Friday, August 31, 2007
Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Batista Tagme Na Wai promised a "crusade" against narcotics smuggling in the tiny, poor nation on the Atlantic coast, which experts say is used by drugs cartels as a staging post to smuggle cocaine to Europe.
Guinea-Bissau authorities say shipments of Colombian cocaine seized by local police have been flown in by small planes from Latin America to bush airstrips. The drugs are then flown or shipped out of the country to Europe by the traffickers.
"We will shoot down every plane that tries to violate our air space without previous permission from the authorities," Na Wai told reporters late on Thursday. He added stores of aircraft fuel used by drugs smugglers had been found and seized.
The general said anti-aircraft batteries had been installed in the offshore Bijagos islands, whose jungles, beaches and mangrove creeks have been used by traffickers to set up clandestine airstrips and embarkation points, drugs experts say.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies, which reports on the strength of armies around the world, lists the Guinea-Bissau military as possessing Russian-made anti-aircraft guns and SAM SA-7 ground-to-air missiles but it was not clear how many of these weapons were operational.
Guinea-Bissau's government, police and military have faced international criticism for not doing enough to combat the cocaine trafficking, but they say they do not have enough equipment and technology and have demanded more foreign aid.
In July, the country formally adopted the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime as part of its efforts to crack down against the traffickers.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
Several Islamist leaders, some former Somali parliamentarians and an ex-deputy prime minister were among those due to attend the talks scheduled to start on Saturday.
The conference was intended to unite diverse groups who oppose Somalia's interim government and vehemently object to the presence of its Ethiopian military backers on Somali soil.
But various delegates had not arrived in Eritrea, and the agenda was still not properly prepared, diplomats said.
"I think they need a few more days to work out exactly how they're going to handle this conference," said one Western diplomat who tracks Somalia closely. "The main rallying flag is going to be 'get the Ethiopian troops out', that's for sure."
Some opposition figures, including Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, have taken exile in Eritrea, whose government is sympathetic to their cause and has bitter enmity with Ethiopia. News of the delay came a day after a six-week national reconciliation conference, backed by the government and the international community, closed in Somalia.
That conference, which some had seen has the best hope for peace in the Horn of Africa nation, closed with a raft of resolutions but little impact on the insurgency raging in Mogadishu. Islamists, and some other opposition figures, had boycotted the Mogadishu talks.
Mark Schroeder, Africa analyst with U.S.-based intelligence consultancy Stratfor, said when it did happen, the Eritrea conference was likely to be "even less constructive" than the Mogadishu one, and could inflame regional tensions.
"Participants such as Sheikh Sharif Ahmed will be expected to criticise the Ethiopian intervention in Somalia, very likely demanding Addis Ababa to withdraw its forces from that country or face renewed war," he told Reuters.
"The Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will perceive the statements and demands made by the Somali exiles ... participating in the Asmara conference as clear national security threats."
And Ethiopia will "not take kindly" to such statements coming from the soil of its regional foe, Eritrea, he added. Islamist-led fighters have been targeting the Somali government and its Ethiopian military allies since the New Year, when a brief, six-month Islamist rule of Mogadishu was ended.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
Thursday, August 30, 2007
More armed US soldiers are not welcome in Africa, said Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota yesterday.
Any country that allowed itself to be a base for the US strategic command in Africa (Africom) would have to live with the consequences, Lekota said.
Africom's recent creation has been interpreted as the US suddenly recognising the strategic importance of Africa to the US.
Last month it was reported that Lekota was not responding to US requests for him to meet the first Africom commander, Gen Kip Ward.
Briefing the media yesterday, Lekota said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) defence ministers had, at the summit in Lusaka this month, decided that no member states would host Africom and more armed US soldiers.
He said this was also the "continental position" of the African Union.
However, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has evidently already offered her country as a base for Africom.
Lekota said as far as he knew most African countries supported the view that the Americans should keep their distance.
The Rest @ All Africa.com
The Following is an excerpt from A Report to the United Nations Security council, S/2007/43607-38315 4. The Report was Made on 27 June, posted to the web on 17 July, 2007. I have created some bullet points from the narrative to help clarify some points, and have left out filler text, but I believe I have left the intent of the report writers unchanged in emphasis , and have left out no major points. Here is the original 51 Page Report.
"....Notwithstanding the difficulties in monitoring developments transpiring during
the current mandate, one thing is clear: Somalia is literally awash with arms."
"It is the view of the Monitoring Group that the sheer quantities, numbers and diversity of
arms, especially in central and southern Somalia, are greater than at any time since
the early 1990s. In general, the sources of the arms are varied. They include:
- arms that have been brought into Somalia by both the Ethiopian and Ugandan military —
the Ugandans under a Security Council exemption for the African Union, the
Ethiopians without an exemption.
- The majority of arms, however, appear to have been brought into Somalia via
clandestine routes and have found their way to a variety of key Somali actors.
- "....huge quantities of arms have been provided to the Shabaab by and through Eritrea.
- Furthermore, although the Shabaab have lost a portion of their arms as a result of military engagements, it is reported that they have considerably more hidden in weapons caches for future use.
- It is also worth noting that the weapons in caches and otherwise in possession of the Shabaab include an unknown number of surface-to-air missiles, suicide belts, and explosives with timers and detonators.
- One of the prime avenues being the arms dealers from the Bakaraaha Arms Market. The Bakaraaha Arms Market has rebounded from a slow period during the previous mandate and is now doing a brisk and lucrative business in arms sales.
- (picture from the UN Report)
"The Monitoring Group has made a number of specific recommendations in the
current report. However, successful implementation of the recommendations depends on the establishment of viable government in Somalia."
- "The Transitional Federal Government, in the current context, must clearly establish its authority and accompanying governmental institutions before the continuous and vexing problems associated with widespread insecurity can be brought under control."
- Contributing to the insecurity are a number of important factors, including continued arms flows and powerful independent armed groups outside the control of the Transitional Federal Government,
- Overall lack of regulatory control of the economy,
- An economically powerful business community divided by its lack of support for the Transitional Federal Government and
- Lack of control over Somalia’s borders and coastal waters. "
There is much more in the report, but It is clear that a ramp up of hostilities is underway in Somalia, not a ramp down. It is a classic al-Qaeda in Africa Operation:
- Foreign mujaheddin being flown in through Eritrea, funded through Halawa Agencies-do I have to name them again?
- Arms caches being buried all over Somalia for future use
- Independent foreign militia groups are being formed
- They then go into training, doing small to medium scale attacks to gain experience
- Commercial Arms Dealers are creating re-arm, resupply points:
- Funding is coming from outside sources, and they pay for transactions using sat-phones linked to Islamic bank accounts: No money has to change hands in the field.
- Islamic businesses providing facilities for logistics and barracks in hidden rooms or bob shelters
- Islamic Telecoms providing communications systems: Somalia has some of the cheapest cell phone services in Africa, and accounts can be paid by data link on sat phones
- Isalmic telecommunications make it easy for Mujahadeen to send updates to their private funders
- Soon, after inteligence is gathered from the traning attacks, a larger scale plan is developed.
- Troops are not massed until the very last minute to avoid overwhelming firepower from Ethiopians or the US.
- After the attack, everyone disperses back to their pre-designed "laying low" spot in twos and threes, in private houses, in mosques, in the bush, back to being employed as clan gaurds, or Kaat-growing areas.
