Archive for the ‘bombings’ Category

U.S. Troops Still Necessary, Iraqi Govt Official Says

November 8, 2008

Iraq’s deputy prime minister said Saturday his country still needs the U.S. military to ensure security and warned time is running out to approve a new security deal with Washington.

East of Baghdad, a suicide bomber slammed his car into a police checkpoint, killing eight civilians and wounding seven policemen. A security official says the Saturday attack occurred on a highway near the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi in Anbar province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

The violence came as U.S. and Iraqis officials were working to finalize a deal that would remove U.S. troops from Iraq’s cities by June 30 and withdraw them from the country by 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh cautioned that Iraq will enter a “period of a legal vacuum” if the U.N. mandate under which US troops operate in Iraq expires by year’s end without the agreement having been approved.

On Thursday, the U.S. sent what it calls its final answer to proposed Iraqi changes to the draft agreement, and is now waiting on Baghdad’s response.

“The government is studying the latest amendments, and I hope that we can settle this subject as soon as soon possible because time is running,” he said.

Saleh, who is Kurdish, added the pact is key to preserving “the security improvement which has been achieved” in recent months.

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Pakistan’s Zardari is Cozy With China; But His Fate Is Tied To The White House and Whoever Lives there….

October 17, 2008

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari completed his first state trip to Beijing on Oct. 17, signing a raft of new agreements with a nation he had hailed in Islamabad four days earlier as “the future of the world.” China and Pakistan tied up at least 11 deals on trade and economic cooperation, infrastructure projects, agriculture, mining rights and telecommunications; they now aim to double bilateral trade, which currently stands at around $7 billion, by 2011.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) and his Pakistani counterpart ... 
Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari stand near their respective country’s flags during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 15, 2008. Zardari arrived on Tuesday for his first visit to China as president, and has said he wants his four-day trip “to remind the leadership of the world how close our relationship is”. Pakistan is set to usher in a series of agreements with China during the trip, highlighting Islamabad’s hopes that Beijing will help it through economic and diplomatic troubles.REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA)

By Ishaan Tharoor
Time Magazine
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The two countries have a long-standing, all-weather relationship, forged over decades of mutual animosity toward neighboring India, with whom they separately have fought wars. But Zardari’s visit comes at a pivotal moment. His fledgling democracy is not only threatened by terrorism, but is also teetering toward bankruptcy. Spiraling inflation, now at 25%, has eaten into Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves at a rate of $1 billion a month and the country risks defaulting on debt repayment loans. These fiscal headaches have been compounded by a flare-up in tensions with its most vital ally, the U.S., which recently launched raids against terrorist targets in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas without notifying Islamabad — actions that have triggered a firestorm of protest and clouded relations with Washington.

Enter China. With nearly $2 trillion amassed in foreign currency holdings, China’s government had the largesse this week to grant Zardari an immediate soft loan of upwards of $1 billion, according to a report in the Financial Times. “As a long friend of Pakistan, China understands it is facing some financial difficulties,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a briefing with journalists on Oct. 16. Other new measures include the increase of access Pakistani goods will have in China’s markets as well as agreements to launch special economic zones within Pakistan with tax incentives for Chinese companies.

Beyond this, Zardari’s strengthening of ties with Beijing sends a clear signal to the U.S. On Oct. 8, Washington concluded a landmark nuclear energy deal with India — a pact that upset both Beijing and Islamabad, in part because it enabled India to skirt international regulations regarding the purchase of nuclear fuel, something the U.S. has ruled out offering Pakistan. Su Hao, professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, says China’s foreign policy establishment is “highly concerned about the U.S.-India contract, because it was a unilateral decision by the U.S.”

A burgeoning Sino-Pakistani alliance may check what many in Islamabad and Beijing fear to be a solidifying Indo-U.S. consensus in the region. Though no official statement from either government was made, Pakistan’s ambassador to Beijing, Masood Khan, told The Nation, a Pakistani daily, that obtaining nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian nuclear technology would be the “main item” in talks with Beijing this week. Apart from being Pakistan’s main conventional arms supplier, China has played an integral part in building Pakistan’s nuclear weapons industry. In turn, Islamabad allowed the Chinese to build a deep-sea facility in Gwadar, a $250 million project that, once completed, will give Beijing an immensely strategic listening post on the Persian Gulf.

Still, a geopolitical Cold War is not at hand. The fate of Pakistan’s government remains tightly bound to the White House….

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Chicago, Academics Defend Bill Ayers; Former FBI Agents Outraged

October 16, 2008

By Steven Gray
Time Magazine
 

In recent months, Chicago has bathed in pride as the place Barack Obama calls home, in spite of the attendant scrutiny on people like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and Tony Rezko. But it is now particularly defensive, if not irate, about the latest local figure to haunt Obama’s presidential candidacy: Bill Ayers.

