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Sunday, June 28, 2009

AQIM Murders 39-year-old American Christopher Leggett in Algeria

‘Our dogs and cats will enjoy eating the dead bodies of your boys’

Western intelligence services are on high alert as an escalation in violence in North Africa suggests Al-Qaeda has penetrated vast swathes of the continent
From Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg

ELEVEN DAYS ago, scarcely noticed by the international media, guerrillas in Algeria aligned to the terror group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) detonated two huge roadside bombs against a convoy of vehicles 125 miles south-east of the capital, Algiers.

The convoy, travelling near Bordj Bou Arreridj in the Kabylia range of the Atlas Mountains, comprised paramilitary police vehicles escorting Chinese workers to a site where they were building a new highway.

After disabling the convoy with two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the Islamic militants raked the disabled vehicles with small-arms fire. By the end of the ambush, 18 policemen and one Chinese worker lay dead. Another six gendarmes and two Chinese were wounded.

As well as causing dismay within the Algerian government, Western governments and intelligence agencies took extra-special note of the Bordj Bou Arreridj attack for many reasons.
  • First, although it was one of many attacks in the past two years by AQIM, which has training bases in the Kabylia mountains, rising to 7000ft,
  • The sophistication of the IEDs suggests the group may have been joined by top operatives returning from training with Islamist groups in Iraq or Pakistan, where roadside bomb-making has become a deadly art form.
  • Second, it coincides with deadly AQIM strikes elsewhere in Africa. Al-Jazeera TV said it had received a recorded statement from the north African wing of the international terror outfit saying it was responsible for the slaying on June 23 of 39-year-old American Christopher Leggett in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania.
  • AQIM said in the video statement that Leggett was assassinated for allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. "Two knights of the Islamic Maghreb succeeded to kill the infidel American Christopher Leggett for his Christianising activities," said AQIM. "The organisation in Mauritania carried out the attack at a time when savage US bombs are mowing down our Muslim brothers in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Leggett was shot in the head several times from close range outside the computer and language school he had directed since 2003.

"With grace from Allah, we were able to assassinate him, kill him, and purify the land of Mauritania from his criminal presence," the AQIM statement added.

AQIM has also claimed responsibility for two other attacks in Mauritania - the killing of four French tourists in December 2007, which prompted the cancellation of the Paris-Dakar car rally, and a small-arms attack on the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott last year, in which no-one was hurt.

The third reason why western intelligence service are now sitting up and taking worried notice of AQIM is that the Bordj Bou Arreridj ambush followed the execution four weeks ago of British tourist Edwin Dyer in an area of Mali near Algeria's southern border by a group claiming to be aligned to AQIM.


The group issued a statement saying it had carried out its threat to kill Dyer - who was kidnapped in January in a border area between Mali and Niger - after Britain failed to meet a demand to release from detention Abu Qatada, a Jordanian militant reputed to be the European envoy of Osama bin Laden.


The ambush, the Leggett assassination and the Dyer execution across a vast area of north-west Africa could be dismissed as isolated attacks by fanatics suggesting more power and support than they really enjoy.

But gruesome events some 4500 miles to the east, right across Africa from Mauritania, last Thursday raised the alarm in Washington about al-Qaeda penetration of Africa to such an extent that the Obama administration said it was sending arms and ammunition to the beleaguered government of Somalia to counter al-Qaeda-aligned insurgents who are bringing a grotesque form of sharia law to the outskirts of the capital, Mogadishu.

The 40 tonnes of American weaponry were despatched despite an arms embargo imposed on Somalia by the United Nations Security Council. Washington sought a waiver on the embargo and the Security Council agreed.

A top administration official said the sending of arms to Somalia signalled President Obama's determination to try to thwart a takeover of the Horn of Africa state by the al-Qaeda-inspired Al Shabaab (The Youth) Islamic rebel group.

The official said: "A decision was made at the highest level to ensure the Somalia government does not fall and that everything is done to strengthen government security forces to counter the rebels."

Al Shabaab, which the Washington official estimates has some 200 foreign jihadists in its ranks, stepped up attacks in early May and now controls most of south Somalia and most of the suburbs of Mogadishu.

Western nations and their allies in Africa fear the al Shabaab insurgents could destabilise the entire East Africa and Horn of Africa region, exploiting widespread discontent with pervasive poverty and corrupt governments and providing safe havens for hardline Islamists from the Middle East and Asia. "We remain concerned about the prospects of an al Shabaab victory," said the official.

HOODED al Shabaab fighters last Thursday used machetes to hack off a hand and a foot from each of four men in a northern Mogadishu suburb as punishment for theft. "We have carried out this sentence under the Islamic religion and we will punish like this everyone who carries out such acts," said al Shabaab official Sheikh Ali Mohamud Fidow.


The men, aged 18 to 25, first screamed for help and then in pain. Some of the estimated 300 spectators, compelled to attend by al Shabaab militants, vomited as the amputations progressed.
When a comparatively moderate Islamist, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected Somalia's new President in January there was hope he could end two decades of slaughter by achieving reconciliation with the hardliners intent on imposing a very strict version of Islam on their countrymen.

But Somalia's national security minister Omar Hashi Aden and 24 other people were killed in a suicide attack on June 18 in western Somalia, for which al Shabaab claimed responsibility. On June 17 Mogadishu's police chief died during fighting with al Shabaab insurgents in the capital, that saw at least 34 other people killed. In March, Osama bin Laden urged Somalis to overthrow President Ahmed, calling him a tool of the US in an audiotape that outlined al-Qaeda's ambitions in Somalia.
"Omar Hashi Aden's death is a huge blow to the government," said Ali Said Omar, director of the Nairobi-based Centre for Peace and Democracy, an independent Somalia research organisation. He said the national security minister had become an important figure in the government because he was successfully recruiting militiamen to fight anti-government forces in central and southern regions of Somalia where the government had few allies.
Before last week's double amputations, al Shabaab had previously carried out executions, floggings, single-limb amputations and the stoning to death of an alleged teenage adultress, mainly in the southern port of Kismayu. Movies, football games and dancing are banned in areas it controls, while men and women cannot travel together on public transport. Al Shabaab's strict practices have shocked many Somalis, who historically have practised Islam in a moderate, easy-going way that scandalises fundamentalists.
Security and defence bosses in Kenya, to the south of Somalia, are openly frantic that Somalia could become East Africa's Afghanistan, attracting extremists from its neighbours to be trained in terrorism in order to return to their own countries to set up al-Qaeda-style networks. According to intelligence sources, a Kenyan Islamist group, Al-Muhajurin, is already fighting in Somalia alongside al Shabaab. Believed to be about 180-strong, some of Al-Muhajurin's fighters are battle-hardened from action in Afghanistan.
Al Shabaab has threatened to annex Kenyan territory. A Kenyan Ministry of Internal Security official said that while Kenya does not feel physically threatened "in the conventional sense," it does fear massive destabilisation and a threat to its already shaky tourist industry - not least because al-Qaeda has released video statements saying its dream is to create a Taliban-type super-state running all the way south to Mozambique.
Already the bloody conflict in Somalia has created in Kenya the world's largest refugee camp. Dadaab, just 50 miles from the Somali border, is home to more than 280,000 refugees in an area meant to hold just 90,000. Some 3500 people escape across Somalia's border with Kenya every week, fleeing the conflict in their dysfunctional country. Dadaab's boreholes are stretched to breaking point and aid workers fear outbreaks of disease if the sprawling site's 35,000 latrines are not renovated. Every day the camp generates 300 tonnes of waste that need to be removed. The UN is trying to find more land to accommodate the waves of new arrivals but faces resistance from the Kenyan government, which would prefer to see the refugees return across the border.
Despite the presence of 2000 US special force troops in Djibouti, to Somalia's north, and an unprecedented international naval force involving more than 20 countries off the Somali coast to fight the piracy that has grown, in large part, out of the chaos on land, non-African countries consistently reject the urging by Somalia's neighbours to intervene onshore, because of fear of the consequences. A UN-backed US intervention in Somalia in 1993 cost 18 Delta Force and Ranger commando lives, with the battered corpses of two of the US soldiers dragged as trophies through the streets of Mogadishu by angry mobs, scenes shown repeatedly on television and later portrayed in the book and film Black Hawk Down. For the Americans it was a catastrophic defeat - elite units of the world's most powerful army humiliated by a few rag-tag militias.
Nevertheless, President Obama has raised the stakes by sending weaponry to Somalia's government. If that does not stabilise the situation, it is unclear what his Plan B is - if he has one.
AN al Shabaab spokesman, commenting on the possibility of foreign troop intervention, said: "Our dogs and cats will enjoy eating the dead bodies of your boys if you try to respond to the calls of these stooges the Somalia government. Somali young Mujahideen will fight any troops deployed here until our last holy fighter passes away."


