cabins 
  • Restrictions come a year after the bombing of Daallo Flight 159, in which a bomber used an explosive hidden inside a laptop  

The ban of carry-on electronics on flights was prompted by intelligence gathered about an ISIS plot to target the West.

The US and UK announced restrictions on large electronics in carry-on baggage for direct flights from certain Middle Eastern and North African nations on Tuesday.

The move is allegedly based on the suspicion that Islamic State are working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics.

Information was gathered during a raid against al Qaeda in Yemen in January that killed Navy SEAL senior chief petty officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens.

The intelligence centred around al Qaeda’s ‘successful development’ of compact battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices, sources claimed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4337982/Laptop-ban-based-intelligence-ISIS-plot.html

 

Nunes Says Trump Team Conversations Caught in Surveillance

  • Republican says ‘I’m actually alarmed’ conversations picked up
  • Disclosure may bolster Trump’s claim he was under surveillance
Devin Nunes, a Republican from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 27, 2017.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community collected multiple conversations involving members of Donald Trump’s transition team after he won the election last year.

He said the intercepts he’s seen appear to be legal and weren’t targeted at the transition team or related to an investigation of Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election. But he said he was troubled by the collection — which he described as part of unrelated foreign surveillance — and that the intelligence community reported the names of transition team members internally.

“I’m actually alarmed by it,” Nunes, a California Republican, told reporters at the Capitol. “Details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in an intelligence community report,” he said. He said he didn’t know if Trump’s “own communications were intercepted.”

The disclosure may bolster Trump’s effort to back up his disputed claim in Twitter postings that former President Barack Obama tapped his phones, which his spokesman later said shouldn’t be taken literally and referred generally to having his team under surveillance. FBI Director James Comey testified before the House committee this week that “I have no information that supports those tweets.”

Nunes told reporters outside the White House, where he briefed the president on his findings, that “it is possible” Trump’s tweets were correct concerning surveillance.

It was previously disclosed that U.S. intelligence agencies had picked up conversations between Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Trump’s inauguration. Flynn was fired in February after making contradictory statements to Vice President Mike Pence about those discussions.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-22/nunes-says-trump-team-communications-caught-in-u-s-surveillance

 

5 congressional staffers in criminal probe over unauthorized computer access

Five people employed by members of the House of Representatives remain under criminal investigation for unauthorized access to Congressional computers. Former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz employed at least one of those under investigation.

The criminal investigation into the five, which includes three brothers and a wife of one of the men, started late last year, as reported by Politico in February. The group is being investigated by US Capitol Police over allegations that they removed equipment from over 20 members’ offices, as well as having run a procurement scheme to buy equipment and then overcharge the House.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week Capitol Police are receiving additional help for the investigation. “I won’t speak to the nature of their investigation, but they’re getting the kind of technical assistance they need to do that, this is under an active criminal investigation, their capabilities are pretty strong but they’re also able to go and get the kind of help they need from other sources,” Ryan said.

The brothers, Abid, Jamal and Imran Awan, worked as shared employees for various members of the House, covering committees relating to intelligence, terrorism and cybersecurity, which included the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Homeland Security and the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the Armed Services Committee.

Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi, and Rao Abbas, both of whom worked as House IT employees, are also under investigation.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ

The group were banned from accessing the computers as a result of the investigation but, as of earlier this month, Imran Awan remains as an “technology adviser” to former Democratic National Committee chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to resign in July following revelations that she worked to further Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic primary at the expense of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

https://www.rt.com/usa/381692-congressional-staffers-criminal-investigation/

Moscow extends Turkish food ban in response to heavy tax on Russian agriculture

Russia will not lift the import ban on Turkish vegetables, fruit, and meat, according to agriculture watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor. Last week, Turkey imposed stiff tariffs on Russian wheat and corn, making exports unprofitable

According to watchdog spokeswoman Yulia Melano, “the issue of full or partial removal of restrictions on Turkish fruit and vegetable products for the Russian market should be discussed in conjunction with the removal of counter restrictions on Russian products from the Turkish side.”

Last week, the Russian media reported that Turkey had imposed a 130 percent tariff on wheat, corn and sunflower meal that is making deliveries highly unprofitable for local businesses.

Turkey’s Trade Ministry denied the reports, but a representative of the Russian trade mission in Ankara said Turkey had excluded Russia from a list of countries with zero rates of customs duties. Turkey is the second largest buyer of Russian wheat after Egypt. Russia will keep the ban on Turkish frozen meat and poultry as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, apples, pears, strawberries and other fruit and vegetables.

In March, Rosselkhoznadzor lifted the restrictions against Turkish onions, cauliflower, broccoli and some other vegetables, explaining there is a lack of these food items in Russia.

Food imports from Turkey were blocked in response to the downing of a Russian jet in Syria in November 2015. There were other restrictions, including the cancellation of charter flights to Turkey, the introduction of a visa regime, and a ban on hiring Turkish citizens. At the request of the Kremlin, Russian travel agencies suspended sales of package tours to the country.

Moscow-Ankara relations began to improve after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized over the jet incident. Russia lifted the flight ban, but the food ban has remained.

https://www.rt.com/business/381728-russia-turkey-food-ban/

Minister’s son reportedly arrested as probe into IAI defense firm expands

Police confirm 2 suspects detained, 10 more questioned as part of investigation into corruption at Israel’s largest state-owned company

Police arrested two people, including, reportedly, the son of a minister, as part of an ongoing probe into corruption suspicions at Israel Aerospace Industries, one of the country’s largest defense firms.

Another 10 people were hauled in for questioning, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

The two suspects were arrested early in the morning and their homes searched, police said. They are expected to appear at an arraignment hearing at Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court later Wednesday to determine if they will remain in custody, police said.

One of the suspects is the son of a Likud minister, Channel 10 news reported. Police did not divulge the identities of those arrested Wednesday.

Suspicions of of corruption, fraud, and breach of trust surrounding IAI became public last week when police raided the defense contractor, arresting 14 people.

The labor union at IAI, which employs some 16,000 people and is Israel’s largest state-owned company, is known as a Likud stronghold.

The IAI Super Heron (screen capture: YouTube)

The suspects detained last week were from IAI and private companies who either supplied or were supplied by IAI, along with a former senior Israel Defense Forces officer, who police said was “well known in the defense establishment.”

“This is an extensive investigation, with a wide scope, which includes a number of sub-scandals, and raises suspicions of a range of charges — corruption, aggravated fraud, money laundering, theft by public officials, illegal business practices, fraud and breach of trust,” police said in a statement last week.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/ministers-son-reportedly-arrested-as-part-of-probe-into-iai-defense-firm/

Syrian rebels report fresh Israeli airstrikes near Damascus

Raids reportedly target regime posts in Mount Qasioun region; no immediate reports of casualties, damage

Israeli jets were reported to have carried out airstrikes near the Syrian capital early Wednesday, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue hitting weapons convoys and rebuffed claims Russia had ordered the strikes halted.

Syrian opposition news outlets reported that the airstrikes took place in the Mount Qasioun region near Damascus overnight.

The Israeli raids targeted Syrian army posts in the area, the reports said, in the fourth round of airstrikes attributed to Israel in Syria in less than a week.

There was no immediate confirmation from Jerusalem, nor any information on casualties or damage.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-rebels-report-fresh-israeli-airstrikes-near-damascus/

Airstrike reportedly kills 33 civilians sheltering in school

[This story is NOT confirmed.]

A London-based activist and monitoring group said Wednesday that a U.S.-led coalition airstrike had hit a school in ISIS-held territory in northern Syria that was being used to shelter displaced families, killing dozens of civilians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which relies on an extensive network of contacts on the ground in Syria and which generally proves a reliable source of information on the war, said coalition aircraft “most likely” carried out the strike but did not explain how it reached that conclusion.

In a statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition said it had no evidence yet to back up the claim of a strike hitting civilians, but that all such reports were taken seriously and investigated.

“At this time the Coalition has no indication that an airstrike struck civilians near Raqqah as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims,” a statement from the Operation Inherent Resolve public relations office said. “However, since we have conducted several strikes near Raqqa we will provide this information to our civilian casualty team for further investigation.”

The coalition has targeted ISIS militants and infrastructure in and around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa for months. It is the terror group’s last major urban stronghold in Syria and its self-declared capital.

Russian aircraft have also carried out one or two strikes in the area in recent months, but have largely focused on targeting groups other than ISIS. Both U.S. and Russian-backed factions on the ground are battling ISIS in an effort aimed at eventually retaking Raqqa.

The Wednesday strike reportedly hit a school in the town of Mansoura, about 15 miles southwest of central Raqqa.

“We can now confirm that 33 people were killed, and they were displaced civilians from Raqqa, Aleppo and Homs,” SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman told the French news agency AFP. They’re still pulling bodies out of the rubble until now. Only two people were pulled out alive.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/syria-alleged-us-coalition-airstrike-school-raqqa-mansoura-shelter-civilians/

Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data


U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind Democratic National Committee hacks that aimed to boost Donald Trump's chances of beating Hillary Clinton (file photo).

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind Democratic National Committee hacks that aimed to boost Donald Trump’s chances of beating Hillary Clinton (file photo).

An influential British think tank and Ukraine’s military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.

The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.

The challenges to CrowdStrike’s credibility are significant because the firm was the first to link last year’s hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors, and because CrowdStrike co-founder Dimiti Alperovitch has trumpeted its Ukraine report as more evidence of Russian election tampering.

Alperovitch has said that variants of the same software were used in both hacks.

The Russian government has denied covert involvement in the election, but U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hacks were meant to discredit Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump’s campaign. An FBI and Homeland Security report also blamed Russian intelligence services.

While questions about CrowdStrike’s findings don’t disprove allegations of Russian involvement, they do add to skepticism voiced by some cybersecurity experts and commentators about the quality of their technical evidence.

Iran steps up support for Houthis in Yemen’s war – sources

By Jonathan Saul, Parisa Hafezi and Michael Georgy

LONDON/ANKARA/DUBAI, March 22 (Reuters) – Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi’ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say.

Iran’s enemy Saudi Arabia is leading a Sunni Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian peninsula – part of the same regional power struggle that is fuelling the war in Syria.

Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, said that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the two-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.

A senior Iranian official said Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis.

“At this meeting, they agreed to increase the amount of help, through training, arms and financial support,” the official said.

“Yemen is where the real proxy war is going on and winning the battle in Yemen will help define the balance of power in the Middle East.”

Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to the Houthis in the struggle for Yemen, blaming the deepening crisis on Riyadh.

But Iran’s actions in Yemen seem to reflect the growing influence of hardliners in Tehran, keen to pre-empt a tougher policy towards Iran signalled by U.S. President Donald Trump.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4338066/EXCLUSIVE-Iran-steps-support-Houthis-Yemens-war–sources.html

Russia underplayed losses in recapture of Syria’s Palmyra

 By Maria Tsvetkova | GELENDZHIK, RUSSIA

Russia’s force in Syria has suffered losses since late January more than three times higher than the official toll, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, a tally that shows the fight in Syria is tougher and more costly than the Kremlin has disclosed.

Eighteen Russian citizens fighting alongside Moscow’s allies, the Syrian government forces, have been killed since Jan. 29 — a period that coincided with intense fighting to recapture the city of Palmyra from the Islamic State group.

The Russian defense ministry has publicly reported only five servicemen’s deaths in Syria over the same period, and its officials’ statements have not mentioned any large-scale Russian ground operations in the fight for Palmyra.

Military casualties abroad are not as politically sensitive in Russia as in some other countries but send a negative message ahead of a presidential election next year which is expected to give President Vladimir Putin a fourth term.

The toll was revealed in interviews with relatives and friends of the dead men, cemetery workers, local media reports of funerals and evidence collected by a group of investigative bloggers, Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT).

In each case, Reuters has independently verified information about the death by speaking to someone who knows the dead man.

The casualties since the end of January represent one of the highest tolls for the Russian contingent in Syria since the start of Moscow’s military intervention 18 months ago.

An official with the Russian foreign ministry referred questions about them to the defense ministry. The Russian defense ministry did not respond to Reuters questions about the casualties and about military operations in Syria. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Most of the dead were not regular Russian soldiers but Russian civilians working as private military contractors under the orders of Russian commanders. Moscow has not officially acknowledged the presence of the contractors in Syria.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-casualtie-idUSKBN16T0S4

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian insurgents seized several government positions on the outskirts of Damascus on Tuesday in the third day of their most ambitious offensive in the capital in years, sending a sharp reminder that the war in Syria is far from over.

Fierce fighting broke out on the northeastern edge of Damascus, as a mix of Islamist rebel groups and hard-line Qaeda-linked jihadists seized an industrial area about a mile from the historic Old City near the heart of the Syrian capital. Rebel offensives erupted in several other parts of the country.

Government forces have been scrambling to repel the attack since it began on Sunday, bringing troops and allied militias from other front lines to hold their territory in Damascus, as government warplanes pummel rebel-held suburbs with scores of strikes. Rebel shells hit the city, wounding 15, and the authorities shut down many of the main roads.

After the government seized the eastern half of Aleppo from rebels last year, it worked hard to create the impression that the war was essentially over. The recent activity, including a series of suicide bombings in Damascus and a rebel attack Thursday on the northern city of Hama, seemed to indicate that the war might be entering a new phase instead.

Intelligence official says Russia must contain Iran in Syria

Chagai Tzuriel says Moscow has interest in preserving regional stability, warns that Iran is seeking to expand its military presence in Syria

 Russia must work to ensure that Iran is unable to establish a military presence in Syria that poses a threat to Israel and the region, the director-general of the Intelligence Ministry told Reuters on Tuesday.

Chagai Tzuriel, who told The Times of Israel last month “the most important strategic issue we’re currently facing is the strengthening of the Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria,” warned that Iran is seeking to exploit its status as one of the main backers of the Syrian regime in order to establish a long-term military presence in the country.

“Iran is in the process of putting together agreements, including economic agreements, with Syria to strengthen its hold, its ports and naval bases there,” he said.

He added: “There is a need for Russia and other powers to work to avoid the threat that Iran ends up with military, air and naval bases in Syria.”

According to Tzuriel, the six-year long Syrian civil war has undermined the balance of power in the region to Iran’s advantage, which poses a threat to both Russia and other world powers’ interests in the Middle East.

“When it comes to Iran, the United States, Russia and other powers need to understand that (growing Iranian influence in Syria) is going to be a constant source of friction,” he said.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/intelligence-official-says-russia-must-contain-iran-in-syria/

Trudy Rubin: Iran deepens presence in Iraq

Washington should regard the black flags as a warning signal. Even before the Islamic State is fully defeated, Shiite Iran is laying the groundwork to expand its deep penetration of Iraq. Tehran wants to control the Baghdad government through its Shiite political and militia proxies, marginalizing Sunnis, including in Mosul.

But judging by history, repression in Sunni areas of Iraq will provide fertile ground for the next jihadi movement to take root.

So the Shiite flags at Mosul’s gateway signal that a military defeat of the Islamic State is insufficient. There must also be a political plan (although none is yet evident in Baghdad or Washington) to assure Sunnis of a role in a post-Islamic State Iraq.

That plan is needed sooner rather than later. So far, the Shiite militias are not entering the city proper, Mosul residents tell me. “Right now they are not pushing people out,” says an elementary school teacher who lives in East Mosul. He says, however, that sectarian Shiite political parties linked to the militias are already opening offices in the city.

In other contested parts of Iraq, hardline Shiite militias are ethnically cleansing Sunnis from towns and villages to create a Sunni-free corridor from Iran across Iraq to the Syrian border. These militias receive extensive Iranian support and Iraqi government funds.

Maslawis (as Mosul natives are called) view the Iraqi military far more positively than they do the militias, even though Iraqi forces are composed heavily of Shiites (who make up a majority of the population). That’s because Iraqi forces are loyal to the state, not to Shiite political parties or Tehran.

I heard nothing but praise for the behavior of the Iraqi military units that entered the city, especially the U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service, or CTS. “The only force people like is the CTS and (its) Golden Division,” the prominent Sunni Sheikh Abdullah al-Yawar told me. “It did not force people to leave their homes.”

Although the militias are technically under military control, no one knows their future after the Islamic State is defeated. Sunnis fear they will act as armed wings of competing Shiite parties or an Iraqi version of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard corps, which took over Iran’s army from within.

And Sunnis rightly fear Iran’s long-term intentions. They know Tehran still remembers Saddam Hussein’s 1980 invasion of Iran, when Sunnis ran Iraq, and the decade-long war that followed. “Iran wants to see Iraq’s Sunnis weak and divided,” one Sunni politician told me, “so the 1980s can never happen again.”

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/mar/22/trudy-rubin-iran-deepens-presence-in-iraq/

Germany blocks arms sales to Turkey – report

The German government has refused approval for military exports to NATO partner country Turkey on a growing number of occasions. Ministers are concerned the weapons could be used to oppress the local population.

