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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Utøya gunman boasted of links to UK far right

Posted On 19:31 by El NACHO 0 comments

Anders Brehing Breivik, the man accused of the murder of at least 91 Norwegians in a twin bomb and gun massacre, boasted online about his discussions with the far right English Defence League and other anti-Islamic European organisations.

The Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said Norwegian officials were working with foreign intelligence agencies to see if there was any international involvement in the slaughter. "We have running contact with other countries' intelligence services," he said.

Breivik was arrested on Utøya island where he shot and killed at least 84 people, mostly teenagers, at a youth summer camp for supporters of Norway's Labour Party after bombing Oslo's government district just hours before.Dressed as a policeman, he ordered the teenagers to gather round him before opening fire on them. Survivors described how dozens of people were mown down. Edvard Fornes, 16, described how the gunman told the youths, "Don't be shy," and, "Come and play with me," before executing them. "There were two kids lying, hiding, in a ditch saying, 'please, please don't shoot us,' and he shot them."

Another youth, Ida Knudsen, 16, said she had been in a group of 100 who had initially ran from the killer, but that was reduced to around 60 as the gunman pursued them. Eventually she was one of 12 who climbed into a boat and escaped.

With the entire island a crime scene, officers were still combing the shoreline on Saturday and boats were searching the water for more bodies amid fears the toll could rise further. The police were continuing to investigate whether there had been a second gunman on the island.

The disclosure of Breivik's claimed links with other far right organisations came as details emerged about the rightwing Christian fundamentalist and freemason behind Norway's worst post-war act of violence.

It was revealed that the 32-year-old former member of the country's conservative Progress Party – who had become ever more extreme in his hatred of Muslims, left wingers and the country's political establishment – had ordered six tonnes of fertiliser in May to be used in the bombing. While police continued to interrogate Breivik, who was charged with the mass killings, evidence of his increasingly far right world view emerged from an article he had posted on several Scandinavian websites, including Nordisk – a site frequented by neo-Nazis, far right radicals and Islamophobes since 2009.

The Norwegian daily VG quoted one of Breivik's friends saying that he had become a rightwing extremist in his late 20s and was now a strong opponent of multi-culturalism, expressing strong nationalistic views in online debates.

Breivik had talked admiringly about conversations he had had with unnamed English Defence League members and the organisation Stop the Islamification of Europe over the success of provocative street actions leading to violence.

"I have on some occasions had discussions with SIOE and EDL and recommended them to use certain strategies," he wrote two years ago.

"The tactics of the EDL are now to 'lure' an overreaction from the Jihad Youth/Extreme-Marxists, something they have succeeded in doing several times already." Contacted about the allegation by email by last night the EDL had not answered.

The latest disclosures came as the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg flew by helicopter to a hotel in the town of Sundvollen – close to the island of Utøya – where many survivors were taken and where relatives converged to reunite with their loved ones or to identify their dead.

"A whole world is thinking of them," Stoltenberg said, his voice cracking with emotion. He said the twin attacks made Friday the deadliest day in peacetime Norway. "This is beyond comprehension. It's a nightmare. It's a nightmare for those who have been killed, for their mothers and fathers, family and friends," he said.

Buildings around the capital lowered their flags to half-staff. People streamed to Oslo cathedral to light candles and lay flowers; outside, mourners began building a makeshift altar from dug-up cobblestones. On Saturday the Queen wrote to Norway's King Harald to offer her condolences and express her shock and sadness.

Breivik's Facebook page was blocked, but a cached version describes a conservative Christian from Oslo. The profile veers between references to lofty political philosophers and gory popular films, television shows and video games. The account appears to have been set up on 17 July. The site lists no "friends" or social connections.

 


Friday, 22 July 2011

British man and woman suspected of plotting UK terrorist attacks are still being quizzed a week after they were arrested in Afghanistan.

Posted On 20:49 by El NACHO 0 comments



British troops were involved in the operation to arrest the UK couple in Afghanistan
The couple were reportedly in the war-torn country in an effort to link up with the Taliban or al Qaeda to learn bomb-making skills.
Limited details of their arrest emerged on Thursday with authorities only confirming two British nationals had been detained.
The pair are thought to be in their late 20s and are known to Britain's security intelligence agency MI5.
They are reportedly of Afghan origin and are understood to have dual nationality.
They were taken into custody after British troops, joined by members of the Afghan intelligence service, swooped on their room at the International Trade Centre hotel in Herat, near the Iranian border, last week.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the couple had been under surveillance as part of a joint operation involving British police and Afghan security intelligence agents.