President Ahmed has appealed to Ethiopia and Kenya to send soldiers to help his forces fight al Shabaab. But both countries are loath to step in. Neither can afford a big military offensive. Ethiopia lost 800 men when it staged an invasion of Somalia in 2007-2008.

Meanwhile, as the West, Kenya and Ethiopia worry about al-Qaeda-inspired events in Somalia, a close eye remains focused on Algeria's AQIM. Its leader, Abu Musab Abdul-Wadud, is believed to have 1000 fighters and his declared ambition is to carry out actions in Spain, France and Britain. Paris is already investigating reported cells of the group in France.

Intelligence agencies are waiting anxiously to see if the Bordj Bou Arreridj attack was just an anomaly - or the beginning of a deadly new trend.

The Rest @ Sunday Hearld

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This post is alegedly from Alla Bout, the Wife of Viktor Bout

Prejudice is always one-sided

I was not surprised to see the old school amplifying 10-year-old propaganda in response to my interview, which was published in the Bangkok Post on June 7. One writer suggested that family members of an accused person should not be heard because they will be "one-sided:, naturally toward the accused, while the other echoed the same before reciting in full detail the American accusations from the viewpoint broadcast on the BBC.

The irony is that I actually do agree with the letter writers that a family member of an accused will naturally side with their own family. I am the wife of Viktor Bout and I will stand by and support my husband regardless of what anyone may say about him. This is just the normal reaction in families; where I come from, a good wife has a duty to always stand by her husband.

What I wonder is why the writers were not critical of the BBC programme given that the programme was not at all ''independent'', but totally ''one-sided'' against Viktor Bout? Perhaps anything one-sided is acceptable to them as long as it is against Viktor Bout, a man who has been under various accusations for more than 10 years, yet none of the accusations has so far turned out to be true or could be proven.

One would surely question why the West would abruptly stifle those asking for a show of some evidence? Is a wife's voice asking for evidence so unusual, or is it just not permitted under the policy of prejudice and hate? Why don't we ask the BBC how come they only interviewed those benefiting from portraying Viktor Bout as a criminal, while there was no one speaking for Viktor _ or was there, Mr ''concerned writer''?

If the Americans had all the proof, why would they not show it in court? The court records are posted on www.victorbout.com and there can be no denial to what has transpired in the court.
Maybe the Bush-style justice is what we must accept? Just take the Americans' word for it ... Well, nothing worse than the Iraq lie can happen, can it?

Perhaps the writers forgot that ''people are innocent until proven guilty?'' If not, they would not be questioning the ''decency'' of the Thai court and the Thai government. Or perhaps, anyone who questions American bullying is, at least .. indecent! It is funny that when the ''accuser's alleged evidence'' cannot be shown except in the US, suddenly the ''concerned writers'' emerge to amplify the Bush-style ''don't ask'' propaganda.

Well, after all I am just a concerned wife who shall and intends to, one-sided or not, support her husband, and shall ask to see evidence without yielding to hate or prejudice.

Alla Bout

The Rest @ The Bankok Times

US sends Aid to Somali Transitional Federal Government

The U.S. government has provided about 40 tons of weapons and ammunition to shore up the besieged government of Somalia in the past six weeks and has sent funding to train Somali soldiers, a senior State Department official said yesterday, in the most complete accounting to date of the new American efforts in the strife-torn country.
The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the military aid was worth less than $10 million and had been approved by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the National Security Council.

"We do not want to see Somalia become a safe haven for foreign terrorists," the official said.
Hard-line Islamist rebels allegedly linked to al-Qaeda have launched an offensive to topple Somalia's relatively moderate government, which has appealed to the United States and other African countries for help. The fighting has killed 250 civilians and forced more than 160,000 people out of their homes in the past month, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

In an indication of the rebels' growing power, they held a ceremony Thursday in the capital, Mogadishu, in which they chopped off a hand and foot from each of four men convicted of stealing cellphones and other items, according to news reports from the region. The punishment was in line with the rebels' harsh version of Islam. The United States considers the rebel group, al-Shabab, a terrorist organization.

Somalia has been racked by violence since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. U.S. officials say the bloodshed and lawlessness in the country have caused a massive outflow of refugees and contributed to an upsurge in piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The country has also become a haven for al-Qaeda operatives alleged to have carried out attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, U.S. officials say.
The African Union has sent troops from Uganda and Burundi to help Somalia's fragile government keep order.

The U.S. aid does not involve the deployment of any troops to Somalia, where 18 American soldiers were killed in the 1993 raid depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

In order to strengthen Somalia's military, the U.S. government is providing cash to its government to buy weapons, and has asked Ugandan military forces there to give Somali soldiers small arms and ammunition, the official said. The U.S. government is then resupplying the Ugandans, he said.

The U.S. government will also help pay for the Kenyan, Burundi and Ugandan militaries to train Somali soldiers, and is providing logistical support for the African Union troops, the official said.
Clinton called Somalia's president, Sharif Ahmed, in recent weeks to consult on the crisis, according to another U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

He said the U.S. aid would likely encourage other African countries to do more to help Somalia's government.

U.S. officials accuse Eritrea of supporting the Somali rebels as part of a proxy war with its rival, Ethiopia. But efforts by State Department officials to meet with the Eritrean government have been fruitless so far, the official said.

The Rest @ The Washington Post

Africom Acive In West Africa To Impact Drug Trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jun 26, 2009 — The top U.S. military officer with responsibility for Africa concedes he's worried about the threat of violent extremists taking hold there, particularly in Somalia, and said U.S. Africa Command is working to help regional governments prevent it.

"We clearly worry about the threat of violent extremists taking hold in any parts of the continent where there are spaces that are under-governed or not in full control of the government," Army General William E. "Kip" Ward told National Public Radio yesterday. "

And so Somalia is, indeed, a place that we are concerned about," he said. "In that regard, our policy is to provide support to those governments that are in position in various parts of the continent as they seek to maintain their control over their spaces."

While not actively involved in training the Somali military, U.S. AFRICOM is working through the State Department to provide other assistance, he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Africa Command also is working under the auspices of the State Department to help Liberia, which is emerging from a brutal civil war, stand up its new armed forces, he said.

"We also provide training support to other African nations who conduct military peacekeeping operations," Ward said.

That support includes military mentors and technical training assistance, and focuses not just on military skills, but also in respect for human rights and rule of law. U.S. Africa Command also is a key player in a broader effort to crack down on narcotics trafficking in Western Africa, William Weschsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics and global threats, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week.

  • "Although we are still defining the scope, we know that drug trafficking in West Africa is a major problem, it's growing rapidly, and we expect it to grow over the coming years," he said at the June 23 hearing.
  • The repercussions are far-reaching, Weschsler warned. "This endangers peace, stability, democracy [and] our efforts to promote security sector reform in West Africa, and poses an increasing threat to both our Africa and our European partners," he said.
  • Addressing this challenge requires an integrated approach that incorporates interagency and international capabilities to equip, train and maintain regional partners' counter-narcotics organizations, he said.
  • Weschsler pointed to initiatives already under way, in which U.S. Africa Command is working hand in hand with U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Naval Forces Africa and others to monitor the drug flow and support projects aimed at stemming it.
  • Projects already under way in West Africa include constructions of boat and refueling facilities for the regional navies and coast guards, student sponsorship for classroom training, construction of a screening facility in Ghana and establishment of an information fusion center in Cape Verde, he said.

"All these programs are -- it must be stressed -- a result of a real interagency development process, and that's critical for the success of any of these programs," Weschsler said, emphasizing the need for more and closer cooperation. The time to deal with the drug trafficking problem, he told the committee, "is now, before it undermines our strategic interests on the African continent."


