Tag Archives: Taliban

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.



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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.”


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.


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.


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.


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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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Podesta Was Board Member Of Firms Linked To Russian Investors


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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


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.’


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.




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.



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February 13, 2017

How Mattis’ Plan For Fixing The U.S. Military Would Transform The Army

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has issued his initial campaign plan for rebuilding America’s military, pursuant to a presidential directive signed January 27. If Congress provides necessary funding, the Mattis plan would reverse a steady erosion of the joint force’s warfighting edge that resulted from caps on military spending during the Obama years. In fact, the plan may usher in a surge of spending on new military technology unlike anything seen since the Reagan years.

All four of the military services General Mattis oversees would get a boost, but the biggest beneficiary during President Trump’s tenure will be the service that is currently in the direst straits — the Army. That’s because the fixes the Army needs can be implemented more quickly than expanding the Navy’s fleet or fielding a new Air Force bomber. In fact, making the Army healthy again could be largely accomplished during Trump’s first term — which is a good thing since it is pivotal to deterring East-West war in Europe.



How Vladimir Putin and Russia are using cyber attacks and fake news to try and rig three major European elections this year

Governments and security services across Europe have sounded public warnings about Russian interference in upcoming elections, amid mounting concern about a spate of cyber attacks on political parties and government institutions.

Officials and security officers in France, Germany, and the Netherlands have agreed to share information as they brace for “influence operations,” including the leaking of hacked emails and using internet bots to spread fake or misleading news on social media, in the run up to presidential and general elections this year.


US and Japan demand UN action after North Korea reveals pictures of new nuclear-capable missile that will be impossible for Western satellites to spot before it’s fired

  • New type of rockets can be launched at short notice without much preparation
  • In addition, solid fuel engines also boost the power and range of ballistic rockets
  • They are also more difficult to track by satellite because they have fewer support vehicles in their entourage, expert warns 
  • UN council will hold an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss the test launch 
  • Missile flew about 310 miles before falling into the sea Sunday
  • Launch was seen as a test of response from President Trump

North Korea has successfully test-fired a new type of medium-to long-range ballistic missile, claiming further advancement in a weapons programme it is pursuing in violation of United Nations resolutions.

North Korea fired the ballistic missile on a high arc into the sea early on Sunday, the first test of U.S. President Donald Trump‘s vow to get tough on an isolated regime that tested nuclear devices and ballistic missiles last year at an unprecedented rate.

The North’s state-run KCNA news agency said leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of the Pukguksong-2, a new type of strategic weapon that can launch faster, is easier to hide from satellites and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

KCNA said the missile was fired at a high angle in consideration of the safety of neighbouring countries. A South Korean military source said on Sunday the missile reached an altitude of 550 km (340 miles).

Pictured is the test-fire of the new Pukguksong-2 missile, guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the spot

Pictured is the test-fire of the new Pukguksong-2 missile, guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the spot


North Korea’s missile designed to be launched from submarine, officials say

The ballistic missile that North Korea claimed it successfully test-fired over the weekend is designed to launch from a submarine, U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday.

The KN-11-mod 2 missile was launched from land in the northwest region of the communist regime Saturday evening. North Korea’s 33-year-old dictator, Kim Jong Un, was present at the test site, according to officials


Trump’s senior policy adviser says the US will give North Korea a military show of strength ‘beyond anything anyone can imagine’ after missile test

  • Stephen Miller told CBS that Trump will ask Congress to give military money
  • Said that would send a signal that US was planning military show of strength 
  • Comment came after North Korea launched a new ballistic missile test  
  • Trump was criticized for not mentioning North Korea in response speech
  • But Miller said standing on stage with Japanese leader was a ‘show of strength’
  • Analysts say, however, that Trump’s choices with North Korea are very limited
  • And an official says economic sanctions are more likely than military conflict 

The senior policy adviser to Donald Trump has promised that the US will stand by Japan against North Korea – and said it will send the rogue state a message of ‘unquestioned military strength.’

Adviser Stephen Miller said that although Trump didn’t mention North Korea when he promised to ‘stand by’ Japan during his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday, the speech was ‘a show of strength.’

Trump would send a ‘signal’ after a new North Korean missile test by asking Congress to give more money to the military, Miller added in his appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday.

The government would then ‘begin a great rebuilding of the armed forces of the United States,’ he said, ‘…once again we will have unquestioned military strength beyond anything anyone can imagine.’


Embattled Trump aide Michael Flynn has Trump’s ‘full confidence’: aide

U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn enjoys the “full confidence” of President Donald Trump, a top White House adviser said on Monday, as Flynn tries to survive a controversy over his contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.

“Gen. Flynn has the full confidence of the president,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters.


Mike Flynn’s Position as National Security Adviser Grows Tenuous in White House

By Carol E. Lee, Shane Harris and Peter Nicholas, The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The White House is reviewing whether to retain National Security Adviser Mike Flynn amid a furor over his contacts with Russian officials before President Donald Trump took office, an administration official said Sunday.

Mr. Flynn has apologized to White House colleagues over the episode, which has created a rift with Vice President Mike Pence and diverted attention from the administration’s message to his own dealings, the official said.

“He’s apologized to everyone,” the official said of Mr. Flynn.


– The Washington Times – Sunday, February 12, 2017

At least 72 convicted terrorists came from the seven countries President Trump targeted in his extreme vetting executive order, according to a new report this weekend that directly undercut part of the courts’ rulings halting the program.

Seventeen of those entered the U.S. under the refugee program that Mr. Trump has said is of special concern to him, according to the data compiled by the Senate Judiciary Committee and analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies.

The convictions came in terrorism-related investigations since the Sept. 11 attacks, but some were for relatively minor crimes such as identity fraud. Nevertheless, more than 30 of the convicts served at least three years in prison because of their terrorism-related crimes, the CIS report said.


Hamas elects violent extremist Yahya Sinwar as Gaza chief

Jailed by Israel for murder, released in Shalit exchange, and included on US terrorism blacklist, Islamic terror group’s new strongman is seen as uncompromising and unpredictable

February 13, 2017, 12:56 pm

Yahya Sinwar, considered one of Hamas’s most ruthless leaders, has been elected as the terror group’s leader in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas official confirmed Monday.

Sinwar, 55, generally avoids the limelight, but is seen as an unpredictable hardliner who inspires the loyalty of Hamas’s military wing’s leadership.