- They go back to the arms Bazzar, like the picutre above, individually or in small groups, and resupply themselves - They pay be phone, or have a prearranged deal with a halawa firm or a clan.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Maj. Gen. Zhao Jingmin will be force commander for what is termed the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym MINURSO. He replaces Danish Gen. Kurt Mosgaard, who ended his tour of duty Monday.
"This will be the first time that the U.N. has had a Chinese force commander heading one of its missions," U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas told a regular news briefing.
Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony on the northwest African coast. Morocco annexed the territory after Madrid pulled out in 1975 but clashed with Polisario Front guerrillas seeking independence. A cease-fire was declared in 1991.
Since then, just over 200 U.N. troops and military observers have been stationed in Sahara, where a 1,500-km (940-mile) wall of sand running through landmine-infested desert to the Atlantic divides Moroccan and Polisario forces.
Zhao, a career army officer, was born in 1954 and speaks French and English after being educated in both Beijing and Dakar, Senegal. He served briefly in MINURSO after it was first set up.
He was also chief liaison officer in the U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission from 1996-97, and from 1998-2001 was Chinese military attache in Tunisia. Since 2003 he has worked in the Chinese defense ministry's office of peacekeeping affairs.
The United Nations is currently mediating talks between Morocco, which has offered self-rule for the resource-rich Western Sahara, and Polisario, which seeks a referendum with full independence for the 260,000 inhabitants as one option.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
- ALROSA, Sonangol (Angolan National Energy Company), and Dark Oil (an Angolan oil company) signed an agreement on prospecting and exploration for oil and gas in the Lower Congo and Upper Kwanza zones, in the basins of the Etosha, Okawango and Kassanje Rivers, and in the shelf zone of Angola.
- The agreement was signed in the Angolan capital Luanda for ALROSA by President of ALROSA Mr. Sergey Vybornov, for Sonangol by President of the Administrative Board of Sonangol Mr. Manuel Vicente, and for Dark Oil by Mr. Fragoso do Nascimento Leopoldino.
Office in Belgium
Lange Herentalsestraat 62/70,
Antwerpen B-2018 Belgium Tel: (323) 234-9084 Fax: (323) 234-2307
Office in Angola
Rua Coronel Aires de Ornelas, No 1,
R/S Luanda Republica de Angola Tel./Fax: (244) (2) 443900
Office in Israel ALROSA Co. Ltd. (Israel),
Diamond Exchange, Maccabi Bldg. 2342-2344
1 Jabotinsky St. Ramat-Gan 52130, Israel Tel: (972) 3 6128680/1 Fax: (972) 3 6128714
Office in England ARCOS LIMITED,
2nd Floor, 86 Hatton Garden,
London, EC1N 8QQ, UK Tel: (44)207 242 3170 Fax: (44)207 242 3174
Office in Hong Kong ARCOS HONG KONG LTD,
56 Floor, Bank of China Tower, 1 Garden Road,
Hong Kong Tel: (852)2521 9229 Fax: (852)2521 9239
Office in United Arab Emirates
ARCOS EAST DMCC, Office 19,
Business Avenue Building, Mezzanine Floor,
Port Saeed Road, Deira, Dubai Tel: (971) 4 295 4692 Fax: (971) 4 295 4691
The sale, announced on state television late on Monday, is the first to bypass French state-controlled nuclear group Areva
Areva operates both Niger's existing uranium mines, located in the Saharan north, and the company has to date exported the entire production, paying the government a fixed royalty per tonne.
Areva's 36-year-old monopoly has been under pressure from the Niger government, which has accused Areva of backing Tuareg-led rebels and banned the company's top in-country official from its territory as it continues to hand out prospecting licences to mining companies from other countries.
Niger produced around 3,500 tonnes of uranium concentrate -- known as yellow cake in the trade, and containing around 75 percent uranium metal -- in 2006, but the mines ministry expects output to double in the next four years as two new mines open.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
BAMAKO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Suspected Tuareg gunmen seized a military supply convoy in northern Mali, their second attack in two days and the latest sign of a concerted campaign with Tuareg rebels in neighbouring Niger, military sources said on Tuesday.
The ambush by a group of armed men crossing the desert in Toyota pick-ups took place on Monday some 50 km (31 miles) from the town of Tinsawatene, in Mali's desolate northern reaches, the sources said.
Some soldiers were injured and several attackers killed during hours of fighting before the rebels escaped with a supply truck, two Toyota vehicles and some prisoners.
"We do not know the death toll yet but many Toyotas were burned and many of the attackers were killed," said a senior Defence Ministry source.
On Sunday, suspected Tuareg gunmen abducted about 25 Malian soldiers in a remote Saharan town and took them off toward Niger, where the nomadic tribesmen have been waging a campaign for seven months, which has killed more than 45 soldiers.
The mountainous area where Sunday's abduction took place is regarded as a stronghold of Tuareg leader Ibrahima Bahanga, whom Malian authorities accuse of killing a gendarme in an attack in May backed by rebels from the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ).
"We are obliged to work closely with Niger because we believe there are links between the two groups," said the senior defence source.
"When they launch attacks in Niger they seek refuge in Mali, and when they attack in Mali they hide in Niger."
"There are contacts under way between military authorities in Mali and Niger to secure the area," the source added.
Last week, Mali and Niger's security ministers met in the eastern Malian town of Gao and signed a deal allowing each others' security forces to pursue suspected bandits across their common border.
Bahanga, one of the leaders of a Tuareg revolt in the 1990s which won greater autonomy for the light-skinned tribesmen in Mali and Niger, has been disowned by a broader Malian rebel alliance, which signed a deal with President Amadou Toumani Toure in July 2006.
Toure, during a weekend visit to Tripoli, said he had agreed with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to hold a regional summit on security in the Sahel.
Niger President Mamadou Tandja has also appealed for regional support in quelling the uprising, which his government has accused French nuclear power company Areva "rich foreign powers" of supporting.
The company has strongly denied this.
Niger's government said on Tuesday it had demined and reopened the road between the northern uranium mining hub of Arlit and the oasis town of Iferouane, which lies more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital Niamey and has been isolated for more than two months.
A military convoy was able to deliver 60 tonnes of emergency food aid to the settlement, which lies in the heart of the rebel zone and was the scene of its first attack in February. (Additional reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Niamey)
The Rest @ Rueters Africa
Monday, August 27, 2007
Mon 27 Aug 2007, 19:56 GMT
NIAMEY, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is suing two newspapers in Niger for more than $200,000 each after they suggested his government was supporting Tuareg-led rebels in the north of the country, his lawyer said on Monday.
Souley Oumarou said he had presented the complaint against weekly Le Canard Dechaine and bi-monthly Action for damages of 100 million CFA francs ($208,300) each, which would be donated to Niger's National Hospital in the capital Niamey.
"The complaint has been registered and a hearing set for September 17," Oumarou told Reuters. The seven-month-old uprising by light-skinned Tuareg rebels in desolate, uranium-rich northern deserts of Niger has killed more than 40 government troops and left dozens prisoner.
Gaddafi, who has long been an advocate of Tuareg empowerment and an Islamic state spanning the Sahel, has been called upon by President Tandja to mediate in the conflict. Gaddafi called publicly on the rebels, who are seeking a greater share in uranium mining revenues, to lay down their arms.
In a July 23 article entitled "Gaddafi wants a piece of Niger", Le Canard Dechaine alleged the the Libyan leader was supporting the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) to provide leverage for claims over 30,000 square km of Niger territory.
Niger President Mamadou Tandja'sovernment says the French nuclear power firm Areva involved in uranium mining in northern Niger, was providing support to the revolt.
The company and the French government has strongly denied this.