Source: DefenseLink

Friday, June 26, 2009

MEM 4-060

Plane Loaded With Arms Seized in Kano

Abdul Salam Muhammad, 18 June 2009 Kano — SECURITY operatives attached to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) early yesterday morning impounded a Ukrainian cargo plane loaded with a range of sophisticated weapons.

The cargo plane with registration number UR-CAK, and a crew of four was believed to be heading to Equatorial Guinea when it suddenly made a technical landing in Kano at about 2.00 a.m. yesterday.

  • Security sources at the airport told Vanguard that the circumstances of the landing made curious security operatives on duty to undertake a full search of the cargo plane's hold and its contents.
  • Vanguard further gathered that in the course of the search, the security operatives discovered ordnance of various nature and assorted sophisticated arms and ammunition in several quantities.
  • Consequently, all four crew members were arrested and taken out of public glare, ostensibly for questioning.
  • Further, a Nigerian who claimed to be a clearing agent was seen making frantic moves to secure the release of the cargo plane. He was also taken into custody.

When Vanguard visited the airport yesterday afternoon, heavily armed military personnel had been deployed and have taken over the security of the airport, while the area where the Russian-built plane was parked at the hanger was cordoned off.

  • It was also learnt that the Air Force has been placed on alert to confront any suspicious plane that may breach the nation's airspace.
  • Efforts to take photo shots of the Ukraine cargo plane painted in white, with red stripes was rebuffed by the security operatives.
  • The Airport Commandant, Group Captain Abagboyi was not available to confirm the development, while efforts to secure the comments of the Director-General of State Security Services in Kano also failed as the Director, Bello Tukur told Vanguard he was out of the city on official duty.

But an Army general who declined to be named confirmed the development to Vanguard when contacted, saying the military has commenced full investigations into the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the cargo plane and its contents in Nigeria.

Similarly, Emmanuel Ojukwu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police who is also the Force spokesman confirmed seizure of the plane by military authorities, but declined to give further details.

*******

Other comments suggest that

  • It also emerged yesterday that seven Ukrainians, not four, were arrested on board the aircraft.
  • 18 Crates were unloaded
  • The Directorate of Military Intelligence has Taken Over
  • A Suggestion that the Arms were bound for the Niger Delta Rebels.
  • sources said intelligence officers are working on the theory that arms were supplied to the militants from Ukraine via Malabo, where they are believed to have a strong network for the weapons they are using in their face-off with the Nigerian military.
  • A Customs officer, who was said to have tried to clear the "cargo", is also in detention, although other sources said it was a clearing agent named Sylvester, who allegedly also works with one of the airlines in the country, is the one in detention
  • The impounded aircraft with registration number MEM 4-060 (UR-CAK) is still parked at the airport.

Meanwhile, the Ukrai-nian news agency yesterday quoted Nikolai Minyailo, the director-general of the company that owns the detained aircraft as saying that there were "absolutely no violations concerning the plane, cargo or the documents used. "The aircraft landed in Nigeria for re-fueling," Minyailo said. He expressed hope that the situation would be sorted out soon.

The Rest @ Fly AFrica Forums

Nasco Group Nigeria Ltd still Operating In Nigeria

In 2007 Letter from the UN Scruity Council, Nigeria reportes that they had siezed the assests and frozen the accounts of Nasco Group Nigeria Ltd. The Company is headed by Nattia Nassredin, the son of Idris Nasreddin.

Attia Nasrredinn, from the Nasco Group Nigeria Ltd Website



Supporting Documents:


Buried in a letter dated 7 February 2007 from the Chairman of the
Security Council Committee, established pursuant to resolution 1373, is a report on the Status of Nigeria, and their move to comply with UN Counter Terrorism iniitiatives.




In the Nigerian portion of the report is this quote:



...... The provisions of the EFCC Act relating to terrorism are being vigorously enforced.


So far,

  • two convictions at the Federal High Court, Kaduna dated October 10, 2004 and October 21,2005,have been recorded on acts of terrorism.

  • Besides, the EFCC has taken steps to ensure compliance with the United Nations Resolution 1267.

  • Following the information furnished by the UN and United States Embassy in Nigeria, alleging that Nasco Group Nigeria Ltd is owned by Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, a designate of both the US and UN as an individual belonging to or associated with Al Queda, the Taliban or Usama bin Ladin, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday, March 3, 2006, granted an application stopping and freezing the financial and economic assets including business properties and things within Nigeria, belonging to or associated with Ahmed Idris Nassreddin, Nastrade Nigeria Ltd and 3 other companies in that Group.

  • The assets were accordingly forfeited to the Federal Government
    of Nigeria in the interim.





The Rest @ The United Nations Security Council








However, the Company is still open and operating....





Nasco Group Nigeria Ltd Company Profile


Updated: 12-MAR-09




Nasco Group (Nigeria) Ltd.



International Private companyPMB 2722, 1 Old Airport Rd., Jos, , Nigeria()234 73 463348, 234 73 461554 fax, http://www.nascogrp.com/





Primary SIC: Cereal Breakfast Foods, Primary NAICS: Breakfast Cereal ManufacturingDescription: Manufacturing: Conglomerate involved in the carpet, confectionery, biscuits, cereals, detergents, soaps and cosmetics industries


-Shimron Issachar

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shabaab Recruitment in America

CLARKSON, GA. -– In this small town on the edge of Atlanta, the FBI and local law enforcement are looking out for an alarming kind of crime: radical Islamist terrorists potentially trying to recruit the town's young Somali-Americans to fight a war in Africa.

There is terrorist recruitment taking place already in Minnesota, said Clarkston police chief Tony J. Scipio. That's why his department and the FBI are looking for anything similar in the Somali-American community here in Clarkston.

In Minneapolis, as many as 20 young men have been reported missing from their homes since last fall. They are thought to have been lured into the ranks of al-Shabaab in Somalia.

That group got a terrorist designation from the U.S. State Department, which ties it to al-Qaeda, bombings, assassinations and attacks on peacekeepers. A powerful faction fighting Somalia's transitional government, al-Shabaab's agenda is extremely strict Sharia law.

  • To fight potential recruiters, the Atlanta FBI has spent the last several months in what the agent-in-charge called an "outreach" program to Clarkston Somali-Americans, including mosque visits and community meetings.

Supervisory special agent Andrew Young said radical violent Islamist recruiters use the same strategy as a street gang recruiter, or even a little league coach. "From what we know about recruiters, whether they're Islamic, drug gangs or the coach, they're looking for those kids who are looking for something deeper inside. To one it could be geopolitics. To one it could be a friendship. They're all looking for something," he explained.

And terror recruiters are quickly becoming adept at online tactics, noted Young. "That's what we see as a trend hitting home,” he said.

“We see a lot more Internet recruiting being targeted to our youth." If young people go to Somalia, the FBI's biggest worry is that they may return with dangerous souvenirs, like bomb-making or demolition skills and a radical anti-U.S. agenda.

Atlanta's Somali-American community mushroomed after 1991 with arrivals of war refugees. Between 2000 and 2007 alone, the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement sent some 3,000 Somalis to Atlanta. Because so many suffered in the war, they're unlikely to see much appeal in returning to war, say Somali-American leaders in Clarkston.

But the alleged Minneapolis recruits spent little or no time in war-ravaged Somalia or in refugee camps. That may make young people vulnerable to a dramatic, nationalistic appeal, according to one Georgia leader. "If al-Shabaab says, 'We're fighting Ethiopians,' then they'll have sympathy," declared Omar Shekhey, president of the Somali-American Community Center, a statewide umbrella group.

  • Somalia's transitional government is supported in part by the army of Somalia's number one enemy, Ethiopia.
  • The two countries have fought two formal wars in 40 years.

Al-Shabaab has no sympathizers in Clarkston, Shekhey insisted, but suggested that the other side -– the transitional government –- is frustrating, ineffective and unpopular.

He jumped to criticize the transitional government's power-sharing formula that he says reduces some Somalis to half-citizens, or non-citizens because it fixes quotas for parliamentary seats by clan.

U.S. support for that interim government rouses ire in some, Shekhey said, especially young people who reject the costs of that U.S. strategy. "They can be angry," he said. "'Why is the U.S. doing this?' they ask."

