Paris Terror / Charlie Hebdo : Gunmen who killed 12 said they were Al Qaida


Obama and The Arab League condemn attack on Charlie Hebdo that killed 12

President Barack Obama has condemned the deadly attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Even the Arab League has condemned the attack, a report said.

Meanwhile, a tweet by the News On The Min said that a car explosion was reported in the city of Sarcelles outside a synagogue, hours after the Paris shooting. More details are awaited.

Paris Terror Charlie Hedbo

Obama, Arab League condemn attack on Charlie Hebdo that killed 12

President Barack Obama has condemned the deadly attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Even the Arab League has condemned the attack, a report said.

Meanwhile, a tweet by the News On The Min said that a car explosion was reported in the city of Sarcelles outside a synagogue, hours after the Paris shooting. More details are awaited.
They said they were Al Qaida, says cartoonist who let men in at gunpoint

A cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo, Corine Rey, has said that she was the one who let the gunmen into the office because she was held at gunpoint.

France 24 quotes Rey as saying, “They shot Wolinski, Cabu… it lasted about five minutes… I took cover under a desk… they spoke perfect French… they said they were Al Qaida.”

12 killed in Charlie Hebdo magazine that published Prophet cartoon

Heavily armed gunmen shouting Islamist slogans stormed a Paris satirical newspaper office Wednesday and shot dead at least 12 people in the deadliest attack in France in four decades.

Police launched a massive manhunt for the masked attackers who reportedly hijacked a car and sped off, running over a pedestrian and shooting at officers.

Police said witnesses heard the attackers, who were armed with a Kalashnikov and rocket launcher, shout “we have avenged the prophet” and “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).

Charlie Hedbo Paris Attack

Vladimir Putin condemns attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine office

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday sent his condolences to the victims of the Paris newspaper attack and condemned “terrorism” in all its forms, his spokesman said Wednesday.

“Moscow resolutely condemns terrorism in all its forms,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS news agency. “President Putin due to the tragic event in Paris… expresses his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the dead and also to the people of Paris and all the French.”

NATO condemns deadly attack on Paris magazine office

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack at the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris today. This was a barbaric act and an outrageous attack on press freedom. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. We stand in full solidarity with our Ally France. All NATO Allies stand together in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations can never be tolerated or justified,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.

Markel vouches for freedom of the press

Condemning the carnage, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shooting in Paris is not only attack on French citizens, but on freedoms of the press and free speech.

Charlie Hebdo cartoonist “Charb” among dead

France24 referring to French media reports said that cartoonist “Charb”, whose real name is Stephane Charbonnier is among the dead. Charbonnier was chief editor of Charlie Hebdo.

 EU expresses shock

“I am profoundly shocked by this brutal and inhuman attack,” European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly told BBC.

Canadian PM joins other nations in condemning attack

Many heads of nations have taken to Twitter to express their condemnation on the horrific attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. “I’m horrified by the barbaric attacks in France. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted.

British PM condemns attack

British Prime Minister David Cameron has tweeted out condemning the attack at the magazine office in Paris.

“The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press,” the tweet said.

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Rallies across France for four Frenchmen held hostage for 1000 days in Niger


June 16 , 2013

Source: krmagazine

The families of four Frenchmen who were taken hostage in the North African republic of Niger in 2010, are planning rallies across France next week. Today, Thursday, June 13, marks the 1000th day of their loved ones being held captive by insurgents linked to al-Qaida in North Africa

Rallies across France for four Frenchmen held hostage for 1000 days in Niger

The families of four Frenchmen who were taken hostage in the North African republic of Niger in 2010, are planning rallies across France next week. Today, Thursday, June 13, marks the 1000th day of their loved ones being held captive by insurgents linked to al-Qaida in North Africa.

four-Frenchmen-held-hostage-for-1000-days-in-Niger

The four French hostages were variously employed by French companies Areva, Vinci and Sogea Satom when they were taken hostage on Sept. 16, 2010, in the town of Arlit, north Niger, by a group claiming to be part of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), reports 20 Minutes. Areva employee Daniel Larribe and his wife Françoise were among seven people originally kidnapped by AQIM along with five employees of Satom, a subsidiary of the Vinci construction group. Although Françoise Larribe and two of the Satom employees were released in February 2011, Daniel Larribe and three Satom workers, Pierre Legrand, Thierry Dol and Marc Ferret have remained in captivity.

Now, the families of the four remaining Niger hostages plan to hold rallies across France in the cities of Nantes, Nimes, Aix-en-Provence, Orleans and Valence, as well as the French capital, Paris, on June 22, as a reminder of the plight of the four whose whereabouts and safety remain unknown. In a statement released Wednesday, representatives of the four families said, “A thousand days in the wilderness, away from everything and everyone. A thousand days: two and a half years, almost three. A thousand days is intolerable. They need to come back now.”

