Friday, July 22, 2016

Police 'expecting multiple dead' after Munich shopping centre shooting

Policemen arrive at a shopping centre in which a shooting was reported in Munich, southern Germany (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)

Police in Munich have said "we expect multiple dead" following a shooting at a shopping centre, according to Germany's dpa news agency.

The Olympia-Einkaufszentrum shopping centre in the northern part of Munich is not far from the city's Olympic Stadium in the Moosach district of the Bavarian capital.

Police are responding to the reported attack in large numbers.

Munich police are urging people to avoid public places. "The situation is still unclear," they said on Twitter.

UPDATE A second shooting has taken place at the Metro Station nearby.

Edward Snowden designed an iPhone attachment that detects unwanted radio transmissions

(Andrew “Bunnie” Huang and Edward Snowden)
Edward Snowden thinks about phone security a lot more than the average person. And with good reason, as the world-famous whistleblower revealed methods of government data collection on phone calls, and even from his exile in Russia, still remains a major advocate for digital privacy.

Snowden, together with hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, announced today at the MIT Media Lab a design for a case-like attachment to modify an iPhone, allowing you to monitor if and when the radio transmitters within the device are active. Huang is known among other things for reverse engineering parts of the original Xbox and security vulnerabilities in microSD cards.

Their device will offer security to reporters in high-risk locations

Snowden’s argument for the need for such a device is that consumer-side methods, such as turning off the radios via airplane mode, shutting off the phone entirely, or even sealing it within a Faraday cage are all not nearly secure enough when faced with a government-backed adversary. Snowden and Huang’s device is designed to offer an option for reporters and journalists traveling in areas that use high-level hacking methods to monitor devices, and where, they claim, governments can use exploits to trick you into thinking your phone is off while actually monitoring your conversations and locations.  Snowden and Huang hope that their device will offer security to reporters in high-risk locations by preventing the monitoring or tracking of phones, and to ensure that reporters can definitively shut down radio connectivity but maintain use of the device.

The device, which Snowden and Huang are referring to as an "introspection engine," consists of an attachment to a modified iPhone that physically wires into the antennas inside the phone for GPS, Bluetooth, cellular connectivity, and Wi-Fi through the SIM card slot (moving the SIM card itself into the external pack). It then can directly monitor radio transmissions, alert users to any unauthorized output when the radios are meant to be off, and even offer a kill-switch to immediately shut off the device.

At this point in time, the design from Snowden and Huang has yet to move beyond the basic testing stage, with no prototype or product in the pipeline for now beyond a concept rendering. The two hope to be able to eventually produce a prototype, and eventually work with manufacturers in China to build modified devices to sell or distribute to reporters. A final production model would be intended to be both open-source and open hardware to allow users to ensure that the device hasn’t been compromised during the manufacturing process. Additionally, Huang does have some previous experience with hardware design, as seen in his open-source Novena laptop, making it more likely that the design does become an actual device one day.

Did Russian intelligence warn Turkish government of impending coup?

Turkey coup

Russian and Turkish authorities will not confirm or deny reports that the Kremlin warned Turkey’s intelligence services about an impending coup on July 15, several hours before tanks appeared on the streets of major Turkish cities. On Wednesday, several Arab and Iranian news outlets claimed that Russian intelligence officials told the government in Ankara that the Turkish military was preparing a coup. The reports cited anonymous Turkish diplomats who said that Turkish intelligence was urgently alerted by the Russians “hours before [the military coup] was initiated on Friday”.

According to the unconfirmed reports, the secret preparations for the coup first came to the attention of Russian military intelligence. Its radio interceptors captured —and were subsequently able to read— a series of encoded radio messages exchanged between Turkish commanders in the early hours of July 15. There is no information about the precise circumstances of the alleged interception, though media reports note the significant presence of Russian military intelligence in the northern Syrian province of Latakia, a few miles south of the Turkish border. The reports state that the intercepted messages contained “highly sensitive army exchanges” involving a plan to send army helicopters to the Turkish resort port of Marmaris, where the Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan was holidaying, in order to kill or capture him. Russian intelligence officials reportedly shared the information with senior members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The alleged exchange allegedly took place “several hours before the start of the coup” in Turkey.