Sharmarke Yonis, of the Georgia Somali Community, a non-profit headquartered in Clarkston, says that anger doesn't always translate into a violent act.

“We might have some people who have sympathy, but not anyone who will commit a hate crime," he said.

There's sympathy because every religion spawns radicals who commit hate crimes, such as a person who would bomb an abortion clinic in the name of Christianity, he suggested, but emphasized that he sees no danger in Atlanta.

"In Georgia, we don’t have many, just a few listening," Yonis said. He believes the threat is bigger in Columbus, Ohio, or Minneapolis, where the Somali-American populations measure in the tens of thousands.

No Somali-Americans are reported missing in the Clarkston area.

  • A four-month police and FBI joint operation of surveillance and confidential informants turned up nothing, according to the police chief.
  • But "the word ‘FBI’ scares people," said Hussien Mohammed, the director of Sagal Radio, a Clarkston-based station that broadcasts in English plus four languages spoken in east Africa: Somali, Afaan-Oromo, Amharic and Swahili. "They're coming from a country that has no law. They've been beaten, abused, harassed by security forces in their country … Some have been taken away in the middle of the night. People fear the same here."
  • Mohammed seemed conflicted about the level of FBI involvement."Too many visits from the FBI have been seen in our community," he said, but later added, "It's their job. It's why we're safe."
  • He's very adamant on one point, which is backed up by other Somali-Americans and law enforcement: "These people are very peaceful like any other community. They've been terrorized at home enough. They want to be Somali-Americans, not just Somalis.

"Maggie Lee (www.bottleofink.com) is a freelance writer in Atlanta.Related Articles:

Missing Youth Still Haunt Minnesota Somalis

The Rest @ New America Media

Finnair's Cargo Division Shipping Unregstered Arms

The significance of this Finnair Arms Investigation is the statement by the head of the Cargo division that the cargo Carrier is "under no obligation to secure permits".

This affects Africa because this is precisely the kind of perceived loophole that has Africa awash in Arms.

-Shimron Issachar

Finnair faces arms shipment probe -HS
24.6.2009 at 12:38

Finnish national daily Helsingin Sanomat reported Wednesday that Customs had seized an arms shipment from Finnair and added that the flag carrier was suspected of shipping weapons without due permits.

The aircraft parts, bound for Russia, had been flown in from India.
According to Helsingin Sanomat, Antero Lahtinen, the head of Finnair's cargo division, and a shift manager were suspected of export offences.

In 2004, a prosecutor decided not to press charges against Finnair over another arms shipment, underlining that a cargo carrier was under no obligation to secure permits.

The Rest @ Newsroom Finland

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rajoelina Says Ravalomanana Calling for Mercenaries in Madagascar

PARIS (Reuters) - Madagascar's president said in comments published Tuesday the man he ousted as the country's leader was planning a coup in a bid to come back to power.

Andry Rajoelina, 35, came to power in March when President Marc Ravalomanana stepped aside after pressure from the opposition and army chiefs.

Ravalomanana, who fled to southern Africa, insists he remains the legitimate leader of the Indian Ocean island and has rejected sharing power with Rajoelina.

"Today there are people who are thirsty for power," Rajoelina told French RFI radio in an interview recorded on Friday. RFI released written excerpts of the interview, which is due to be broadcast Thursday.

"There are people who are even ready to come and retake power with mercenaries. Everyone is talking about it. And that is what Mr Ravalomanana is doing," Rajoelina said.

Southern African leaders suspended Madagascar from the Southern African Development Community in March, saying they would not recognize Rajoelina, who took power in a move condemned as a coup by the international community.

Former president Ravalomanana was sentenced in absentia this month to four years in jail and a $70 million fine for abuse of office in buying a presidential jet. He has rejected the ruling.
"He (Ravalomanana) is making telephone calls, calling his supporters ... and telling them that he will soon be back, with soldiers, that he will soon retake power," said Rajoelina, who last month refused to allow Ravalomanana to return from exile..

"What is really upsetting in all this is that he is ready to retake power even if it causes civil war in Madagascar," he added.

The African economic bloc COMESA said earlier this month a military intervention to restore constitutional order on the island could be an option but SADC said it would insist on a peaceful solution to the situation.

Internationally mediated talks between the island's feuding leaders aimed at creating a consensus government collapsed a week ago, and the SADC has said it will speed up its efforts to help restore political order.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Matthew Jones)

The Rest @ Reuters

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

10, 000 Algerian Troops Deploy to Hunt AQIM

Algeria has deployed 10,000 soldiers to search for the perpetrators of the bomb attack on 17 June, which left 18 Algerian police and one civilian dead, local media has reported.The attack, the most deadly strike against government forces in six months, took place in the central province of Bordj Bou Arreridj last Wednesday night.

The police were escorting a convoy of Chinese construction workers who are building a highway from the capital Algiers to city Mansoura, when two roadside bombs went off and attackers opened fire on the military convoy.

SITE, the American organization that monitors terrorist activity, claims that Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the regional branch of Al-Qaida, has taken responsibility for the attack.

  • Al-Qa’ida claims that 24 of its soldiers were killed and blames the Algerian army for intentionally killing the civilian.
  • So far in the hunt for the attackers, several people have been arrested and a large haul of weapons and ammunition has been seized.
  • “It’s quite strange that such a huge attack could occur; in northern Algeria terrorism has almost completely vanished,” Omar Benderra of Algeria-Watch, an organization based in France and campaigning for human rights in Algeria, told The Media Line.
  • “You need one hundred men, heavily armed, properly prepared with inside information” Benderra said.

The attack marks the latest in a string of attacks on the Algerian army, which started in August 2008 when 48 people were killed in a bomb attack on a police academy.

In May 2009, 14 policemen were killed in two ambushes allegedly carried out by Al-Qa’ida.

There was no official confirmation from Algerian authorities whether or not the latest deployment was a specific response to the recent attack or part of the wider regional campaign

Algeria launched together with Mali, Mauritania and Niger in May 2009 against terrorists based in the northern parts of the Sahara.

  • As Algeria is the strongest of the four countries, it has been providing the others with military equipment and fuel, and basics such as sleeping bags.
  • Several organizations around the globe claim to be officially sanctioned subdivisions of Al-Qa’ida but only the branch in North Africa posts videos of several high-ranking Al-Qa’ida members to back their claims.
  • Militant Islamist groups have been using parts of the Saharan desert in northern Mali as a base to hide Western hostages and launch bombing and shooting attacks in Algeria, particularly along the Mediterranean coast.
  • Algeria has been plagued with political violence since 1990, when the army rejected the election result that gave power to the Islamic party, which resulted in a bloody civil war.
The Rest @ The Media Line


Email editor@themedialine.org.

Foreign Islamists On the Verge of Over- Running Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia, June 23 (UPI) -- A state of emergency has been declared in Somalia following the deaths of 12 people in clashes between pro-government forces and insurgents in Mogadishu.

The confrontation began Sunday and continued into Monday, with the heaviest clashes in the Yaaqshiid and Kaaraan districts of Somalia's capital city, Radio Garowe, Puntland, Somalia, reported Tuesday.

"A lot of civilians are stuck in neighborhoods where water and electricity are cut off," witness Halimo Da'ud told the broadcaster.

Interim President Sheik Sharif Ahmed told a news conference his country had been "attacked by foreign fighters."

"After reviewing the situation in Somalia, we have decided to declare a state of emergency because the country is on the verge of being overrun by foreign fighters opposed to the Somali nation," Sharif said.

The Rest @ UPI

Robow, out of Favor Threatens Death To Somali Cabinet Memeber

In the Garowe online Story below, Mukhtaar Abu Mansur Robow is called the "former" Shabaab spokesman. This suggests he has recently been fired, as was suggested earlier. If so, it is likely a falling out of favor for his practice of destroying Sufi Islamic tombs (He authorized a video to be taken of him destorying a grave).

-Shimron Issachar


BAIDOA, Somalia June 23 (Garowe Online) - The former spokesman for Al Shabaab hardliners waging war against Somalia's interim government has threatened to kill a Cabinet minister, Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur" addressed hundreds of spectators in the southwestern town of Baidoa on Tuesday.