Berlin has rejected more than 10 applications for arms exports to Turkey in recent months, the German daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ) reports, citing a letter from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The ministry was answering questions by the left-wing MP Jan van Aken.
As a NATO partner, Turkey is rarely subject to restrictions on arms exports. But there are concerns that since last July’s coup attempt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a far-reaching purge of political opponents.

“The importance of observing human rights will be particularly important in respect to arms export approvals,” a ministry official reportedly said in his reply to van Aken. Since the failed coup, “the federal government’s foreign security policy review” has given special consideration “to the risk of an intervention in the context of internal repression of the Kurdish conflict.”

http://www.dw.com/en/germany-blocks-arms-sales-to-turkey-report/a-38059815

Turkey’s AKP cancels campaign rallies in Germany

Turkish politicians have abandoned plans for more campaign events on German soil ahead of the April referendum, says the ruling AKP party. Previously, Angela Merkel threatened to ban such events over Nazi insults.

The decision to halt referendum events was made in Ankara, a Cologne-based representative of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party said on Tuesday.

“All future events that were planned have been cancelled,” she told the AFP news agency.

The move was a “gesture of goodwill” towards Germany, said rally organizers from the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) who confirmed the cancelation to German news agency DPA.

Turkish AKP politicians are eager to gain votes of Turkish citizens living in Germany ahead of the April 16 referendum. Roughly 1.4 million of them are eligible to vote. The controversial plebiscite would approve a constitutional reform to give the Turkish president more power.

However, their attempts to hold campaign events in Europe sparked a thunderous diplomatic row that saw Erdogan compare German and Dutch officials with Nazis.

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had warned that Germany could ban all AKP campaign events if Ankara continued with Nazi jabs.

‘Enough is enough’

Despite the AKP’s announcement on Tuesday, it remains unclear whether President Erdogan – who continued with the harsh rhetoric on Tuesday, urging his supporters to vote “yes” on the constitutional reform as a response to a “fascist” Europe – would also stay home.

According to German media reports, Erdogan was planning to visit Germany. When asked about the reports, however, UETD General-Secretary Bulent Bilgi said that his organization “cannot determine” the president’s actions.

http://www.dw.com/en/turkeys-akp-cancels-campaign-rallies-in-germany/a-38050660

NSA Official Suggests North Korea Was Culprit in Bangladesh Bank Heist

A senior National Security Agency official appeared to confirm that North Korean computer hackers were behind a multi-million dollar heist targeting Bangladesh’s central bank last year.

Computer hackers attempted to steal $951 million, but only got away with $81 million, some of which was later recovered. After the theft, security firms quickly pointed the finger at North Korea. Other experts disputed that finding. But on Tuesday, NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett appeared to say North Korea was the culprit during a cryptic exchange at a Washington forum.

Speaking at an Aspen Institute roundtable, Ledgett pointed out that private sector researchers had linked the digital break-in in Bangladesh to the 2014 hack on Sony Pictures, which the U.S. government attributed to Pyongyang.

“If that linkage from the Sony actors to the Bangladeshi bank actors is accurate — that means that a nation state is robbing banks,” Ledgett said. “That’s a big deal.”

NSA Official Suggests North Korea Was Culprit in Bangladesh Bank Heist

China Expands Its Spying Against Taiwan

The recent discovery that a former Chinese university student in Taiwan has likely been spying for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) may at first glance appear to be just another entry in a long list of PRC espionage cases against Taiwan. After all, Chinese espionage against Taiwan has been an ongoing security problem. Some estimates have identified as many as 60 cases of Chinese espionage against Taiwan since 2002, and this may represent only be the tip of the iceberg. However, the March 10 arrest of 29-year-old Zhou Hongxu for breaching Taiwan’s security laws suggests that China is expanding its espionage campaign against Taiwan in a number of ways.

Zhou’s case is the first known instance of a Chinese student being used to spy in Taiwan since the island opened its universities to Chinese students in 2009. Zhou Hongxu first came to Taiwan in 2009 and enrolled in Tamkang University as an exchange student. In 2012, Zhou enrolled in a business administration program at National Chengchi University in Taipei. After graduating in 2016, Zhou left Taiwan in August that same year, but returned to Taiwan shortly afterwards under the pretext of business. After returning, Zhou sought out a junior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whom he had become acquainted with as a student, and allegedly attempted to obtain classified information in return for a free trip to Japan and an unspecified amount of money.

According to prosecutors, it is believed that Zhou was instructed by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office to enroll at National Chengchi University for the purpose of spying. National Chengchi University is an ideal choice for identifying and recruiting future government officials and leaders. The school is one of Taiwan’s top social science universities and produces many of Taiwan’s government officials. It is home to Taiwan’s only diplomacy program, from which over 100 of Taiwan’s ambassadors have graduated, and it hosts a number of professional programs, such as the Master’s Program in National Security and Mainland China Studies, which is reserved for military officers and government officials.

http://thediplomat.com/2017/03/china-expands-its-spying-against-taiwan/

Apple’s iPhones and Apple IDs are a tough nut to crack for hackers, but it’s not be impossible. At least that’s what a group of hackers seem to suggest, as they’re currently attempting to blackmail Apple for up to $100,000 before they start remotely wiping millions of iPhones. Can they actually do it? Should you be worried? It’s unclear at this point.

The hackers apparently engaged in conversations with the media to force Apple’s hand. The Turkish Crime Family hacker group, which spoke to Motherboard, want either $75,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum, or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards.

“I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report that a lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing,” one of the hackers said.

Apparently, the hackers have been in contact with Apple’s security team for quite a while now. They even posted a video on YouTube to prove they have actual access to iCloud accounts, access which can be used to remotely wipe iPhones.

Apple, understandably, doesn’t appear to be willing to pay up the ransom. “We firstly kindly request you to remove the video that you have uploaded on your YouTube channel as it’s seeking unwanted attention, second of all we would like you to know that we do not reward cyber criminals for breaking the law,” a screenshot of a message purportedly coming from an Apple security team member reads.

The hackers say they have access to more than 300 million Apple email accounts, including @icloud and @me domains. The number is the source of some confusion though, because a different hacker from the group claimed they had 559 million accounts in all. They have not explained how they gained access to Apple ID credentials.

The hackers are threatening to move forward with remotely wiping Apple devices on April 7th, unless Apple pays up. Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the matter at this point. On the off-chance that the hackers are indeed holding access to millions of iCloud accounts, you might consider changing your password to protect your Apple ID.

Hackers claim to have breached hundreds of millions of Apple accounts

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March 15, 2017

U.S. military likely to send as many as 1,000 more ground troops into Syria ahead of Raqqa offensive, officials say

The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter.

The deployment, if approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump, would potentially double the number of U.S. forces in Syria and increase the potential for direct U.S. combat involvement in a conflict that has been characterized by confusion and competing priorities among disparate forces. 

Trump, who charged former president Barack Obama with being weak on Syria, gave the Pentagon 30 days to prepare a new counter-Islamic State plan, and Mattis submitted a broad outline to the White House at the end of February. Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, has been filling in more details for that outline, including by how much to increase the U.S. ground presence in Syria. Votel is set to forward his recommendations to Mattis by the end of the month, and the Pentagon secretary is likely to sign off on them, according to a defense official familiar with the deliberations.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/03/15/u-s-military-probably-sending-as-many-as-1000-more-ground-troops-into-syria-ahead-of-raqqa-offensive-officials-say/?utm_term=.ddec14ff9b90

The US prepares to ‘incapacitate’ Kim: USS Carl Vinson carrying huge fleet of fighter jets arrives in South Korea as military sources reveal plan to ‘remove’ Jong-un’s war chiefs

  • USS Carl Vinson arrived at the southern port of Busan, in South Korea, to join the annual joint military exercise
  • South Korea military source says heightened presence is part of plan to decapitate North Korean leadership
  • Pyongyang has long condemned the annual joint drills – called Foal Eagle – between South Korea and the US
  • Tensions have escalated with missile launches from North and assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother 

A growing US presence off the Korean Peninsula is reportedly part of a plan aimed at ‘incapacitating’ Kim Jong Un’s despotic regime in Pyongyang should conflict break out.

A nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for joint military exercises in the latest show of force against the North.

The USS Carl Vinson arrived at the southern port of Busan as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began a tour of the region, where tensions have escalated in recent weeks with missile launches from the nuclear-armed North and the assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s estranged half-brother in Malaysia.

More than 80 aircraft, including the fighter aircraft F/A-18F Super Hornet, the E-2C Hawkeye and the carrier-based EA-18G Growler are on board the supercarrier.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency claims the heightened military presence is part of a plan to decapitate North Korean leadership.

They claim a military official, who wished to remain anonymous, told them: ‘A bigger number of and more diverse U.S. special operation forces will take part in this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises to practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4315150/US-carrier-South-Korea-force-North.html#ixzz4bOaHktcz

Another Syria? US eyes warily as Russia positions forces near Libya

IS RUSSIA PULLING A SYRIA IN LIBYA? The U.S. is watching warily as Russia appears to be positioning forces to possibly intervene in Libya, a fractured country with a barely working “Government of National Accord.” This morning, Moscow is denying that Russian special forces have deployed to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya, as reported by Reuters. And U.S. aerial reconnaissance assets have spotted Russian transport aircraft and a large Russian drone at the Sidi Barrani airbase in Egypt, about 60 miles from the Libyan border, and unnamed U.S. officials are saying it’s an indication that Russia is interfering in Libya, CNN reports.

The concern, raised last week at the Senate Armed Services Committee, is that Russia may be moving to support Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in the same it way moved into Syria to prop up Bashar Assad in 2015. “Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who becomes and what entity becomes in charge of the government inside Libya. They’re working to influence that decision,” Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of the U.S. Africa Command, testified Thursday. When Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested, “They’re trying to do in Libya what they’ve been doing in Syria?” Waldhauser replied, “That’s a good way to characterize it.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/us-eyes-warily-as-russia-positions-forces-near-libya/article/feed/2176579

 

Hackers to be charged in Yahoo security breach

U.S. officials are planning to unveil charges Wednesday related to the theft of personal data that affected hundreds of millions of Yahoo users and disrupted the company’s sale to Verizon, according to people familiar with the matter.

At least some of the alleged hackers have ties to the Russian government, said the people, who added the national security division of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation plan to announce the charges Wednesday morning.

In September, Yahoo revealed hackers penetrated its network in late 2014 and stole personal data on more than 500 million users. The company concluded that it had been breached by “a state-sponsored actor.” The 2014 incident was separate from another much larger theft, affecting more than a billion accounts, that Yahoo disclosed in December and that dated back to 2013.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/03/15/hackers-to-be-charged-in-yahoo-security-breach.html

13 arrested for ‘deep corruption’ at Israeli Aerospace Industries

Months-long covert probe yields suspicions of fraud, money laundering against employees of IAI, former senior IDF officer

Police arrested 13 people, including a former high-ranking IDF officer, on Wednesday morning, following a months-long “deep corruption” probe into the Israeli Aerospace Industries, police said.

They are suspected of a wide range of corruption charges, including fraud and money laundering.

The suspects came from IAI and private companies who either supplied or were supplied by IAI, along with the aforementioned former senior Israel Defense Forces officer, who police said was “well known in the defense establishment.”

A number of other people were “detained for investigation,” but not formally arrested, police said.

IAI said it would cooperate with the probe.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/13-arrested-in-deep-corruption-probe-at-israeli-aerospace-industries/

Syria conflict: Suicide bomber targets Damascus courthouse

[Syrian state-owned television says at least 25 people have been killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives’ vest inside the main judicial building in the capital Damascus. http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/article138584288.html#storylink=cpy%5D

Dozens of people have been killed or injured in a suicide bomb attack at the main court building in the Syrian capital Damascus, state media report.

State TV said a militant had blown himself up inside the Palace of Justice in the central Hamidiya district.

An AFP news agency journalist reported seeing ambulances and fire engines parked outside the building.

It comes on the sixth anniversary of the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39277179

US demands UN pull report accusing Israel of apartheid

Envoy Nikki Haley says Washington outraged by publication, calls for UN chief to scrap it; Israel slams document as ‘despicable’

The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them.

Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Haley in a statement. “The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” said Haley.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-demands-un-pull-report-accusing-israel-of-apartheid/

 

Second Damascus suicide bomb attack hit restaurant, several casualties: state media

The second suicide bomber to attack the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday set off an explosive device inside a restaurant in the al-Rabweh area, to the west of an earlier suicide attack, state media said.

State-run SANA news agency said there were several casualties. No further details were immediately available.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-bomb-idUSKBN16M1S6?

 

Retired admiral, 8 others charged in latest ‘Fat Leonard’ indictments

Navy officers indicted for fraud, bribery

Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News , WVEC 7:17 AM. EDT March 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — Retired US Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, four retired Navy captains, a Marine colonel and three other individuals were arrested and charged Tuesday in the latest indictments related to the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) bribery scandal. The investigation is also known as the “Fat Leonard” case, after a nickname for GDMA’s former chief executive officer, Leonard Francis.

The latest federal indictment charges the individuals with accepting luxury travel, elaborate dinners and the services of prostitutes from Singapore-based GDMA, according to the US Department of Justice, all in exchange for classified and internal US Navy information.

Glenn Defense Marine Asia was one of the biggest husbanding firms in the western Pacific, handling a large variety of services for ships visiting ports throughout the region.

With Tuesday’s arrests, a total of 25 individuals have been charged in connection with the corruption and fraud investigation into GDMA, the Justice Department said in a press release. Of those charged, Justice said, 20 are current or former U.S. Navy officials and five are GDMA executives. Thirteen of those charged already have pleaded guilty.

http://www.13newsnow.com/news/military/retired-admiral-8-others-charged-in-latest-fat-leonard-indictments/422706226

 

Palestinian woman shot during suspected car-ramming attempt

No serious injuries reported as female assailant tries to drive into bus stop at West Bank’s Etzion Junction

A car that was driven into a bus stop in an apparent terror attack in the Etzion Junction in the West Bank on March 15, 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook)

A car that was driven into a bus stop in an apparent terror attack in the Etzion Junction in the West Bank on March 15, 2017. (Screen capture: Facebook)

No Israelis were seriously injured in the incident, though a 28-year-old woman in advanced stages of pregnancy was taken to the hospital after experiencing a panic attack, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

The Palestinian woman’s condition was not immediately known, but she was receiving treatment from the Israel Defense Forces, MDA said.

The incident occurred shortly before 4:00 p.m.

A photograph from the scene, posted on social media, showed the Palestinian woman inside her car, which was pressed up against the metal bollards surrounding a bus stop.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-woman-shot-during-suspected-car-ramming-attempt/

Iran vows to ‘liberate’ Golan Heights

New Hezbollah-backed group aims to help Syria reconquer Golan Heights.

Contact Editor

Chana Roberts

A new Iran-funded Iraqi Hezbollah “brigade” aims to “liberate” the Golan Heights from Israel, spokesman Seyed Hashem Moussavi last week said last week at a news conference in Iran.

According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, Moussavi, who heads the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba terror sub-group, said, “After the latest victories [in Syria and Iraq], we established the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’.

“This is a trained army with specific plans. If the government of Syria requests, we and our allies are ready to take action to liberate Golan. We will not permit Arab and Islamic countries in the region to remain in the grasps of the occupiers.”

According to Moussavi, the new terror group is well-trained and equipped with Iranian rockets and Russian-made T-90 tanks.

Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba Secretary-General Akram al-Kabi said, “The declaration regarding the formation of the Liberation of the Golan Brigade is not only a media campaign, but the real goal of the movement.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/226732

Iran sends destroyer and warship to the Gulf of Aden

In a provocative move, Iran announced sending the “45 Group” of the Iranian Naval Force, which consists of a ship and a destroyer to the Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandab. The tension caused by the continued friction between the Iranian gunboats and US forces located in international waters is due to the persistent attempts of Iran to assist and provide the Yemeni militia with weapons.

Tasnim news agency, the subsidiary to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claimed that “Iranian warships are going to the Gulf of Aden and Bab al Mandab “in an effort to maintain the Iranian merchant ships,” currently docked at the Omani ports. Ever since Operation Decisive Storm, launched by the Arab coalition under the leadership of Saudi Arabia in March 2015 to regain legitimacy in Yemen, the Iranian navy has stepped up its provocative moves against US forces in the region.

According to observers, Iran aims to control the corridors of international navigation in order to continue to tamper with and send weapons to its allies in the region like the Houthi Militia in Yemen, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the Hezbollah Militia in Lebanon.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/14/Iran-sends-destroyer-and-warship-to-the-Gulf-of-Aden.html

Explosion hits security convoy in southeast Turkey

Highway blast targeting security forces kills two soldiers on a road linking the cities of Mardin and Diyarbakir.

At least two soldiers have been killed in an explosion on a highway in southeast Turkey, according to security sources.

The troops on Wednesday were carrying out operations to detect mines in the region when suspected fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) detonated a previously planted mine, Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which targeted a vehicle loaded with soldiers as it passed by a road linking the cities of Mardin and Diyarbakir.