He will replace Ismail Haniyeh, who is running for the leadership of Hamas’s political bureau to succeed Khaled Mashaal.

Sinwar, sentenced to life in 1989 for murdering Palestinian collaborators with Israel, spent 22 years in Israeli prisons before being released in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.


Man, 43, charged with possessing explosives was allowed to go on holiday to Italy for two weeks after ‘suspect package’ was seized at Manchester Airport

  • Nadeem Muhammed, 43, allegedly tried to smuggle a pipe bomb in his luggage
  • Was charged with possessing an explosive under suspicious circumstances
  • Allegedly tried to board Ryanair flight to Bergamo from Manchester with device 

A Ryanair passenger was detained under the Terrorism Act after he tried to allegedly smuggle a pipe bomb in his luggage through security at Manchester airport.

Nadeem Muhammed, 43, was allegedly found with the device as he tried to board a Ryanair flight to Bergamo, Italy from Manchester Airport.

But after the explosive substance was discovered he was released on bail and allowed to leave the country days later.


Germany Picks Anti-Trump President as Trans-Atlantic Bonds Fray

  • Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier elected in first round
  • Merkel, SPD chose Steinmeier to avoid election-year dispute

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the former German foreign minister who was a vocal critic of Donald Trump during the U.S. campaign, was elected as the country’s 12th postwar president.

The Social Democrat, who served two stints as foreign minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel, emerged as her governing coalition’s candidate last November as the parties sought to avoid a political spat over the appointment in an election year. With the support of Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc and the Social Democrats in a special assembly on Sunday, Steinmeier was elected in the first round to the mostly ceremonial post.


Lockheed Martin has spent over $1 billion on reciprocal procurement since 2010 when Israel signed deals for F-35 fighter jets.

Since 2010, when the Ministry of Defense signed the first of three deals for procuring 50 F-35 stealth fighters, US manufacturer Lockheed Martin has spent over $1 billion on reciprocal procurement from Israeli defense companies, the Ministry of Defense Procurement and Production Directorate (PPD) announced today.The first two F-35s ordered from the US landed in Israel last December. The rest will be supplied in the coming years, eventually giving the Israeli air force two full squadrons of F-35s (called Adir).

The figures disclosed by the Ministry of Defense today show that in 2016, Lockheed Martin expanded its commercial contracts with some of the Israeli companies involving the supply of parts and systems related to the plane. Lockheed Martin’s procurement from Israeli defense companies jumped 33%, compared with 2015, with orders totaling $258 million.


Assad’s holocaust: Corpses lined up show scale of atrocities

More than 53,000 of the images have been smuggled out of Syria by a military police photographer, known as Caeser.

Pictures have emerged showing the emaciated corpses of inmates from prisons run by the Syrian regime.

The images are so graphic that it has now been branded a 21st century holocaust.

They show the conditions of the victims of the prisons run by President Bashar Assad’s regime who are said to have been deprived of food, water, medicine and subjected to months of torture.

And UN experts have compared the atrocities to scenes from Jewish concentration camps, 70 years before, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Assad’s holocaust: Corpses lined up show scale of atrocities

Russia to inspect Turkey, conduct observation flight over Italy

MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Russia will conduct an inspection on Turkey’s territory as part of the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures starting on February 13, head of the Russian National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center Sergei Ryzhkov said. According to him, Russia also plans to carry out an observation flight over Italy.

“Between February 13 and 16, a group of Russian experts plans to inspect Turkey’s territory in accordance with the 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures… An area of 18,000 square kilometers will be inspected,” he said.

The Vienna Document, adopted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in November 2011, stipulates inspections of specific territories in order to monitor and control military activities. The document envisages up to three annual inspections.

According to Ryzhkov, Russian experts will visit training centers and shooting ranges as well as attend briefings of the Turkish military commanders.

Besides that, Russia will also conduct an observation flight over Italy on an An-30B aircraft on February 13-17. “An observation flight with a maximum range of up to 2015 kilometers will be conducted on February 13-17 from the Ciampino airfield. A Russian aircraft will conduct the flight in accordance with the route agreed on with the country’s authorities, while Italian experts aboard will control the use of surveillance equipment,” Ryzhkov added.


Iraqi air strike hits house where meeting of ISIS commanders was taking place, killing at least 13

  • Iraqi F-16s targeted the house in western Iraq on Saturday, killing at least 13
  • ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was holding a meeting with commanders
  • At least 64 lower-ranked IS fighters were killed in the same wave of air strikes 

Iraqi warplanes have hit a house where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was holding a meeting with senior commanders, killing at least 13.

Baghdadi’s name was not on a list of the dead published by the military following the attack on the western city of Anbar, on Saturday.

At least 64 lower-ranked IS fighters were killed in the same wave of air strikes in western Iraq, the statement added.

U.S. helicopters unloaded in Germany to boost military presence

BERLIN — The U.S. Army has begun unloading dozens of Chinook, Apache and Black Hawk helicopters at a port in northern Germany so the aircraft can be moved to a base in Bavaria.
German news agency dpa reported Sunday that 94 helicopters and several trucks from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in Fort Drum, New York, were sent to the port of Bremerhaven.
Most of the equipment is bound for an Army base in the town of Illesheim, but dpa says some will be assigned to rotating stints in Lithuania and Romania.

Italy Intrigue May Halt Renzi’s Comeback Bid

The ex-premier’s Democratic Party, the biggest force in parliament, holds a meeting of its leaders in Rome on Monday. They’ll decide whether to seek national elections this year, or wait until a vote scheduled for early 2018.

Should Renzi prevail on Monday, there is the prospect of yet another European election alongside Germany, France and the Netherlands this year. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which wants a referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro area, is keen to exploit its standing in opinion polls that show it neck and neck with the Democratic Party.


The Navy is planning fresh challenges to China’s claims in the South China Sea

February 12, 2017

This article was originally posted Feb. 12 at 12:01 a.m. and has been updated.

U.S. Navy and Pacific Command leaders want to ratchet up potentially provocative operations in the South China Sea by sailing more warships near the increasingly militarized man-made islands that China claims as sovereign territory, according to several Navy officials.

The freedom of navigation operations, also known as FONOPS, could be carried out by ships with the San Diego-based Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which is in the Pacific Ocean heading toward the South China Sea, according to three defense officials who spoke to Navy Times on condition of anonymity to discuss operations in the planning phase.