He accused Somali Transportation Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade of "betraying" an amnesty Al Shabaab gave him in January, when the Islamist guerrilla group captured Baidoa from fleeing government forces.

"We have issued an order to kill Habsade and others we forgave when we captured this town [Baidoa] earlier this year…they will not be forgiven [again]," Abu Mansur said.

Minister Habsade, a former warlord from Baidoa, recently said in the national capital Mogadishu that he is organizing a military offensive to retake control of Bay and Bakool regions.

"We will defeat Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam…I will lead the offensive in Bay and Bakool regions," Habsade told Mogadishu-based media.

The Rest @ Garowe Online

First Bank Systems and Intermex

First Bank System is an American bank holding company. Its major subsidiary is the First National Bank of Minneapolis, MN


There seems to be interest from the holding group in Intermex LLC, in a Minnesota Money Transfer company based in Miami Fl. It specializes in International Wire Transfers, which is currently being acquired by Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer.

-Shimron Issachar


Intermex was founded by Chairman John Rincon in 1994. With previous experience in the US and Latin American money transfer industry, and with the assistance of his brother Cesar, he quickly launched services in the states of Washington and Oregon.

In 1996 the company started operations in Florida, now its corporate headquarters. Within two years, software was developed to automate remittance data capture and related accounting functions. This improvement quickly fueled the growth of the service network.

By the year 2000, Intermex was licensed in 10 states. Additional technological advances propelled Intermex growth by allowing agents to use computers to communicate remotely with Intermex’s systems.

A major milestone for the company occurred in 2004 by launching services in Texas, a key State due to its proximity to Mexico and a large Hispanic population. In the same year, Intermex acquired and integrated Access Financial, a money order company based in Dallas Texas.
Some notable milestones in Intermex History:

November 2004: Intermex acquires Access Financial a Dallas based money order company.
October 2004: Initiated business in Texas – first major market entered outside of Florida.
August 2006: Intermex Wire Transfer, LLC acquired by Lindsay, Goldberg and Bessemer.
March 2007: Intermex Wire Transfer, LLC acquires Servimex, Inc – adding 400 new agencies and four new states.
July 2007: Opened call center in Puebla, Mexico

Source Intermex Website


Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer Agrees to Acquire Majority Position in Miami's Intermex Wire Transfer, LLC MIAMI, April 3 /PRNewswire/

-- Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer (LGB), a New
York-based investment partnership, has entered into an agreement to acquire a
majority ownership position in Miami's Intermex Wire Transfer, LLC, one of the
leading processors of money transfer services focused on Latin America in the
United States. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"Partnering with Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer will give us the opportunity
to accelerate our growth in our existing Latin American markets, and
potentially expand into other fast-growth segments of this market," said
Carlos Rincon, Intermex's President.

  • With over 230 employees worldwide,
    Intermex Wire Transfer is one of the largest money transfer companies focused
    on Latin America in the United States and is licensed to operate in 26 states
    in the U.S. and 17 countries in Latin America.
  • Fueling the growth in the industry are the passage of free trade legislation throughout the Americas and the close proximity of Latin America to the United States.
  • "We have been exploring the money remittance sector for several years and
    Intermex, as an industry leader, is very well positioned to take advantage of
    the ongoing positive trends in this sector," said Adam Godfrey, Partner of
    Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer.
  • "We look forward to partnering with the Rincon family and management to build upon the company's historical success."
  • The added capital infusion from the acquisition will help Intermex meet its growth
    objectives including further organic growth throughout the U.S., expansion of
    the company's international agent network and the continuation of Intermex's
    commitment to outstanding customer service.
  • The transaction is expected to close within 60 to 90 days and is subject
    to customary closing conditions, including Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) approval.
  • Banc of America Securities LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to
    Intermex Wire Transfer, LLC, with respect to the transaction. Intermex was
    represented in the transaction by the Miami law firm of Bilzin Sumberg Baena
    Price & Axelrod, LLP.
  • About Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer

Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer is a New York-based investment partnership
with more than $2 billion of committed capital and a focus on acquiring well-
managed businesses and actively helping to build long-term value. LGB is a
trusted and experienced partner with a successful track record of investing
across a wide range of industries and helping companies fully meet their long-
term potential. For more information about Lindsay Goldberg & Bessemer,
please visit http://www.lgblp.com .

The Rest @ International News

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Really Happened The Night Guinea-Bissau's President was Killed

Guinea Bissau: Double assassination


I was drinking a coffee at Baiana when the Afropop music played by the local radio suddenly stopped. A frantic speaker was trying to report about a blast that had just killed a few soldiers, destroying the military headquarters.

I jumped in my car and drove toward the military compound. When I arrived everyone was shouting and running through the smoky ruins of the building. Bissau’s only ambulance was coming and going from the hospital to pick up the bodies of the victims. Four heavily armed soldiers pointing their AK-47 at my face discouraged me from taking photographs or asking questions. All they told me was that General Batista Tagme Na Wai, head of the army, had just been assassinated. I went back to the car and headed to the hospital.

On this night last February Bissau’s sleepy routine was broken. I made some phone calls to find out what was going on, even as the Minister of Defense arrived at the hospital and ordered the police to keep journalists away. After two hours trying to get information I left the hospital, heading to my hotel. At the reception everyone was trading theories. Someone said it was a coup d’etat, others that it was an accident, a bomb, or the beginning of another civil war. I went to my room and tried to sleep.

At six in the morning my friend and informant Vladimir, a reliable security man who works at the hotel, knocked on my door. He was frightened, and told me that the president had just been killed. When I asked him how he knew, he simply shook his head. I instantly left my room and went to the President’s house. Soldiers there were shooting in the air, to keep a little crowd of people away from the house.

A bunch of soldiers with machine guns and bazookas surrounded the block. The president’s armored Hummer was still parked in front of the house, the tires flat and its bulletproof windows shattered. The police cars from his escort were destroyed. A rocket shot from a bazooka had penetrated four walls, ending up in the president’s living room. Joao Bernardo Vieira was dead, after ruling Guinea Bissau for nearly a quarter of a century.

After a few hours waiting in front of the house I understand I wouldn’t have been allowed any access this day. A soldier came toward me and seized my camera to check if I had taken any pictures. Fortunately I had not, and he gave me the camera back. It was time to leave.
In just nine hours Guinea Bissau had lost both it president and the head of its army. Why so much violence? Was this double assassination the result of an old rivalry between Vieira and Tagme, or was it something more?

The army’s spokesman, Zamora Induta, declared that the president had been killed by a group of renegade soldiers and that assailants using a bomb had assassinated General Tagme. He said there is no connection between the two deaths. Of course, nobody believed that this was so.

In the last few years Guinea Bissau had become a major hub for cocaine trafficking. The drug is shipped from Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil to West Africa en route to its final destination in Europe. Were these assassinations linked to drug trafficking?

After paying a useless visit to the president’s house, I headed back to the military headquarters, where the situation was still tense but the press was finally allowed in. I took some pictures of the destroyed building and sneaked out from the generals’ view, reaching a backyard where some soldiers were resting, sipping tea under a big tree. I joined them, trying to be friendly. I offered cigarettes and had tea in return, so we started to talk about what happened to General Tagme Na Wai and to President Vieira, when Paul -- the chief of a special commando unit from the region of Mansoa -- told me they had had a hell of night. He wore a denim cowboy hat and two cartridge belts across his body, in perfect Rambo style.

At first I thought he was referring to the general situation, but then he proudly told me that he and his men were sent to the president’s house, to kill him. It was noon, the sun higher than ever. My blood froze. My first reaction was actually not to react. I simply answered with a skeptical “really”, and let him talk.

“The President is responsible for his own death,” said Paul, in French.
“We went to the house, to question Nino (as the president was called) about the bomb that killed Tagme Na Wai. When we arrived he was trying to flee, with his wife, so we forced them to stay. When we asked if he issued the order to kill Tagme, he first denied his responsibility but then confessed. He said he bought the bomb during his last trip to France and ordered that it be placed under the staircase, by Tagme’s office. He didn’t want to give the names of those who brought the bomb here, or the name of the person who placed it.”

At this point, the quality of the details started to convince me that Paul wasn’t lying.
“You know, Nino was a brave man but this time he really did something wrong. So we had to kill him. After all, he killed Tagme and made our life impossible… we are not receiving our salary since six months ago."