Ambulances rushed to the scene following the blast.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/explosion-hits-security-convoy-southeast-turkey-170315065259074.html

EU says Turkey ‘completely detached from reality’

‘The European Union is not joining Turkey, Turkey is joining the EU,’ European Commission president said.

Two top EU leaders on Wednesday slammed the Turkish government for comparing some EU countries to Nazis and said Ankara was moving further away from membership of the bloc.

EU-Turkey ties soured further last week when Dutch authorities barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from landing in Rotterdam after a political rally at which he was slated to appear was canceled. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by saying “Nazism is still widespread in the West.”

Speaking to a debate at European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Erdoğan’s comments had “scandalized” him, and would keep Turkey far from its goal of EU membership.

“I will never accept this comparison,” Juncker said. “If you are establishing that comparison — the one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe, not trying to enter the EU.”

“The European union is not joining Turkey, Turkey is joining the EU,” he added.

http://www.politico.eu/article/eu-says-turkey-completely-detached-from-reality/

High-profile Twitter accounts including BBC, Amnesty and Forbes are hacked with Nazi jibes by Erdogan supporters as part of Turkish diplomatic row with Holland and EU

  • Accounts hijacked included the European Parliament and UK health department

  • Several news outlets also had there verified accounts hacked 

  • The attack appears to have come through a third party app,  Twitter Counter

Dozens of high profile Twitter accounts have been hacked, with swastikas and messages in support of Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan.The escalating diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands spread online with a large number of Twitter accounts, many with no apparent connection to the dispute, were hijacked and replaced with anti-Nazi messages in Turkish.The attacks, which appeared to be simply a form of political vandalism, used the hashtags #Nazialmanya or #Nazihollanda, took over accounts of high-profile CEOs, publishers, government agencies and also some regular Twitter users.

The verified Twitter account for Forbes.com was among those hacked. Its profile pictures were changed to the Turkish flag and a symbol of the Ottoman Empire

The verified Twitter account for Forbes.com was among those hacked. Its profile pictures were changed to the Turkish flag and a symbol of the Ottoman Empire

Several non-profit agencies including Amnesty International and UNICEF USA were also targeted by hackers. Messages were posted in Turkish on their accounts 

Several non-profit agencies including Amnesty International and UNICEF USA were also targeted by hackers. Messages were posted in Turkish on their accounts

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4315458/High-profile-Twitter-accounts-hijacked-Turkish-Dutch-protest.html#ixzz4bQadp2DM

Taiwan says Chinese military threat grows, U.S. regional strategy unclear

By J.R. Wu
TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s accelerated military development and recent activity by its military aircraft and ships around Taiwan pose an increased threat to the self-ruled island, according to a Taiwanese government defense report draft reviewed by Reuters.The 2017 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) also highlights the uncertainty over the future strategic direction of the United States in the region, the impact of Japan flexing its military capabilities and “conflict crisis” potential in the disputed South China Sea.”The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in (China’s) military threat capabilities,” highlighting the importance of Taiwan’s need to defend itself, the review will say.”In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability.”The document is due to be presented to parliament on Thursday by Taiwan defense minister Feng Shih-kuan. The defense ministry had no comment on the report on
Wednesday.https://uk.news.yahoo.com/exclusive-taiwan-says-chinese-military-threat-grows-u-032609804.html

On Monday morning, North Korea launched four missiles from the northwest corner of the country that traveled 620 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan.While none of the launches were the long-awaited test of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile — the sort of weapon that could reach the United States — the salvo was a big deal in its own way. Pyongyang very vividly demonstrated the warnings from Thae Yong-ho, a high-ranking North Korean diplomat who defected last year and described how the country was taking the final steps to arm its missile units with nuclear weapons. North Korea is developing an offensive doctrine for the large-scale use of nuclear weapons in the early stages of a conflict. When combined with what we know about U.S. and South Korean war plans, this fact raises troubling questions about whether a crisis on the Korean peninsula might erupt into nuclear war before President Donald Trump has time to tweet about it.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/09/north-korea-is-practicing-for-nuclear-war/   Christian pastors accused of smuggling North Korean defectors out of ChinaFoxNews.com

China arrested two South Korean Christian pastors for allegedly helping to smuggle North Korean defectors out of China, the latest in a string of detentions and expulsions aimed at South Korean Christians in the past several months.One of the pastors was arrested with his wife as the pair tried to board a flight from China to South Korea and the other was arrested at a Chinese hotel, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing South Korean groups.The pastors remained under arrest Wednesday, however, their wives had been released, Reuters reported.The arrests come on the heels of a mass expulsion of South Korean missionaries from the Jilin province – which borders North Korea – in just the past few months, according to media reports noted by Christianity Today. Anywhere from 30 to 70 pastors have been kicked out of the area.http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/15/christian-pastors-accused-smuggling-north-korean-defectors-out-china.html

McCain: Rand Paul ‘Is Now Working for Vladimir Putin’

[Editor’s Note: It violates all rules of Senatorial courtesy for a Senator to attack another with an allegation that suggests a lack of patriotism.  Where this will lead is still uncertain, but McCain has been leading personal attacks against the President and now against a sitting Senator.] 
Sen. John McCain on Wednesday directly accused fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While speaking from the Senate floor in support of a bill advancing Montenegro’s bid to join NATO, McCain noted objection from the Kentucky senator, saying, “You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin… trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject an attempted coup.” He continued: “If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin and I do not say that lightly.” Several moments later, after McCain asked for unanimous consent to move the bill forward, Sen. Paul raised his objection and then exited the room. This set off McCain, who railed against Paul: “I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number, perhaps 98—at least—of his colleagues would come to the floor and object and walk away.” He then directly connected Paul to the Russians: “The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/03/15/mccain-rand-paul-is-now-working-for-vladimir-putin.html?via=desktop&source=copyurl

Is Russia helping China build hypersonic weapons?

As the U.S. ramps up its military presence in Asia, Beijing is increasingly interested in Moscow’s hypersonic glide developments.
The race to build the world’s fastest nuclear delivery system – the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) – has gained steam. While the United States is clearly in the lead, Russia and China aren’t too far behind, with reports suggesting that Moscow – in a reprise of the friendly 1950s – is influencing Beijing’s HGV programme.In a new study titled ‘Factoring Russia into the US-Chinese Equation on Hypersonic Glide Vehicles’, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says Russia is a factor that is shaping Chinese hypersonic research.In the backdrop of the growing intersection between China’s and Russia’s strategic postures and threat perceptions – particularly in the Asia-Pacific – it is possible that there is some correlation between their hypersonic programmes.

According to SIPRI, two signs point to a Russia-China nexus. One, there are as many as 872 Chinese-language texts on HGVs that mention Russia, constituting 52 per cent of the total number of Chinese articles and papers on hypersonic glide. Secondly, China’s flight test of its DF-ZF hypersonic glide system in April 2016 occurred just days after Russia carried out its own test.

“This is more than mere coincidence. A review of more than a decade of Chinese writing on hypersonic and boost-glide technologies reveals growing interest in and research on Russia’s hypersonic glide vehicle programme,” says the SIPRI report.http://rbth.com/blogs/continental_drift/2017/03/14/russia-china-hypersonic-weapons-719186

New helicopters join Russian Navy amid quest for ‘radically new’ weapons

New helicopters join Russian Navy amid quest for ‘radically new’ weapons
Ka-52K attack helicopters, Ka-31R radar surveillance helicopters, and Ka-226T shipborne helicopters will join the Russian Navy as part of the military modernization program that will run through 2025, the navy said Wednesday. In addition, the navy will receive a modernized version of the Ka-27PL choppers already in use.“In the period until 2025, Russian naval aviation will be equipped with the new generation ship-based helicopters and helicopters that have undergone a profound modernization,” the navy said in a press release.The navy hopes that alongside “newest frigates, corvettes, and patrol ships,” that are designed to carry choppers, the latest arsenal will “significantly improve” the efficiency of assigned naval tasks throughout the world.The Ka-52K ship-based reconnaissance and combat helicopter is set to become the cream of the crop of the Russian naval force. The chopper, made by the Kamov rotorcraft manufacturing company, made its first flight in March 2015 before being unveiled in Russia at the International Maritime Defense Show in July of the same year.https://www.rt.com/news/380818-russian-navy-new-helicopters/

TASS: A Russian expert also commented on media rumors about the involvement of a private Russian military company in Libya

MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. The greatest flow of weapons and other military hardware to the Middle East is from Ukraine’s territory, the president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, told TASS in an interview.”The greatest flow of weapons to the Middle East is from Ukraine, of course, and to a certain extent, from Belarus,” he said.Satanovsky also commented on media rumors about the involvement of a private Russian military company in current events in Libya.”I’ve never heard anything about any private Russian military companies from any trustworthy source,” he said. “There are private military companies around the world. The Chinese have them, and so do the British, the French and many others. Private military companies or the French Foreign Legion have had many employees of Russian descent since 1991,” he said.Satanovsky recalled that the activity of many foreign military units in Libya failed to receive proper media coverage.”In Libya today French and Italian commandoes fight on the Khalifa Haftar’s side, but everybody keeps quiet about that. There are British and US units on his opponents’ side. There is everybody,” Satanovsky said.”It is very likely there may be some people who can be heard using Russian swear words. But swear words are no way to tell between, say a Ukrainian mercenary or a Russian born in the Smolensk Region. The so-called ‘Russian hackers’ turned out to be Ukrainian just recently. Is there anything else to say?”http://tass.com/world/935614

Poland’s new weapons and delayed tenders

Hubschrauber Mil Mi-24D (Grzegorz Polak)
Poland’s government, eyeing Vladimir Putin’s moves elsewhere in the region, is purchasing new military hardware. But Warsaw is not only seeking the best possible products.”Polish workers will be given the opportunity to build state-of-the-art helicopters,” said Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz a month ago in parliament in Warsaw. Three companies were invited to submit their bids for 16 utility helicopters. “They have until March 13,” Macierewicz said at the time. But now, an armed forces spokesman has announced that this deadline cannot be met. They ministry is waiting for one of the bidders, until March 27.
Previous tender with Airbus controversially scrapped
The tender was only up for grabs in the first place because the government unexpectedly canceled the purchase of 50 European Airbus helicopters in the autumn of 2016. The Airbus group failed to meet Warsaw’s requirements for investments in Poland, the government said when explaining its decision. After the deal was shot down, the French manufacturer was so upset that French President Francois Hollande canceled a visit to Poland at short notice.

 

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March 12, 2017

Al-Qaeda ally claims twin bombings in Damascus

An al-Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for twin blasts near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed at least 40 people.

The Levant Liberation Committee said in a statement Sunday that the attack was carried out by two of its suicide attackers, claiming that they targeted pro-Iranian and pro-government militiamen.

Saturday’s attack also wounded over 100, most of them Iraqis, according to Syrian and Iraqi officials. The al-Qaida-linked group said the blasts were a message to Iran — a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The attacks came two weeks after members of the same group stormed two different security offices in the central city of Homs, killing and wounding scores of people, including a top Syrian security official.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-march-12-2017/

Police blast protesters with water cannons in Rotterdam after Turkish ministers are refused entry to Holland, prompting Erdogan to label the Dutch ‘Nazi fascists’

  • Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was flying to a rally in Rotterdam for expats
  • But Dutch authorities stopped the plane from landing as the rally was banned 
  • Erdogan called the Dutch ‘Nazi remnants’ for refusing to let the plane land
  • Turkey’s family affairs minister also expelled and escorted to German border  

Turkish ministers have been forced out of Holland sparking mass riots on the streets of Rotterdam as protesters and police became embroiled in violent clashes.

Water cannons were fired at demonstrators in an attempt to control the crowds who were seen to be kicking police officers on the ground as well as throwing stones and metal railings.

The ugly scenes were in reaction to two Turkish ministers being blocked from entering the country by officials, which prompted Tayyip Erdogan to label the Dutch ‘Nazi remnants and fascists’.

Syria warns it will ‘down Turkish planes next time,’ calls bombing of Kurds ‘flagrant aggression’

Damascus has reacted harshly to the bombing of Kurdish militias in northern Syria on Thursday morning by Turkey’s air force, vowing to intervene next time Ankara sends its planes over its border.

In a statement, the Syrian Defense Ministry accused Turkey of “flagrant aggression, which targeted innocent citizens,” saying that it considers it “a dangerous development that could escalate the situation.”

“Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish war planes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” warned Damascus, whose planes, which have flown in concert with a Russian expeditionary force, have been avoiding direct confrontation with unauthorized NATO jets.

Turkish artillery guns have been firing at Kurdish militias, who are now fighting against Ankara-backed rebels over territory won back from Islamic State in northern Turkey on Wednesday. Turkey said that the airstrikes took out up to 200 Kurds, though the YPG, the Kurdish militia, initially put its losses at 15.

https://www.rt.com/news/363579-syria-warns-turkey-bombing-kurds/

Russia begins modernization of naval facility in Syria

Russia has launched a modernization project of it’s naval facility in the Syrian port city of Tartus.

According to the head of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Ozerov, the plans were presented during a visit of Russian senators to the base in October 2016.

The work is expected to include extra piers and structures to facilitate naval logistics vessels and warships.

In January this year, Russia and Syria signed an agreement to expand the territory of the Russian naval facility in Tartous. The signed document refers to an agreement of 49 years.

The agreement also makes provisions for free use of the territory – officially Russian – with conditions of immunity from the jurisdiction of the Syrian state.

The agreement, according to Viktor Ozerov, is subject to ratification by the Russian parliament in Spring, as it will be “a higher level of consolidation of existing agreements.” 

As the destination of much of Russia’s manpower in Syria — the Russian naval supply route from the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol — Tartus has long served as a kind of beachhead for Russian arms and equipment deliveries to Syria.

Tartus has been an entry point for Russian arms deliveries to Syria since 1971, when it was leased to Moscow, but the base was doubly significant for serving as a home away from home for the Soviet Mediterranean flotilla.

http://www.geopolmonitor.com/russia-begins-modernization-naval-facility-syria/

Iran using civilian flights to transfer soldiers, ammunition

Iran smuggling soldiers and military equipment to battle zones on civilian flights to Syria and Yemen.

Arutz Sheva Staff

The Iranian security agencies are secretly transferring soldiers, wounded and dead soldiers and ammunition from the battle sectors in Syria and Yemen via civilian flights. This according to a report by an Iranian military official belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These smuggling activities were reported by the official on the anti-government “Amed News” site and were translated and published by the MEMRI institute which tracks media outlets in the Middle East.

According to the reports, the flights by the Iranian airline Mahan Air to Damascus in Syria and Sana’a in Yemen are utilized for transporting large quantities of ammunition in the cargo department which are then sent to battle zones.

The same official reported that one of these airliners, whose cargo hold was packed with weapons, attempted to land at Sana’a but was threatened by two Saudi bombers, and that due to the bombing of the Sana’a airport, it was unable to unload the military cargo in question. Apparently this is a reference to an event that took place on May 3, 2015, when two Saudi bombers escorted an Iranian airliner and prevented it from landing in Yemen by bombing the Sana’a airport. Iran claimed the airliner was loaded with aid including food and drugs, but this senior military source said it was actually transporting weapons for the Houthis.

The official also reported that ‘Last year, one of these airliners transported regular passengers [as well as] military forces and ammo from Iran to Syria, and on its way back to Iran, it brought dead and injured Iranians, Syrians, Afghanis, and Pakistanis for treatment or burial in Iran.’ He added: ‘On the return trip from Syria, these airliners carry people in Zone C, which is in the rear of the plane and the regular passengers cannot see it. They disembark via the rear door and occupy a separate part [of the plane] from the regular passengers. These are the same people Iran trains in armed combat and guerilla warfare at IRGC bases. In fact, the IRGC commanders use the regular passengers on Mahan Air flights as a cover to transfer weapons, ammo, and [fighters] trained [to wage] guerrilla warfare in the region.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/226531

Iran and Iraq to ramp up oil production despite OPEC cuts

Though OPEC has managed to achieve a high standard of compliance, it has mostly been due to the oversized cut by the largest member of the group—Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the actions and statements of the second and third largest producers in OPEC are throwing worrying signs at the oil bulls.

As the defacto leader of OPEC, Saudi Arabia is left to implement most of the production cuts to ensure a high level of overall group compliance. Saudis know that OPEC might not get another chance if it doesn’t adhere to its production cuts.

Another reason is the forthcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco. Without higher oil prices, Saudi Arabia might not get the valuation it is expecting for its crown jewel. Aramco’s successful listing is vital for reaching Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ objective.