The military’s plans likely call for sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s newly built islands in the Spratly and/or Paracel islands, a move that would amount to a new challenge to Chinese maritime claims there that has raised tensions between Washington and Beijing in the recent past.


India navy spurns homemade warplane, latest blow to Asia push for self reliance

By Sanjeev Miglani and Tommy Wilkes | BENGALURU/NEW DELHI

India’s navy is in the hunt for a new foreign fighter jet after rejecting an indigenously made aircraft as too heavy, the latest sign of the struggle to get Asian militaries to buy locally to grow their defense industries.

The navy last month invited manufacturers to pitch for 57 planes for its aircraft carriers, a multi-billion dollar order the government had hoped would go to the state-run producers of India’s Tejas, a combat aircraft 33 years in the making.

India, South Korea, Taiwan and other Asian buyers are expected to intensify efforts this year to develop indigenous warplanes, military officials said, due to anxieties that the United States may be less engaged in the region under President Donald Trump.


18 killed, over 90 wounded in Lahore blast

  • Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of TTP, claims responsibility for attack 
  • Dead include DIG Traffic Ahmed Mobin, SSP Operations Zahid Gondal, DSP Pervez Butt
  • Two suspects arrested, Section-144 imposed in Lahore by Punjab government

At least 18 people, including DIG Traffic Ahmed Mobin, were killed and over 90 wounded in a suicide bombing outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Monday, policemen and rescuers said.

[Editor’s Note: The TTP is the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.]



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February 10, 2017

Trump nixed candidate for State Department job over campaign criticism: report

President Trump has rejected a top candidate for deputy secretary of State who criticized him during the 2016 presidential campaign, CNNreported Friday.

A meeting between Trump and Elliott Abrams went well, CNN reported, but Trump nixed Abrams for the State Department role once he learned that Abrams criticized him during his White House run.

Abrams, who worked for former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, was considered a top contender for the No. 2 job.
He had the backing of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also supported Abrams for the job because of his experience, CNN reported.


Russia suspected over hacking attack on Italian foreign ministry

Exclusive: Italian government official says no classified emails were compromised in attack believed to have lasted more than four months last year

Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni
Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, was foreign minister at the time of the hack, but sources say he was not affected. Photograph: Dadi/AGF/REX/Shutterstock

Russia is suspected by Italian officials of being behind a sustained hacking attack against the Italian foreign ministry last year that compromised email communications and lasted for many months before it was detected, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Italian government official confirmed that the attack hit the foreign ministry last spring and lasted for more than four months but did not infiltrate an encrypted system used for classified communications.


Britain’s entire fleet of attack submarines ‘out of action’Laura Hughes,

The Royal Navy’s fleet of attack submarines are all currently out of action, according to reports.

Britain’s seven ‘hunter-killer’ vessels are understood to be ‘non-operational’ as they undergo repairs and maintenance.

HMS Astute is the only vessel currently at sea, but she is still “weeks away” from active service.

Theresa May is said to have been kept in the dark by Defence chiefs, the Sun reports.


French Jews will have to renounce their Israeli citizenship if Marine Le Pen is elected as president, the National Front leader reveals

  • Far-right leader said citizens with dual nationalities from non-European countries will have to choose one or the other
  • She was quizzed on whether she includes Israel within proposed rules
  • Le Pen said those who do not choose French nationality will not necessarily be forced to leave
  • She has previously called for Jews to stop wearing kippahs in public 

French Jews who have dual Israeli nationality will have to give up one of their nationalities if far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is elected.

The Front National leader said she would not allow citizens to hold dual citizenship in two non-European countries.

She will, however, not include Russia in the policy, stating she considers it to be part of the ‘Europe of nations’.


Girl, 16, is among four people arrested in France on suspicion of plotting a suicide bomb attack in Paris using ‘Mother of Satan’ explosives

  • The four are suspected of planning a terror attack on the French capital
  • They were arrested today in the southern city of Montpellier
  • Reports from France suggest they may have been identified on social media
  • Explosives were reportedly found by anti-terrorist teams 

A 16-year-old girl has been arrested in the French city of Montpellier on suspicion of plotting a suicide attack in Paris.

She was one of four suspects arrested after investigators from the anti-terrorist sub-directorate swooped this morning.

Agents had been monitoring their computers for several weeks, and it thought the four may have been identified on social media.

A ‘bomb-making laboratory’ was found in the single flat raided in Montpellier, said a source close to the case.


Trump tells Chinese president US will honor ‘one China’ policy

President Donald Trump told China President Xi Jinping the U.S. would honor the “one China” policy months after Trump suggested he might use American policy on Taiwan as a bargaining chip between the two sides.

Trump “agreed at the request of President Xi,” to honor the policy, the White House said in a statement late Thursday.


Michael Flynn talked sanctions with Russia before Trump took office: Reports

– The Washington Times – Friday, February 10, 2017

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador before President Trump took office, according to new reports.

Mr. Flynndenied he had discussed the sanctions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to The Washington Post on Wednesday before a spokesman said Thursday that while Mr. Flynn had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he “couldn’t be certain” that the topic never came up.

The Post said its report relied on “nine current and former officials” who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.


Ukraine will hold live-fire drills with Buk-M1 antiaircraft missile systems at the Yagorlyk practice range in the Kherson Region in the country’s southeast, spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Dmitry Gutsulyak said on Friday. About 50 tactical exercises have been planned with the command posts of brigades, regiments and basic units, almost 25 tactical drills with Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile batteries at practice ranges, and also about 35 tactical and special maneuvers with logistics teams to ensure cohesion of antiaircraft missile formations, TASS quoted him as saying. “Units of S-300 air defense systems will take part in tactical live-fire drills during the multinational exercises Saber Guardian – 2017 at the Shabla training range in Bulgaria,” Gutsulyak added.


Russia’s Baltic Sea Pipeline Scares The Life Out Of Ukraine

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Despite opposition last year from anti-trust authorities in Poland, Russia is not backing down. Energy giant Gazprom insists it will build the Nord Stream II pipeline through the Baltic Sea even if it has to do it alone. The pipeline will sit right beside the Nord Stream I pipeline that already exists.  And if it gets built, Ukraine is convinced it’s future as a transit line for Russian gas into Europe is finished.