However, government officials in Ankara will not comment on the possibility that Russian intelligence services may have warned the MİT about the coup. On Thursday, Russian government spokesman Dmitri Peskov was asked directly by journalists whether the Kremlin warned Turkish officials of an impending coup by the military. He responded saying “I have no information of that kind and I do not know which sources [the media reports] are citing in making these claims”. Russia’s TASS news agency interpreted Peskov’s comment as a denial. However, the wording in his response shows that he simply denies having personal knowledge of the incident. He does not deny it happened.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Massacre In Nice: 84 Die As Truck Hits Crowd

At least 84 people have been killed in a terror attack in Nice

At least 84 people have died and dozens are hurt after a terrorist drove a truck through crowds along Nice's packed waterfront.

Ten children were among the dead after the driver hit people celebrating Bastille Day along the famous Promenade Des Anglais.

Fifty more children are being treated at the children's hospital in Nice, some with "life and death" injuries.

Video footage shows police trying to stop the lorry before it picks up speed, slamming into revellers at the end of a fireworks display.

A motorcyclist who tried to block the lorry was run over, witnesses said.

Others said the driver swerved from side to side to kill as many people as possible along more than one mile of the promenade.

Many terrified revellers fled into the sea to escape the attack, which happened at about 10.30pm on Thursday.

The truck eventually came to a stop after someone jumped onto the side of it, as people screamed for the driver to stop.

The attacker then emerged from the vehicle and was confronted by revellers, some of whom thought it was still an accident.

One, Egyptian Nader El Shafei, told BBC Radio 4: "The guy was very nervous and I tried to talk to him.

"I was just in front of the window of the truck and trying to wave to him to stop and tell him there is a lot of people under his truck.

Video: Moments Before Truck Hits Crowd 

"So in that time all of us thought it was just an accident and he had lost control. Suddenly I saw him taking out his gun."

The gunman was then shot dead by police.

Mr El Shafei added: "Just when they (the police) arrived they just felt something was wrong so they kept yelling at him and when he did not step out - they saw him from the window taking his gun out.

"They knew that would be a gun shooting so they just killed him right away - they did not wait to negotiate or something, they just opened fire on him."

Mobile phone footage, shot by Mr El Shafei, shows police surrounding the lorry, firing their weapons at the driver.

Several guns and grenades were found inside the vehicle, Christian Estrosi, president of the region, has confirmed.

People run for safety moments after the attack began. 

French President Francois Hollande described the attack as a "monstrous terrorist act".
He declared three days of national mourning, beginning on Saturday.

:: Crowds Run From Scene Of Attack In Nice: Video
Graphic footage shows a horrifying succession of bodies strewn along the city's landmark promenade in the lorry's wake.

Analysis of 1,200 CCTV cameras has revealed the terrorist boarded the truck, far from the seaside "in the hills of Nice".

Mr Estrosi said: "Attacks aren't prepared alone. Attacks are prepared with accomplices.

Video: 'I Will Forever Be Haunted By This' 

"There is a chain of complicity. I expect it to be unveiled, discovered and kept up to date."

One French newspaper said the truck was initially hired some time on Wednesday.

Witnesses told how people were "flying like bowling pins" as the driver went on the rampage.
One told i-Tele: "We almost died. It was like hallucinating... (the lorry) zig-zagged.

"You had no idea where it was going. My wife... a metre away ... she was dead.

"The lorry ripped through everything. Poles, trees, we have never seen anything like it in our lives.
"Some people were hanging on the door trying to stop it."

Witnesses Heard Children Screaming
Nice-Matin journalist Damien Allemand said the fireworks were over and people were leaving when they heard a noise and cries.

France's Hollande speaks about truck attack in Nice, France 

Video: Hollande On 'Horror' Of Attack 

"A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people," he said.

"I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget."

Screams and cries can be heard as dazed witnesses lean over the bodies, looking for survivors.
Items of clothing and shoes are scattered across the blood-stained pavement.