However, two OPEC members, Iran and Iraq, are exploiting Saudi Arabia’s precarious position by taking steps to boost production. The Kingdom will have to contend with increased production from Iran and Iraq, along with tackling the U.S. shale oil producers. According to the IEA, Iraq will increase its output to 5.4 million barrels per day by 2022, which is significantly higher than the earlier estimates of an increase to 4.6 million bpd by 2021. Similarly, Iran is expected to boost production by 400,000 bpd to reach 4.15 million bpd production in 2022. The Iraqi Oil Ministry and the Iranian Oil Ministry have signed a memorandum of understanding to bury their differences on joint oil fields and build a pipeline to export crude oil from the Kirkuk fields, in the north of Iraq, through Iran, reported the Al Monitor. Iraq, which produced 4.47 million bpd in January, well above its quota of 4.35 million bpd, is capable of raising its output to 5 million bpd in the second half of this year, said Iraq’s Minister of Oil, Jabbar Ali Al-Luiebi. “We achieved this great achievement of 4 million barrels per day … middle of 2016, and now we have climbed up and we are reaching about 5 million barrels per day beginning of second half of this year,” Al-Luaibi said during an interview at CERA Week by IHS Markit, reports CNBC.

http://vestnikkavkaza.net/analysis/Iran-and-Iraq-to-ramp-up-oil-production-despite-OPEC-cuts.html

As Foreign Agent For Turkey, Flynn Agreed To Form Elite Investigation Team, Make ‘Criminal Referrals’

CHUCK ROSS

While serving as a top adviser on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Michael Flynn signed a contract in which he agreed to utilize an “investigative laboratory” made up of elite former intelligence officials, including a former CIA director, to conduct research and make “criminal referrals” on behalf of a Dutch shell company linked to the Turkish government, federal records show.

But Flynn appears to have over-promised on the contract, which was signed on Aug. 9 between his firm, Flynn Intel Group, and Inovo BV, the shell company.

R. James Woolsey, the former CIA director identified by his title in the contract as a member of Flynn Intel’s “investigative laboratory,” says he was not aware of and never agreed to perform any of the work laid out in the contract.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/11/as-foreign-agent-for-turkey-flynn-agreed-to-form-elite-investigation-team-make-criminal-referrals/

 

Germany rebuffs Trump’s call for a big jump in military spending

After months of uneasy, long distance skirmish, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel will meet for the first time on Tuesday. USA TODAY

BERLIN — Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country can easily afford to spend more on its military defense, as NATO requires and President Trump demands. Yet Germany, still haunted by the horrors of World War II, simply doesn’t want to do that.

Even in today’s dangerous world, Germany is a largely pacifist nation, security analysts say.

“It’s clear that the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) just can’t realistically achieve these goals,” said Sönke Neitzel, a professor of military history at the University of Potsdam. “The institution has really fallen behind. We’re very far away from being fit for combat on a small scale, let alone on a large one.”

The world’s fourth-largest economy spent $37 billion — 1.2% of its economic output — on defense last year, according to government figures. That is far short of the 2% set by NATO and a third of the 3.6% of gross domestic product that the United States spent in 2016, according to NATO figures.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/03/12/germany-rebuffs-trumps-call-big-jump-military-spending/98871940/

 

Deadly attack on security forces in southern Tunisia

Four attackers on motorcycle attacked on Sunday a security checkpoint in the southern Tunisian city of Kebili, killing one guard, according to the country’s interior ministry. Two attackers were killed in the ensuing shootout.

Tunisian authorities said the attack took place early Sunday at around 00.40 local time.

“There was a terrorist attack on a checkpoint just outside Kebili. Four alleged terrorists on two motorcycles that were armed with explosives arrived on the scene. They killed one of the security agents. There were only three of them present manning the checkpoint,” Sarah Souli, a freelance journalist in Tunis, told FRANCE 24.

Two attackers out of four were then killed by security forces. A third attacker was wounded and is now in hospital. The fourth one managed to escape, according to Tunisian authorities.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170312-deadly-attack-security-forces-southern-tunisia-terrorism-kebili

 

US-Led Coalition, NATO Training Kurdish Peshmerga Forces in Northern Iraq

Peshmerga military units related to the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) are trained by NATO and United States-led international coalition instructors to fight against Daesh terrorists, council representative Kawa Azizi said.
According to Azizi, all operational costs for Peshmerga forces are paid by the government of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The ENKS is a Syrian Kurdish political organization established in 2011, under the sponsorship of the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The so-called Rojava Peshmerga group is a paramilitary wing of the ENKS. The group, reportedly of 6,000 fighters, is affiliated with Turkey which allegedly trained and funded the Rojava Pashmergas to fight against the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the biggest Kurdish party in Syria.

Azizi said that NATO training programs for Peshmerga forces are carried out in northern Iraq.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703121051493712-us-nato-training-peshmerga/

US accuses Moscow of aiding warlord in battle for Libya oil ports

Pentagon says Russia has intervened to support opponents of the western-backed government

in Tunis

Saturday 11 March 2017 Last modified on Sunday 12 March 2017

A fierce battle for control of Libya’s oil ports is raging this weekend as worried American officials claim that Russia is trying to “do a Syria” in the country, supporting the eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar in an attempt to control its main source of wealth.

The fighting between Haftar’s forces and militias from western Libya is focused on Sidra, Libya’s biggest oil port, and nearby Ras Lanuf, its key refinery. Together they form the gateway to the vast Oil Crescent, a series of oilfields stretching hundreds of miles through the Sahara containing Africa’s largest reserves. Haftar’s forces have launched airstrikes against militias around the oil ports themselves, with social media showing pictures of corpses and burning vehicles. No casualty figures have yet been released.

Capturing the glittering prize of the Oil Crescent has become the focus of a bitter civil war now in its third year and US officials fear that Russia has now entered the conflict, with Haftar the likely beneficiary.

Asked by Senator Lindsey Graham whether Russia was “trying to do in Libya what they are doing in Syria”, Waldhauser said: “Yes, that’s a good way to characterise it.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/us-says-russia-backs-libya-warlord-in-oil-ports-battle

Anxiety grows over North Korea’s arsenal: ‘Danger now is miscalculation’

On the day of North Korea’s first atomic test in 2006, aides to President George W. Bush began phoning foreign capitals to reassure allies startled by Pyongyang’s surprising feat. The test, aides said, had been mostly a failure: a botched, 1-kiloton cry for attention from a regime that had no warheads or reliable delivery systems and would never be allowed to obtain them.

“The current course that they are on is unacceptable,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said publicly at the time, “and the international community is going to act.”

A decade later, that confidence has all but evaporated. After a week in which Pyongyang successfully lobbed four intermediate-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, U.S. officials are no longer seeing North Korea’s weapons tests as amateurish, attention-grabbing provocations. Instead, they are viewed as evidence of a rapidly growing threat – and one that increasingly defies solution.

Over the past year, technological advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have dramatically raised the stakes in the years-long standoff between the United States and the reclusive communist regime, according to current and former U.S. officials and Korea experts. Pyongyang’s growing arsenal has rattled key U.S. allies and spurred efforts by all sides to develop new first-strike capabilities, increasing the risk that a simple mistake could trigger a devastating regional war, the analysts said.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-north-korea-weapons-arsenal-20170311-story.html

Taiwan court detains Chinese spy

According to the court, Zhou is suspected of violating the national security law for building networks and gathering confidential information from several government units and schools.

Katharine Chang, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top China policy body, said that the policy of admitting visiting Chinese students will not change.

“However, we strongly urge Chinese students studying here not to violate laws,’’ Chang warned.

https://www.businessdayonline.com/taiwan-court-detains-chinese-spy/

Taiwan Air Force hero charged with spying for China

Officer recruited by Chinese spy ring: prosecutors

Chinese spy Zhen Xiaojiang (right). (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A former Air Force officer who was once involved in a direct confrontation with China was charged Tuesday with passing on military secrets to a Chinese agent.

Retired Colonel Ko Chi-hsien (葛季賢) and Lieutenant Colonel Lou Wen-ching (樓文卿) were recruited into the spy ring set up by former People’s Liberation Army Captain Zhen Xiaojiang (鎮小江), who was sentenced to four years in prison last year, prosecutors said.

Zhen traveled to Taiwan as a tourist and contacted serving and retired military officers whom he offered trips to Southeast Asia and other enticements in return for secrets, investigators said.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Tuesday it was indicting Ko and Lou for leaking secrets under military law, though it did not specify which kind of confidential information had been passed on.

In 1990, Ko was one of four F-104G pilots involved in a tense confrontation with Chinese fighters over the Taiwan Straits, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3110600

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March 11, 2017

Erdoğan brands Dutch ‘Nazi remnants’ for barring Turkish MP

Rotterdam officials withdraw permission for foreign minister to land in city amid row over cancelled rally

The Turkish president has branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” and “fascists” after one of his ministers was barred from entering the country in an escalating row over a cancelled rally in Rotterdam.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his comments on Saturday after the Dutch government withdrew permission for his foreign minister to land there for a planned visit.

Rotterdam city authorities withdrew permission on Friday for Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to attend a meeting of the Turkish community to rally support for Erdoğan’s plans to extend his powers. The plans are to be voted on in a referendum in Turkey next month.

Several other European cities have banned Turkish officials from attending such meetings aimed at expats who are allowed to vote in the referendum.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/erdogan-brands-dutch-nazi-remnants-for-barring-turkish-mp

Plot to hit German shopping centre with multiple suicide bombers is foiled after police are tipped off about ‘imminent attack’

  • Police in Essen, Germany, have olosed a shopping centre after reports of an imminent suicide attack 
  • The Limbecker Platz shopping center is one of the largest in Germany with around 200 shops 
  • About a hundred officers positioned themselves around the compound to make sure no-one could enter
  • Several officers scoured the inside of the building to bring out early morning cleaning staff 
  • This incident comes just a day after seven people were injured in an attack in Dusseldorf 

Police in the German city of Essen have ordered a shopping centre to remain closed on Saturday after a tip by security services of ‘concrete indications about a possible attack’.

It was reported by German newspaper Bild that multiple suicide bombers were plotting to attack the Limbecker Platz centre with explosives.

‘The current state of our investigations points to the threat being exclusively at the shopping centre,’ said the police in a statement.

7http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4303652/Police-close-German-shopping-centre-possible-attack.html#ixzz4b1YClFtG

Twin bombings kill at least 46 in Damascus Old City

Most of the victims were Shiite Iraqis visiting holy sites in the area; over 100 reported wounded

DAMASCUS, Syria (AFP) — Twin bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims on Saturday killed 46 people in Damascus, most of them Iraqis, a monitoring group said, in one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital.

There have been periodic bomb attacks in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.

A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shiite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

State television said there were 40 dead and 120 wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs.”

It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some of them heavily charred.

Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs laid scattered on the ground covered in blood.

Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities.”

“The sole aim was to kill,” he said.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said around 40 of its nationals were among the dead and 120 among the wounded.

There was no immediate claim for the attack.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/twin-bombings-kill-at-least-44-in-damascus-old-city/

Iran UN envoy says Israel behind assassinations of nuclear scientists

Reza Najafi accuses world of turning blind eye to Jewish state’s violations of international treaties

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nation’s atomic agency claimed that “Israel-hired terrorists” were behind the assassinations of several nuclear scientists in recent years.

Speaking with the IAEA Board of Governors, Reza Najafi on Thursday also criticized Israel for not adhering to international nuclear treaties, and the international community for ignoring it.

“While nuclear scientists across the entire Middle East have been assassinated by Israeli-hired terrorists, the regime’s nuclear experts are allowed access to some countries’ nuclear facilities,” he said, according to reports in Iranian media.

“Unfortunately, the Zionist Regime has ignored the rightful requests of the international community in the last years, and having the blind support of some western countries and with infringing all international laws and regulations, has pushed its dangerous military nuclear program forward.”

At least 4 Iranian scientists were assassinated between 2010-2012, and Iran has long claimed Israel’s spy agency was behind the killings as part of a campaign to sabotage its rogue nuclear program.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-un-envoy-says-israel-behind-assassinations-of-nuclear-scientists/

 

 

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March 8, 2017

ISIS fanatics dressed as DOCTORS in white lab coats storm military hospital in Afghanistan shooting dead four patients and staff as dramatic siege breaks out

  • Three gunmen stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabl, Afghanistan
  • They gained entry to after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a rear entrance
  • Terrorists surged into the hospital dressed as doctors and armed with AK-47s
  • Four militants now dead after police shot dead three gunmen who opened fire 

Terrorists dressed as doctors in white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Afghanistan shooting dead four patients and staff and injuring dozens more.

ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack on Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabul and one of the gunmen appeared to wave the terror group’s flag out of the window before he and his fellow assailants were shot dead.

Hospital administrators said three gunmen wearing white lab coats ran riot in the hospital after a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at the backdoor entrance, sparking chaos inside the 400-bed facility.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292378/Blast-gunfire-hit-Kabul-military-hospital-officials.html#ixzz4ajcUN8MY

At least 30 killed in attack on Kabul military hospital

At least 30 people have been killed in an attack on a hospital. 02:25

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)Attackers dressed in medical uniforms stormed a military hospital in the heart of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing more than 30 people and wounding at least 50, said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

A suicide bomber set off an explosion at the south gate to the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital before three gunmen entered the building and made their way to the second and third floors, said Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman.
The gunmen killed and wounded doctors and hospital employees and injured Afghan soldiers, according to an Afghan Defense Ministry statement.
Afghan security forces and police mounted a six-hour siege at the hospital, which is the biggest and best-equipped facility in the country. They killed the attackers around 3:30 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Wednesday ET).
The facility, known locally as the “400 bed” hospital, is located only a few hundred meters from the US embassy and the diplomatic quarter of Kabul. Other recent attacks in Kabul have targeted important public buildings, such as the Afghan Supreme Court and national parliament.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un lights fire across Asia, raising dilemma for Trump

The stakes for Donald Trump are potentially higher than Obama, given North Korea’s progress in developing an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with a nuclear warhead

This picture was released by North Korea’s KCNA on 7 March, 2017 showing the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Photo: AFP/

This picture was released by North Korea’s KCNA on 7 March, 2017 showing the launch of four ballistic missiles by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

 

Hong Kong: Murder in Malaysia. Protests in China. And missiles flying toward Japan. All can be traced back to North Korea and show how Kim Jong Un is managing to stir up tensions in the region while trying to provoke a reaction from US President Donald Trump.

The question for Trump, Xi Jinping and other leaders is how to respond, given sanctions, cajoling and military pressure have all failed to rein Kim in. While Trump initially signalled he’d be open to talks, more recently he’s indicated he could follow Barack Obama’s lead in insisting North Korea abandon its nuclear programme before negotiations can occur.

The stakes for Trump are potentially higher than Obama, given Pyongyang’s progress in developing an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with a nuclear warhead. The recent events are probably Kim’s way—after a hiatus in his provocations—to try and force Trump to the table with concessions, analysts said.

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/FxjnuBMLgKGWtE2In1fuSP/North-Koreas-Kim-Jong-Un-lights-fire-across-Asia-raising-d.html

 

Islamic State leader Baghdadi abandons Mosul fight to field commanders, U.S. and Iraqi sources say

By Isabel Coles, John Walcott and Maher Chmaytelli | MOSUL, IRAQ/WASHINGTON

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left operational commanders behind with diehard followers to fight the battle of Mosul, and is now hiding out in the desert, focusing mainly on his own survival.

It is impossible to confirm the whereabouts of the Islamic State “caliph”, who declared himself the ruler of all Muslims from Mosul’s Great Mosque after his forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014.

But U.S. and Iraqi intelligence sources say an absence of official communication from the group’s leadership and the loss of territory in Mosul suggest he has abandoned the city, by far the largest population center his group has ever held.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-baghdadi-idUSKBN16F1DF

 

Kim Jong-Un is preparing for ANOTHER missile test as China warns North and South Korea are like ‘two trains accelerating towards a head-on collision’

  • China has stepped into the escalating tensions between the US and North Korea
  • Superpower suggested North Korea could suspend nuclear and missile activities
  • US and South Korea could then halt joint military drills, Chinese minister said
  • In the past week, North Korea has fired off four ballistic missiles in what it called a training exercise for a strike on US bases in Japan

Kim Jong-Un is preparing for another missile test despite moves by China to diffuse growing tensions between North and South Korea.

Beijing wants North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt in joint military drills conducted by the US and South Korea.

Minister Wang Yi said that escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula were like ‘two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.’

Wang asked: ‘Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?’

But despite the warning, Kim has lined up yet another test of a new medium-range missile.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292664/Kim-Jong-prepares-missile-test-tensions-rise.html#ixzz4ajcv5Rds

North Korea Could Soon Launch Attack on Hawaii

Experts call for immediate upgrade in state’s missile defenses

BY:
March 8, 2017 5:00 am

North Korea could soon have the capacity to launch an attack on Hawaii that would devastate America’s Pacific military bases, accelerating the need for the United States to upgrade missile defenses in the area.