“As it is, Russia is moving its traditional Ukraine transit to Nord Stream I,” says Andriy Kobolyev, CEO of Naftogaz in Ukraine. “If you look at the numbers on gas consumption in Europe out to 2020, it is obvious to me that if we get a Nord Stream II and if we get the expansion of Turkish Stream, which is already happening, with two pipelines there now instead of one, then that will mean Ukrainian transit of Russian gas into Europe with equal zero.”


Top commander: Russia ‘legitimizing’ Taliban to undermine US, NATO

Russia is trying to legitimize the Taliban in order to undermine the United States and NATO, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Thursday.

“The Russian involvement this year has become more difficult,” Gen. John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “First, they have begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban. This narrative that they promote is that the Taliban are fighting Islamic State and the Afghan government is not fighting Islamic State and that, therefore, there could be spillover of this group into the region. This is a false narrative.”

“I believe its intent is to undermine the United States and NATO,” he later added.


Turkey’s Erdoğan paves way for April vote on new sweeping powers

Referendum to be held after president approves bill on constitutional changes that could allow him to rule until 2029

Turkey’s president has approved a major constitutional reform bill granting him broad new powers under an executive presidential system, paving the way for a referendum on the bill on 16 April.

The 18-article bill was passed by parliament last month without garnering the two-thirds majority needed to become law.President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval allows the changes to go to a referendum in the deeply polarised country, which is still under emergency law.


STR | AFP | Getty Images

China ‘beefing up military’ on disputed islands in the South China Sea, says US think tank

Kristin Huang

Satellite images suggest China has upgraded its military ­infrastructure in the disputed ­Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, ­according to a U.S. think tank.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said on Wednesday that China now ­occupied 20 outposts in the ­Paracels, and that there had been an extensive military build-up on eight islands.


But on Friday, the California-based chip maker GlobalFoundries announced a $10 billion project in China, showing how the center of gravity continues to shift across the Pacific.

The new advanced semiconductor factory, in the central Chinese city of Chengdu, is only the most recent in an array of investments, often by major multinationals, into China with the support of the Chinese government. The projects have become markedly more sophisticated, making more modern microchips, memory chips or flat-panel displays.

Italian businessman dumped North Korean nuclear waste in ocean near Taiwan

Environmental groups demand investigation

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An Italian businessman dumped radioactive nuclear waste in the ocean near Taiwan in the 1990s, according to documents from an Italian intelligence service declassified Wednesday.

The information was contained in 61 documents from SISMI, an Italian military intelligence department, which were submitted to an Italian parliamentary investigation commission, according to the Italian media.

The reports named Giorgio Comerio as a businessman who made a fortune by sending ships loaded with nuclear and other dangerous materials to the bottom of the sea in the Mediterranean and near Somalia and Taiwan.

Comerio began collaborating closely with the government of North Korea around 1995, the documents said. In return for the payment of US$227 million (NT$7 billion), he disposed of 200,000 barrels of radioactive waste, whose final resting place must be the ocean near Taiwan, according to SISMI.


Only 1 of Germany’s 8 Airbus A400M military planes ready for use – air force

Just one of Germany’s eight Airbus A400M military transport aircraft can be used at the moment, the country’s air force has said. The news comes after one of the planes broke down while the German defense minister was visiting Lithuania.

Recently, three planes – including the one in Lithuania – were out for unscheduled repairs, and two more were set to be checked, a spokesman for the German Air Force said, as cited by Reuters.

The spokesman added that a seventh plane was still undergoing the acceptance process following the arrival on January 31.


Stealth, Super Bombs and Lasers: All of the Reason Iran Should Fear America’s Military

Should the U.S. have to resort to the military option against Iran’s nuclear program, the B-2 stealth bomber would figure prominently in the operations. One of Iran’s best defenses is its massive and unforgiving geography. The country is three times larger than Iraq and roughly equivalent to the size of all of Western Europe. Most of its major nuclear facilities, as well as some of its important military sites, are located deep inside the country. Some of these are also located near important cities, such as the Fordow nuclear enrichment plant that is located near the important religious city of Qom. This and four others, make up the weapons America would use to go to war against Iran. 



Saboteur from inner circle must be identifed ASAP

Officials in the White House are looking into leaks about President Donald Trump’s phone calls with foreign heads of state, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling them “very concerning.”

“We’re looking into the situation, yes, and it’s very concerning,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Thursday as quoted by the Hill.

Spicer stressed that the way parts of the information are being revealed “is clearly a breach of a lot of protocols and laws.”

The spokesperson noted that Trump is worried by the leaks, adding that “the idea that you can’t have a conversation without that information getting out is concerning,” Spicer said.


Kremlin says Turkey provided intel for “friendly fire” strikes

By Christian Lowe and Tulay Karadeniz | MOSCOW/ANKARA
The Kremlin and the Turkish military gave conflicting accounts on Friday of who was responsible for the accidental death of three Turkish soldiers in Russian air strikes in Syria.

The “friendly fire” incident occurred during an operation against Islamic State near the northern Syrian city of al-Bab on Thursday, highlighting the risk of unintended clashes between the numerous outside powers in a complex war. [nL5N1FU3WP]

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the air strikes had been launched based on coordinates provided to Russia by the Turkish military.

“Unfortunately, our military, while carrying out strikes on terrorists, was guided by coordinates given to them by our Turkish partners, and Turkish servicemen should not have been present on those coordinates,” he told a conference call with reporters.


Russia’s ‘Humpty Dumpty’ hackers: What were they trying to do?

Russian police have arrested members of a prominent group of hackers that leaked information about Russian officials and state ministries. BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg meets a “Humpty Dumpty” member hiding out in Estonia who explains why the notorious group did what they did.

In a restaurant in the city of Tallinn, Alexander Glazastikov tells me how he got into the business of stealing and leaking information.

“I was bored with my job, I wanted to try something else. Something interesting.”

Along with former journalist Vladimir Anikeev, Glazastikov created “Anonymous International”. The group became known as “Shaltai Boltai” – the Russian name for “Humpty Dumpty”. Mr Anikeev is now under arrest in Moscow.


Feds Bust Alleged Russian Bank Hacker in Los Angeles

Alexander Tverdokhlebov, whom authorities describe as an ‘extremely sophisticated and well-connected cybercriminal,’ allegedly stole cash from thousands of U.S. bank accounts.


A federal investigation into a Russian cybercrime ring led Secret Service agents to the doorstep of a 29-year-old Los Angeles man the United States calls an “extremely sophisticated and well-connected cybercriminal” who allegedly used malware to steal cash from thousands of U.S. bank accounts.