Tuareg revolts shook northern Niger and Mali in the 1990s before a series of peace deals handed the nomadic people greater autonomy, but recent months have seen a resurgence in violence.
In Mali, Tuareg gunmen abducted around 20 soldiers at the weekend in a remote Saharan town and took them off towards Niger.
Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure said at the weekend during a visit to Tripoli that he had agreed with Gaddafi to organise a regional summit to discuss security in the Sahel.
Gaddafi has a long history of involvement in civil conflict in West Africa, including a lengthy war with Chad and support for the leader of Sierra Leone's RUF rebel group, Foday Sankoh, who fought a 1991-2002 civil war against the government.
The Rest @ Ghana Web
The Crusading Guide says a cross-section of the workers of the Ghana- Libya Arab Holding Company (GLAHCO) have expressed grave misgivings about the operations of the company and have consequently called on Parliament to probe it.
The paper says the workers, who looked visibly depressed, stormed the newsroom of the Crusading Guide to register their protest against the "shady" deals being perpetrated by the management of the company under the stewardship of Mr. Salem Serkik, a Libyan.
Apart from calling for a probe, the workers are also said to have urged the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to endeavour to collect income tax due it from the company.
According to the Crusading Guide, GLAHCO, which is a Ghanaian registered company with the government of Ghana holding 40 per cent shares, is actually treated as a subsidiary of Libyan Arab Investment Company.
The paper quotes a source as disclosing that exchange rates are manipulated in favour of Libyan Arab Investment Company "for so called loans and interest payments owed by GLAHCO and this is having an adverse effect on the 40 per cent Ghana's share holdings".
from Ghana plus the latest Ghanaian movies.The government has agreed to an out of court settlement with Ace Hotels and Resorts limited (AHRL) towards the resolution of the legal suit on the City Hotel in Kumasi.
The Minister of Information, Nana Akomea who disclosed this in an interview said the Ghana Libyan Arab Holding Company (GLAHCO), has consented to offset the cost of settlement with part of the dividends from the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra.
He did not disclose the settlement cost to be paid but said between 1999 and 2002, the total amount of dividends earned by the government from Golden Tulip was $2,254,980.Nana
Akomea said the government was responsible for paying the settlement cost because the City Hotel property was used as part of government of Ghana equity in GLAHCO at a value of $3million.
He explained that Cabinet, at a recent meeting agree to accept the terms of the settlement in order to end the litigation on the City Hotel property to enable theDivestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) to finalise the transfer of the property to GLAHCO.
Nana Akomea said the government planned to remove all the bottlenecks as soon as soon as possible to enable the rehabilitation of the hotel by GLAHCO to begin this year.
The Rest @Ghanaweb
The Ghana-Libya Arab Holding Company (GLAHCO) and the China State Hualong Construction (Gh) limited, on Sunday signed a 14.7 million-dollar agreement to rehabilitate the City Hotel in Kumasi into a four-star hotel.
Work is expected to begin from June 05 and end in October 2007. The hotel would be refurbished and provided with 112 rooms, apartments and executive suits.
Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, signed for Ghana and Mr Su Yue-Hua, President Ghana Chinese Chamber of Commerce, signed for the Chinese company.
- Mr Baah Wiredu said Libya was providing 60 per cent of the amount while Ghana would provide 40 per cent.
- He said the project was the final of several projects GLAHCO is undertaking in the country.
- The other projects are the Golden Tulip Hotel that is to be expanded, Airport City project, some estates at Adjirigano at East Legon, Aluworks warehouse at Tema and the development of an 8,000-acre farm at Kodji near Sogakope in the Volta Region.
- He said 500 acres out of the 8000 acres had been developed with 475 used for the cultivation of mango and 25 acres for lime.
- Mr Ernest Asamoah, Executive Director of GLAHCO, said it has taken a long time to reach the agreement because of the quality of work expected.
- Mr Su Yue-Hua said the firm had carried out a lot of projects for the education sector and the presidential office and was confident that it would be able to carry out this assignment well and on time. He gave the assurance that from next week the team of workers would move to Kumasi to start the project.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
By Abdoulaye Massalatchi
NIAMEY, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Niger's prime minister and senior military officials left for Sudan and Libya on Saturday to seek help ending an insurgency by Tuareg-led rebels in the country's remote desert north, a senior army source said.
President Mamadou Tandja declared a state of alert in the region around the ancient Saharan town of Agadez on Friday, giving the security forces extra powers to fight the 7-month-old insurgency in which at least 45 soldiers have been killed.
Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou, the deputy head of the armed forces, General Seyni Garba, and other senior officers left for Khartoum on Saturday and would travel on to Libya, the government said in a statement.
"The president has charged them with a mission to encourage all states (in the region) concerned by the question of arms trafficking to lend their help bringing an end to the conflict in the north of Niger," a senior military official told Reuters.
"President Tandja has reaffirmed that this is not a rebellion but a movement of bandits backed by interest groups and foreign powers. He believes countries around the Sahara can do something to force them to lay down their weapons."
Tandja's government refuses to recognise the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), which has claimed a series of deadly attacks against military targets and industrial interests in the region since launching a campaign in February.
The group says it is fighting for greater economic development and a share in the region's mineral wealth. Government officials say to recognise and negotiate with the MNJ would be to give them a legitimacy they do not merit.
Security sources say they believe MNJ fighters are receiving ammunition, weapons and fuel supplies via the ancient trading routes which criss-cross the Sahara from Sudan in the east, Libya and Algeria in the north, to Mali in the west.
The north of Niger, an impoverished and landlocked former French colony, has long been a hotbed of dissent. Light-skinned Tuareg tribesmen waged a rebellion in the 1990s to demand greater autonomy from a black-African dominated government.
The region is home to some of the world's biggest reserves of uranium. French nuclear giant Areva operates two mines there and other foreign firms are prospecting.
Read the rest for how it got this way @ Reuters Africa
Friday, August 24, 2007
ACCRA, Aug 24 (Reuters) - What started as a dream to build a better life in Europe, ended with gunshots, machetes and death at the hands of Gambian soldiers, according to a survivor.
With bullets flying overhead, Ghanaian Martin Kyere scrambled deep into Gambia's forests in the dead of night, the cries for mercy of his fellow migrants ringing in his ears.
Two years on, officials from Ghana are still investigating what happened in July 2005 when eight Ghanaians planning to make the perilous journey to Europe in fishing boats were killed.
Another 44 West Africans, mostly Ghanaians, disappeared and most are feared dead or languishing in Gambia's jails.
"The Gambian president must release the rest or say why they were killed," said Kyere, who has spoken with one person still in a Gambian jail and believes at least 15 others were killed.
A seven-member Ghanaian delegation travels to Gambia on Friday and their inquiry is due to be completed by September, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The visit follows a 2005 agreement between Gambia and Ghana for a joint investigation but human rights groups say Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's government -- accused of imprisoning political opponents and journalists without trial in the former British colony -- has scarcely cooperated.
Read the rest of Kyere's story.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
"A state of alert is declared for 3 months," Tandja said in a decree read on national radio.
The rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) has killed at least 45 soldiers in the West African nation's remote Saharan north since February.
Tandja's decree gives additional powers of arrest and detention to the security forces and restricts the movement of civilians on main routes between towns in the region, home to some of the world's largest reserves of uranium.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
Niger's Interior Minister, Albade Abouba, and his counterpart in Mali, General Sadio Gassama, reached the agreement on 21 August at a meeting in Gao, northern Mali, at which they reportedly said a 2002 deal between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to create a joint brigade to curb trafficking of light arms, secure borders and distribute humanitarian aid should be revitalised.