Images show the windscreen of the 25-tonne lorry riddled with bullet holes.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that at least one Briton had been injured in the atrocity.

Two Americans, a father and his 10-year-old son, have been confirmed among the dead, a US official said.

Russians and Estonians were also injured.

The hotel Negresco has been turned into a makeshift hospital where witnesses are being interviewed by investigators.
The Hotel Negresco has been turned into a makeshift hospital Pic: @AlbanMikoczy

Lawyer Harjit Sarang and her children were among those caught up in the terror.

The Londoner tweeted: "Running through crowds in Nice with kids and terrified.

"Can't stop shaking. Hate that my boys had to experience this. Why did I take them.

"Why did they do this and why the **** is this happening!"

There has been no claim of responsibility.

However, a police source has identified the attacker as a 31-year-old Franco-Tunisian born in Tunisia.

This tallies with the profile of a man whose identity papers were reportedly discovered inside the vehicle.

A police source quoted by news agency AFP said the papers belonged to a resident of Nice.

:: Attack In Nice: 'ID Of French-Tunisian In Truck' 
In a live TV address, Mr Hollande said there is "no denying the terrorist nature of this attack".

How Events Unfolded  

Video: Attacks In Nice: How Events Unfolded 

"I express in the name of the nation, our tears, solidarity, with the victims and the families," Mr Hollande said.

He pledged to strengthen France's role in Syria and Iraq.

He also extended the nation's state of emergency - imposed after November's attacks in Paris - for a further three months.

At least 18 people remain in a critical condition, with hospitals in the area appealing for blood.

Laurence Marie, who works at Lenval paediatric hospital, has said "many" children are undergoing serious operations there.

Nice's famous luxury Negresco hotel, meanwhile, has been turned into a makeshift ward.

Dozens of frightened and injured victims gathered in the marble lobby.

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation for "murder, attempted murder in an organised group linked to a terrorist enterprise".

The probe is being handled by France's intelligence agency and judicial police.

he city of Marseille has cancelled its fireworks show on Friday after the attack.

A Rihanna concert scheduled for Friday night at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice has also been cancelled

In Britain, Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith announced that he would be cancelling his campaign launch.

The attack comes days after France breathed a sigh of relief after hosting the Euros 2016 without incident.

The tournament took place under heavy security following the Paris attack that left 130 dead.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Egypt president removes spy officials following damning human-rights report

Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

 Seventeen senior Egyptian intelligence officials were summarily removed from their posts hours after the government’s human-rights monitoring body issued a damning report of violations by security agencies. The removal of the officers was announced on Sunday in the official journal of the Egyptian government, in an article that bore the signature of Egypt’s President, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. It listed the names of 17 senior officers of Egypt’s feared General Intelligence Directorate (GID). The article said the 17 would go into early retirement “based on their own requests”, but provided no information on the reasons why they allegedly asked to retire as a group, or who will replace them.
The announcement of the intelligence officers’ removal came shortly after the publication of the annual report on the state of human rights in Egypt by the country’s official government monitoring organization. Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights said in its 2016 report, published over the weekend, that the rights of citizens have “not yet become a priority for the state”. It added that the state of human rights in Egypt remains alarmingly poor despite the adoption of the country’s new constitution in 2014. Egyptian and international rights monitoring organizations claim that as many as 60,000 people have been arrested for political reasons since 2013, when the military overthrew the government of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, following months of protests against his administration.

Focusing on the period between April 2015 and March of this year, the report lists over 260 cases of enforced disappearances of individuals, of which 143 remain under what is termed by the authorities “pretrial detention”. The report further notes that “pretrial detention”, which is often indefinite, has become “a punishment in itself”, and points out that the numbers of prisoners currently held pretrial detention centers exceed their capacity three times over. Consequently, pretrial detainees are forced to “take turns sleeping due to lack of space”, says the report. It also criticizes Egypt’s security and intelligence services for failing to curb the use of torture, which remains widespread despite its condemnation by the government and the conviction of several police and security officers who were found to have tortured detainees to death.