Alexander Tverdokhlebov was arrested in an early-morning raid on Feb. 1 on a four-count wire fraud indictment alleging that he worked with a Russian colleague in 2009 and 2010 to attack U.S. financial institutions. He allegedly used a botnet of 10,000 hacked PCs.


‘Paranoid Republicans’ are reportedly using an app that auto-deletes messages over hacking fears

In 2016, the emails of Democratic Party officials were hacked and leaked to Wikileaks — an incident that defined the US presidential election and helped Donald Trump achieve his shock victory over establishment favourite Hillary Clinton.

Republicans are now determined not to let the same happen to them.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan and David McAbe are reporting that some members of Trump’s administration and other senior Republican officials have taken up using Confide, a secrecy-focused messaging app backed by Google.

These days, plenty of apps — from iMessage to WhatsApp — offer end-to-end encryption to help protect users’ data from prying eyes. But Confide takes it a step further by deleting messages once they have been read, Snapchat-style, and makes it difficult to even screenshot them.


Army drone that vanished on flight found stuck in a tree

An Army drone that disappeared on a training flight in southern Arizona turned up hundreds of miles away in Colorado, stuck in a tree, and the military is trying to figure out how it got there.

A hiker spotted the Shadow drone in the foothills west of Denver on Thursday, officials at Fort Huachuca in Arizona told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

The $1.5 million drone was missing a wing, The Associated Press reported. “An investigation into what happened is the next step,” Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton said.


The colonels shaping Trump’s Middle East policy

WASHINGTON — Underneath the drama and chaos of the Donald Trump White House — the rival power centers, combative press conferences mercilessly mocked on Saturday Night Live, leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone calls to allied leaders, and the often inflammatory tweeter-in-chief, fuming over the latest perceived insult while watching “Morning Joe” — a cadre of deeply serious, tested military intellectuals at the National Security Council is shaping Trump’s Middle East policies.


Girl, 16, who planned to blow up a Jewish school in Denmark becomes the first female in the country’s history to be charged with terrorism

  • A 16-year-old girl has been charged with plotting to bomb schools in Denmark
  • She has become the first female in Danish history to be arrested for terrorism 
  • Prosecutors said she planned ‘to make bombs’ using Acetone peroxide (TATP) 
  • She had targeted a private Jewish school in Copenhagen and her own school

A 16-year-old girl has become the first female to be arrested on terrorism charges in Denmark’s history after she planned to bomb two schools, including her own.

Prosecutor Lise-Lotte Nilas says, the Danish student from the small town of Kundby, is accused of ‘having made preparations to make bombs’ using the explosive known as TATP.

She had targeted a private Jewish school in Copenhagen and the school she attened, Sydskolen, in the town of Fårevejle.


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February 8, 2017

Iron Dome intercepts three rockets from Sinai headed for Eilat

Five people treated for shock, but no other injuries or damage caused by projectiles fired from Egypt; incident comes hours after mortar shell strikes Golan Heights

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted three rockets headed for the southern city of Eilat late Wednesday night, while a fourth fell in an open area, the army said.

This fourth rocket was not shot down by the missile defense battery as it was headed towards an open field, a military spokesperson said.


Pearl Harbor 2? China ‘has prepared for a preemptive strike against US military bases which would cripple American forces in the region’

  • An investigation of satellite imagery compares China’s missile testing grounds and US military bases
  • The images show that the test areas have been designed to look like the military bases, according to the report 
  • Earlier this week, a highly accurate Chinese ballistic missile capable of threatening US and Japan bases in Asia made its latest appearance 
  • The medium-range DF-16 featured in a video posted last week

The levels at which China appears to be planning a missile attack on US military bases in the Pacific have been detailed in a new report.

An investigation of satellite imagery comparing China’s missile testing grounds and US military bases shows a pattern – all of the missile tests have been aimed at destroying US carriers, destroyers and airfields in East Asia, the report said.

The images show that the test areas have been designed to look like the military bases, according to the report by Thomas Shugart on War on the Rocks.

Earlier this week, a highly accurate Chinese ballistic missile capable of threatening US and Japan bases in Asia made its latest appearance at recent Rocket Force drills


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4204262/China-prepared-pre-emptive-strike-against-US.html#ixzz4Y8Y4RPV3
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EXCLUSIVE: Iranian Boat Had Guns Pointed at U.S. Ship, Commander Says

ABOARD THE USS MAHAN, ARABIAN GULF — Iranian forces in a fast-attack boat had their guns pointed right at a U.S. destroyer as it sped directly towards the ship, in a dangerous encounter in January, a U.S. Navy captain said.

Fearing collision, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Marc Davis was eventually forced to fire three warning shots from the ship’s .50 caliber guns, he said in a recent one-on-one interview with Breitbart News, where he shared new details about the incident.

The contact began early Sunday morning on January 8 when one of four Iranian boats harassing the Mahan began speeding straight towards the destroyer and its 330 sailors onboard, forcing a series of attempts to get it to stop.



Russia sends Syria its largest missile delivery to date, US officials say

The shipment of 50 SS-21 short-range ballistic missiles arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus along the Mediterranean Sea in the past two days, the officials said.

“For someone winding down a war, that’s a big missile shipment,” one official said.

Russia has fired two SS-21 missiles and four longer-range SS-26 Iskander missiles in the past two days into Syria’s Idlib province against “opposition” fighters, according to those officials. It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. was backing any of those fighters.



French presidential contender François Fillon faces fresh claims over wife’s pay

Rightwing candidate disputes allegation that Penelope Fillon received €48,000 in severance payments

François Fillon, the rightwing French presidential candidate who has refused to quit over allegations he paid his wife from public funds for a fake job, has been hit with fresh claims that she was given generous severance payments.

The investigative and satirical weekly, the Canard Enchaîné, claimed British-born Penelope Fillon, who was highly paid from taxpayers’ money for 15 years as a parliamentary assistant, had received a total of €45,000 (£38,400) in severance payments at the end of two contracts


Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader found guilty of embezzlement

Retrial conviction prevents anti-corruption activist and critic of Vladimir Putin from running in 2018 presidential election

in Moscow

A court has found Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty of embezzlement in a retrial, barring him from running in the 2018 presidential election.