The agreement comes at a time when insecurity is spiking in northern Niger. Persistent attacks on army bases, road transport and uranium mining facilities are being claimed by the National Movement for Justice (MNJ), which purports to be a rebel group fighting for development in Niger. The Nigerien government has accused the perpetrators of being bandits and drug smugglers profiting from instability in the remote desert region.
"Noting persistent acts of banditry in the shared border area, the two delegations agree to reinforce the cross-border cooperation between security and defence forces on one hand, and administrative authorities and communities on the other," according to a communiqué released after the meeting, published in newspapers in Niger's capital Niamey on Friday.
"Insecurity linked to banditry and criminality in all its forms that was curbed before is unfortunately a dangerous menace to peace, stability and progress again," Nigerien minister Abouba reportedly said in his opening remarks at the meeting, Le Sahel newspaper in Niamey said.
There have been occasional news reports of links between the Touareg-dominated MNJ in Niger and other Touareg groups in neighbouring Mali and Algeria. During a previous uprising by Touareg in Niger and Mali there were strong links between some wings of the movements, however the violence this year in Niger has not been replicated outside the country.
The meeting on 21 August recommended investment by both governments in the operational capacities of the defence and security forces to improve logistics, communications, and human resources along the border and "intensified cooperation" to track real-time information about threats and movements in the region, the communiqué said.
"The bandits in Niger must be pinpointed in Mali and be tracked just as if they had been found on Niger's territory," Mali's General Gassama was reported to have said.
The Rest @ Irin
Assistant US Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch wrapped up his visit to Libya on Wednesday (August 22nd). Welch said there are no obstacles to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Libya and reportedly he and Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam agreed to create "joint committees to develop co-operation in the economic, scientific and cultural sectors". According to Ahmad al-Fituri, Secretary for American Affairs at Libya’s Foreign Ministry, Welch also went to Benghazi to meet the son of Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi, Seif al-Islam, but no details on the talks were available.
The Rest @ Magharebia
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The United States plans to screen thousands of people employed by aid organizations that receive funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development looking for possible links to terror organizations, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Outlined in a recent Federal Register notice, the program demands for the first time that nongovernmental organizations file detailed information on key personnel who apply for or manage funds distributed by the U.S. aid agency, the Post said.
The Federal Register notice said the program could involve 2,000 people and "will become effective on August 27," the last day that public comments about it are to be submitted, according to the report.
The Post said organizations would be required to submit a broad range of information on key personnel, including name, address, date and place of birth, citizenship, Social Security and passport numbers.
The data collected "will be used to conduct national security screening" to ensure these persons have no connection to entities or individuals "associated with terrorism" or "deemed to be a risk to national security," the Post reported, citing the Federal Register notice.
The newspaper said such screening normally involves sending the data to the FBI and other police and intelligence agencies to see if negative information surfaces.
A requirement to turn over telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses is an indication the information would be checked against data collected as part of a terrorist screening program run by the U.S. intelligence community, the Post reported.
Until now, nongovernmental organizations had been required to check their own employees and then certify to AID that they were certain no one was associated with people or groups designated as terrorists by the U.S. government, the Post said.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
Gunmen in northern Niger thought to be members of a Tuareg-led rebel group opened fire on a bus carrying 60 passengers on Thursday before stealing their goods and setting light to the vehicle, military sources said.
The attackers opened fire to stop the bus on the road between the remote desert towns of Agadez and Arlit, where nomadic rebels have been fighting an insurgency since February, but did not shoot directly at those on board, the sources said.
"There were around 60 passengers who were robbed. The attackers then burned the vehicle before withdrawing," one of the military sources said, adding there were no casualties.
"The security forces are pursuing them."
The assailants were believed to be members of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), which has killed at least 45 soldiers in the West African nation's remote Saharan north since February as it pushes demands for greater economic development.
MNJ representatives were not immediately available to comment.
Several civilian and army vehicles have hit mines, virtually halting road traffic and bringing the region's local economy to a grinding halt. Travel between towns is banned after dark and foreigners must be accompanied by an army escort.
The region around Agadez, more than 1,000 km (620 miles) from the capital Niamey, is home to some of the world's largest reserves of uranium but has long been notoriously unstable.
Light-skinned Tuareg tribesmen waged a rebellion in the 1990s demanding greater autonomy from a black-African dominated government. The MNJ says the peace deals that ended that insurgency have never been fully implemented.
Niger's government refuses to recognise the MNJ, dismissing them as common bandits and drug traffickers, but has called on neighbouring states in the Sahara to try to cut off its supplies of weapons, food and fuel.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
The rebel group, which before the latest reported fighting had already killed at least 44 government troops since February, said.....
a large convoy of military vehicles had advanced towards the town of Iferouane on Aug.21, prompting the following day's clash.
The MNJ is demanding a fairer share in its mineral wealth and more development assistance. (Reuters)
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb said it had not planned to target Mustapha Kertali, a founder of the banned Salvation Islamic Front (FIS) and once a leading member of its armed wing, as he was not involved in attacking its fighters.
Kertali was seriously wounded on Aug. 14 when a bomb exploded under his car as he drove away from a mosque in the town of Larbaa, 30 km (18 miles) south of Algiers.
"One of our soldiers targeted Mustapha Kertali without consulting the leadership and getting its approval," the group said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site.
"The bombing ... which we have not ordered and took place without our knowledge, is a mistake and we assume its repercussions before God and our Muslim nation."
Kertali surrendered to authorities in 2000 under an amnesty. He supported another amnesty for rebels that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika issued last year as part of a wider national reconciliation plan to draw a line under the bloodshed.
"We do not see any reason for targeting this type of people who abandon jihad under the pretext of a truce and reconciliation unless there is evidence of his involvement in the war and the killing of mujahideen," the statement added.
An Islamist uprising erupted in 1992 when the army, fearing an Iranian-style revolution, scrapped legislative elections the FIS was poised to win. Since 1992 up to 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Africa's second-largest country.
The Rest @ Retuters Africa
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
In a report posted on its website, the company says that it has supplied foreign customers with more than 120 aircraft, over 3,000 air defense, automated control, radar and electronic warfare systems, hundreds artillery weapons and armored vehicles, tens thousand small arms units, as well as other pieces of military-purpose equipment.
Founded in 1993, Beltechexport is the country's largest military hardware export and import company.
The company supplies weaponry to customers across
- Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America.
- It has offices in Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Russia and France.
- Beltechexport awards arms repair and upgrade contracts to the 140th Tank Repair Works, the 2566th Electronic Weapons Repair Works, the 558th Aircraft Repair Works, the Minsk Wheeled Tractor Factory, the Minsk Automobile Factory, Ahat and other defense industry enterprises.
- Apart from offering foreign customers weapons and other military-purpose equipment and repair services, Beltechexport also provides training to foreign experts.
9 May 2007
- In the Balkans, a support structure has been identified for several terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, among the Muslim communities in Albania and in the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia, the Washington Times reported.
- The six foreign-born Muslims accused of planning a shooting attack at the U.S. military base included four ethnic Albanians, the article says, citing US officials.
- They comment that the arrests highlight how Islamist groups are using the Balkans region to help in recruiting and financing terrorism.