The United States today relies on ground-based ballistic missile interceptors deployed in California and Alaska to protect Hawaii, but these defenses would do little to guard U.S. territory in the Pacific against a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which officials believe is nearing completion.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency in February test fired a new SM-3 Block IIA missile from Hawaii that successfully intercepted an incoming ballistic missile, but the Pentagon does not maintain a permanent missile defense installation or detection capabilities on the Hawaiian Islands.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii hosts an experimental, land-based ballistic missile defense system called Aegis Ashore. The facility served as a prototype for the U.S. missile defense facility in Romania, which was declared operational last year, and another in Poland that will be completed in 2018.

Ariel Cohen, director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources, and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the Defense Department needs to immediately upgrade the Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii from experimental to operational to guard against North Korean aggression.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/north-korea-soon-launch-attack-hawaii/

U.S., Russia Counter Erdogan in Syria as Kurds Get Shield

  • Buffer zones set up to prevent assault on Kurdish-held town
  • Putin to meet Erdogan, Netanyahu this week as battle spreads
The U.S. and Russia have found themselves teaming up for the first time in the war in Syria — against a country both call an ally: Turkey.

The U.S. and Russia moved this week to block a threatened drive by Turkey to seize Manbij, a town in northern Syria about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Turkish border. A U.S. deployment and a Russian-brokered deal with Syrian forces created buffer zones that headed off any Turkish campaign against the Kurdish forces who hold the town — seen by Washington as key allies against Islamic State and by Turkey as terrorists.

As the outside powers fighting in Syria step up the fight to crush Islamic State, the battle is laying bare their often-conflicting loyalties. With all sides pushing into terrorist-held territory, the potential for clashes between the players is rising.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a central player thanks to his military campaign, but he must keep allies like Syria and Iran on his side even as tries to cooperate with the U.S. and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes to Moscow on Thursday with his defense minister for talks with Putin.

“This is a unique circumstance when the U.S. and Russia have found themselves thrown together against Turkey because of the Kurds, who are directly sponsored by Washington and get Russian support too,” said Alexander Shumilin, head of the Middle East Conflict Center at the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, a government-run research group in Moscow.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-08/u-s-russia-counter-erdogan-in-syria-as-fight-scrambles-allies

To security establishment, WikiLeaks’ CIA dump is part of US-Russia battle

WikiLeaks says documents about CIA’s computer hacking tools came from US, but many perceive group as pro-Russia following role in 2016 election 

in Washington

The latest WikiLeaks document dump about the CIA’s computer hacking toolshighlights the intelligence agency’s penetration of everyday consumer electronics, heightening profound fears about privacy aroused in 2013 by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In the Washington security establishment, however, the leaks are being viewed more as the latest battle in a struggle between US and Russian intelligence services being played out in the US political arena – a fight in which WikiLeaks is widely seen as sitting firmly in Moscow’s corner.

The latest leaks land amid an ongoing and very public feud between the US president and the country’s intelligence agencies over Kremlin efforts to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favour. In recent months, the president has repeatedly denigrated US intelligence agencies – going as far as comparing them to the Nazi regime – while openly cheering on WikiLeaks activities. He has also alleged, so far without any evidence, that the Obama administration spied on himand his election campaign.

The apparent CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks feed directly into that struggle. Some Trump supporters have claimed that the apparent Russian hacking attacks could be a “false-flag” operation, hinting it was carried out by the new president’s domestic foes, and the “Vault 7” documents published on Tuesday give them potential ammunition.

The WikiLeaks press release highlights the CIA’s “Umbrage” group, said to collect a library of hacking tools used by intelligence agencies of foreign countries, “including the Russian Federation”, allowing them to conduct false flag operations.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/mar/07/wikileaks-cia-documents-us-russia-conflict

Did The US Military Just Invade Syria?

Several days ago, a convoy of U.S. troops was spotted crossing the border into Syria from Iraqi Kurdistan. The convoy, comprised mostly of hulking Stryker armored fighting vehicles, was en route to the Syrian village of Manbij, which was recently liberated from ISIS. It’s the most overt U.S. military action on the ground in Syria to date. In fact, each vehicle in the convoy was outfitted with a large American flag. The soldiers were meant to be seen. It didn’t take long for photos to surface on the internet, and the Department of Defense was prepared with an explanation.

According to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, the soldiers were deployed to Syria to keep peace among the myriad militias and other forces who have temporarily set aside longstanding feuds to focus on repelling ISIS from Manbij. “It’s a visible reminder, for anybody who’s looking to start a fight, that the only fight that should be going on right now is with ISIS,” Davis told the Associated Press.

Until now, the American mission in Syria has been limited to training, advising, and equipping local forces, and the occasional clandestine raid. But the troops who just arrived in Syria do not specialize in standing up or bolstering indigenous armies (a mission set known as Foreign Internal Defense, which is exclusive to certain units under the military’s Special Operations Command). They’re not Green Berets, or Navy SEALs, or MARSOC Raiders. They are members of the U.S. military’s premier raid force — the 75th Ranger Regiment.

http://taskandpurpose.com/us-military-just-invade-syria/

Trump Admin Blasted for Continuing Obama Admin Effort to Sell Iran Planes

Leading Republican calls for moratorium, questions admin priorities

BY:

The Trump administration is under increasing criticism from Republican lawmakers for continuing Obama-era policies to provide material support to the Iranian regime, including airplanes, which many have warned could be used to illegally ferry weapons across the Middle East on behalf of the Islamic Republic’s war effort, according to lawmakers and veteran congressional insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration’s Treasury Department informed the Free Beacon on Monday that it would continue to grant licenses to companies such as Boeing so that they can pursue multi-billion dollar deals with Iran.

This policy, started by the Obama administration as part of the nuclear deal with Iran, is opposed by many on Capitol Hill and runs counter to campaign trail promises by President Donald Trump to end such agreements.

Iran announced in February that it had found a “foreign company” to finance the country’s purchase of at least 77 new planes from Boeing and Airbus.

The Treasury Department would not provide the Free Beacon with the name of this foreign entity, despite multiple requests, stating only that licenses making these sales legal “will be issued the same as any other specific license,” according to a Treasury Department official. The sales are set to be approved per guidelines set forth in the Iran nuclear agreement.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/trump-admin-blasted-continuing-obama-admin-effort-sell-iran-planes/

Palestinian gun dealers ordering parts off the internet, army says

In an illegal weapons crackdown, IDF seizes hundreds of firearm components, arrests 9 suspects in Nablus

Hundreds of gun parts seized by the IDF as part of a raid in the Balata refugee camp, outside Nablus, on March 8, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Since the beginning of last year, the Israel Defense Forces has been focused on thwarting the manufacture and sale of guns in the West Bank, with the hope of preventing such weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals.

The army has raided dozens of alleged gunsmithing workshops and seized hundreds of weapons in the past 15 months. But in the overnight raid, the army set its sights on a new aspect of the gun trade: online markets.

The army found that Palestinians had been using websites to purchase firearm components, an intelligence officer in the army’s West Bank Division told reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-gun-dealers-ordering-parts-off-the-internet-army-says/

Germany warns Turkey over Nazi jibes amid referendum rowComparisons with Nazi Germany are “lines that should not be crossed”, the German foreign minister has warned his Turkish counterpart as they met to try to defuse a bitter row.

But Sigmar Gabriel also emphasised his wish to return to “friendly relations”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Germany of “Nazi practices” because of the cancellation of rallies involving Turkish ministers.

He is seeking new constitutional powers in a 16 April referendum.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated the Nazi comparison on a visit to Hamburg aimed at drumming up support among some of the 1.4m Turkish voters who live in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the Nazi jibe as “unacceptable” and Mr Gabriel echoed her sentiment after a breakfast meeting in Berlin with Mr Cavusoglu.

“The Turkish side said it wanted to be treated equally with respect but I believe both sides have a responsibility and there are lines that must not be crossed and any comparison with Nazi Germany is one of them,” Mr Gabriel said.

But Mr Gabriel was also keen to stress the “success” of the two nations’ ties, and stressed his intention to avoid lasting damage to them.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39203624

Turkey gets additional drones to fight ISIS, Kurds

ANKARA — Kale-Baykar, a privately owned Turkish venture specialized in drones, has delivered a batch of six armed drones to the Turkish military.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Bayraktar TB-2 unmanned aerial vehicles, indigenously developed by Kale-Bayraktar, would be stationed at an air base in Elazig in eastern Turkey. Two of the drones are armed, the statement said.
Turkey last year successfully tested the Bayraktar, which hit a target at the Konya fire test field in central Anatolia from a distance of eight kilometers. The Bayraktar uses the MAM-L and MAM-C, two mini smart munitions developed and produced by the state-controlled missile maker Roketsan. Roketsan’s mini systems weigh 22.5 kilograms including a 10-kilogram warhead.
Turkey’s local industry also is developing BSI-101, a SIGINT system, for the Bayraktar in order to end Turkey’s dependence on U.S.-made SIGINT systems for drones.
The Bayraktar can fly at a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet. Its communications range is 150 kilometers. The aircraft can carry up to 55 kilograms of payload.
Turkey plans to extensively use a fleet of various drones in its anti-insurgency fight against Kurdish militants in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions as well as in neighboring northern Iraq and northern Syria.

Alleged Iranian spy set to be tried in Germany

BERLIN (AP) ” A 31-year-old Pakistani man is going on trial in Berlin on allegations he spied for Iran on Israeli and Jewish institutions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Syed Mustufa H., whose full name was not giving for privacy reasons, is due in court Wednesday on espionage charges.

H., who came to Germany in 2012 to go to university, is accused of having collected information on a professor at a university in Paris, the former president of the German-Israel Society and others in Western European countries.

Prosecutors say he then passed the information to a contact person with the Iranian intelligence agency. He’s alleged to have received at least 2,052 euros ($2,170) for his spying activities.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11814673

German bank blacklist of Yemeni nationals widens

The decision by German banks to cancel the accounts of 100 Yemeni nationals now has wider implications, DW can reveal. The entire state of Yemen has been blacklisted by Commerzbank.

Commerzbank (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Roessler)

Last month, Deutsche Welle reported that several German credit institutes, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, have been terminating the bank accounts of close to 100 Yemeni students, businesspeople and diplomats in Germany without giving any reason.

But now, based on a letter from Commerzbank, obtained by DW, it is now clear that this wave of cancellations isn’t just targeting individuals from the Middle Eastern country, but the state of Yemen itself.

Commerzbank-Schreiben an den jemenitischen Botschafter in Deutschland NEU (Jemenitische Botschaft Berlin)

The letter, dated February 17 and addressed to Yemen’s ambassador Yahia Mohammed Abdullah Al-Shaibi, reads: “Due to changes in business policy we will no longer support or transact business with Yemen.” When approached by DW for a response, Commerzbank replied it was not going to further comment on the issue.

The latest revelation is a major setback for the estimated 2,000 Yemeni nationals living in Germany, as they attempt to find new banking facilities in their host country.

http://www.dw.com/en/german-bank-blacklist-of-yemeni-nationals-widens/a-37839413

New revelation hits France’s scandal-plagued Fillon

PARIS – Scandal-plagued French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon was hit by a new revelation on Tuesday, this time over an interest-free, undeclared loan he received from a billionaire friend.
The conservative candidate “did not deem it necessary” to report the 50,000 euros (R685745.80) loan he received from Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere in 2013 to a state transparency watchdog, the Canard Enchaine weekly said in its edition to appear Wednesday.

“The ‘oversight’ may be costly for the presidential candidate,” said the investigative and satirical newspaper, which also made the allegations in January about the fake jobs scandal that has threatened to derail Fillon’s candidacy.

Le Canard Enchaine reported that Fillon’s lawyer Antonin Levy had confirmed the loan had been repaid in full, but did not say when.

https://www.enca.com/world/new-revelation-hits-frances-scandal-plagued-fillon

Britain beefs up defenses in the Falkland Islands

LONDON – Britain has awarded £153 million (US $187 million) worth of contracts to equip the Falkland Islands with a new ground-based air-defense system known as Sky Sabre, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. 
A clutch of deals agreed around the turn of the year but only now becoming public includes award of a contract by the British to an Israeli company to supply a key battlefield command-and-control network to defend the South Atlantic island from potential Argentinian aggression.

The main contract award, which the MoD valued at £78 million (US $95 million), was signed Jan. 9 with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, to develop a battle management, command, control, communications, computers  and intelligence (BMC4I) network.

Missile builder MBDA and surveillance radar supplier Saab have also been awarded contracts to integrate other, already ordered, ground-based air-defense system elements into the BMC4I.

Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, Official Says

  • Grenell will be among highest-ranking openly gay officials
  • Former Fox commentator was a Trump loyalist from early on

President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, according to a White House official, a selection that would make the longtime loyalist and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations the highest-ranking openly gay person to serve in the administration.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Grenell, 50, declined to comment. The White House official asked not to be identified because the position hasn’t been formally announced.

A spokesman under John Bolton and three other Republican-administration ambassadors at the UN from 2001 through 2008, Grenell has been a Fox News contributor for four years and a Trump supporter since the start of the campaign.

The founder of Capitol Media Partners, he frequently tangles with journalists on his Twitter feed, accusing reporters of being unfair to Trump and Republicans. His name had circulated as a candidate for Trump’s ambassador to the UN, though the job ultimately went to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-08/trump-said-to-pick-former-un-spokesman-grenell-for-nato-post

NATO, Russia reach rare consensus on issues of airspace security in Baltic Sea

HELSINKI, March 7 (Xinhua) — Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said here on Tuesday that NATO and Russia had reached a consensus on some issues of airspace security in the Baltic Sea region.

At a press conference held after a meeting with visiting Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on Tuesday, Niinisto said that NATO and Russia shared the same opinions on some issues at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s airspace security meeting in Helsinki at the beginning of March.

“I think it is very remarkable that NATO and Russia were in agreement with this. We haven’t seen it for years. Even though they are minor things, if we can enhance airspace security in the Baltic Sea area, it will hopefully be the start of finding out bigger (issues) to agree on also,” said Niinisto.

Kaljulaid also emphasized the importance of the small steps made by NATO and Russia, saying the development of airspace security was a good example of that.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/08/c_136110321.htm

In first, missile launched from unmanned Israeli ship

Rafael defense contractor lauds achievement as proof of remote-controlled boats’ potential for naval security

An unmanned Israel Navy ship test fires missile off the coast of Ashkelon on March 7, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

An unmanned Israel Navy ship test fires missile off the coast of Ashkelon on March 7, 2017. (IDF spokesperson)

For the first time, a missile has been fired from a remote-controlled, unmanned ship during an exercise, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor announced Tuesday.

The missiles were fired by a new version of Rafael’s “Protector” series of unmanned ships, which had only previously been capable of small arms fire.

The unmanned ship fired Spike missiles, a Rafael-made guided missile. They reportedly struck all of the simulated targets successfully during the tests.

The tests were carried out off the coast of Askhelon by the Navy’s 916th Squadron, which operates off the Gaza coast.

The Israel Defense Forces currently has a small fleet of “Protector” ships, which are used to complement its manned patrol boats around Israel’s coastal waters.

This version of the “Protector” model is referred to by the Israel Navy as the “Sea Knight.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-first-missile-launched-from-unmanned-israeli-ship/

“Serbia to get Russian MiGs on NATO aggression anniversary”

Russian President Vladimir Putin should sign a degree on the delivery of six MiG-29s to Serbia during his meeting in Moscow with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic.

SOURCE: VECERNJE NOVOSTI /

Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti is reporting this, and adding that there is a great chance that the warplanes will officially join the Serbian Armed Forces “symbolically” on March 24 – the 18th anniversary of the start of NATO’s aggression against Serbia.

The MiGs will land at the military airport in Batajnica at the end of the month. The handover ceremony will be attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the newspaper writes, and adds that “the details of the arrival of the MiGs” are not published officially for the time being.

According to the article, two possibilities are under consideration.

“The option of the MiGs flying directly from Russia to Serbia is being considered. That has not been quite confirmed yet, because it would also have a delicate political note. One of the ideas is to, in this case, have the planes salute Serbia by flying vertically across its entire territory. The other option is to deliver the aircraft aboard Russian transport planes, most likely Ilyushins,” an unnamed source from top military circles has been quoted as saying.

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2017&mm=03&dd=08&nav_id=100707

Kosovo moves to create national army despite Serb opposition

by Reuters
* Kosovo says new army would help cement peace

* Serbia warns of regional instability

* Serb deputies to boycott Kosovo parliament session

By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA, March 8 (Reuters) – Kosovo signalled on Wednesday plans to turn its security force into a national army, a move strongly opposed by its ethnic Serb minority and by Belgrade which said it would cause instability in the region.

Nearly two decades after the Kosovo war, relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain strained and Serbia continues to regard Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, as a renegade province.

The Kosovo government ordered the creation of a national army three years ago but Serbian deputies said they would block the required changes to the constitution.

On Wednesday parliament indicated it would bypass that opposition by preparing amendments to an existing law that would allow the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) to buy heavy weapons, effectively turning it into an army.