As the judge read out the sentence on Wednesday, Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova told journalists the conviction would prevent him from taking part in the election, which he registered for in November.

Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since the end of 1999, is widely expected to run for president again, and his approval ratings remain well above 80%.


Most Europeans want to STOP migration from Muslim countries, study finds, as controversy rages over Donald Trump’s US travel ban

  • 55 per cent of people in 10 European nations want to curb immigration
  • Research was done by the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs
  • 10,000 respondents were asked if they wanted to stop migrants arriving from predominately Muslim countries
  • It was carried out before Donald Trump’s controversial immigration measures 

‘Sobering’ new figures reveal that more than half of Europeans favour banning immigration from predominately Muslim countries.

A survey carried out by London-based think-tank The Royal Institute of International Affairs found that 55 per cent of Europeans across 10 countries  think further immigration from mostly-Muslim countries should stop.

The research by the institute, based at Chatham House, was carried out before Donald Trump introduced his controversial immigration ban in the US.


Taliban murder two of our UK hero interpreters: One man was shot after being branded a spy while second was killed when UK failed to answer his desperate call for help

  • MPs heard one was ‘dragged from his car and shot twice for being a spy’
  • Another was killed despite UK unit being set up to ‘answer his calls for help’
  • Defence Minister admitted UK considering sending more troops to Afghanistan

Interpreter Rafi Hottak told the Commons’ defence select committee that one translator was dragged from his car and shot twice by insurgents after being branded a spy.

The other translator who risked his life to help British soldiers was killed after a UK unit set up to help desperate interpreters failed to answer his calls for help.

Details of the horrific killings emerged as defence minister Mike Penning admitted Britain’s policy towards Afghan interpreters is not as ‘generous’ as the US.


Yemen reportedly withdraws permission to allow US ground missions

Yemen has withdrawn permission for U.S. forces to conduct antiterror ground missions in the country after a deadly commando raid last month that reportedly resulted in civilian casualties.

The New York Times, citing unnamed American officials, reported Tuesday that neither the White House nor the Yemenis have publically announced the suspension.  The report said  it is unclear if  the Yemenis  were influenced at all by President Trump’s travel ban order  that included Yemen on the list of banned countries.


Yemen denies it has banned US commando raids

The Associated Press reported Yemen Foreign Minister Abdul-Malik al-Mekhlafi said on Wednesday that reports that operations were suspended following a raid that killed multiple civilians and one Navy SEAL were not true.

“Yemen continues to cooperate with the United States and continues to abide by all the agreements, ” he said.

He added Yemen “is involved in talks with the U.S. administration on the latest raid.”


Trump to approve weapons packages to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain blocked by Obama

– The Washington Times

The Trump administration is poised to move quickly to approve major weapons packages for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that President Obama blocked during his final months in office over human rights concerns in both nations, U.S. officials and congressional sources say.

While the White House declined to discuss its plans, one U.S. official directly involved in the transfers told The Washington Times that a roughly $300 million precision-guided missile technology package for Riyadh and a multibillion-dollar F-16 deal for Bahrain are now in the pipeline ready for clearance from the new administration.


S-400 air defense systems mobilized near Moscow in snap exercise

Air defense systems around Moscow were put on high alert Wednesday as part of a surprise nationwide combat readiness drill for the Russian Air Force. The Russian capital is one of the best-prepared areas of the country in terms of nuclear strike defenses.

“Units of the air defense force responsible for defending Moscow and the central industrial region have been put on highest combat alert,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “The air defense mission involves fully-manned combat crews.”

The check involves the redeployment of batteries of S-300, S-400 and Pantsir-S air defense systems to backup positions in a simulation of area contamination, the ministry said. The guards of the batteries also conducted anti-saboteur maneuvers and trained to operate in hard terrain.


‘Macedonia not a country – sorry’: Skopje furious after US Congressman suggests partitioning

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia has expressed its outrage to the US State Department after Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher suggested it was not a country, and should be partitioned by neighbors such as Kosovo and Bulgaria.

According to Rohrabacher, the creation of Macedonia itself was a failed project, and the atmosphere is ripe for a fresh redrawing of the borders.

“My inclination is Macedonia is not a country. I’m sorry – it’s not a country,” the California congressman told Albanian TV channel Vizion Plus.


CIA chief to visit Turkey, discuss Kurds, Gulen — officials

In first overseas trip, Mike Pompeo will review Ankara’s request to extradite cleric accused of plotting coup, US support of Syrian rebels

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — US Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo will visit Turkey on Thursday in his first overseas trip to discuss security issues, including Turkey’s fight against a movement led by a US-based cleric accused of orchestrating the failed military coup, Turkish officials said, in a sign of improving relations between the allies.

Pompeo’s visit was decided during a 45-minute telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late on Tuesday, according to officials from Erdogan’s office. They briefed a group of journalists Wednesday on condition of anonymity, in line with government regulations.

The officials said Pompeo would also discuss the issue of Syrian Kurdish fighters — backed by the United States — which Ankara considers to be terrorists because of their affiliation with outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey


‘Islamic Bonnie and Clyde’ charged with Australia terror plot

19-year-olds Sameh Bayda and Alo-Bridget Namoa accused of planning Sydney stabbing attack, manufacturing homemade bomb

A self-described Australian “Islamic Bonnie and Clyde” couple were Wednesday charged with planning a terrorist act, which reportedly involved a Sydney stabbing attack.

The pair, Sameh Bayda and Alo-Bridget Namoa, both 19, were already in custody accused of collecting documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts.

“Today’s charges follow an extensive investigation by officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team and on-going consultation with the Commonwealth DPP,” New South Wales state police said in a statement.

“The charge carries a penalty of life imprisonment.”


Germany’s new frontrunner: The Schulz

In a zany political climate, the former president of the European Parliament sees his electoral fortunes rise.

BERLIN — That a small-town mayor turned MEP could be a serious contender for Germany’s chancellorship would rank as nothing less than a political earthquake — that is, if it weren’t for Brexit, Donald Trump or the sudden implosion of François Fillon in France.

But in this zany political climate, Martin Schulz’s sudden surge in popularity is more par for the course than a surprise, the latest example of the punditry’s conventional wisdom being turned on its head.


Leonardo enters solo T-X bid following break with Raytheon

Leonardo will compete on its own to build the Air Force’s next trainer after announcing last month that it would no longer participate in the bidding process with Raytheon.