- "When it comes to extremists, we're talking about very, very small pockets in Albania, as well as among the ethnic Albanian populations in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and other parts of the Balkans," an unnamed official with access to intelligence reports told the Washington Times
- (AKI) - Bosnia’s wartime president, the late Alija Izetbegovic received money from a Saudi businessman, Yassin al-Kadi - who has been designated by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union as a financier of al-Qaeda - Sarajevo weekly Slobodna Bosna (Free Bosnia) has reported, quoting local and foreign sources
- Izetbegovic, a Muslim, who died in 2003, received 195,000 dollars in 1996 from al-Kadi, Slobodna Bosna alleges.
- Al-Kadi’s bank accounts were frozen in 2001 by the United States authorities for money laundering and financing al-Qaeda.
- The weekly said that Bosnian authorities obtained the information on this transaction from a British bank in the process of investigation of activities of al-Kadi’s humanitarian organisation, Mufavak, which was outlawed four years ago and which began operating in Bosnia under the name ‘Blessed relief’.
- Under the guise of humanitarian aid, Mufavak channeled 15-20 million dollars to various organisations, which at least three million dollars went straight into the bank accounts of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Slobodna Bosna said, quoting unnamed Saudi sources.
- Izetbegovic led Bosnia to independence from the former Yugoslavia, and thousands of foreign fighters or ‘mujahadeen’ from Islamic countries came to Bosnia to fight on the side of local Muslims in bloody 1992-1995 civil war.
- The war effort was partly financed under the cover of ‘humanitarian’ organisations from Islamic countries, according to intelligence sources.
- Many mujahadeen remained in Bosnia after the war, and some have been operating terrorist training camps and indoctrinating local youths with radical Islam, intelligence reports have claimed.
- The Bosnian authorities are currently reviewing the citizenship Izetbegovic’s government granted to 1,500 individuals from Islamic countries. So far, 50 people have been stripped of their Bosnian citizenship as a result.
- Albanian authorities have seized property in downtown Tirana that was being used to launder financial activities of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
- Authorities seized premises in Tirana’s “Twin Towers” belonging to Yasin al-Qadi, a fugitive Saudi businessman, on 18 October.
- Albanian authorities took possession of office space Tuesday (18 October) at the so-called “Twin Towers” of central Tirana.
- In 2004, the government confirmed that the location was being used to launder financial activities for the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
- The seized premises belong to a fugitive Saudi Arabian citizen named Yassin Qadi, a businessman who was named a specially designated global terrorist by the US Treasury Department in October 2001.
- Qadi owned 18 per cent of shares in the two buildings, located opposite the Albanian prime minister’s office. “The seizure procedures are based under the Council of Ministers’ decision on 3 December, 2004, in the framework of the measures to prevent terrorism funding.
- Even though it has been ten months since the decision was taken, it has not been executed until now,” the finance ministry said in a press release. According to the ministry, the premises will not be sold but rather managed by state authorities. One option is to rent them out to state institutions or private firms. Both the government and the opposition have been anxious to show they are taking the problem of terrorist-related activity seriously.
- Earlier this year, the opposition Socialist Party vowed to seek a probe into how thousands of foreigners — including people allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden — were able to get Albanian citizenship during the last 13 years.
- Qadi is thought to have had close links to Abdul Latif Saleh, a Jordanian-Albanian dual citizen who has been designated by the US Treasury Department as an al-Qaeda supporter.
- According to Washington, he is associated with a number of Albanian NGOs linked to Egypt’s Islamic Jihad — a group with ties to al-Qaeda — and has received $600,000 from Osama bin Laden to establish extremist groups in Albania.
- Saleh set up an Albanian jihadist organisation, financed by the Abdul Latif Saleh, with the goal of destabilising Albania by “fomenting conflict among the different religious groups in the country,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
- In addition, Saleh and Qadi ran several joint business partnerships, including a sugar importing business, a medical enterprise and a construction business.
- Saleh served as the general manager of all of Qadi’s businesses in Albania, and reportedly holds 10 per cent of the Qadi Group’s investments in Albania,” the department said.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
By Jack Kimball
ASMARA, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Eritrea responded angrily on Saturday to a threat by U.S. Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer to place it on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Frazer said on Friday the United States was considering putting the Red Sea state on the terrorist list for allegedly funnelling weapons and aid to Somali Islamist insurgents battling the American and Ethiopian-backed interim government.
"We have tried our best to act with restraint with Eritrea," Frazer told reporters in Washington. "We cannot tolerate... their support for terror activity, particularly in Somalia."
Asmara said the accusation was baseless.
"We are very, very grateful to Ms. Jendayi Frazer (for) exposing her ill-will towards the Eritrean people," Information Minister Ali Abdu said icily.
A U.N. monitoring group last month accused Eritrea of sending large quantities of weapons to Islamists in Somalia -- a charge Asmara denies.
Violence has flared up in Somalia this month, with regular gun battles between allied Somali-Ethiopian troops and the Islamist fighters they ousted from Mogadishu in December with U.S. backing.
Hundreds of Somalis have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in what some analysts say is a proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
If put on the list, the country, one of the world's poorest, would join Iran, North Korea and Syria in suffering losses of U.S. aid, U.S. opposition to International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans and a ban on arms sales.
Frazer said Eritrea could avoid this if it stopped its activities in Somalia.
Underlining the sour relations between the former allies -- Eritrea was one of only four African countries to back the U.S.-led Iraq invasion -- Washington said this week it was shutting down an Eritrean consulate in Oakland, California.
Washington complained that Asmara kept inspecting its diplomatic pouches and refusing visas for U.S. diplomats.
Eritrea says Washington has shirked its duty to force Ethiopia, the top U.S. counter-terrorism ally in the region, to comply with an international ruling marking its shared border with Ethiopia following a 1998-2000 border war.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is expected to make an official statement to journalists about relations with the United States late on Sunday.
The Rest @ Reuters
The move comes in the framework of an agreement signed last May between the Algerian hydrocarbons company Sonatrach and Gazprom.
The accord is aimed at upgrading cooperation and exchanges in the gas field and related matters between the two major companies.
It should be noted that Algeria's Sonatrach and Russia's Gazprom now stand as the main gas suppliers of European countries.
Algeria: Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Tizi Ouzou attackon Sunday, July 15 @ 17:00:00
CDTIn a statement published yesterday on the Internet,
- Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack that targeted a police station on July 14 in Azazgua district in Tizi Ouzou (100 Km east of Algiers).
- Although security sources said four terrorists were killed by the Algerian army, Al-Qaeda did not admit that in its statement.
- Pictures of the killed terrorists were taken in the field.
- Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said a number of gendarmes were killed and others were wounded while the Algerian army did not reveal that.
- According to observers, Al-Qaeda falsifies facts as an attempt to mislead people and armed groups to encourage terrorists and push them to perpetrate attacks.
- On the other hand, Al-Qaeda gave an incredible death toll about the suicide attack that targeted a military barracks in Lakhdaria village (120 Km east of Algiers) on last Wednesday.
- Al-Qaeda started raising doubts and waging psychological and media war in view of its failure in armed attacks, according to security experts.
- As background, the Algerian army killed 4 terrorists and wounded 17 others on July 14 in Azazgua district in Tizi Ouzou.
- The terrorists who carried Kalashnikov weapons and a RPG-7 attacked a police station in the area and a roadblock set by policemen.
- The terrorists put three hand-made bombs on a motorway near the roadblock. Once the first bomb exploded at midnight, the other one blasted at the police station.
- Then, the terrorists fired RPG shell at a wall of the police station. A clash immediately took place between gendarmes and the terrorists.
- Another terrorist group attacked a roadblock set by policemen near the police station but no one was harmed.