Understandably, all the families are concerned at what they see as the intolerable delay in any move to have the hostages released. During almost three years of uncertainty, the families have received only bits and pieces of information about their loved ones. When asked recently about the hostages, a spokesman for Quai d’Orsay — the French Foreign Office — had declined to comment “for security reasons and out of respect for the families,” 20 Minutes reported.

A video of the four French nationals held hostage was released by AQIM in September 2012 although it was impossible to verify when the video was filmed, (see accompanying Euronews video). The video showed the hostages in apparent good health. AQIM blamed the French government for delaying negotiations which might lead to the hostages’ release.

For the French government, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with hostages’ families in January 2013, telling them that “their loved ones were alive and healthy,” even though they were being held in “very difficult” conditions, reports World Nuclear News. Foreign Minister Fabius said at the time, “As frustrating as it may be, the treatment of cases of kidnapping in fact requires the utmost discretion, in the interests of efficiency and in the interest of the hostages.”

The minister confirmed to hostages’ relatives that those held captive were being properly fed and had access to medical treatment. He also said letters written to the hostages by their families had been delivered to them, adding, “Like all of us, I share the anxiety and impatience of the families in these difficult times.” Fabius concluded that the French president, government and businesses were “determined to secure the release of the hostages and their return to France as quickly as possible.”

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But for the hostages’ families, another six months have slipped by since Fabius’ encouraging statement and there is concern at the apparent inaction on the part of the French government. In mid-April this year, French President Françoise Hollande had put down the lack of progress to lack of response on the part of the kidnappers saying, “We have wanted (contact) for weeks, if not months.”

Despite matters being compounded by the French intervention in Mali, there was some comfort for relatives of hostages this week. Philippe Hugon, director of research at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), in charge of Africa told 20 Minutes, “The various intermediate networks between the kidnappers and the negotiators are moving, they are recovering.”

Referring to the release of a French family, taken hostage in Cameroon in February and released, relatively quickly, in April, Mr. Hugon said, “The situation of the French family taken captive in Cameroon was less complex. In this [Arlit, Niger] case, the release of the hostages is more difficult because the war in Mali, where France is at the forefront, is not finished and because these hostages represent financial and strategic issues important to jihadist groups.”

Encouraging words perhaps, but as 20 Minutes reports, the families of the hostages are tiring of what they see as the “lack of explanations” from the French authorities. As René Robert, grandfather of hostage Pierre Legrand put it, “Since the French military intervention in Mali, [the hostage situation] has become a total unknown. There’s been no explanation as to why matters are taking so long. We expect deeds as well as words. We just want our guys back.”

Few in France will disagree with that sentiment.

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Iraqi security forces broke up an al-Qaida plot to use chemical weapons, as well as to smuggle them to Europe and North America


June 2 , 2013

Source: The Tribune Review

Iraqi security forces broke up an al-Qaida plot to use chemical weapons, as well as to smuggle them to Europe and North America, the defense ministry announced on Saturday.

Five men were arrested after military intelligence monitored their activities for three months, Gen. Mohamed al-Askari said duringa news conference broadcast on television.

Three workshops for manufacturing sarin and mustard gas were uncovered, he said, and remote-controlled toy planes were seized.

Iraqi-Gas-Terror

Iraqi soldiers display containing chemical materials confiscated from four men accused of planning to make chemical weapons such as nerve and mustard gas.

Al-Askari said the group intended to put gas in the toy airplanes to attack Shiite Muslim pilgrims visiting the holy shrine of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, according to al-Mada Press.

Group members said they also intended to smuggle the weapons to a neighboring country and use them on targets in Europe and North America, al-Mada cited al-Askari as saying. Two chemical manufacturing sites were raided in Baghdad and another unidentified province in the country, the ministry said.

The terrorist cell planning to use the poison gas received instructions on how to make it from al-Qaida outside of Iraq, al-Mada reported.

RC-Plane_Terror

Al-Qaida in Iraq is believed to be the only offshoot of the terrorist network to have used chemical weapons, the BBC reported. It detonated 16 crude chlorine bombs in Iraq between October 2006 and June 2007.

Chlorine inhalation made many hundreds of people sick, but no deaths resulting from exposure to the chemical were recorded, U.S. officials said at the time.

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Kidnapping and Terror in The Middle East and North Africa: Foreign Office raises Egypt terror threat


November 3, 2012

Source: The Guardian

Egypt terror threat raised from medium to high after series of deadly militant attacks across north Sinai.

The Foreign Office has raised its terrorism warning for visitors to Egypt from medium to high, particularly urging Britons against travel to the Sinai region, after a recent spate of militant attacks.