Leonardo DRS, the U.S. piece of the Italian defense company, announced on Wednesday that it will compete its T-100 for the contract to build the Air Force’s two-seat jet trainer. The T-100 is a modified version of the company’s M-346 aircraft, a trainer aircraft operated by Italy, Israel, Singapore and Poland.

The Air Force is expected to award the $16.3 billion contract sometime this year.


Moldovan President Warns Against ‘Rush’ To Closer Ties With NATO


Moldova’s pro-Russia President Igor Dodon has warned NATO against moving too quickly to seek closer ties with Moldova and opening a planned liaison office in Chisinau.

Speaking after talks with NATO deputy head Rose Gottermoeller on February 7, Dodon said the liaison office would be of no benefit to the majority of Moldovans and NATO should not “rush” to open it.

“For me, the opening of such an office is not helpful for the security of the people; it is a provocation set up by the previous government,” he told reporters at NATO headquarters during his first visit to Brussels.


Strategy to ‘destroy’ North Korea missiles to be applied during exercises

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author  Feb. 7 (UPI) — A bilateral U.S.-South Korea strategy to detect, defend, disrupt and destroy North Korea missiles, also known as 4D, is to be applied to the upcoming Key Resolve joint military exercises.

The 4D operations, jointly approved in November 2015, were first employed in drills in 2016.

In March, the strategy is to become more “concrete,” according to Yonhap news agency.

The Command Post Exercises are to simulate a full-scale war scenario that assumes the deployment and readiness of THAAD, the U.S. missile defense system, at its designated location in central South Korea.


Mac malware, possibly made in Iran, targets US defense industry

The malware has also been found targeting a human rights activist


Just because you’re using a Mac doesn’t mean you’re safe from hackers. That’s what two security researchers are warning, after finding a Mac-based malware that may be an attempt by Iranian hackers to target the U.S. defense industry.

The malware, called MacDownloader, was found on a website impersonating the U.S. aerospace firm United Technologies, according to a report from Claudio Guarnieri and Collin Anderson, who are researching Iranian cyberespionage threats.

The fake site was previously used in a spear phishing email attack to spread Windows malware and is believed to be maintained by Iranian hackers, the researchers claimed.


Russia completes S-300 missile systems supplies to Iran in 2016 – TASS

Moscow has completed supplies of S-300 missile systems to Tehran in 2016, TASS news agency quoted the Russian envoy to Iran as saying on Wednesday.

ISIS monsters burn 20 civilians ALIVE in ceremonial execution as crowd forced to watch

ISIS sickos have carried out a mass public execution on 20 civilians by burning them alive for treason.

Jihadis forced a crowd to watch as they tied up and burned the men and women to death in the occupied city of Mosul, Iraq.The stronghold remains in ISIS hands despite an ongoing siege from the Iraqi Army spearheaded by commando unit the Golden Division.

ISIS executions and torture methods in the city are becoming more brutal as the cult loses its grip – with their religious police Al-Khansa now armed with “metal jaws” to bite women to death.


Senators Recognize Reservist Cyber Skills in New Bill

[Editor’s Note: This is a very smart and positive move.  See our Defense News article on the subject at http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/commentary/2016/05/19/take-advantage-reserves-innovation/84587450/)

UK / EMEA News Reporter , Infosecurity Magazine

US lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill designed to ensure the Department of Defense knows the exact cybersecurity capabilities of the National Guard and reserve forces, so that the government is better prepared to deal with a possible future incident.

The proposed DoD Emergency Response Capabilities Database Enhancement Act of 2017 will update current law, forcing the Pentagon to gain full visibility within a year.

The legislation follows a 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which highlighted the potentially significant cyber capabilities lying dormant in National Guard units.

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January 20, 2017

The Not-So-Secret Way to Kill an F-22 or F-35 Stealth Fighter

Yes, America’s stealth fighters and bombers are amazing–but they can be defeated. 

The United States has poured ten of billions of dollars into developing fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, relatively simple signal processing enhancements, combined with a missile with a large warhead and its own terminal guidance system, could potentially allow low-frequency radars and such weapons systems to target and fire on the latest generation U.S. aircraft.

It is a well-known fact within Pentagon and industry circles that low-frequency radars operating in the VHF and UHF bands can detect and track low-observable aircraft.


Turkey can no longer insist on Syria settlement without Assad: Turkish deputy PM


Turkey can no longer insist on a resolution of the conflict in Syria without the involvement of President Bashar al-Assad, as the situation on the ground has changed dramatically, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Friday.

Turkey has long insisted that Assad must go for sustainable peace to be achieved in Syria. But it has become less insistent on his immediate departure since its recent rapprochement with Russia, which backs the Syrian leader, and ahead of peace talks planned in Kazakhstan next week.


Obama Commutes Life Sentences of Four Mexican Cartel Leaders

ROMA, Texas — Four family members who ran one of the largest cartel smuggling operations in south Texas had their life in prison sentences commuted and will likely be returning to this border city from where they ran their criminal empire. One of the main destinations that the criminal organizations delivered drugs to was Chicago, Illinois.



Taliban’s Leading Bomb Maker Accidentally Blows Himself And Four Sons Up


Kamal Khan, who was described as one of the Taliban’s leading experts on constructing road side bombs and explosives, experienced poetic justice when a bomb he was making in Afghanistan detonated too early, killing him and his four sons.Khan was making explosives in his home, which have been frequently used to attack government security personnel and international troops in Afghanistan.


Italy will be the next big problem in Europe

monte paschiThe Monte dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena August 16, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

As a new year begins, we look at a key forecast that will bridge 2016 and 2017: the Italian banking crisis. In Geopolitical Futures’ 2016 forecast, we said that the focal point of Europe’s financial crisis would shift from Greece to the Italian banking system. For 2017, we forecast that the evolution of this crisis will eventually force a confrontation between Italy, Germany, and the European Union. Here, we establish a starting point for the looming Italian banking crisis in 2017, which will unfold over many months and have a range of consequences.


US Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison in Italy

by John Rossomando

former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa. Photo: Alchetron.

Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy on Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush-era rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers.


Syria, Russia and Turkey – the uneasy alliance reshaping world politics7

The end of the Aleppo crisis and Syrian ceasefire has produced an unlikely alliance. The relationship between Russia, Turkey and Syria is pivotal not only for the Middle East but also for global geopolitics.