The couple were arrested at a hotel in Herat in western Afghanistan
The newspaper also said undercover officers raided several hotels in the Herat area, showing people pictures of the suspects and asking of their whereabouts, before the man and woman were arrested.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that two British passport-holders were being held.
It said in a statement: "The individuals, a male and a female, are currently being held in a secure facility in Kandahar for questioning.
"No further information will be released at this stage."

Officers at MI5's London headquarters are helping to investigate
Nato forces in Afghanistan normally hold suspects for a maximum of four days before releasing them or handing them over to the Afghan authorities.
But a Foreign Office spokeswoman said this has been extended.
Clive Stafford Smith, from the legal charity Reprieve, which campaigns for prisoners' rights, has warned they could be tortured or get the death penalty if they are transferred to Afghan custody.
He said he hopes to launch a legal battle to have them repatriated to Britain.
An MoD spokesman added that all detention operations were conducted in "accordance with international law and strict policy frameworks".

Mr Cameron says British troops numbers in Afghanistan will be cut
Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan as part of international forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced earlier this month that Britain would withdraw 500 troops by the end of next year, but would keep soldiers there in a training role until at least 2023.
His announcement came a fortnight after President Barack Obama announced a big drawdown of US forces in the war-torn country.


Last Serbian War Crimes Fugitive Handed Over to Tribunal

Posted On 20:45 by El NACHO 0 comments

The last fugitive wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal was handed over by Serbian authorities on Friday, ending a tense and drawn-out custody battle over Balkan war crimes suspects that started more than 16 years ago.

Goran Hadzic, 52, entered the high-security prison compound near The Hague in The Netherlands on Friday afternoon. He had been on the run for seven years, hiding in Serbia and other countries, including Russia, according to his lawyers.

“He used another name,” said Radoslav Marenkovic, one of the lawyers, “but he had regular Serbian identity papers.” The tribunal prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, said he hoped that Serbia would explain how Mr. Hadzic had eluded justice for so long.

While calling the arrival of the last fugitive “a milestone” for the tribunal, Mr. Brammertz reminded Serbia that he still wanted access to more of its wartime archives and expected the government’s help in providing access to witnesses.

Before his flight to The Hague, Mr. Hadzic was allowed to visit his ailing mother in the town of Novi Sad and to stop briefly at the tomb of his father in a nearby town.

Mr. Hadzic is scheduled appear Monday in court, where will be read the charges he faces, including a long list of atrocities that took place in Croatia in the early 1990s when Serbs seized almost one-third of Croatian territory known as Krajina and drove out the non-Serb population, torturing and killing many. Mr. Hadzic’s indictment holds him accountable for much of the violence as the president of the short-lived Republic of Serbian Krajina, even though his orders, money and weapons came from the government of Serbia. Croatia took back the land in 1995.

New questions arose Friday over the actions surrounding Mr. Hadzic’s arrest. On Wednesday, a Serbian prosecutor said that Mr. Hadzic had been caught because, from his hiding place, he tried to sell a stolen painting by the Italian modernist Modigliani, but others have since contradicted this. Mr. Marenkovic, the lawyer, dismissed the prosecutors’ statement as “completely false,” saying that Mr. Hadzic “did not try to sell a Modigliani or any other painting.”

Fake and stolen artworks have circulated in recent years in Serbia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia, according to experts. But Charles Hill, a retired Scotland Yard detective and an expert on recovering stolen art, said that stolen works found in Serbia had usually been fakes.

“There are some exceptions, but usually they are fakes.” Mr. Hill said. “That’s been my experience.”

 


Andy Coulson, the prime minister's former director of communications, is being investigated by police for allegedly committing perjury while working for David Cameron in Downing Street.

Posted On 20:43 by El NACHO 0 comments



The development renews pressure on the prime minister over his judgment in hiring the former News of the World editor and represents the third criminal investigation Coulson faces, adding to allegations that he knew of phone hacking while in charge of the tabloid and authorised bribes to police officers.

Strathclyde detectives confirmed that they had opened a perjury inquiry centred on evidence Coulson gave in court last year that led to a man being jailed.

Coulson was a major witness in a trial involving Tommy Sheridan, the former MSP who was accused of lying in court when winning a libel action against the News of the World. Coulson had been the editor of the Sunday tabloid when it ran a story accusing Sheridan of being an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

Sources say police will examine Coulson's denial of any knowledge of phone hacking and payments to police officers at the Sheridan trial against the evidence held by the Scotland Yard investigation.