Ayers, 63, is the University of Illinois at Chicago education professor who, during the Vietnam era, was a leader of radical group the Weather Underground. In recent weeks, Republicans have mounted an increasingly potent assault on Obama’s past dealings with Ayers. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential candidate, depicted Chicago as a hotbed of radical politics. Earlier this month, she referred to Ayers when she said Obama “sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.” During Wednesday night’s final presidential debate, Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, continued to question Obama’s association with Ayers, insisting that the Democratic nominee launched his political career in Ayers’ living room. Obama very audibly interjected that such criticism was a falsehood.

For a sense of the reaction in Chicago, consider the headline of a recent Chicago Tribune blog post: “Question for Ayers alarmists: Where were you in the 1990s?” That was the period in which Ayers evolved from a bomb-throwing radical into a socially acceptable pioneer in education. At the university in recent days, Ayers’ colleagues have circulated letters expressing support. Similar formal statements may soon come from a group of alumni and the university itself. “Bill has nothing to be ashamed about in his scholarly career – it’s one that any scholar can take pride in,” says Victoria Chou, dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois here, and a friend of Ayers for years. She adds, “I’m just disappointed in those in our country who would try to tear down and destroy his reputation for political purposes. This is about Obama, not really about Bill, but it’s troubling us all.”

Ayers’ Illinois roots run deep. His father was a top executive at Commonwealth Edison, a local utility company. The young Ayers, inspired by the 1960s civil rights movement, later emerged as a leader of the Weather Underground, a group that bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. He and other members of the group soon fled into seclusion, taking on assumed names. He and his wife, fellow radical Bernardine Dohrn, turned themselves in after charges were dropped because of tainted evidence. (Ayers’ famous quote afterward: “Guilty as hell, and free as a bird. It’s a great country.”) By the mid-1980s, Ayers had re-emerged as an education scholar and was on track toward tenured status at the University of Illinois. In the early 1990s, Chicago’s mayor, Richard M. Daley, named him an assistant deputy mayor for education, and by the decade’s end, he’d been named the city’s Citizen of the Year.

He became an influential fixture in Chicago society. In 1995, Ayers and his wife hosted a coffee at their home in the leafy intellectual enclave here known as Hyde Park. The Obama campaign has stopped commenting on it. Based on other reports, the gathering may have been a campaign event for Alice Palmer, the Illinois state senator who was one of Obama’s mentors and, at the time, was plotting a bid for Congress. It may also have been one of several coffees organized at the time to allow Obama to be introduced as Palmer’s heir apparent. Or both. (Palmer and Obama had a falling-out soon after; she supported Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.) It’s clear that during the coffee, Obama, then a young University of Chicago law professor, met an influential group of Chicagoans who would be crucial for his eventual bid for Palmer’s Illinois senate seat…..

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Former FBI Agents Outraged At Ayers, Obama Ties

By Ronald Kessler
Newsmax
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Former FBI agents who worked the Weather Underground case are angry about the longtime relationship between Barack Obama and William Ayers, a leader of the domestic terrorist group who has admitted widespread bombings.

“It outrages me to think that a person would be seeking the presidency of the United States and was close to an individual like Bill Ayers,” former agent Max Noel told Newsmax.

Ayers said in his book that he participated in the bombing of New York City police headquarters in 1970, the U.S. Capitol in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. In September 2001, the New York Times quoted him as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs . . . I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was sent to prison for failing to cooperate in solving the robbery of a Brink’s armored car in which two police officers were killed.

Charges against Ayers were dropped because the FBI used so-called national security wiretaps that could not be used legally in criminal cases.

 

Obama launched his political career at Ayers’ home in 1995. From 1999 to 2002, he served with Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago. In response to criticism of their relationship, Obama has said he was 8 when Ayers was bombing buildings.

But the presidential candidate was a grown man when he sought and obtained Ayers’ blessing for his entry into politics.

Former FBI agent Willie Reagan said, “I spent seven years of my life hunting down people who described themselves as revolutionary communists and were involved in bombings.”

Reagan, who infiltrated the Weather Underground in New York, said he witnessed members of the group making bombs.

“At some point, Obama knew of his background and should have repudiated him, not later when he is running for president,” Reagan told Newsmax.

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ayers_/2008/10/14/140252.html

Suicide attacks a growing threat in Pakistan

October 10, 2008

By Shahan Mufti
Christian Science Monitor

Islamabad, Pakistan – A suicide bomber struck the headquarters of the Anti-terrorism Squad of the Islamabad police force Thursday afternoon, just as lawmakers were preparing to convene 15 miles away to discuss growing militancy in the country.