A vote is expected in the coming days. Serb deputies, who number just 11 in the 120-strong chamber but whose support would be needed to change the constitution, said they would boycott the session.

“This is a decision in the interests of our country for completely peaceful purposes … to have good relations with all our neighbours but also to protect our country,” the speaker of parliament, Kadri Veseli, said during a visit to a KSF barracks.

http://news.trust.org/item/20170308122417-el9l6

The Pentagon got caught trying to hide embarrassing cost overruns on Navy ships

(PACIFIC OCEAN (April 23, 2014) 


If the data you need to release to the public is potentially embarrassing, there’s always classification review to the rescue.

The US Government Accountability Office deleted details of cost overruns on two of the Navy’s littoral combat ships from a report on shipbuilding contracts, at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The review referred to the financial tidbit on the USS Milwaukee and the USS Jackson as “sensitive but unclassified” in a footnote, according to Anthony Capaccio of Bloomberg News, who first reported the news.

“The department failed to consider the public interest in knowing that cost targets were being exceeded, and by how much,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, told Bloomberg. “Instead, it looks like DoD is trying to keep unfavorable facts out of the public eye. In the long-run, that’s not a smart move.”

The Navy’s push to field littoral combat ships has come under sharp criticism from defense experts and members of Congress. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, for example, last year called out the $12.4 billion for the Navy’s requested 26 littoral combat ships as “an unfortunate and classic example” of the problems of defense acquisition, according to AP.

That’s not to mention the problems with the ships themselves, which have been plagued with mechanical issues. In 2016, four LCS’s experienced engineering difficulties, forcing the Navy to halt all further operations of the ships.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pentagon-got-caught-trying-hide-221424491.html

Report casts doubt about Pentagon adding third missile defense site

This after a recent New York Times article indicated that the two exiting sites–located in Alaska and California–have a poor rate of success.

Furthermore, the report stated that more recently the military has concentrated on using other forms of cyber defense.

However, north country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik continues to push for Drum to get a missile interceptor. Stefanik’s office telling 7 News that adding a site to the east coast would increase “reliability.”

Two other locations are up for consideration along with Fort Drum, but it’s not yet known whether the Pentagon will ever actually green light the costly project.

http://www.informnny.com/news/local-news/report-casts-doubt-about-pentagon-adding-third-missile-defense-site/667891739

As North Korea missile threat grows, Japan lawmakers argue for first strike options

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO

Rattled by North Korean military advances, influential Japanese lawmakers are pushing harder for Japan to develop the ability to strike preemptively at the missile facilities of its nuclear-armed neighbor.

Japan has so far avoided taking the controversial and costly step of acquiring bombers or weapons such as cruise missiles with enough range to strike other countries, relying instead on its U.S. ally to take the fight to its enemies.

But the growing threat posed by Pyongyang, including Monday’s simultaneous launch of four rockets, is adding weight to an argument that aiming for the archer rather than his arrows is a more effective defense.

 “If bombers attacked us or warships bombarded us, we would fire back. Striking a country lobbing missiles at us is no different,” said Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister who heads a ruling Liberal Democratic Party committee looking at how Japan can defend against the North Korean missile threat. “Technology has advanced and the nature of conflict has changed.”

For decades, Japan has been stretching the limits of its post-war, pacifist constitution. Successive governments have said Tokyo has the right to attack enemy bases overseas when the enemy’s intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent and there are no other defense options.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-japan-idUSKBN16F0YE

Study Finds India Is Asia’s Most Corrupt Country, While Japan Comes In Last

One of the main objective of the current Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make India corruption free. But it seems the country still has a long way to go. A recent survey by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption global civil society organization, states that India has the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. Nearly seven in 10 people who accessed public services in India had paid a bribe. In contrast, Japan has the lowest bribery rate, with 0.2% respondents paying a bribe.

Approximately 900 million — or over one in four — people across 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies like India and China, are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services. For its report titled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.

One of the main objective of the current Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make India corruption free. But it seems the country still has a long way to go. A recent survey by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption global civil society organization, states that India has the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed. Nearly seven in 10 people who accessed public services in India had paid a bribe. In contrast, Japan has the lowest bribery rate, with 0.2% respondents paying a bribe.

Approximately 900 million — or over one in four — people across 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies like India and China, are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services. For its report titled “People and Corruption: Asia Pacific”, TI spoke to nearly 22,000 people in these countries about their recent experiences with corruption.

 

Even massive economic players like China aren’t that far behind India. The biggest economy in the region has a lot to do in terms of fighting corruption. Nearly three quarters of the people surveyed in the country said corruption has increased over the past three years, suggesting people don’t see much work happening against corruption.

People in the survey were also asked to rate their government in terms of how it was performing in fighting public sector corruption. More than half the people living in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia felt that their government was doing a good job in fighting corruption. In contrast people in South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia didn’t think highly of their government in its fight against corruption.

Services people pay for

Across the region, nearly two in five said that they thought most or all police officers were corrupt. Unsurprisingly, just under a third of people in the region who had come into contact with a police officer in the past 12 months had paid a bribe. While citizens of Pakistan were the most likely of any country to be asked for bribes in law and order institutions (around seven in 10), for India the police bribery rate is 54% and for China a low 12%.

India had the highest bribery rates of all the countries surveyed for access to public schools (58%) and healthcare (59%), suggesting serious corruption risks when people try to access these basic services. In comparison these numbers for Pakistan and China for public schools are 9% and 29% respectively. In terms of healthcare, the rate for China is 18% and for Pakistan 11%.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/suparnagoswami/2017/03/08/study-finds-india-is-asias-most-corrupt-country-while-japan-comes-in-last/#52468ccf1201

 

Air Force Orders Rheinmetall Ammo for F-35 Fleet


Rheinmetall
has received a $6.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to produce four lots of ammunition for the service branch’s fleet of Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft.

The company said Monday it will begin to deliver Frangible Armor Piercing rounds to the Air Force in December 2017.

Rheinmetall will manufacture the ammunition at a company facility in Switzerland and expects its joint venture with Day and Zimmermann‘s munitions business to assemble ammunition in the U.S. under future follow-on contracts.

The FAP round was originally developed for NATO air forces as part of an effort to boost the F-35’s lethal capacity in comparison with modern infantry fighting vehicles.

Dusseldorf, Germany-based Rheinmetall provides mobility and threat-appropriate security technology platforms to military customers.

http://blog.executivebiz.com/2017/03/air-force-orders-rheinmetall-ammo-for-f-35-fleet/?utm_source=ExecutiveBiz+Daily+RSS+Feed&utm_campaign=26ce0ab718-Mailchimp_ExecutiveBiz_RSS_10_23_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_378117c9e8-26ce0ab718-81843969

Stolen Apple IDs can hold your iPhone hostage

“The problem is, Apple IDs are used with too many services,” Xiao said as he showed a slide listing 20 different Apple services accessible with an Apple ID, including the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple Online Store, iCloud, Find My iPhone, iMessage and the Mac App Store. “Every feature can be abused to make a profit.”

He explained that Apple IDs can be exploited to squeeze money out of almost any aspect of the Apple ecosystem, from deceiving users with spam Apple Messages, to locking users out of their devices and demanding ransom, to artificially pumping up the user ratings of dodgy apps so that they rank in the Top 10 on the App Store.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/02/14/stolen-apple-ids-can-hold-your-iphone-hostage.html

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March 7, 2017

Wikileaks Reveals Massive CIA Cyber Spying Operation

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

“Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/

 

Wikileaks: CIA ‘Stole’ Russian Malware, Uses It to ‘Misdirect Attribution’ of Cyber Attacks

“Russian” hacking? It could have just as easily been the CIA

From the Wikileaks “Year Zero” dump:

The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

Everyone knew it. Now we have proof.

“Fingerprints” are meaningless.

http://russia-insider.com/en/wikileaks-cia-stole-russian-malware-uses-it-misdirect-attribution-cyber-attacks/ri19134

Malaysia foils ‘Yemeni attack on Arab royals’

Malaysian police say they have foiled a planned attack on Arab royals by suspected militants from Yemen.

Four Yemenis and three other suspects including a Malaysian and an Indonesian were arrested ahead of Saudi King Salman’s arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

The monarch is currently touring Asia with 25 princes in his entourage.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition against the Houthi insurgent group in Yemen for the last two years.

However, it is unclear what group – if any – the Yemeni nationals were aligned with.

A senior police source told news agency Reuters the four were believed to be Houthi insurgents. However, other sources say the suspects were linked to so-called Islamic State.

It is also unclear whether the other three arrested were part of the same group.

The seven suspects were arrested between 21 and 26 February – the day King Salman arrived in the Malaysian capital.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told journalists the group were “planning to attack the Arab royalties during the visit in Kuala Lumpur”.

“We got them in the nick of time,” he said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39193173

Kim Jong-un takes Malaysians ‘hostage’ and bans anyone from the country from leaving North Korea after Kuala Lumpur embassy is sealed off in hunt for assassins

  • Pyongyang banned Malaysians from leaving North Korea in escalating dispute
  • Measure imposed to ensure ‘safety of the diplomats and citizens’ of North Korea
  • Malaysia responded by closing its borders to North Koreans wanting to leave
  • Tit-for-tat measures are latest in escalating row over death of Kim Jong-nam

North Korea has banned all Malaysians from leaving the country in a dramatic escalation of the row over the death of Kim Jong-Un‘s half brother.

Malaysia likened the travel ban to hostage taking and then responded in kind, closing its borders to North Koreans who want to leave.

The tit-for-tat directives come as relations between the two countries disintegrate over the poisoning of Kim Jong Nam in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on February 13.

Pyongyang’s extraordinary move came as it faced growing international condemnation for a volley of missiles it fired into the Sea of Japan, defying stringent global sanctions aimed at halting its weapons programme.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4288644/N-Korea-Malaysia-ban-citizens-leaving.html#ixzz4aeXhp2dK

 

Missile defense system that China opposes arrives in South Korea

  • THAAD is designed to take down North Korean missiles
  • China says it will take measure to preserve its interests

Seoul (CNN)The first pieces of a US-built missile defense system designed to mitigate the threat of North Korean missiles arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea Monday night, according to the US military.

The announcement comes just a day after North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
China has voiced opposition to the proposed placement of the military hardware known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which it sees as a threat to its own security.
“We will firmly take necessary measures to preserve our own security interest, and the US and South Korea must bear the potential consequences,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday.

North Korea is ‘training for an attack on US bases in Japan’: Kim Jong Un is pictured applauding missile launch as Trump warns him of ‘dire consequences’ and sends anti-missile system to the South

  • North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan
  • Three of four missiles shot landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone
  • The US has also begun deploying a missile defense system in South Korea to protect against North Korea
  • China said such US interference poses a ‘clear, present and substantive threat to China’s security interests’
  • The UN Security Council will have an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss these developments
  • Donald Trump and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe say North Korea threat has ‘entered a new stage’

Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as President Trump warned Kim Jong-Un of ‘dire consequences’ and deployed missiles to South Korea.

The latest declaration from Pyongyang comes the day after it launched four ballistic missiles 600 miles into the Sea of Japan, in an alarming show of strength.

On Tuesday, the regime also released pictures of King Jong-Un watching the launch of the missiles and applauding with a wild grin on his face.

Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.

In a phone call, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the threat from North Korea had ‘entered a new stage.’

Meanwhile, Washington and Seoul have agreed to deploy a US missile defense system called THAAD to South Korea, which has infuriated China, the North’s key diplomatic ally and crucial to efforts to persuade it to change its ways.

 North Korea news sources showed the country's leader, Kim Jong-Un, smiling and clapping as the nuclear-armed nation launched three missiles in training for a strike on US bases in Japan

 North Korea news sources showed the country’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, smiling and clapping as the nuclear-armed nation launched three missiles in training for a strike on US bases in Japan

The missiles were launched by the North Korean military

North Korea sources said the missiles were preparation for a strike on Japan

Three of the four missiles fired Monday, pictured, came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4288400/North-Korea-training-attack-bases-Japan.html#ixzz4ae0CT4yj

China’s ZTE to plead guilty, settle with U.S. over Iran, North Korea sales

March 7 at 3:50 PM
Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE will plead guilty and pay $892 million to settle allegations it violated U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran and North Korea, the company and U.S. government agencies said Tuesday.

ZTE entered into an agreement to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, obstruction of justice and making a material false statement, the Justice Department said.

The settlement was made with Justice, the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department.

The Commerce Department investigation followed reports by Reuters in 2012 that ZTE had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software from some of the best-known U.S. technology companies to Iran’s largest telecommunications carrier.

“ZTE acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company,” Zhao Xianming, ZTE’s chairman and chief executive, said Tuesday in a statement.

Between January 2010 and January 2016, ZTE directly or indirectly shipped U.S.-origin items worth approximately $32 million to Iran without obtaining the proper export licenses from the U.S. government. ZTE then lied to federal investigators, insisting that the shipments had stopped, the Justice Department said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/chinas-zte-pleads-guilty-settles-with-us-over-iran-north-korea-sales/2017/03/07/16a0b2c2-0356-11e7-ad5b-d22680e18d10_story.html?utm_term=.b797bf1c04e9

H.R. McMaster, top Trump security adviser, faces questions in rare hearing

– Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The senior Army officer tapped by President Donald Trump to be his national security adviser faces questions from senators during a rare closed-door meeting amid intense scrutiny of the White House for alleged Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s appearance before the Armed Services Committee, slated for Tuesday, is unusual because national security advisers aren’t subject to Senate confirmation and typically don’t testify on Capitol Hill. But McMaster’s situation is different. He elected to stay on active duty rather than retire from the military and generals of his grade need the chamber’s approval when they’re promoted or get new assignments.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee’s Republican chairman, said members will vote at the end of session on whether to recommend to the full Senate that McMaster retain his three-star rank.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/7/top-trump-security-adviser-faces-questions-in-rare/

US, Russian, Turkish military chiefs meet in Antalya to discuss Syria, Iraq (PHOTOS)

US, Russian, Turkish military chiefs meet in Antalya to discuss Syria, Iraq (PHOTOS)
Turkey’s military chief of staff, General Hulusi Akar, is hosting a meeting with the heads of the US and Russian armed forces in the southern Turkish province of Antalya, according to Ankara and Moscow.

The meeting is being attended by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford Jr., Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Valery Gerasimov and Turkey’s military chief of staff General Hulusi Akar.

https://www.rt.com/news/379687-russia-us-turkey-meet-syria/

Russian general hit by roadside bomb in Syria loses both legs

Russian Major General Pyotr Milyukhin lost both his legs and an eye when a radio controlled bomb hit a military convoy heading from the Tiyas airfield, west of Palmyra, to the Syrian city of Homs, it has been confirmed.

Milyukhin is in an intensive care unit at Russia’s Main Military Clinical Hospital, medical officials confirmed to RIA Novosti on Friday.

The hospital refused to disclose any details, but said that the high-ranking officer had been placed “in the 56th department.”

The incident occurred in mid-February, Kommersant daily reported, citing sources. Four of the six people traveling in the armored vehicle along with Milyukhin reportedly lost their lives.

https://www.rt.com/news/379597-russian-general-bomb-legs/

A Russian contract soldier died near Palmyra on March 2, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Monday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the soldier was killed during a terrorist offensive on Syrian army’s positions, where Russian military advisers were present.

“Artem Gorbunov died on March 2 near Palmyra when repelling Daesh terrorists’ attempts to advance on the positions of Syrian [government] troops, where Russian military advisers were present.”

The soldier was posthumously awarded. Earlier in the day, Gorbunov was buried at a cemetery in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

According to the Defense Ministry, 28 Russian servicemen have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703061051314615-russia-serviceman-dies-syria/

2,100 Iranian fighters said killed in Iraq, Syria

Figure doubles earlier death count from November, which only included Syria fighting

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office said Tuesday.

“Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Mohammad Ali Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Shahidi, who is head of Iran’s Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, was speaking at a conference on martyrdom culture in Tehran.

The figure was more than double the number he gave in November, which referred only to Syria.

Iran is, with Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and also organizes militias fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Shahidi did not provide details on the nationalities of those killed.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/2100-iran-fighters-said-killed-in-iraq-syria/

War, Violence Cost Iraq $36 Billion

Baghdad- A report released by Iraq’s ministry of planning revealed the disastrous damage done by the gruesome acts of violence and aggression throughout 2004-2016 of fighting terror group ISIS.

Overall infrastructure damage, save for that inflicted on the Iraqi Kurdistan region, has been accounted for by the report. Losses suffered by civilians and their assets, and those registered through local corruption and embezzlement were excluded from the report.

Destruction cited by the report amounted to $36 billion.

All the more, Iraq’s culture ministry said that it was unable to estimate the value of stolen effects belonging to the national body responsible for antiquities and heritage.

http://english.aawsat.com/2017/03/article55368850/war-violence-cost-iraq-36-billion

The multipurpose indigenously-designed and -manufactured Iranian helicopter Saba 248
The multipurpose indigenously-designed and -manufactured Iranian helicopter Saba 248

Iran has unveiled a new utility helicopter capable of serving both military and civilian purposes.