“So, what happened after you questioned him” - I asked.
“Well, after that we shoot him and then we took his powers away. Nino was a dangerous man, a very powerful person”.

“And what about his wife?”

“She doesn’t have anything to do with that, so we didn’t have any reason to kill her. She was crying and she urinated in her own clothes, so after shooting Nino we took her out of the kitchen. We respect Nino’s wife. She’s a good woman.”

The whole tale was surrealistic and I didn’t quite understand what “taking his powers away” meant.

“Nino had some special powers…”, explains Paul, reflecting a strongly held local belief about the long-time ruler. “…We needed to make sure he won’t come back for revenge. So we hacked his body, with a machete; the hands, the arms, the legs, his belly and his head. Now he’s really dead”. Paul erupts in a smoky laugh, followed by his men.

I give a quick look to the soldiers’ uniforms, and I see that three of them have blood on their boots and pants. I keep on playing the part, and tell them I understand what they did. Then I ask for permission to make portraits of them, with my camera. After I took the picture, Paul led me into an abandoned corner of a warehouse, within the military compound.

“I have something you could buy, do you want to see?” He called one of his men who came with a black bag. “How much would you pay for that?” - he asked me, his eyes wide-open, as he showed me the president’s satellite phone, stolen from his house few hours before.

“Why should I buy a used satellite phone?,” I said, trying to show as little interest as possible. “I don’t know… what’s your price?”

It was clear that Paul didn’t have a clue. “…Nine thousand Euros, and it’s yours.” I laughed, and said I couldn’t afford that price. So I offered him one more cigarette, and I left.

I spent the next two hours thinking about all the information that was possibly stored in this device. The phone numbers and evidence that would possibly connect Guinea Bissau’s former president with some drug cartels in other countries.

I absolutely needed this phone, but didn’t want to show my interest. I went back to the military headquarters, with an excuse, when Paul spontaneously approached me again. He offered me the phone, once again, and told me I could make the price. I offered 300 Euros. I bought it for 600.

The next day, I managed to visit the president’s house with my camera. One of his several cousins gives me a tour. He led me to the kitchen first, to show me where Nino Vieira was executed. The blood was all over the room. The machete was still on the floor and the bulletproof vest he always wore was on the chair where his wife sat during the questioning. All around there were hundreds of bullets from AK-47 and machine guns. The soldiers looted and destroyed the house. They took everything they could, including clothes and food.

Nino Vieira’s and Tagme Na Wai’s brutal assassinations reflects much more than a mere confrontation between the Papel, the ethnic group to which the President belonged, and the Balanta, Tagme’s ethnic group. It certainly goes beyond the personal settling of accounts.
The spiral of violence began in November 2008, when the head of the navy, Rear Admiral Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, suddenly left Bissau, after the president accused him of plotting a coup d’etat. A month later, in December, the international press reported what appeared to be a “failed attempt at a coup d’etat”, made by 12 soldiers who attacked the presidential compound. But this failed coup was actually about something more.

According to Calvario Ahukharie, the incorruptible national director of Interpol and a crime expert, this escalation of violence is just one piece of a war to gain more control, and personal benefits, over drug trafficking. “The Army, the Navy and the President are all involved – Nino was number one and Tagme number two, and they were competing,” he told me. “Someone had to fall.”

by Marco Vernaschi

Learn more about this reporting project

The Rest @ The Pulitzer Center

Somalia News Sources

  • allAfrica.com: Somalia NewsRegular news reports on Somalia from African sources.
  • BanadirCommentary and up-to-date links to news stories on Somalia.
  • BBC Country Profile: SomaliaFeatures country overview, news, key facts and events, timelines, and leader profile.
  • Garowe OnlineNews site, sister publication of Radio Garowe, radio station based in Garowe, the State capital of Puntland, a self-governing region in northern Somalia.
  • Hiiraan OnlineDaily news reports, articles, interviews, and Somali links.
  • IRIN News - SomaliaRegular news on relief, social, economic and political affairs in Somalia by UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN).
  • JamhuuriyaDaily Somaliland newspaper bringing news in Somali and English.
  • MarkaCadey.NetDelivers news and information including articles from wide range of sources covering political, social and cultural fields.
  • Mareeg.comProvides daily news from correspondents in and out of Somalia.
  • Ogaden OnlineDedicated to providing comprehensive coverage of Ogaden and the Horn of Africa.
  • Shabelle.netSite of Shabelle Media Network providing news and variety of information from inside Somalia.
  • Somaliland TimesWeekly English newspaper published in Hargeysa, Somaliland.
  • Wardheernews (WDN)Somali portal providing news reports, studies and analysis on current issues and problems.

AQIM base in Bamakois Captured by Mali Forces

Mali's security forces have captured a suspected al-Qaeda base in the Sahara desert near the Algerian border, Malian officials say. [Bamako]

At least 12 militants died while five soldiers were killed by land mines during the operation.
Earlier this month, the al-Qaeda group is thought to have killed a UK hostage it had been holding for five months.

Last week, a senior Malian intelligence officer who was investigating the group was shot dead in Timbuktu. Lt Col Lamana Ould Cheikh was believed to have been behind the recent arrest of three alleged militants. One of his colleagues reportedly said his assassination was "an act of war".
  • Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is believed to operate in the Sahara desert between Algeria, Mali and Niger.
  • It grew out of Algerian Islamist groups which have been battling the government for almost two decades.
  • Mali's government believes that Algerian militant Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, listed by the UN as a known al-Qaeda member, was responsible for the death of the British hostage Edwin Dyer.

Mr Dyer was kidnapped in Niger in January, but was being held in Mali.
It is believed the al-Qaeda cell is still holding a Swiss national, Werner Greiner, captured alongside Mr Dyer.


The Rest @ the BBC

Friday, June 19, 2009

Southern Thiland Islamist Rebellion - Update

There is a five year old islamsit rebellion among ethnic Malay in Southern Thailand. It is rooted in a three-decade old local rebellion.

Their current goals are unclear, except it operates as a secret society among the people, who "discipline" any of the locals that work for the Thai government or support it in any way.

This is just the kind of rebellion al Qaeda likes to assist, and they have.(Reuters Story below)

-Shimron Issachar

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) - When a gun appeared through an open window in her small wooden house, Patimoh Pohitaedaoh knew the insurgents had come to kill her.

She had already seen four family members shot dead in her village by shadowy assassins over the past five years.

Now, her time had come.

"They shot at me, I knew they would come after me," said Patimoh, a Muslim villager from Yala, one of three southernmost provinces plagued by five years of unrest.

"I ran to hide and defense volunteers heard the shots and chased the gunmen away. I was lucky to survive," she told Reuters.

Similar stories are told daily throughout the predominantly Muslim region bordering Malaysia, where nearly 3,500 people have been killed since 2004, among them teachers, soldiers, Imams and Buddhist monks.

The conflict remains shrouded in mystery, with no credible claims of responsibility for the bloodshed in a once independent Malay Muslim land with a history of rebellion to Buddhist Thai rule.

The violence adds to image problems that could affect foreign investment and tourism in Thailand, rocked by sporadic political turmoil and violence in other areas as well in recent years.

In the Muslim south, a place where fear and intimidation have become part of daily life, Patimoh, like most people here, is reluctant to speculate as to the identity of her attackers, or what they are fighting for.

"I didn't see them clearly -- no one knows who these people are," said Patimoh, 29.
"All I know is they are here in the villages, every day, all around us," she said.

TORN APART

Buddhist and Muslim families have been torn apart by the deadly violence, which has ranged from drive-by shootings and arson to powerful bombings and grisly beheadings.

Patimoh's younger brother, Samsudeen, a defense volunteer, elder brother Rohim, a village chief, brother-in-law Asif and sister Laila, a community leader, all paid a heavy price for working for the Thai state.

They were shot dead by gunmen on motorcycles who haunt the rustic villages of the jungle-clad region, silencing anyone deemed to be supporting the authorities.

Security forces are struggling to tackle the insurgency and say convictions of ethic Malay rebels are rare because witnesses are too scared to testify in the courts.