The leaders of all three countries – Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad – rose to prominence unexpectedly at around the same time, accompanied by a level of optimism. But over the past 16 years, they have joined the growing club of populist and authoritarian leaders.

Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia in 2000 – young, energetic and promising to raise Russia from the ashes of the failed Soviet Union.

Erdogan rose to prominence in 2003 after a major economic crisis catapulted him to Turkey’s prime ministership, carrying with him the hopes of the Turkish people. His first two terms of government were marked by attempts to join European Union, liberal reforms and economic growth.


Israel opens first ever NATO office

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Golan assisted in opening Israel’s first office at NATO headquarters in Brussels; met with heads of Turkish, Arab militaries on sidelines; official meeting highest level meeting ever between Israel, NATO.
IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Golan was in Brussels for the official opening of the Israeli office at NATO headquarters after it was decided that the two sides should have a closer working relationship. Roni Leshno Yaar, who submitted his credentials to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is the first Israeli representative to NATO since the Jewish state was accepted as a partner to the organization (not a member). 

In a joint meeting between the ambassador, Maj. Gen. Golan, and NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, the Deputy Secretary said “here in NATO, we understand that Israel shares our values, and is an active and beneficial partner for Mediterranean dialogue.”

The meeting was an impressive show of support for Israel, with Maj. Gen. Golan being the highest-ranking Israeli official to meet with NATO representatives.


650-mile trench stakes out claim for bigger Kurdish territory in Iraq

Line stretching along northern Iraq symbolises hopes for more land when fighting against Isis ends

A trench near the Christian town of Bartella marks the extent of Kurdish military control in northern Iraq.
A trench near the Christian town of Bartella marks the extent of Kurdish military control in northern Iraq. Photograph: Cengiz Yar


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Bergdahl and Alan Gross, the One Who Did Not Walk Away

I have been trying to stay away from the story of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the chap who we traded Taliban murderers for, and who knows what else.

The spin doctors tried to put out a story that the Sargent’s health was rapidly declining and that freeing him was an urgent matter for the administration.  They also characterized, and continue to say, that Bergdahl fell into the hands of the enemy while he was on patrol, leaving open the suggestion that either he was in the front or at the rear of a line of soldiers on patrol in the wilderness of Afghanistan.

But it seems that story was false.  The truth is that Bergdahl was not on patrol.  He had been on guard duty around a FOB, or Forward Operating Base. and seems to have disappeared shortly after completing his guard assignment.   According to what his comrades at the outpost say, Bergdahl left behind his weapon and his body armor, all arranged in a neat stack, and walked off, taking with him only his compass.   Where would he have been going in the middle of the night?

It would seem likely that either Bergdahl knew more or less where the “enemy” was, or he had some prior contact perhaps through a third party to give him instructions on what to do and where to go and who to meet. We don’t know that any of this is the case, but it seems bizarre to just wander off and take your chances, since the perimeter of this FOB was far from secure and all the soldiers on the base knew that they were in harm’s way.

So too does the story seem false that the trade was made for Bergdahl because he was ill.  The administration has suggested that he lost a lot of weight, or that he was suffering some incurable illness.

The Associated Press reports as follows on the health issue: ” ‘Had we waited and lost him,’ said national security adviser Susan Rice, ‘I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.’ She said he had lost considerable weight and faced an “acute” situation. Yet she also said he appeared to be ‘in good physical condition.’ ”

If he was in good physical condition, then we are to suppose he had a mental problem?  How could that be diagnosed in conversations with a kid who in talking to his father only spoke in Pashto, claiming he had “forgotten” English, his native language?

The AP also reports that  two administration officials said that the Taliban may have been concerned about his health, as well, since the U.S. had sent the message that it would respond harshly if any harm befell him in captivity.

There is a serious problem with what the unidentified administration officials are saying.  Bergdahl was not a prisoner of the Taliban.  He was a “prisoner” of the Haqqani Network.  While the Taliban and the Haqqani Network sometimes work together, the Haqqani is also closely linked to al-Qaeda and is probably the organization that facilitated Osama bin Laden’s transfer from Afghanistan to Pakistan.   So it is fair to ask, what did the Haqqani network get out of the deal with Washington?  Certainly not the release of five Taliban terrorists.  Was it money?  Or something else?

Finally, the AP reports that in 2010 the Defense Department concluded that Bergdahl walked away from his post, and this led to a decision to call off the active hunt for him.  Instead of rescuing him, says the AP, the Defense Department would use only diplomatic means to get him released if at all possible.

The release of terrorists in exchange for a U.S. soldier paints a target on the back of every American soldier.  The Taliban, well aware of their great victory over the United States and the American military, are making their success loud and clear.  Every tin horn terrorist now knows that he (or she) can benefit by snagging an American soldier.

Today there are Americans who are incarcerated where, it seems, the administration has done nothing.  The case of Alan Gross, who worked for the State Department, is a case in point.  He was “convicted” and thrown into a Cuban prison in 2009.  It would be easy to get him back if we traded some jailed Cuban spies in the U.S. for him.  But the administration, despite the pleas of the Gross family and many in the Jewish community who worked with Alan trying to aid Jews in Cuba,  has not brought Alan home.  He was working for them and he did not walk away.


Addendum: I want to call reader’s attention to a devastating story carried in the London Daily Mail newspaper.  The story tells of an Army officer who died trying to “rescue” Bergdahl from his captors in 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2646345/EXCLUSIVE-Outraged-parents-officer-died-searching-deserter-Bergdahl-hit-Obama-cover-just-like-Benghazi-claiming-told-LIES-hero-son-died.html

Also please visit http://www.bringalanhome.org –this is the website to help free Alan Gross.  He deserves to be free.

There is one further point that needs to be made.  The “freeing” of Bergdahl is obviously a cover for something else.  Bergdahl is a little fish in a much bigger pond.  What the administration is actually doing is negotiating a deal with the Taliban to take over Afghanistan.  I feel really certain this is the case.   The Bergdahl father had a channel to the Taliban, and I think the administration wanted to use this “innocent” seeming channel to negotiate something far bigger.  All the rest is simply noise, but the noise is unfortunately terribly harmful to the families who have suffered over the Bergdahl matter, and the prisoners who remain prisoners, because the administration has no interest in them, the most obvious case, Alan Gross.

The State Department has rejected any exchange for Alan Gross.  See http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-state-dept-no-bergdahl-like-swap-for-alan-gross/





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