The ceremony to unveil the helicopter, named Saba 248, took place in the presence of Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan on Tuesday.

Iran’s Helicopter Renovation and Logistics Company (PANHA), associated with the Defense Ministry’s Aviation Industries Organization, has designed and manufactured the aircraft.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/07/513357/Iran-Saba-248-helicopter-Dehqan

Trump, Netanyahu Discuss Iran, Anti-Semitism in Call

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a long telephone conversation Monday about strategic threats posed by Iran.

“The two leaders spoke at length about the dangers arising from the nuclear deal with Iran and Iranian aggression in the [Middle East] region and the need to work together to deal with those dangers,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and major world powers that went into effect in January. The Israeli leader has said the deal does not go far enough and when some of the clauses of the deal expire in 10 and 15 years, it will leave Tehran on the threshold of building a bomb.

The president had told Netanyahu when the two met at the White House last month that the nuclear agreement was “one of the worst deals” he had ever seen.

http://www.voanews.com/a/trump-netanyahu-discuss-iran-antisemitism-in-call/3752545.html

Iran setting up shell shipping companies to export weapons and illicit goods: investigation

Nearly half of all shipping docks in Iran are operated by the regime’s military, and it is using shell companies to smuggle weapons and other illicit goods, according to a new report.

A total of 90 docks have been taken over by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is using them to circumvent sanctions and fund terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond, according to the anti-regime People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“Based on the direct order of the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, no authority is allowed to oversee the activities of the IRGC at border areas, be it on the ground, sea or air, and it can import anything in any quantity without paying any customs fee,” PMOI officials said in a statement provided to Fox News. “The IRGC uses these docks for its unlawful activities.”

The PMOI adds that in order to fund its activities, the Revolutionary Guard engages in smuggling oil, gas, chemical products, cigarettes, narcotics, alcohol, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals, hygiene material and energy drugs and supplements.

The importing and exporting of these illicit goods has allowed the IRGC to net $12 billion annually, the group estimates.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/07/iran-setting-up-shell-shipping-companies-to-export-weapons-and-illicit-goods-investigation.html

 

Iran vs Russia: The Next Natural Gas War

Not everybody attending the Iranian natural gas summit last week in Frankfurt was there for the same reason.

While most were gauging the prospects for an opening of major natural gas reserves and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export prospects, others were there for quite different reasons.

Take the three representatives from Russia’s gas giant Gazprom (OGZPY), for example. They weren’t there to scout new investment packages. On the contrary… They were there to see just how badly their company’s position was under siege.

And it’s no wonder the Gazprom guys looked concerned. From what I saw at the summit, they have every reason to be.

For energy investors, on the other hand, the news is very good…

Gazprom is in Dire Straits

Gazprom may still be the largest natural gas company on the face of the Earth, exporting more gas than anybody else and providing revenues that account for the biggest single chunk of the Russian central budget… But it is facing down some difficult times.

For one, extractions are declining at the primary mature fields the company has depended on for decades. To offset that growing problem, Gazprom needs to move into three very expensive new regions – above the Arctic Circle, onto the continental shelf, and into eastern Siberia.

Moscow is hard pressed to provide the necessary funds for that.

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Iran-vs-Russia-The-Next-Natural-Gas-War.html

Iran’s Crude-Oil Exports Increase to Level Last Seen in 1970s

Iran’s crude-oil exports touched 3 million barrels a day for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

That level, lasting just one day, was reached in the current Iranian month that began Feb. 19, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to state news agency IRNA.

The Islamic Republic’s exports tumbled in 2011 as international sanctions targeted its oil industry, cutting production. Since restrictions ended in January 2016, Iran has recovered quickly, raising output near pre-sanctions levels of about 4 million barrels a day. It’s targeting 5 million a day by 2021 with the help of foreign investors, though none has yet signed a definitive contract.

Iran’s crude exports have averaged 2.45 million barrels a day since Feb. 19, Bloomberg tanker-tracking data show.

The country in November won an exemption from output cuts agreed on by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, saying it was still recovering from sanctions. Production exceeded 6 million barrels a day in the 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution drove away Western investors and prompted a long confrontation with the U.S.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-07/iran-s-crude-oil-exports-increase-to-level-last-seen-in-1970s

Iran Tests New Weapons in Yemen

This was revealed by the Houthi Supreme Political Council (SPS) at the end of last month.

Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis in Yemen, said, on February 10, that the Houthis had been able to increase the range and accuracy of their weapons and could now launch attacks on Saudi Arabia, the leader of the coalition forces which are fighting the Houthis in Yemen.

The coalition forces have also intercepted drones with missile firing capabilities that bore Iranian markers.

In January, the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah which was near the Yemeni port of Hudeida was attacked by an unmanned and guided boat, according to Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan, U.S. Fifth Fleet commander.

Later reports from the U.S. Naval Institute indicated that the naval craft was provided by the navy of the IRGC.

IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, wrote: “Such vessels pose a new threat to civilian maritime traffic, open a new page in the clashes between Iran and Saudi Arabia in this sensitive arena, and could reach other Iranian-supported terror organizations in the world.”

http://www.iranfocus.com/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31340:iran-tests-new-weapons-in-yemen&catid=9:terrorism&Itemid=114

Iran, Italy to hold scientific coop. meeting

TEHRAN, Mar. 07 (MNA) – Iran and Italy will organize the first ever meeting on joint scientific, technological and innovative cooperation in mid-April, deputy head of research at Science Ministry said on Tuesday.

 

According to Vahid Ahmadi, the meeting aims at providing new opportunities for universities, educational institutions, research centers, Technology and knowledge-based companies based at science and technology parks in Iran and Italy.

Other objectives of the meeting include development of connections among research centers and Hi Tech companies for promotion of technology transfer of products, services and innovation capacities; promoting the top scientific and technological trends in both countries through further bilateral dialogues among organizations as well as supporting cooperation in the fields of research, commercialization and development of innovation.

Iran-Italy’s joint meeting on scientific cooperation is slated for 19-20 April 2017 in Tehran.

http://en.mehrnews.com/news/124070/Iran-Italy-to-hold-scientific-coop-meeting

Germany delays contract with MBDA for missile defence system-sources

Germany’s defence ministry on Tuesday told lawmakers that it would not complete a contract for a multi-billion euro new missile defence system with European arms maker MBDA during the current legislative period, as planned, ministry sources said.

Ministry officials remain committed to concluding a contract with MBDA for the Medium Extended Air Defence System that will replace the current Patriot air and missile defence system, but said there was still work to do on MBDA proposal, as well as how the overall project would be managed, the sources said.

Regardless of the MEADS outcome, the ministry also plans to spend several hundred million euros to modernise the software and hardware of the German military’s existing Patriot system, which was built by Raytheon Co, the sources said.

The delay in the MEADS project marks another setback for Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has sought to reform Germany’s troubled weapons procurement process since taking office in late 2013. A second multi-billion euro programme to build a new multi-role ship has also been delayed.

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-germany-delays-contract-with-mbda-for-missile-defence-system-sources-2345107

Conservative Fillon wins ‘unanimous’ support from party leadership

Latest update : 2017-03-07

France’s embattled presidential hopeful Francois Fillon on Monday won “unanimous” support from his Republicans party, putting him firmly back in the driver’s seat after veteran conservative Alain Juppe rejected calls to stand in his place.

“The political committee, after a wide-ranging exchange, unanimously renewed its support for Francois Fillon,” Senate speaker Gerard Larcher told reporters after around 20 party seniors met to “evaluate” the crisis sparked by the fake jobs scandal clouding Fillon’s campaign.

Fillon, 63, had told the meeting that Juppe‘s definitive decision not to run “confirmed that there isn’t a plan B” to his candidacy, according to a text of his remarks sent to AFP.

With just seven weeks to go before the country goes to the polls in a two-stage vote, Fillon said: “We have lost too much time with vain debates, leaving the way open for the far right and candidates on the left who are rubbing their hands over our disunity.”

EU army moves step closer: Ministers APPROVE Brussels defence headquarters

THE EU army came one step closer today after ministers approved plans for a military command centre based in Brussels.

states agreed to open a command centre to run military training missions abroad, a step France and Italy hope is a precursor to an EU defence headquarters in the face of a growing Russian threat.Foreign and defence ministers approved the Brussels-based command, which will be run by some 30 people when it is launched in the next few weeks.

Britain has long opposed the crumbling bloc’s plans for its own army with fears the defence force could undermine operations.

The EU is seeking to match its economic might with an ability to deter militant or Russian threats, as well as using peacekeepers to stabilise failing states on EU borders.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/775843/eu-army-ministers-approve-brussels-defence-command-centre

Pentagon: U.S. airstrike in Yemen killed ex-Guantánamo detainee

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March 5, 2017

Tokyo calls North Korea’s latest missile launch a ‘grave threat to national security’

AP, AFP-JIJI, KYODO, STAFF REPORT

North Korea on Monday launched four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said.

There were no immediate reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area, Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said at a news conference in Tokyo, calling the latest missile launch a “grave threat to national security.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe separately told reporters that the missiles traveled around 1,000 km. He later said at a Diet session that the remaining missile also fell near the EEZ.

Japan has filed a protest with North Korea over the latest missile launches, according to Abe.

Suga also said the launches are in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted against North Korea, banning it from developing nuclear arms and missile technologies.

In Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported earlier, citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, that a possible intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched at 7:36 a.m. from North Korea’s northwest in an apparent protest by North Korea against a joint military drill by South Korea and the United States that began last week.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/06/national/tokyo-says-north-korea-fired-three-four-missiles-came-japans-eez/#.WLzMM5ArJD8

 

Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles

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February 28, 2017

‘Dress up like a Jew and make sure you have plenty of weapons under your coat’: ISIS fanatics issue chilling call to ‘terrorise’ Jewish people in the West

  • Chilling post urges ISIS supporters to ‘dress up like a Jew’ and launch attacks
  • Terror group’s supporters were advised to conceal weapons in their clothes
  • ISIS-linked Telegram channel also gives a list of possible targets in Britain
  • Also uses a picture of Amedy Coulibaly who attacked a Jewish shop in Paris

ISIS fanatics have issued a chilling call for fellow extremists to ‘terrorise’ Jewish communities in the West.

Brainwashed supporters were advised to ‘dress up like a Jew’ and conceal weapons under their coats before ‘unleashing the pain of the Muslims’ on their victims.

The terrifying call to arms emerged on an ISIS-linked Telegram channel called Lone Mujahid – a chat room where aspiring terrorists are encourage to carry out ‘lone-wolf’-style attacks.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4267184/Chilling-ISIS-post-calls-attacks-Jews-West.html#ixzz4Zz34G9RI

Syria war: Russia and China veto sanctions

Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.

It is the seventh time Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to protect the Syrian government.

China has also vetoed six security council resolutions on Syria since the civil war began in 2011.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under an agreement negotiated between Russia and the US.

The Syrian government has previously denied carrying out chemical attacks.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39116854

 

Is this proof US forces’ deadly new drone can take out targets with astonishing accuracy? Images reveal how Al Qaeda leader was killed in his car – but the vehicle remained largely intact

  • Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abdulrahman was reportedly killed on Sunday night
  • Pictures of drone attack show killing was carried out with enormous accuracy
  • Suggestions a new smaller drone is now being used in remote air combat
  • Instead of 25lbs of explosives, drones carry charges of a 40mm grenade
  • It would mean less innocent casualties on the ground caused by drone strikes 
  • Egyptian-born Abdulrahman was known by nom de guerre Abu al-Khayr al-Masri
  •  He was released from an Iranian jail in 2015 and headed for Syria 

Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abdulrahman, who had been deputy to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was thought to have been killed on Sunday night in a drone attack on a car.

However, unlike previous bombings carried out by drones which usually result in catastrophic damage not to mention leaving the shell of a burned out car, in Sunday’s attack the vehicle appeared relatively unscathed.

It could mean that a new type of ultra-accurate drone is being used to ensure killing are carried out with both pinpoint accuracy all while reducing the amount of collateral damage.

Could a new type of drone be responsible for the killing of Al-Qaeda's second in command?

Could a new type of drone be responsible for the killing of Al-Qaeda’s second in command?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4265870/Images-Syrian-strike-new-kind-drone-exist.html#ixzz4Zz3K6B1L

India To Deploy Israeli SPYDER Air Defence Missile System Near Pakistan Border

Our Bureau

Israeli SPYDER air defence missile system

The Indian Air Force is in the process of deploying Israeli SPYDER air defence missile system on the western borders that it shares with Pakistan in the coming weeks.

The air force aims to boost its readiness to strike down any aerial threat from Pakistan, India Today reported today.

The deployment will help in tackling any aircraft, cruise missile, surveillance plane or drone that tries to violate our airspace, a defense official said.

The induction process for the country’s air force was delayed more than three years due to lack of availability of Czech manufactured Tatra trucks on which the missiles were to be carried.

The SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) is a low-level, quick reaction missile (LLQRM) to neutralise hostile targets up to 15 km away and at heights between 20 and 9,000 metres. The system provides fast reaction air defence protection against enemy aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

http://www.defenseworld.net/news/18568/India_To_Deploy_Israeli_SPYDER_Air_Defence_Missile_System_Near_Pakistan_Border#.WLYCfpArJD8

 

Attacks on Top Trump Adviser Gorka a Product of Obama Admin Holdovers, Targeted Leaks

Support for Gorka not waning in Trump White House in light of media attacks

Images via AP and Flickr user Ariel Dovas

BY:
February 27, 2017 12:00 pm

Obama administration holdovers and loyalists are waging a leak-driven media campaign against a senior counter-terrorism adviser hand-picked by President Donald Trump, with the aim of undermining the Trump administration’s national security apparatus, according to multiple senior White House officials and sources close to the administration.

Sebastian Gorka, a longtime national security expert profiled by senior editor Bill Gertz in today’s Free Beacon, has been the subject of multiple leaks and negative stories portraying him as a bigot as part of a campaign similar to the one that brought down former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Senior White House officials dismissed the media narratives and said Gorka is well liked and respected by Trump’s innermost crowd. Several of these sources would only speak on background because they were not authorized to discuss internal White House workings. They also expressed growing concern about leaks from within the administration that are aimed at undermining Trump’s senior advisers.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/attacks-top-trump-adviser-gorka-product-obama-admin-holdovers-targeted-leaks/

N. Korea has ‘1000s of tons of chemical weapons’ scattered across country – Seoul

N. Korea has ‘1000s of tons of chemical weapons’ scattered across country – Seoul
South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, has warned that the North has “thousands of tons of chemical weapons” across the country and called to suspend Pyongyang from the UN.

Yun Byung-se has called for invoking a chemical weapons convention in light of the assassination that killed the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Malaysia.

North Korea is reported to have not just grams but thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons including VX all over the country…the recent assassination is a wake-up call to all of us to North Korea’s chemical weapons capability and its intent to actually use them,” the minister said as quoted by Reuters.

He also warned that within North Korea’s stockpile is VX, the nerve agent which is believed to have killed Kim’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport earlier this month.

The statement made at a UN disarmament conference in Geneva comes after Seoul signed a land swap deal with retail giant Lotte, which will allow South Korea to host the controversial US THAAD missile system. Both Seoul and Washington say the system is a defensive measure against Pyongyang.

https://www.rt.com/news/378867-korea-chemical-weapons-measures/

Fury in Berlin as Ankara reportedly arrests Die Welt journalist for ‘terrorism propaganda’

Fury in Berlin as Ankara reportedly arrests Die Welt journalist for ‘terrorism propaganda’
Die Welt’s Deniz Yucel, who has both Turkish and German citizenship, has been arrested in Turkey on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and “inciting violence,” according to a court witness. The news has sparked a harsh reaction from Germany.

Two weeks ago, Yucel was detained after reporting on emails allegedly from the private account of Turkey’s energy minister, Berat Albayrak, who is also President Erdogan’s son-in-law, which had been released by a leftist hacker collective.

The leak has been linked to a huge scandal that began months ago, when WikiLeaks said that the emails proved Albayrak’s connections to Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] oil trade.

The 57,000 emails from 2000-2016 tied Albayrak to staffing and salary questions at Powertrans, a company with a monopoly on providing road and rail logistics for oil being transported from Kurdistan. In 2014-2015, Powertrans was also linked to IS-produced oil coming from Syria. Though there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the allegations, Albayrak denied having any links to Powertrans anyway.

A court witness told Reuters that the correspondent was jailed pending trial on Monday, becoming the first German reporter to be detained since the July coup and the ensuing crackdown on media.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the detention as “disproportionate,” “bitter and disappointing,” while German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel went a step further, saying the journalist’s arrest exposes the differences between the two countries’ positions on freedom of the press in a “glaring light.”

https://www.rt.com/news/378876-turkey-arrest-german-journalist/

Samsung Group chief charged with bribery, corporate nerve center dismantled

By Se Young Lee and Ju-min Park | SEOUL
South Korean prosecutors charged Samsung Group [SARG.UL] chief Jay Y. Lee with bribery and embezzlement on Tuesday as the top conglomerate announced the dismantling of its corporate strategy office, the latest developments in a graft scandal that has rocked the country.