- At the same time, more than 60 terrorists were deployed in the area, according to eyewitnesses. Some of whom took some shopkeepers as hostages.
- At around 1:50 a.m, a military convoy came and the terrorists started withdrawing.
- Then, the army forces established an ambush for the terrorists killing four of them and wounding 17 others who run away.
- Some gendarmes were slightly wounded and taken to hospital. Four Kalashnikov weapons and a RPG-7 were recovered.
The Rest @ Echrouk online
- Here are the detailes in the BBC, Reuters, and al Jazeera
- It is the first time in living memory that a Clan Elder has been killed in war.
- He was a negotiator for a sub-clan of the Abgal clan at a government-backed reconciliation summit that began last month.
- Yusuf was from the same sub-clan as Ali Mohamed Gedi, the Somali prime minister.
Who bennifits most if the peace talks fail?
-Al Qaeda, (and which Clan)
-Ehthiopia, the Union of Islamic Cournts, The Transitional Government
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The drill has been dubbed "Flintlock 2007" and will also see the participation of Mali, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, France, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. "The key objective of this exercise is to assist partner countries to plan and execute command, control and communication systems in support of humanitarian operations, peacekeeping and disaster management," Ech Chourouk and El Watan quoted a report from the US embassy in Bamako as saying.
According to AFP, "Flintlock 2007" is the last in a series of exercises carried out jointly by the American military and African partner nations, as part of the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership initiative.
The Rest @Magharebia
China's State Run Newspaper suggests that Flintlock is really about controling Natural Resources in Africa. I can understrand why China may not like the exercise, since China herself appears to be making a run on African Oil.
The Small Arms Survey said China's financial support to Sudan indirectly helped finance its wars, lifting Khartoum's income to at least $1.3 billion a year from oil revenues.
Chinese companies have controlling interests in Sudan's largest oil blocks and 50 percent of its largest refinery. But Chinese investment was larger than just oil, the report said.
"China is now northern Sudan's most important trade partner," the report said, adding investment was in construction, dams and railways as well as the energy sector.
On arms, the report said Chinese-Sudanese military relations strengthened from 2002 with high-level exchange visits.
While little information is available, it cited U.N. figures showing China as the largest military weapons and parts supplier to Sudan in 2004 and 2005, overtaking Iran. In 2005 it supplied almost $25 million worth.
The report said pressure from advocacy groups and negative media attention ahead of China hosting the 2008 Olympic Games had pushed Beijing to use its influence over Sudan more wisely.
The United Nations’ nourishment of terrorism (a concept it has yet to define) reached a new low last Friday. On March 23, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly’s Sixth Committee — its lead legal body comprised of all 192 member states — recommended that observer status be granted to the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), an entity that has been directly involved in paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Back in August of 2001, Ahmad Muhammad Ali, president of the bank, was questioned by the publication Asharq Al-Awsat about payments to the Palestinian Authority for the sake of carrying out the intifada. Ali told the publication that “there was no delay in paying financial assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs,” assuring it, “We have started paying them soon after receiving the money.”
Anne Beyefsky, National Review Online
"A proposed $10 billion poverty alleviation fund created by the Islamic Development Bank would become fully operational in mid-2007, Amadou Boubacar Cissé, the institution’s Vice-President, said today at a Headquarters press conference organized in connection with the General Assembly’s informal thematic debate on “Partnerships towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Taking Stock and Moving Forward”.....
......The 56-member Islamic Development Bank is a multilateral institution comprising developing countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, with a mandate to combat poverty.
The Fund would operate within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals and focus on:
- primary education (especially for girls);
- health (malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases);
- emergency assistance; and recovery
".....The fund would be available for the 56 member countries, he added, stressing that financing terms would be compatible with sharia. That meant the Bank would focus on covering its administrative costs only. Allocations to the fund would be considered grants, and loans would be made under specific criteria. Resource replenishment would be considered a procedural issue to be resolved by May....."
".....To a final question on lending conditions, he said the Islamic Development Bank did not impose “World Bank-style” conditions on its loans. Rather, it was debating with its partners how best to use resources to develop the best possible programmes. The poverty fund would target the least developed members, 80 per cent of which were in Africa."
-UN Press Release, November, 2006
Who They Say they are
(from their websites)
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB), established to foster the economic development and social progress of its member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries in accordance with the principles of Shari'ah (Islamic Law).
Islamic Development Bank (also known as IDB), is a multilateral development financing institution. located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was founded by the first conference of Finance Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), convened 18 December 1973.
The bank officially began its activities on 15 Shawwal 1395H (20 October 1975).
Friday, August 17, 2007
So for the record:
Newsweek: U.S. Treasury Says Banking Network Funded Osama bin Laden Before and After September 11, Newsweek Reports 3/17/02 9:15 AMSource: PR Newswire
NEW YORK, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- In neo-Nazi circles, 74-year-old Albert Huber is something of a celebrity. The retired Swiss journalist gives talks to far-right groups around the world, condemning Zionists and arguing that the Holocaust was exaggerated. Over the past two decades he made regular trips to the United States, lecturing at Aryan youth and Nation of Islam meetings. Huber's rants are especially popular among radical Muslims. Born a Christian, the blue-eyed, silver-haired Huber converted to Islam in the 1960s. He now calls himself Ahmad, and preaches that neo-Nazis and Muslims should join ranks to defeat Israel. "The United States is now controlled by a small Jewish faction," he says. "We are making a link between Islamic movements and the New Right in Europe." The late Iranian dictator Ayatollah Khomeini was so impressed with his theories that Huber was once invited to sit at his feet at a gathering in Tehran. More recently, Huber says he has been approached at Islamic conferences by people introduced as representatives of Osama bin Laden.
Garrulous and surprisingly friendly, Huber is unapologetic about the attention bin Laden's supporters give him. But despite his extreme beliefs -- he described the September 11 attacks as "counterterror against American-Israeli terror" -- he claims he has no personal ties to terrorists. International investigators think otherwise. Late last year the United States put him on a list of people suspected of financing terrorism. Huber served on the board of Al Taqwa, a shadowy financial network that, they say, hid money for bin Laden and other international terrorists and helped to fund their operations.
Investigators on bin Laden's trail had known of Al Taqwa's existence for years. But the group's mazelike structure made it hard to track, and the Feds considered it a low priority. Not anymore. Within hours of the September 11 attacks, a senior official told Newsweek, President George W. Bush ordered his national-security team to seize bin Laden's cash. "I want their money," the president demanded. "I want it now. I want to hurt them." In November the Treasury Department froze the assets of Al Taqwa, Huber and most of the network's other leaders. Shortly thereafter, it went into liquidation.
Taqwa officials strongly deny that they have any connection with terrorists. But after months of probing, the Feds say they have evidence that Al Taqwa provided support to bin Laden both before and after September 11 .
A Newsweek investigation -- including interviews with U.S. and European law-enforcement agents and top Taqwa officials -- reveals how bin Laden's suspected bankers kept the cash flowing, and how they managed to stay for so long beneath the radar.
Al Taqwa, which means "Fear of God," was launched in the late 1980s by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, a secret society devoted to the creation of a worldwide Islamic government. The Brotherhood wanted to create a financial institution in which devout Muslims could invest their money. It would operate under strict Islamic law, which prohibits banks from charging interest. But investigators believe the convoluted structure of Al Taqwa made it easy to use as a money-laundering mechanism. Al Taqwa had no offices. The entire operation consisted of four men working at computers in a small apartment in Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano, which sits near the Italian border, is a kind of Alpine Tijuana, well known as a haven for tax evaders and money launderers.