The removal of the 17 senior GID officers highlights the embattled state and internal divisions that continue to plague the Sisi administration, two years after the military strongman assumed power in the country, following a military coup. His administration has focused largely on a violent crackdown against the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which includes the imposition of death sentences on hundreds of thousands of people who were convicted in mass trials. Sisi’s legitimacy is disputed by the Muslim Brotherhood —arguably Egypt’s most popular social movement— and secularist reformers, who boycotted en masse the election that propelled him to the presidency. Sisi won with 97 percent of the vote in a heavily boycotted ballot that was reminiscent of the staged elections held by longtime Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. At the same time, however, Sisi is facing challenges from within the military and intelligence services, which some believe may be planning another coup. In June 2014, a less than a month after taking office, SIS replaced 14 senior GID officials. He fired another 11 a year later, while 13 more were forced to retire last December.

ISIS Militants Paid 600,000 Euros to Carry Out Bombings in Tehran

REUTERS – A team of militants linked with ISIS were paid 600,000 euros to carry out a bombing campaign at 50 locations in Tehran and other big cities in Iran, according to a documentary aired on Iranian state TV on Monday.

Officials in predominantly Shi'ite Iran have said in recent weeks that Sunni militants from ISIS are targeting the country.

Two weeks ago, Iranian intelligence authorities said they had foiled a large-scale terrorist attack, arresting 10 militants, and had seized about 100 kilograms of explosive material that was to be used in car bombs, and suicide and other bomb attacks in busy public places.

The 15-minute documentary featured interviews with two militants, after they had been arrested, in which they explained the planned operations.

Footage from a hidden camera which featured in the documentary showed members of the group allegedly purchasing and transporting chemicals and household products that could be used to make explosives.

Near the end of the documentary security agents armed with machine guns and wearing black balaclavas and body armour were shown raiding a house and handcuffing suspects.

The narrator of the documentary said the investigation into the attack was still continuing.

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have fought against ISIS militants in Iraq as part of their support for the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad. Guard members and volunteers are also fighting against Sunni militants in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Iranian security forces announced in May that they had arrested a dozen ISIS fighters in the east and west of the country and also more than 50 sympathisers who were promoting the group's ideology on the Internet.

Stoltenberg: NATO to Approve Use of AWACS Airplanes ‘against ISIS’

Stoltenberg: NATO to Approve Use of AWACS Airplanes ‘against ISIS’

NATO says it is expected to approve the deployment of sophisticated AWACS surveillance aircraft to the Middle East in support of the so-called anti-ISIS military campaign by the US and its allies. 
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance will decide during its upcoming summit that its AWACS aircraft would “provide information” to the US-led coalition purportedly targeting Daesh (ISIS / ISIL) positions in Iraq and Syria.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

He was outlining the agenda of the two-day summit, which will open in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Friday.

Officials of the military bloc have said the AWACS planes would use Turkish or international skies, but they would be capable of peering electronically into ISIS-held areas in Iraq and Syria.

NATO is not involved in the military campaign, but a number of alliance members such as the US, France and the UK have been carrying out airstrikes against what they call terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

In late January, Stoltenberg said Washington had asked NATO to assist the US with AWACS surveillance aircraft in the Syria war.

AWACS is a radar system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.

However, military experts have questioned the use of such a complicated system against ISIS and other militants, as claimed by the US and NATO.

Such a deployment is expected to heighten NATO’s tensions with Russia, which has been conducting air raids on terrorist bases inside Syria since last September.

Stoltenberg also said NATO leaders will also discuss expanding a mission aimed at providing training to Iraqi forces inside the Arab country as well as Jordan.

Elsewhere on the agenda of the Warsaw summit, NATO leaders would discuss a rise in the military alliance’s military budget, according to Stoltenberg.

“The Warsaw Summit will renew our commitment to spend more on defense and to spend better,” said the NATO chief, adding that the alliance’s leaders will also “agree to further enhance our military presence in the eastern” member states.

NATO’s eastward military buildup has bitterly angered Russia, which has threatened unspecified measures to respond to the increased activities by the Western military bloc.