At the trial Coulson also denied knowing that the paper paid corrupt police officers for tip-offs, which contradicts recent disclosures that News International has uncovered emails showing payments were made to the police during his editorship.

Coulson, who was called as a witness in December 2010, told the court that he had no knowledge of illegal activities by reporters while he was editor of the newspaper.

He also claimed: "I don't accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World."

Sheridan was jailed for three years in January after being found guilty of perjury during his 2006 defamation action against the NoW. He had successfully sued the newspaper over its claims.

Also giving testimony alongside Coulson were Bob Bird, the News of the World's Scottish editor, and Douglas Wight, the Scottish edition's former news editor.

Bird denied being part of a "culture of phone tapping" and Wight, who is now the paper's books editor, told the court he was not aware of any payment for illegal activities.

Strathclyde police's assistant chief constable, George Hamilton, said: "Following our discussions with the crown, we have now been instructed to carry out a full investigation into allegations that witnesses gave perjured evidence in the trial of Tommy Sheridan and into alleged breaches of data protection and phone hacking.

"We will also be looking to see if we can uncover any evidence of corruption in the police service or any other organisation related to these inquiries.

"However, I must stress that no specific allegations regarding corruption have been presented to us at this time.

"We will be working with the Metropolitan police and with the other Scottish forces as we progress with the investigation.

"I have put in place a structure that will allow us to work effectively together, but also to ensure that any member of the public who has a concern regarding the safety and security of their private data and information is able to register that concern and to have it properly investigated.

"By its very nature, this investigation will require us to allocate varying levels of resources to it. There is a huge amount of material to consider and, potentially, a large number of people to contact.

"This will mean that the investigation is likely to be a lengthy one. However, you have my absolute assurance that it will be a thorough one. We will do everything we can to find out the facts and to report all examples of wrongdoing."

Sheridan's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: "Over two weeks ago we provided a detailed dossier of allegations of perjury, phone hacking and breach of data to Strathclyde police and called for a robust investigation.

"Over £2m was spent by the police on investigating Mr and Mrs Sheridan and we were told it was in the public interest. I expect now to see a similar ruthlessness and determination in dealing with the News of the World."

A News International spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that we have been contacted by police on this matter. We can't say anything else."

Earlier this month it emerged that Coulson had hired one of Scotland's top QCs, Paul McBride.


Norway’s intelligence service had previously been criticised for its failure to keep track of suspected terror cells

Posted On 20:41 by El NACHO 0 comments

A memo written in 2009, describes the country’s security service as “in over its head” and adds “it simply cannot keep up.”
Separate cables state that the country felt “immune” from terrorism and that groups such as Al Qaeda were “not a direct threat”.
One memo describes how US authorities had to “press” their Norwegian counterparts to take terrorism seriously and says there was a feeling “that terrorism happens elsewhere, not in peaceful Norway.”
Talking about an attempt by the Police Security Service (PST) to track one particular suspected Al Qaeda terror cell, a cable written by the US Ambassador to Norway, Barry White, describes investigators as “committed, competent and co-operative, generally”.
But he goes on to describe how they refused the help of the UK authorities to put surveillance on a potential suspect and adds: “Not only will they not put their own resources on him…but they also just turned down the visiting UK intel service’s offer of two twelve-person surveillance teams.”

 


Monday, 11 July 2011

dozens of people have been injured at the Evangelos Florakis base in Zygi, between the southern coastal cities of Limassol and Larnaca.

Posted On 08:03 by El NACHO 0 comments


It is believed the blast occurred in the early hours of this morning in an area where munitions seized from a vessel heading to Syria from Iran in 2009 had been dumped.
"There are a number of dead which we cannot confirm yet," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said.
The intensity of the blast caused damage to neighbouring communities and windows and doors of beachside restaurants were blown out.
Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said that a fire at a nearby power station had been contained.
A witness told Reuters: "The place looks like it was hit by a massive bomb."


Monday, 4 July 2011

Hotel attack proves Taliban can strike anywhere in Afghanistan

Posted On 19:36 by El NACHO 0 comments

Last Tuesday evening, the Taliban staged one of their most brazen attacks to date in the Afghan capital.

For nearly four hours, nine heavily armed suicide bombers invaded the Intercontinental hotel in the middle of Kabul, battling security forces and targeting foreign hotel guests.