Al Taqwa's founders made other suspicious moves -- registering the network as an offshore bank in the Bahamas, where secrecy laws would protect transactions from prying investigators. Back in Switzerland, the Bahamian license allowed Taqwa bosses to open commercial "correspondent" accounts with established European banks -- paying the larger institutions fees to make cash transfers around the world for them, without calling attention to themselves. All are classic money-laundering techniques, investigators say.
Intelligence sources say they weren't aware of Al Taqwa's activities until the mid-ྖs, when the Egyptians began investigating possible terrorist links to one of Taqwa's founders and shareholders, a wealthy Swiss resident named Ahmed Idris Nasreddin. Born in Eritrea, the 73-year-old Nasreddin claims to be a descendant of African royalty. In the early ྖs he helped create and finance the Islamic Cultural Institute of Milan, a mosque located just over the Italian border from Lugano. European intelligence agencies had begun to suspect that the Cultural Institute was a recruiting and supply center for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The center's late imam Anwar Shaban was a follower of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric now in a U.S. prison for his role in plotting to blow up New York landmarks.
Qaeda terrorists involved in both the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa and the failed millennium bombing plot hung out at the Milan center, law-enforcement officials say. The U.S. Treasury Department describes the mosque as "the main Al Qaeda station house in Europe. It is used to facilitate the movement of weapons, men and money across the world." Nasreddin could not be reached. His lawyer, P. F. Barchi, says that Egyptian Secret Service agents warned Nasreddin in the mid-ྖs about possible terrorist "problems" with the center. Al Taqwa's longtime chairman, an Egyptian expat and Muslim Brotherhood member named Youssef Nada, told Newsweek that Nasreddin would never get involved with terrorists. Still, he says he warned Nasreddin to "be more cautious." Barchi says his client only made "charity" donations to support the center's worshipers -- paying rent and utilities -- and has nothing to do with terrorism.
Nasreddin's links to the Milan center made investigators curious about the network's other potential ties to terrorists. By the late ྖs, intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic were probing Al Taqwa. When Swiss regulators began questioning its leaders, Al Taqwa unsuccessfully attempted to placate them by appointing Huber, a Swiss native, to its Swiss board of directors.
Investigators began to take a harder look at Al Taqwa after the embassy bombings. Sources say U.S. intelligence tracked telephone contacts between Al Taqwa and members of bin Laden's inner circle. Qaeda operatives would call Taqwa representatives in the Bahamas as they moved around the world. Still, the network's complex structure made it difficult to prove how money changed hands, and the investigation stalled. Under U.S. pressure, the Bahamian government revoked Al Taqwa's license last spring. Treasury officials say the network continued to do business anyway.
But after Bush's order to roll up bin Laden's money network, European investigators swept in on Al Taqwa, searching Huber's and Nada's homes and freezing their assets. (Nasreddin's money was not frozen.) The Swiss, ever protective of their renowned status as an anonymous banking haven, at first seemed reluctant to go after Al Taqwa. But after a private meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft in Washington earlier this month, Switzerland's chief prosecutor, Valentin Rohrshacher, told Newsweek his government is now conducting a vigorous criminal investigation.
U.S. officials have been much more blunt about their suspicions. Testifying before Congress in February, Jaime Zarate, a senior Treasury official, said Al Taqwa's connections to terrorists go back at least five years. Zarate told lawmakers that the United States learned in 1997 that the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas had transferred $60 million into Al Taqwa accounts. Zarate also testified that intelligence agencies now have evidence that "as of late September 2001 " -- after the attacks -- "bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization received financial assistance from [Al Taqwa's] chairman" though he gave no details about what that money might have been used for.
Nasreddin, Huber and Nada all deny laundering money and any involvement of any kind with terrorists -- and prosecutors don't have enough evidence to make a criminal case against them. At least not yet. Prosecutors say they are now piecing together thousands of pages of documents seized in raids on the bank and its leaders, searching for a paper trail between the bankers and bin Laden. Prosecutors concede that Al Taqwa may have been just one of Al Qaeda's many sources of clandestine funds. If so, closing its doors could be an important step in slowing bin Laden's river of cash to a trickle.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
"Since the establishment of the [Ayatollah Khomeini's] rejectionist Magi nation in Iran in 1979, the nation has been living on the hope of establishing the great Persian nation after placing its foundation in Tehran, through which they bypassed the fundamentals of their rejectionist doctrine which obligates them to lie in wait through the ages, generation after generation, until the cellar's imaginary inhabitant [the Hidden or Twelfth Imam]. After a lot of time passed and their merciless hearts became more merciless and they became more hopeless, they violated true origin and moved on to other trifles. So the idiot [Khomeini] invented [the concept of] wilayat al-faqih [governance of the religious jurist] for them to end the years of straying. As soon as they tasted the sweetness of power of which they deprived themselves for long centuries spent in waiting, wailing, hitting their faces and tearing their clothes, they salivated, their appetite increased, and their imagination expanded to the establishment of the great rejectionist Persian nation to become a maddening abomination, a source of deviation and misguidance, relying in this on their counterparts the Jews…Consequently, the situation changed until it became what it is. If this is not recognized [by Sunni leaders and scholars] and confronted with power, decisiveness, earnestness, clarity, sacrifice and responsibility, the situation will become unimaginably worse and the shrines and edifices of non-belief will become more prominent than before and the rejectionist call to prayer will rise above it [the Sunni call] and compete with the minarets of the prophetic mosques and others"
Abu Yahya al-Libi, "The Fire of the Magi in the Arabian Peninsula,"
United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (Washington, DC)
PRESS RELEASE9 August 2007Posted to the web 10 August 2007
The Board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation has approved a five-year, $697.5 million Millennium Challenge Compact to reduce poverty and increase economic growth in the Kingdom of Morocco.
The program seeks to stimulate economic growth by increasing productivity and improving employment in high potential sectors including investments in fruit tree productivity, small-scale fisheries, and artisan crafts. Small business creation and growth will be supported also by investments in financial services and enterprise support. The Compact components include:
Fruit Tree Productivity Project ($300.90 million )
The objective of the Fruit Tree Productivity Project is to stimulate growth in the agricultural sector and reduce volatility of agricultural production. In rainfed areas, the project will rehabilitate 135,000 acres of existing olive trees and expand production of olives, almond and fig trees on 296,000 acres. This component aims to move small farms from high water-use, low-value cereal grains to low water-use, high-value and drought resistant commercial fruit tree species. In irrigated areas, the project will support improvements to increase irrigation efficiency and productivity of olive and date trees across 102,000 acres.
Small-Scale Fisheries Project ($116.17 million)
The Small-Scale Fisheries Project will transform the small-scale fisheries sector by modernizing the means of catching, storing, and marketing fish, thereby improving the quality of the catch, maintaining the value chain, and increasing fishers' access to both local and export markets. MCC funding will be used to construct up to 20 landing sites along both coasts, to construct or upgrade fishery facilities in up to 13 major ports, and to build or re-build up to 6 modern wholesale markets in selected cities. In addition, the project will provide technical assistance and training required to ensure proper management and to partially fund the acquisition of fresh-fish transportation equipment by mobile fish vendors. A key component of the project will establish a network of Marine Protected Areas and increase monitoring efforts to ensure the sustainable use of fish resources.