The change comes on the same day that a report revealed that police in Egypt had foiled a plot by al-Qaida-linked militants to attack tourists in the popular Red Sea coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The Mirror said the attack, involving firearms and rocket-propelled grenades, had been planned for Christmas.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said she could not comment on any link, adding that changes to travel advice were based on “a number of sources”.

While Sharm el-Sheikh is on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, it and other nearby resorts, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab, are excluded from the Foreign Office advice against travel to the region.

The Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that on 2 November we amended our travel advice for Egypt. Our advice makes clear that there is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt.”

Its website says: “Although security is tight throughout the country, especially in resort areas, there remains a high risk of attacks, which could be indiscriminate, including in public places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers such as hotels and restaurants.”

The advice warns against all travel to north Sinai, where there have been attacks on security forces near the border with Gaza and Egypt, including one which killed 16 soldiers.

The advice says that even in south Sinai security has deteriorated this year, with a number of hijacks and kidnaps away from resort areas.

Egypt has been trying to rebuild its tourism industry after last year’s widespread unrest ended the long rule of Hosni Murbarak as president.

Last month the antiquities minister, Muhammad Ibrahim, reopened the restored pyramid of Chefren and six tombs at Giza, using the occasion to stress the country’s safety for tourists.

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US officials worried about security at London 2012 Olympics


Source: The Guardian

US plans to send 500 FBI agents to protect its athletes as organisers admit underestimating number of security guards needed

The US has raised repeated concerns about security at the LondonOlympics and is preparing to send up to 1,000 of its agents, including 500 from the FBI, to provide protection for America’s contestants and diplomats, the Guardian has learned.

American officials have expressed deep unease that the UK has had to restrict the scope of anti-terrorism “stop and search” powers, and have sought a breakdown of the number of British police and other security personnel that will be available next summer.

The prime minister and other senior members of the cabinet, including home secretary Theresa May and culture and sport secretary Jeremy Hunt, are taking turns to chair security meetings about the Olympics, which are often dominated by the latest questions from the US, sources said. But Washington’s need for reassurance is exasperating British officials and anti-terrorism officials, who have privately raised concerns about the meddling, as well as the size of the US “footprint” in the UK during the games next year.

“We are not equal partners in this,” said one security official. “They are being very demanding.”

The friction is adding to the pressures on the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog), which is responsible for preparing and staging the event. The Guardian has learned the committee is attempting to resolve a potential crisis over venue security, after conceding it had underestimated the number of security guards needed at the 32 sites across the country. Originally it had thought 10,000 guards would be enough, but after a review over the summer it now believes it will need up to 21,000.

Venue safety is not the responsibility of the police, so the firm G4S was awarded the contract to find and train the initial group. The company will this week begin an advertising campaign to meet that target. But the organising committee does not have the money to pay G4S to make up the shortfall, and does not believe the firm has enough time to do so, forcing ministers to turn to the Ministry of Defence for help.

The MoD has offered 3,000 soldiers, and another 2,000 in reserve – half the total required. The ministry is working within its own tight budget, and the late request for help has irritated some officials.

“What have they been doing for the last five years?” asked one. “There is less than a year to go and they’ve only just realised they need twice the number of security guards they first thought. Where is the money to pay for this coming from? It is an extra burden on the defence budget that we could well do without.”

Another source said: “Everyone has now realised 10,000 was an underestimate. This is one of the biggest problems facing the Olympic authorities because there is an absolute dearth of vetted and qualified private security guards. Senior police had advised ministers and the committee that 10,000 was too few, but nobody wanted to listen because of the cost involved.

“The military will have to stand up some people. Otherwise G4S have got the Olympic committee over a barrel.”

The problem will do little to reassure Washington, which will be supplementing its FBI personnel with an equal number of diplomatic security officials, some of whom will be armed. Though the UK’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has lowered the threat of attack to “substantial” – the third level on the scale – western intelligence agencies remain wary.

They know it is possible that al-Qaida, or one of its affiliates, may attempt to disrupt the Olympics, with members of the US team being obvious targets.

The Home Office and Scotland Yard believe the UK has a robust security strategy, but this has not stopped American officials voicing their concerns.

The police response to the London riots, the arrest of a security guard at the London Olympics site earlier this year, and the arrests made shortly before the visit of the Pope last year have provoked anxiety among US officials. The repeal of section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allowed police to stop and search suspects with near impunity, also raised alarm. One well-placed Whitehall source said the entire Olympic security operation was being prepared “with the US in mind”, adding: “The US will have no qualms in saying it is unsafe. If something happens and we say we did not have enough people, we are finished.”