The incident added to the rise in bomb attacks that Pakistan has seen over the past year, not only in its troubled northwestern region but also on high-profile targets in major cities like Islamabad, the capital.

Pakistani tribesmen dance as they gather for a 2005 meeting ... 
Pakistani tribesmen dance as they gather for a 2005 meeting in South Waziristan. A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people when he blew himself up at a meeting of anti-Taliban tribal leaders close to the Afghan border.(AFP/File/Farooq Naeem)

“The message [from Thursday’s attack] couldn’t have been clearer,” says Hassan Askari Rizvi, former professor of Pakistan Studies at Columbia University.

The militants, he continues, “want to show that they have the capacity to hit Pakistani institutions – even those ones trusted with the responsibility of protecting the rest.”

Suicide bomb attacks have spiked in Pakistan, from two in 2002 to a record 56 in 2007, according to the Institute for Conflict Management, based in New Delhi. As of August of this year, the country had seen 25 suicide-bomb attacks, ICM reports.

In a grim indicator of the rise in attacks, according to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, this year Pakistan has overtaken Iraq in suicide-bomb deaths.

It counted 28 suicide bombings in Pakistan that killed more than 471 people in the first eight months of this year. By comparison Iraq saw…

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Thailand: “Haven for Criminals”

March 9, 2008

The Bangkok Post
March 9, 2008

By Wassayos Ngamkham

A comprehensive network of communications, transport facilities and hospitality have made Thailand a sanctuary for the world’s criminals and other fugitives, said police.

Panaspong Sirawongse, the head of Interpol’s Liaison Office Bangkok, said foreign criminals pick Thailand as a hide-out or a venue to negotiate illegal deals apparently because the country is a hub of communications and transport.

Also, Thailand is a world tourist destination where fugitives from crime can easily slip in and mingle with foreign tourists, he said.

“I believe they chose us because it is convenient for them to make contacts here,” Pol Col Panaspong said.

He referred to the latest arrest involving Russian Viktor Bout, 41, dubbed the ”Merchant of Death”, on Thursday at a Bangkok hotel. The fugitive was wanted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly selling arms to terrorists.

Police escort international arms dealer Viktor Bout as he arrives ...
Police escort international arms dealer Viktor Bout as he arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court March 8, 2008. Bout, dubbed the “Merchant of Death” of the clandestine arms trade and who was arrested in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand, has told police he was in Bangkok for a holiday and not to transact any weapons business, a police officer said on Saturday.
REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Before that, Thailand was also in the spotlight for the much-publicised arrest of Nurjaman Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, in Ayutthaya in 2003. Hambali was suspected of being Southeast Asian terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)’s operations chief and the architect of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

His capture, according to a recent US report on terrorism, suggested that Thailand was a transit point for regional terrorists.

Following Hambali’s arrest, a number of other wanted fugitive criminals have been apprehended in the kingdom. They include Christopher Paul Neil, 32, who was arrested days after Interpol issued an unprecedented worldwide public appeal for help in identifying the suspected paedophile.

In mid-February, Morgan Michelle Hoke, 21, known as the ”ponytail bandit”, was arrested at a guesthouse in the Bang Lamphu area. She was wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a series of armed bank robberies.

Crime Suppression Division (CSD) deputy chief Petcharat Saengchai agreed with Pol Col Panaspong that communications and transport facilities are among the factors criminals consider before they choose to flee to Thailand.

Pol Col Petcharat, the head of the task force involved in the arrest of Mr Bout, is chief of a new crime suppression division which has been specially set up to tackle international crimes.

He said Thai people’s friendliness and hospitality are also a drawcard.

“Thailand is their heaven. Thai people are also friendly so the criminals like Thailand, especially Bangkok, which is a large and complex city. It is an ideal hideout, even for local criminals,” he said.

CSD commander Pongpat Chayaphan agreed that the character traits of local people can be a double-edged sword.

“Thai people are kind and friendly. So the criminals feel at ease here,” he said.

Thailand bomb wounds seven, soldier shot

August 4, 2007

The Sunday Telegraph
August 5, 2007

A SOLDIER was shot dead by suspected rebels and at least seven civilians were wounded in a bomb blast at a food stall in Thailand’s restive Muslim-majority south, police said.

The attacks underlined ongoing violence in the region where near daily bombings and shootings have killed more than 2,400 people since the separatist unrest broke out in January 2004.

A 45-year-old Muslim army soldier was shot dead by two militants at point blank range Saturday in front of a convenience shop in Pattani, one of three violence-torn provinces bordering Malaysia, police said.

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