After NATO helicopters and Special Forces operatives were deployed, the last of the wounded Taliban detonated his explosive vest, taking his own life and ending the bloody battle.

It was estimated that 11 civilians were killed during the attack and several dozen more wounded, while all nine insurgents achieved their aim of dying in battle.

The Intercontinental has long been a prominent landmark in Kabul as it is perched on a steep hill and visible from nearly everywhere in the city.

During my many trips to Kabul, I have never stayed at the Intercontinental but I have visited colleagues there on several occasions. What had once been the most luxurious hotel in Afghanistan still showed glimpses of its former glory but three decades of war have left scars too deep to conceal. Nevertheless, many foreigners choose to reside there for the fact that, until the June 29 attack, the Intercontinental gave the impression of being a safe fortress.

Ascending to the hilltop hotel is a solitary road protected by a number of fortified checkpoints manned by Afghan police and security forces. Knowing the lay of this land makes it difficult to understand how nine, heavily armed, suicide bombers were able to penetrate that many layers of security before entering the hotel — unless there was collusion with the guards.

NATO and the Karzai government were quick to point out that the relatively low loss of civilian life and the fact that the security response resulted in the death of all attackers tallied up to a Taliban defeat. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The goal of the Taliban was to stage a symbolic demonstration of their presence in the middle of Kabul, despite the efforts of Afghan and NATO forces combined. In this, they were extremely successful.

For nearly four hours, it would have been impossible for Kabul residents to be unaware that a battle was raging at the Intercontinental. The flashes, booms and sounds of helicopter gunships emanating from that hilltop landmark certainly made it clear that the Taliban can disrupt the security situation in Afghanistan wherever they choose.

This of course flies in the face of the recent pronouncement by U.S. President Barack Obama in which he announced the start of American troop reduction in Afghanistan. Obama’s rationale was that the recent surge of U.S. troops had succeeded in turning the tide in NATO’s favour.

However, as evidenced by the Intercontinental attack and the continued spike in NATO casualties, the surge succeeded only in intensifying the conflict. The Intercontinental attack also highlighted the folly of turning over increased responsibility to the ill-trained Afghan security forces. Once again, at a crucial juncture, Afghan security disappeared prior to this attack.

After nearly a decade of training, equipping and funding the Afghan army and police, we have yet to buy their loyalty — and we never will.

They are paid by foreigners to wear western-style uniforms in order to prop up a hated and corrupt regime that failed to win a democratic mandate following the farcical 2009 elections. They will continue to pocket as much NATO cash as they can.

And it should be noted that Afghan soldiers make a relatively lucrative salary that is three times that of Afghan teachers. Once the U.S. and NATO countries complete the projected withdrawal of all troops by 2014, the Afghan security forces will quickly dissolve back into the private militias of warlords.

One has to hope they have enough remaining loyalty in the rental agreement to secure the airfields until the last of NATO’s planes are airborne.

 


Britain's Defense Ministry has confirmed that a British soldier who went missing in southern Afghanistan has been found shot dead.

Posted On 19:34 by El NACHO 0 comments

Britain's Defense Ministry has confirmed that a British soldier who went missing in southern Afghanistan has been found shot dead.

The ministry said Monday the soldier went missing from his base in southern Afghanistan and that he was from The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The statement did not provide details of the circumstances in which he was found.

It said that his family has been informed.

International forces hunted for him earlier Monday amid insurgent claims that he had been captured and killed hours before the arrival of Britain's prime minister to Afghanista. The Taliban say insurgents captured the soldier during a firefight with NATO troops and that he died in the crossfire.


U.S. military leaders are working to replace some of the exiting American conventional forces from Afghanistan with a "mini-surge" of U.S. Special Forces

Posted On 19:33 by El NACHO 0 comments

U.S. military leaders are working to replace some of the exiting American conventional forces from Afghanistan with a "mini-surge" of U.S. Special Forces, a measure to soothe commanders’ fears that the withdrawal of troops might put at risk military gains, according to the Times out of Australia.

Military sources told The Times that 16 special operations personnel are considered to be worth the equivalent of 100 conventional troops.

In June, President Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. The remainder of the surge troops, about 23,000, would be withdrawn in 2012, leaving about 70,000 troops in Afghanistan until 2014.

Defense analysts have said of late that the reduction of conventional troops likely will place a heavier burden on clandestine units, such as SEALs, and Army Rangers and Green Berets.

The Times reports there are more than 7,000 U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and about 3,000 in Iraq, with many of the latter expected to be moved to Afghanistan.


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