Artisan and Fez Medina Project ($111.87 million)
The Artisan and Fez Medina Project seeks to stimulate economic growth by leveraging the links between the craft sector, tourism, and the Fez Medina's rich cultural, historic and architectural assets. This project will strengthen the national system for literacy and vocational education to benefit artisans and the general population, in particular women and girls. MCC funding will be used to enable artisans to increase the quality of their goods by supporting access to training in modern production techniques and business management, as well as access to bank or micro-credit loans to invest in modern kilns and pottery workshops. To serve local residents, attract tourists and increase artisan sales in Fez, MCC assistance will also support the design and reconstruction of historic sites within the Fez Medina, including the funding of an international architectural design competition for two of the most prominent sites.
Financial Services Project ($46.20 million)
The Financial Services Project seeks to increase financial services for micro-enterprises in Morocco by addressing the key constraints to the development of a broader, deeper, and market-based financial sector. MCC funding will support an investment in the subordinated debt tranche of Jaida, a non-bank financial institution launched in late 2006 to lend to the Moroccan micro-credit sector. The project will also analyze the regulatory and operational requirements to allow micro-credit associations to change their legal structure in order to offer savings and other non-credit financial services to their customers,. MCC assistance will also support investments and technical assistance to improve efficiency and transparency in the financial sector in an effort to lower borrowing costs on a sustainable basis for micro-enterprises .
Enterprise Support Project ($33.85 million)
The Enterprise Support Project addresses two economic priorities: to reduce high unemployment among young graduates and to encourage a more entrepreneurial culture.
The objective of this project is to improve the outcomes of two existing high-priority Moroccan government initiatives,
- Moukawalati and the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH). Moukawalati is a relatively new national program initiated to drive Morocco's businesses to be more competitive in the face of globalization and to address high youth unemployment rates.
- The INDH is a multi-year Government initiative aimed at creating opportunities for the poor, vulnerable, and socially excluded.
This project is structured in two phases.
- First, a set of three pilots will measure the impact of several training initiatives offered to current beneficiaries of these Government programs who would receive further training and technical assistance designed to increase their rate of survival.
- Second, if results reported by an independently conducted evaluation show success, training initiatives will be expanded beginning in Year 3 of the Compact. In addition, the Government agency sponsors of the programs would receive support to help them better manage the selection and training processes for these entrepreneurs.
United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (Washington, DC)PRESS RELEASE
9 August 2007
Posted to the web 10 August 2007
Three soldiers were killed and four others injured in two separate bomb attacks on Algerian army patrols in the last two days in the Tizi Ouzou province, El Khabar reported on Tuesday (August 14th). The first bomb exploded late Sunday in Amjoud forest targeting an army patrol and killing one soldier.
A second explosion in the same forest early on Monday claimed two other lives. Four soldiers were wounded in both attacks, including two municipal guards. The bombs were remotely controlled and exploded while the soldiers were on their way to the forest to continue a counter-terrorist operation, begun earlier in the week with heavy artillery and helicopters, Ech Chourouk reported.
The Rest @ Magharebia
Benmessaoud Abdelkader gave himself up last month after disagreements with other leaders of the Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility for a triple suicide bombing that killed 33 people in Algiers on April 11.
El Watan newspaper quoted Benmessaoud as saying about 50 foreign recruits had joined the group, but many had either left already or now sought to leave.
"Most of those who operated in the Sahara have gone back home after discovering that the situation they had hoped for was just a delusion," El Watan said.
Liberte newspaper quoted him as saying "The rare foreign recruits are still present in Algeria because they do not have another choice, or did not find the means yet of regaining their countries of origin."
Benmessaoud spoke at a news conference for local media. The papers did not say where it was held.
The group, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), swore allegiance to al Qaeda last year. Last month it said it was planning a violent campaign against "infidels" and government forces in the Maghreb region.
Benmessaoud said he did not believe in the group's fight and that the movement's leader, Abdelmalek Droudkel, had not consulted militants over the decision to align the group with al Qaeda.
"They are doing the opposite of what Islam advocates," he added, mentioning suicide bombings and racketeering. "Resorting to suicide attacks and explosives is the strategy of organisations at bay."
"The situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is different from that prevailing in Algeria. In those countries, there is an occupation, which is not the case for our country," he added.
Founded in 1998, the GSPC began as an offshoot of another group waging an armed revolt to establish an Islamic state.
That uprising began in 1992 after the army-backed authorities, fearing an Iran-style revolution, scrapped a parliamentary election that an Islamist party was set to win. Up to 200,000 people were killed in the ensuing bloodshed.
The Rest @ Reuters Africa
Learn more about Reuters
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
23 July 2007
In one swoop in April, authorities in Guinea-Bissau seized 635 kilogrammes of cocaine, worth an estimated $50 mn. But the traffickers managed to escape with the rest of the 2.5-tonne consignment because the police could not give chase.
United Nations Office on Drug Control (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa commended the seizure, but lamented the poor state of policing in the West African nation. "It is regrettable that the rest of the consignment was not intercepted, but hardly surprising as the police are woefully ill-equipped and often do not even have enough gasoline to operate their vehicles."
That same month, media reports noted that drug traffickers had established a transit area along the Gulf of Guinea as a way to elude tighter policing off the coast of Europe.
Fragile states in Africa are often overwhelmed by other pressing challenges such as poverty, weak public institutions or political instability and can provide a haven for such groups.
One of the illicit networks, operating in Guinea-Bissau, is made up of South American suppliers, African transporters and European distributors.
Mr. Koli Kouame of the UN International Narcotics Control Board reports that tighter policing on the Iberian Peninsula, which has traditionally been the transit point for drugs heading for Europe from South America, is forcing the syndicates to seek alternative routes through Africa.
Strategically located close to Europe and with a porous coastline made up of a labyrinth of islands, Guinea-Bissau provides an ideal sanctuary.
The case of Guinea-Bissau illustrates some of the challenges facing many poor African countries. With weak enforcement capability, underpaid officials and porous national borders, these countries provide an ideal environment for organized criminal rings to extract or tranship illicit commodities.
Africa has far fewer police per citizen than other regions. There are only 180 police per 100,000 people on the continent, while in Asia there are 363. Moreover, when police officers are underpaid and government officials are susceptible to corruption, the job of traffickers only becomes easier. Public officials can be bribed to look the other way or even be induced to work in direct collusion with traffickers.
Transnational crime syndicates deal in a wide range of illicit commodities, including narcotics, diamonds, petroleum, ivory and weapons. They also smuggle human beings. The UN has reported that 90 per cent of African countries are affected by human trafficking flows, either as a source, transit site or destination.
Policeman in Rwanda: Many African police forces need to be better trained, equipped and financed to tackle the challenges of organized crime and smuggling.
Because drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, loan-sharking and official corruption are illegal and many transactions are consensual, experts note that the extent of organized crime is hard to establish on the basis of official data, in Africa or elsewhere.
"But perception surveys, as well as international crime intelligence and seizures of contraband, suggest that Africa may have become the continent most targeted by organized crime," UNODC states in a 2005 report, Crime and Development in Africa. "Lack of official controls makes the continent vulnerable to money laundering and corruption activities, both of which are vital to the expansion of organized crime."
Although current data is scarce, the South African police estimated in 1998 that the country was losing more than $3 bn annually in potential revenue as a result of the operations of more than 30 Asian, Italian, Nigerian and Russian crime groups in the country.
- Angola, another country recovering from conflict, is one of many in Africa that are losing millions of dollars' worth of national resources that could be ploughed into development. The Southern African nation attracted scores of transnational crime syndicates during its decades-long civil war as the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) traded diamonds and other natural resources to fund its war against the government. When the war ended in 2002, some of its fighters switched from military activities to transnational crime.