The failed attempt on Patimoh's life in Krong Pinang three weeks ago has forced her to move to the comparatively safer surroundings of Yala, the run-down provincial capital.

But she has vowed never to leave the deep south, where an armed ethno-nationalist struggle from three decades ago appears to have resurfaced.

"I no longer have ambition in my life, I just live day by day because I don't know what will happen to me," said Patimoh, who runs a support group for women and children affected by the violence.

"I can't turn my back on my family or my people, it would be selfish," she said, her eyes filling with tears.

"I still get death threats. I hear the words 'die, die, die', but I refuse to change my life or give in to those behind it."



The Rest @ Reuters

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Velcom, a Belarus State Owned Company

  • Velcom's license was issued in 1998 and
    is also valid for ten years and may be renewed for an additional five-year period. Velcom is a joint venture between
  • Beltelecom and Beltechexport, two Belarusian state enterprises, collectively have a controlling stake in Velcom and several other companies.

-Burried deep in an International Bank's 238 page Annual Report

Shabaab Sends Suicide Bomber to Wedding

Somalia’s Security Minister Is Killed by Suicide Bomb (Update3)

By Hamsa Omar

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Somali Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden was among at least 50 people killed in a suicide-bombing that the al-Shabaab Islamist group, accused by the U.S. of backing al-Qaeda, said it carried out.

The attack happened at the Medina Hotel in central Somalia ahead of a wedding ceremony, Haji Mohamed Ibrahim, a clan elder in Beledweyne, said in a phone interview from the city. The blast killed 50 people and injured 100, al-Jazeera reported, without citing anyone.

“We killed many so-called government officers, including the so-called security minister,” Ali Mohamoud Rage, a spokesman for al-Shabaab, said in a teleconference today in the capital, Mogadishu. “As they were meeting in one of the hotels in Beledweyne, one of our holy martyrs exploded inside.”


Al-Qaeda has sent as many as 300 fighters to Somalia to support Islamists and warlords seeking to topple the government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s top political aide, Lynn Pascoe, told the Security Council last month.

The foreigners are training the al-Shabaab rebels and helping them mobilize funds and weapons, Nicolas Bwakira, the head of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, said on May 22.
Al-Shabaab has been accused by the U.S. of providing safe- haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda, which aims to establish a caliphate, or Islamic government, in Somalia.
Ambassador Killed

Among other people killed in today’s attack was Abdikarin Hussein Farah Laqanyo, the former ambassador to neighboring Ethiopia, said Abdulkadir Mohamed Osman, director of information in the Somali presidency.

  • “We believe the attack was carried out by al-Qaeda and al- Shabaab,” Osman said by phone from the capital, Mogadishu.
  • Ibrahim, the clan elder who visited the hotel after the incident, said at least 17 people had been reported killed, without saying where he got the information from.

“It was a horrific incident because they were gathering at Medina Hotel for a wedding ceremony,” he said. “Many people died on the scene.”

Somalia is in its 18th year of civil war and hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, in 1991.

Last night, at least 13 people were killed in northern Mogadishu when a stray mortar shell hit a mosque during evening prayers amid clashes between Islamist fighters and government forces.

Earlier in the day, at least 15 people died in fighting between the two sides in the south of the city.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net. Last Updated: June 18, 2009 09:14 EDT

The Rest @ Bloomberg

Insurgent ambush kills 24 Algerian police - report

By Christian Lowe and Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Gunmen ambushed and killed 24 Algerian paramilitary police in the North African oil and gas producer's deadliest insurgent attack in nearly a year, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.

Algeria's government has been fighting Islamist militants allied to the al Qaeda network. Security forces have been able to reduce the level of violence but, although weakened, the insurgents remain a threat.


  • The militants attacked on Wednesday evening using roadside bombs and guns when the paramilitary police passed in a convoy along a highway about 180 km (110 miles) east of the capital, the newspaper Echorouk reported.
  • When they left the scene of the attack they took with them six police off-road vehicles as well as weapons and police uniforms, the newspaper cited security sources and local people as saying.

There was no official confirmation of the attack. Two Algerian security sources, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters there had been an ambush and more than 20 paramilitary police had been killed.

A death toll of 24 would be the biggest from a single attack since August 19 last year, when 48 people were killed in a bomb attack on a training school for paramilitary police 55 km (34 miles) east of Algiers.


AL QAEDA SENDING A MESSAGE

Algeria is still emerging from a conflict in the 1990s between Islamists and government forces which killed 200,000 people, according to estimates from international non-governmental organisations.

Security crackdowns and a campaign to persuade the militants to lay down their arms have led to a sharp decline in the number of attacks.

But a hard core of Islamist militants is still active, now under the banner of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the past few weeks have seen an upsurge in violence.

  • Insurgents killed five paramilitary gendarmes late in May and a week later shot dead nine soldiers.
  • At the start of this month, AQIM killed a British man, Edwin Dyer, after holding him hostage in neighbouring Mali.

Security experts say the increase in attacks does not mean the group is growing in strength but that it does retain the capability to strike government targets.

"Make no mistake: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is declining," Rachid Ould Bousseafa, the deputy editor of the Echorouk newspaper who writes on security issues, told Reuters.But he said: "Al Qaeda wanted to send a strong message that it is capable of planning and executing a big attack."

  • Though AQIM has not targeted oil and gas infrastructure in Algeria, international energy firms -- which include BP, StatoilHydro, Repsol and Total -- operate under heavy security.
  • Diplomats say the violence also has the potential to spread across the Mediterranean into Europe, where AQIM has a network of undercover cells providing logistical support.
  • The newspaper report said Wednesday's ambush was carried out between the settlements of El Meher and El Mansourah on the N5 highway, a major route linking the capital, Algiers, to cities in the east of Algeria.
  • It said the paramilitary police who came under attack had been assigned to guard a group of Chinese construction workers building a new east-west road link across Algeria. It did not say if any of the workers had been hurt in the attack.
  • (Editing by Ralph Boulton)

  • The Rest @ Swissinfo

Adnan Yousif and Al Baraka Creating Islamic Superbank

The Growth of Islamic Banking has not caught the eye of most in secular Western Society. In the West, most separate the religious mind from the Natural mind, (thank you Mr Socrates).
Therefore, most western bankers have embraced any new source of finance, and have even created Sharia ( Islamic Law) compliant financial instruments, Some have even created small Islamic Bank Subsidiaries.

However, when one studies Sharia principles, it becomes clear that the Middle Eastern mind has no separation between the religious mind and the Natural Mind. Every Part of life is in submission to Allah.

  • Zakat is a tax or alms paid based on many kinds of investment incomes.
  • Zakat is required universally by Sharia rules around the world
  • Zakat funds are used for well established reasons
  • One way to use Zakat funds is for Fisballah, or "The Way of God". Many Fatwas have declared that the expenses of the Mujaheddin wherever they fight
The Net result is that Zakat Funds have been used in the pat, and will be used in the future, to fund terrorist activities around the world.

Look At the financial statements of every Middle Eastern Business or Bank and they themselves pay Zakat even today.

The Islamist responds to this fact with " Of Course it is; the West taxes its people to pay for weapons that kill Muslims, why should we not use Zakat to fund our activities?"

So Why does any of this matter?

Conclusions:

  • The Creation of a fully parallel Islamic financial system is under construction. Adding Global Investment Super Bank to the system is another Step in the process
  • Western bankers and governments must be fully aware that Generally accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) policies and practices, based on checks, balances and audits that prevent funds from being used for illegal purposes are will eventually be irrelevant in a complete parallel global Islamic Banking System. (There is already an Islamic CPA certification.)
  • Limiting access to ways that terrorists fund their activity is an essential strategy for their defeat.
  • Bankers and policy makers need to explore how money in Islamic Banks is and will be used to make sure their own rules don't eventually exclude Islamic Banks from Transparency.

What follows is an article about the new Global Islamic Investment Bank is Bering formed...

-Shimron Issachar


Adnan Yousif wants to build the first truly global Islamic bank

MOST practitioners of Islamic finance pride themselves on their modesty. But not Adnan Yousif, the chairman of the Union of Arab Banks, a regional club for financial firms. He has recently struck a tone more reminiscent of greed-is-good Wall Street, with a grand plan to build the biggest Islamic bank yet seen, spanning the world and providing Muslim countries with new financial services their people have barely heard of. “People never thought big here, never thought globally,” he says.