Jay Y. Lee, 48, was arrested on Feb. 17 over his alleged role in the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye, dealing a fresh blow to the standard-bearer for Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The special prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday, the last day of its investigation, that it had charged Lee, third-generation leader of the tech giant “chaebol”, and four other executives with bribery and embezzlement.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-politics-idUSKBN1670G2

Did China Just Make ALL Stealth Fighters (Think the F-22 and F-35) Obsolete?

Could Beijing’s quantum radar technology render stealth aircraft obsolete?

While theoretically, if such a radar existed, it would be able to detect and track stealth aircraft with impunity, but it is unclear if China truly mastered such technology. The Chinese defense industry has claimed a breakthrough in mastering quantum radar technology, but Western defense industry officials said that such a system is not likely to exist outside a laboratory. Even then, the quantum radars would be difficult to build and test reliably even in a lab environment. Indeed, it is likely that networked low-frequency radars—which can also detect and track fighter-sized stealth aircraft—are more likely to be a more pragmatic development.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/did-china-just-make-all-stealth-fighters-think-the-f-22-f-35-19608

$400bn F-35 can only hit ‘stationary or slow moving objects’ new report reveals as military bosses claim fighter jet could battle ISIS in the Middle East ‘in a few years’

  • Fifth-generation fighter has been plagued with issues 
  • $400bn development schedule has stretched to 15 years
  • Report claims it won’t be ready to even begin full combat testing until 2019

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been hailed as the ‘most expensive weapon in history’, costing $400bn.

However, according to Aviation Week, the plane’s laser targeting system has one slight flaw – it can only target stationary or slow moving objects.

‘Despite being among the most technologically advanced low-observable warplanes on the planet, the Lockheed Martin F-35 has one significant shortcoming,’ it wrote.

‘The Joint Strike Fighter cannot strike moving ground targets using the targeting system and weapons loadout delivered in its final combat Lightning II configuration, Block 3F.’

The jet has gone through dozens of updates to its software, with the Block 3F being the most recent.

 

Google Fixes Ultra Sneaky Gmail Phishing Trick

Google has countered to a “highly effective” phishing scam that in recent months impacted users of its Gmail email service.

Scammers had been tricking people into divulging their passwords by directing them to lookalike login pages that tripped no alarms in the victim’s web browser. Security researchers at WordFence, a company that makes security tools for WordPress sites, last month warned that the phishing effort was “having a wide impact, even on experienced technical users.”

No longer. Google has responded to the problem with an update to its Chrome browser. In the new version, released earlier this month, the browser’s address bar warns people when they have been served a page that uses the phishing trick.

http://fortune.com/2017/02/27/google-gmail-chrome-fix-phishing/

Russia’s fifth-gen fighter blitz

February 27, 2017 (Photo Credit: SERGEY VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

MOSCOW — Russia is moving aggressively on another traditional patron of U.S. arms exports: the United Arab Emirates. Rather than cheap small arms and land-based platforms, Russian companies appear to have identified a market opportunity: relatively cost-effective alternatives to Western fifth-generation fighters.

The head of Russia’s largest defense conglomerate Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, told reporters at the IDEX show in Abu Dabi this week that Rostec would partner with the UAE Defense Ministry to develop a light fifth-generation fighter jet based on the MiG-29. Development is slated to begin in 2018, and production should launch seven to eight years after that.

“It takes quite a long period of time to develop,” Chemezov told Defense News in an exclusive interview. “We anticipate local production here in [UAE], for the needs of [UAE].”

Russia-backed rebels issue ultimatum to Ukraine

Ukraine-run businesses to be seized in Donetsk and Luhansk if blockade does not end, say Russia-backed rebel leaders.Separatists in eastern Ukraine have threatened to take control of Ukraine-run businesses in rebel-held areas if the Kiev government does not end a rail blockade that had halted coal supplies.

The ultimatum came on Monday, a month since a group of Ukrainian legislators and army veterans started blocking some rail traffic in eastern regions.

The blockade is opposed by the Ukrainian government, as it prevents coal produced in the rebel-held territory from reaching power plants and the steel industry in the rest of the country, whose exports are a keystone of Ukraine’s economy.

In a joint statement, leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) said on Monday the blockade had caused many businesses to suffer in rebel-held areas and that it went against the spirit of the 2015 Minsk peace agreement.

Alexander Zakharchenko, of the DNR, and the LNR’s Igor Plotnitsky said: “We are forced to announce that if, by midnight on Wednesday, the blockade is not taken down, we will introduce a system of external management on all companies registered in Ukraine’s jurisdiction that operate in the DNR and LNR.”

They also said they would stop selling coal to Ukraine and send future coal supplies to Russia or elsewhere.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/russia-backed-rebels-issue-ultimatum-ukraine-170227172545227.html

Russia’s Mysterious Cyber Treason Case Just Got Even Sketchier

Late last year, top cybersecurity investigators from a private firm and Russian intelligence were arrested in dramatic fashion. One was dragged out of a meeting with a bag over his head. All were disappeared. Details were scare at the time, but revelations from a new Reuters report now only complicate what we know.

In December, Ruslan Stoyanov, head of the computer incidents investigation team at Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, was arrested with no explanation from Russian law enforcement. Along with Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agents Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev, Stoyanov was charged with treason. Reports indicated that the suspects would be tried in a “secret military tribunal.”

According to a Reuters source, the treason charges are related to accusations made by a Russian businessman named Pavel Vrublevsky seven years ago. In 2010, Vrublevsky, founder of internet payment firm ChronoPay, reported the suspects to authorities. He claimed that they had passed state secrets to American firms including Verisign, a company that specializes in domain name services and internet security, which then turned them over to US intelligence. Reuters reports the accusations were never investigated.

A spokesperson from Verisign, the only American firm identified, denied that it had been given any secret information. The company does have an iDefense unit that gathers information on cybercrime and supplies dossiers to US intelligence, but the spokesperson insisted that it does not deal in classified information. “Nothing like the arrangement as described by Pavel Vrublevsky ever took place,” said Kimberly Zenz, a former analyst at Verisign’s iDefense unit.

http://gizmodo.com/russias-mysterious-cyber-treason-case-just-got-even-ske-1792786218

PUTIN AND ERDOGAN COZY UP TO DIVIDE SYRIA

Something big and important must be at the heart of a relationship in which both sides are able to overcome the pain they repeatedly inflict on each other. Russia and Turkey, historically adversaries and newly active allies, are one such case.

While the United States is sending conflicting signals about its Syria policy, Russia, Turkey and Iran are negotiating a pragmatic framework of coexistence in the region, which is torn by international and sectarian conflicts.

Russia and Turkey in particular seem to have found a way of pursuing larger goals while agreeing to disagree on the many diverging interests that will always keep the two countries apart.

The two countries’ mutual history is rough. They clashed incessantly and waged war on each other once every quarter century when they were still empires. Soviet Russia and Kemalist Turkey ended up on opposite sides of the Cold War divide.

http://www.newsweek.com/putin-and-erdogan-cosy-divide-syria-561814

Iraq army seizes key Mosul bridge in ISIS battle

While all five bridges linking the government-held eastern Mosul to the western part have been destroyed, the takeover of the fourth bridge will allow Iraqi forces to lay a ramp over the broken part and open a supply route from east.

“The Rapid Response Forces of the Iraqi Federal Police completely liberated al-Jawsaq neighborhood and control the fourth bridge… Iraqi flags are now raised on buildings, and heavy casualties were inflicted on ISIS,” Lt. Gen. Abdel Amir Rasheed Yarallah of the Joint Operations Command said Monday.

Asian imports of Iranian oil rise nearly 70 percent year/year in January

By Osamu Tsukimori | TOKYO

Imports of Iranian crude by Asia’s four main buyers of the oil rose about two-thirds in January from a year ago when levels were lower as Western sanctions on Tehran had only just been lifted.

Iran’s top four Asian buyers – China, India, South Korea and Japan – imported 1.64 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 67.6 percent on a year earlier, government and ship-tracking data showed.

http://in.reuters.com/article/asia-iran-crude-idINKBN1670Q3

Airbus faces battle on two fronts over call for A400M aid

By Tim Hepher | PARIS

Airbus (AIR.PA) faces tough negotiations on two fronts as it seeks new relief from European governments and engine makers for losses on its troubled A400M military transporter plane.

The planemaker called last week for new talks with European governments to ease “heavy penalties” for delays to the troop and armored vehicle carrier, after taking a fresh 1.2 billion euro ($1.3 billion) charge for Europe’s largest defense project.

It has also appointed a new program manager for the A400M as part of a broader reshuffle and is set to beef up the management of its military aircraft business with a new deputy, industry sources said. Airbus declined to comment.

The 20-billion-euro project has been beset by political wrangling since its inception more than a decade ago. By citing a new ‘crisis’ and calling for ministerial talks, Airbus seems to be repeating tactics that led to a previous 3.5 billion euro bailout in 2010.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-airbus-a400m-idUSKBN1661WR

Massive Azerbaijani Attack on Artsakh Rebuffed

STEPANAKERT, Artsakh (ArmRadio)—The Azerbaijani launched an offensive toward Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Republic positions on February 25 using various weaponry in the southeastern (Martuni) and eastern (Akna) directions of the Artsakh/Azerbaijani border, also known as the line of contact, twice at 3am and 4am, the Artsakh Defense Ministry reported.

The Artsakh armed forces did not have any casualties, while Azerbaijan lost five servicemen in the neutral zone.

“The attempt was a complete failure,” the Ministry said, adding that, as the Azeri side tried to ascribe its actions to the Armenian side.

http://asbarez.com/160559/massive-azerbaijani-attack-on-artsakh-rebuffed/

Cyber attackers target Singapore Defence Ministry, but no secrets found

Cyber attackers have stolen basic personal data from about 850 Singapore national servicemen and employees in a possible attempt to access official secrets, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry detected the breach this month in the I-net system that allows internet surfing using dedicated computer terminals on defense ministry and Singapore Armed Forces premises, the ministry said in a statement.

No classified military information was stored on I-net, the ministry said.

“The attack on I-net appeared to be targeted and carefully planned,” it said.

“The real purpose may have been to gain access to official secrets, but this was prevented by the physical separation of I-net from our internal systems.”

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-defence-idUKKBN1670O3

SINGAPORE MILITARY HACK ‘PROBABLY STATE SPONSORED’

Breach of defence ministry’s ‘I-net’ system stole identity card information, telephone numbers and dates of birth of 850 people

BY BHAVAN JAIPRAGAS

The Singaporean military’s dedicated web access system was breached this month by hackers thought to be hunting for official secrets, the government said on Tuesday.

Investigations into the breach of the Ministry of Defence’s “I-net” system – which is detached from computers dealing with classified information – found the personal information of about 850 people had been stolen, the ministry said.

One analyst said there was a “high probability” that the hack was state sponsored.

The I-net system is air-gapped, meaning that computers linked to it do not have access to a separate system that handles the digital exchange of classified information.

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2074806/singapore-military-hack-probably-state-sponsored

Inside The Insane Coup Russian Spies Dressed As Cops Tried To Launch

 JACOB BOJESSON
Foreign Correspondent

A Russian intelligence official will reportedly face indictment for plotting a coup to stop Montenegro from joining NATO by assassinating its prime minister.

Eduard Sismakov, an officer with the GRU military service, allegedly ran a network of Serbian and Russian nationalists and paramilitaries who tried to disrupt the Montenegrin election Oct. 16. The plan was to break into the Montenegro Parliament, kill Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and put pro-Russian parties in power.

Milivoje Katnic, Montenegro’s special prosecutor, told The Telegraph that a group of plotters were placed among protestors outside the parliament building as the election results were announced. The group was supposed to force its way inside the building at an appointed sign. Another group, dressed in police uniforms, would then open fire against the protestors “so that citizens would think that the official police are shooting at them.” The eventual goal was to kill Djukanovic inside the building.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/27/inside-the-insane-coup-russian-spies-dressed-as-cops-tried-to-launch/#ixzz4ZzCzTe1A

Singapore firm denies link to North Korean front company

Pan Systems’ office in Ubi. Managing director Louis Low categorically denied any links with North Korean front company Glocom and said that while Pan Systems sold electronic goods in the North Korean market from 1996 to 2007, the business dealings were all “above board”.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Pan Systems MD refutes report and says his firm began pulling out from N. Korea from 2007 after UN scanctions

Singapore-based firm Pan Systems had no connection to Glocom, the North Korean front company that violated United Nations sanctions by selling battlefield radio equipment, claims its managing director, Mr Louis Low.

His denial comes after a report by Reuters yesterday, citing a UN report drafted for the Security Council, which said Glocom was operated by the Pyongyang branch of Pan Systems.

The report also said the North Korean branch of Pan Systems made use of bank accounts, front companies and agents in China and Malaysia to trade in radio components and accessories.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/spore-firm-denies-link-to-n-korean-front-company

Army deploys more than 100 MRAPs to South Korea

The Army is deploying more than 100 MRAPs to South Korea by the end of February to boost troop protection capabilities as tensions rise on the divided peninsula.

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES

SEOUL, South Korea — The Army is sending more than 100 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to South Korea to boost troop protection capabilities as tensions rise on the divided peninsula.

The decision is a reversal after a 2012 feasibility study found that MRAPs — famous for saving countless lives from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan — weren’t suitable for maneuver battalions in South Korea.

The 8th Army says it began fielding MRAPs and smaller versions known as M-ATVs in late December and was on track to complete the deployment to multiple locations by the end of February.

http://www.stripes.com/news/army-deploys-more-than-100-mraps-to-south-korea-1.456284#.WLV8W5DytD8

 

China secures its ‘biggest’ military export order for new UAV system

28 February 2017

China announced on 27 February that its Wing Loong II UAV had completed its maiden flight. Source: Via Sina.com.cn

China has secured an international contract for its Wing Loong II strike-capable reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), marking another milestone in the country’s bid to become a major military exporter.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported on 28 February said the deal represented the “biggest overseas purchase order in the history of Chinese [UAV] foreign military sales”. The identity of the customer and the size and value of the contract were not disclosed.

http://www.janes.com/article/68308/china-secures-its-biggest-military-export-order-for-new-uav-system

 

China conducts seabed surveys in Japan’s EEZ without consent / JCG finds 63 cases over 5 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun

China conducted a total of 63 seabed surveys inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea and elsewhere without consent over the five years from 2012 to 2016, according to a survey by the Japan Coast Guard.

China has made an application to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS, see below) for extending its continental shelf to areas inside Japan’s EEZ. China apparently has been increasing its research activities aiming to expand its maritime interests.

A country’s territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometers) offshore. An EEZ refers to the area of sea beyond that, extending up to 200 nautical miles (about 370 kilometers) offshore. Foreign ships can freely pass through EEZs.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003548134

Japan to strengthen rules to prevent technology leaks

Much tougher fines, investment restrictions sought to tighten net

A Tokyo Electron plant in Miyagi Prefecture is seen here. Cutting-edge semiconductors are among the technologies that the Japanese government seeks to protect.

TOKYO — Japan looks to bolster regulations on the export of advanced technology that could be diverted to military use, seeking to keep sensitive information and materials away from other countries and help domestic companies retain their edge.

Government permission is required to export cutting-edge materials or technology such as carbon fiber — which can be used in aircraft and centrifuges — and power-amplifying semiconductors. Current law provides for penalties of 5 million yen to 10 million yen ($44,300 to $88,600) for both individuals and companies.

One proposed revision imposes fines of up to 30 million yen on individuals who leak technology related to weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weaponry, and 20 million yen for leaks related to conventional arms such as handguns or land mines. The caps for businesses would rise to 1 billion yen and 700 million yen, respectively.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-to-strengthen-rules-to-prevent-technology-leaks

 

Counterfeiters, hackers cost U.S. up to $600 billion a year

MONDAY, FEB. 27, 2017, 4:47 P.M.

WASHINGTON – Counterfeit goods, software piracy and the theft of trade secrets cost the American economy as much as $600 billion a year, a private watchdog says.

In a report out Monday, the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property says the annual losses range from about $225 billion to $600 billion. The theft of trade secrets alone costs the United States between $180 billion and $540 billion annually. Counterfeit goods cost the United States $29 billion to $41 billion annual; pirated software costs an additional $18 billion a year.

The findings echo those of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which in 2015 pegged the annual cost of economic espionage by computer hacking at $400 billion.

The commission labels China the world’s No. 1 culprit. Including Hong Kong, China accounts for 87 percent of counterfeit goods seized entering the United States. The report says the Chinese government encourages intellectual property theft.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/feb/27/counterfeiters-hackers-cost-us-up-to-600-billion-a/

 

 

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