Another official said: “The Americans are risk-averse, with a capital A and underlined. They want to see everything. We are not equal partners in this. They want to be on top of everything – building protection, counter-terrorism strategy and VIP security – everything.” Asked about the size of the US contingent heading to London next year, the official said: “They don’t do things by halves.”

In addition to the official American security entourage, the sponsors of the Games, including Coca-Cola, will have their own private security details, adding to the complexity of the policing operation.

The Ministry of Defence and the Home Office said no final decisions had been taken on the number of soldiers that might be needed to beef up security at some of the Olympic sites.An official said the need for an increase at the venues had become apparent when the Olympic committee began to role-play scenarios at some of the completed sites over the summer.

“The focus of the government and everyone involved is to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy,” a government spokesman said.

“Ministers and officials from across government are working closely with the police and Locog to ensure we have a robust safety and security strategy.”

Officials said ministers, the Olympic committee and G4S were working together “to finalise the requirements for Olympic venue security”. “As with all significant national events, we will make the best and most appropriate use of available resources,” a statement said. “The Ministry of Defence have been fully involved in supporting Olympic security planning work.”

G4S said it was confident of recruiting 10,000 security guards, and could recruit more, as long as the Olympic authorities gave the company enough time. “We need to know as soon as possible,” said a spokesman.

The US state department declined to comment.

Locog said detailed security plans were being drawn up in collaboration with the government and security agencies.

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Explosion outside the Prime Ministers Office in Oslo – Norway


The attack left several people injured but the prime minister was reported to be safe [Photo by Geir-Olav Goksøyr]

An explosion has blown out most windows of a government building housing the prime minister’s office and left several people injured, news agencies say.

Friday’s blast blew out most windows on the 17-storey building housing Jens Stoltenberg’s office, as well as nearby ministries, including the oil ministry, which was on fire.

Camilla Ryste, a government spokeswoman, told the Associated Press news agency Stoltenberg was safe.

A Reuters correspondent, Walter Gibbs, said he counted at least eight injured people. The cause of the blast was unknown but the tangled wreckage of a car was outside one building.

And an Associated Press reporter said newspaper offices in the area were also damaged and smoke could be seen drifting in the streets.

The reporter said he saw a young man with a bleeding leg being helped away from the area. It was not immediately clear whether there were other injuries.

Kristina Overn, a Norwegian journalist, said people were surprised that Norway had been targeted.

“People are really surprised. I am very surprised. People are shocked that this could happen in Oslo,” she told Al Jazeera.

“People are quite calm, they are not running around or anything. But people are quite shocked. I think most Norwegians consider themselves to be outside of incidents like this.”

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2 Americans abducted in southern Philippines


Source: Herald Online

By TERESA CEROJANO – Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines — 

More than a dozen armed men abducted a naturalized American, her teenage son and Filipino nephew before dawn Tuesday from a southern Philippine island near a stronghold of al-Qaida-linked militants, officials said.

Suspicion fell on the notorious Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for ransom kidnappings, beheadings and bombings in the last two decades, or a Muslim rebel commander whose group has been linked to previous abductions.

The 400-plus Abu Sayyaf militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state in the predominantly Christian nation, are holding three other kidnap victims, including a child, as part of desparate efforts to raise funds, according to the Philippine army.

The assailants seized Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, her 14-year-old son and 19-year-old Filipino nephew from a house in Zamboanga city’s Tictabon island village, then fled with their captives in two motorized boats, said police Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo.

No contact or ransom demand has been made by the abductors, and their identities remain unconfirmed, de Ocampo said.

It happened near Basilan Island, the birthplace and stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf militants, about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila.

The largest Muslim separatist group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is present in the area but it has been negotiating with the government and a cease-fire has largely held for several years.

However, the military said a separatist Moro commander identified as Waning Abdulsalam may have been responsible. Rebel spokesman Von Al Haq said his group would investigate but that it has no such report and will not tolerate criminal activities.

Police earlier said the woman was a Filipino married to a German and the family lives in the U.S. state of Virginia.

But army Col. Buenaventura Pascual, commander of an anti-terrorist task force in Zamboanga, said his men on Tictabon Island saw the U.S. passports of Lunsmann and her son, showing they were American citizens.

Lunsmann, 50, was originally from Basilan and her previous name was Jerpa Usman, police and military officials said.

Pascual said the woman’s husband is apparently an American citizen of German ancestry. He did not accompany his wife and son, who arrived in the Philippines two weeks ago to visit relatives.

Calls and text messages to the U.S. Embassy were unanswered Tuesday.

“We have deployed troops to track down the victims,” Pascual said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the local crisis committee was convened and that police and the military were trying to rescue the victims and capture the culprits.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said intelligence reports showed the victims may have been brought to Basilan’s Tuburuan township.