Mr Yousif’s ambitions date to the founding of modern Islamic finance. During the 1970s oil boom the Gulf’s Muslim elite needed to put their new-found wealth somewhere, and American government bonds seemed the safest option.

Yet Islam prohibits the charging of interest. So some sheikhs bought bonds but let their Western banks keep the interest, in the casual manner of a customer leaving change on a restaurant table.

To Mr Yousif, then a young banker at American Express in his native Bahrain, this made no sense. At a time when Muslim countries had imposed an oil embargo over America’s support for Israel why, he wondered, refuse the Americans oil but give them billions of dollars?

The embargo faltered and ever more money flowed to the Gulf, prompting Muslim scholars to seek ways to cleanse finance of interest payments. Practical men like Mr Yousif paid attention.

In 1980 he moved to Arab Banking Corporation, a Bahraini bank, and set up an Islamic-finance division. It was little more than a few desks in a bare room where white-robed bankers created investments that generated profits in forms other than interest.

The bank’s bosses thought it would be, at best, a niche business with little chance of competing against Western-style finance.


  • But over the next two decades Islamic banking prospered, driven by a revival of faith following the Iranian revolution in 1979.
  • By the turn of the century there were more than 200 Islamic banks and Mr Yousif was leading from the front. He turned his bank’s Islamic-finance division into a stand-alone institution, then became chief executive of Bahrain Islamic Bank in 2002.
  • Two years later, now head of the Al Baraka Group, another Bahraini bank, he oversaw its initial public offering (IPO), the largest thus far by an Islamic bank.

Along the way, interest-avoidance schemes became ever more sophisticated. Today $700 billion of global assets are said to comply with sharia law. Even so, traditional finance houses rather than Islamic institutions continue to handle most Gulf oil money and other Muslim wealth.

In private, some Gulf bankers speak of the need for an “Islamic Goldman Sachs”. That is what Mr Yousif is now attempting to create—a sharia-compliant investment bank with global reach and ready access to capital. It will be called Istikhlaf, Arabic for “doing God’s work”.

Others in the industry have welcomed the move. “Islamic banking cannot be taken seriously until we have some global Islamic banks,” says Simon Eedle, managing director of Islamic banking at Calyon, a French investment bank. “They don’t have to be present everywhere in the world, but they need to be in the top 100.”

  • Mr Yousif says he has raised $3.5 billion from Gulf investors and is seeking the same again by the end of the year.
  • In addition he plans a $3 billion IPO in Dubai and Bahrain. The oil price is down from last year’s peak, but there is plenty of cash in the region looking for a home.
  • So far, though, most of what Mr Yousif has collected comes from other banks rather than private investors.
  • He and his backers, including Sheikh Saleh Kamel, the force behind the Al Baraka Group, delayed the launch of Istikhlaf last year after turbulence in the financial markets.
  • They also dropped talk of raising up to $100 billion—at least for now.

Even with a more modest capital base of $10 billion, Istikhlaf will stand a reasonable chance of picking up lucrative finance deals.

The region’s ubiquitous infrastructure projects need beefy backers. Most Islamic banks have so far been absent from this field because of their small size.

Deals instead went to sharia-compliant units of multinationals like Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Citigroup. These will now face stronger local competition.Mr Yousif’s ambitions do not end there.

  • He plans to create a team of venture-capital researchers to sift through innovators’ ideas and provide the good ones with a cradle-to-IPO service.
  • Many people do this successfully in Silicon Valley, but potential investors in his bank may wonder how easy it will be to transplant that sort of high-technology entrepreneurship to the Gulf.

You say sukuk, I say heresy


More worrying still, the rules for Islamic finance are not uniform around the world.

  • A Kuwaiti Muslim cannot buy a Malaysian sukuk (sharia-compliant bond) because of differing definitions of what constitutes usury. Indeed, a respected Islamic jurist recently denounced most sukuk as godless.
  • Nor are banking licences granted easily in most Muslim countries. That is why big Islamic banks are so weak. Often they are little more than loose collections of subsidiaries.
  • They also lack home-grown talent: most senior staff are poached from multinationals.

There are worries, too, about Istikhlaf’s lack of a Saudi presence or partner.

  • There have been rumours of a merger with Saudi Investment Bank, although Mr Yousif has denied this. Such a deal would be a big help. Saudi Arabia is one of the main growth areas for Islamic banking. It has the largest oil reserves and the most valuable project-finance deals.
  • It is no coincidence therefore that the biggest Islamic bank to date, Al Rajhi, is Saudi.

But if anyone can snatch the lead from the Saudis it is Mr Yousif. Never afraid of breaking the mould, he confesses to admiring Alan Greenspan, a man (of Jewish origins) better known as a disciple of Ayn Rand, the prophet of rugged capitalism, than as a scholar of holy scripture. Mr Yousif has read the former Fed chairman’s memoirs “three or four times”, he says. With luck he will heed Mr Greenspan’s warnings about irrational exuberance.

The Rest @ The Economist by Way of Islamic Finance

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mali's Colonel Lamana Ould Bou Assasinated by AQIM

Suspected al-Qaeda members have killed a senior Malian military officer at his home in Timbuktu, members of his family and security officials said yesterday.

  • At least one suspect was arrested yesterday in connection with the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Lamana Ould Bou, a security source told AFP.

"We just arrested one, if not more, of the suspects in the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Lamana Ould Bou," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It was indeed al-Qaeda that did the job."

  • Ould Bou was an intelligence officer who had played a key part in the arrest of several members of al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) when they crossed Mali's territory, according to family and security sources.
  • Another security source said that the lieutenant-colonel had been wanted by the Islamic extremists for his role in the arrests.
  • A family member said four men parked their car in front of Ould Bou's home Wednesday night and two of them entered his home.
  • "The lieutenant-colonel was sitting in the living room and one of the armed men told the other, 'It's him, it's him,' and pointed. That's how they shot the lieutenant-colonel with three bullets," the family member said.

If it is confirmed that the attack was carried out by al-Qaeda it would be the first time that the network's north African branch killed a high-ranking Malian officer.

"That's symbolic. The Islamists have understood that Mali is firmly committed to the struggle against al-Qaeda. They killed an important figure who knew them well and whom they knew well," said a foreign diplomat in Bamako.

  • The government recently announced a "pitiless struggle" against AQIM after it executed British hostage Edwin Dyer on May 31.
  • Dyer was among a group of four tourists who were kidnapped in January by AQIM, which also seized two Canadian diplomats. Four of the six were freed in April, but Swiss tourist Werner Greiner is still in captivity

The Rest @ Jamaica News Via AFP

More


Al-Qaida Suspected in Death of Senior Malian Army Officer
Nana Adu Ampofo
A senior Malian intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Lamana Ould Bou, was killed at his home yesterday (11 June) in Timbuktu (northern Mali), less than two weeks after the execution of British tourist Edwin Dyer by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ould Bou is said to have played a prominent role in the arrest of several AQIM members earlier this week and his assassination would be the first such action by AQIM in Mali. According to an Agence France-Presse report, Malian security forces have arrested a suspect in connection with the death (seeMali: 3 June 2009:).


Significance:

  • Assuming AQIM's involvement is confirmed, Ould Bou's death represents a notable expansion in AQIM operations in Mali.
  • Although AQIM (formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) has been active in the country intermittently since 2004, it has typically limited itself to kidnappings wherein hostages have been released in return for ransom payments.
  • Now that Tuareg insurgent Ibrahim Ag Bahanga has fled the country and his forces have been neutralised, AQIM represents the major terrorist threat to the Malian government.
  • Increasingly, Mali's large, ungoverned spaces in the Kidal region and above Timbuktu appear to be exploited by AQIM as a base for operations in the Sahel, particularly Algeria and along the Niger-Mali border.

President Amadou Toumani Toure has pledged to fight AQIM "without mercy", but is hamstrung by capacity constraints. The Malian and Algerian governments have committed to greater co-operation on counterterrorism and in mid-May the Malian authorities received an Algerian military aid consignment.

Mali also leans on the U.S. Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, which supports training, logistics and co-ordination across the sub-region.

Source Lexis Nexis