Tuesday, September 12, 2017

French police officer charged in complex spy case involving Morocco, Algeria

Paris Orly Airport

A French police officer has been charged with illegally sharing secret government documents in an espionage case involving France’s border police and diplomats from Morocco and Algeria. According to information published by the French daily Libération, the police officer supplied Moroccan intelligence with classified information about France’s border-control policies and procedures. He also gave the Moroccans information about the movements in France of Moroccan nationals and senior Algerian government officials.

According to the report by Libération, the police officer, identified only as “Charles D.”, was charged on May 31 of this year with corruption and violating secrecy rules. Court documents state that Charles D. gave away classified documents belonging to the Direction centrale de la police aux frontières (DCPAF), a directorate of the French National Police that is in charge of immigration control and border protection across France. He reportedly gave the documents to another man, identified in court documents as “Driss A.”, who worked at Paris’ Orly Airport. It is believed that Driss A. worked as director of the Orly branch of ICTS International, a Dutch-based company that provides security services in several European airports. It is also believed that Driss A. —a Moroccan-born French citizen— was secretly employed by the Deuxième Bureau, Morocco’s military intelligence service. It appears that the Moroccans compensated Charles D with free holidays in Morocco in exchange for his services.

Interestingly, when French counterintelligence officers raided Driss A.’s home in Paris, they found documents detailing the activities of senior Algerian government ministers during their official trips to France. The officials are identified in the documents as Algeria’s former Deputy Prime Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, Higher Education Minister Tahar Hadjar, and Telecommunications Minister Hamid Grine. The documents appear to have been produced by Algerian intelligence and given initially to the embassy of Algeria in France. No explanation has been given about how these documents fell in Driss A.’s possession. Some observers assume that Driss A., acting as a Moroccan intelligence operative, must have acquired them from a source inside the Algerian embassy in Paris.

https://intelnews.org/2017/09/07/01-2171/

Alleged Israeli spying device concealed inside fake rock found in Lebanon

Cyprus, Israel, Syria, Lebanon

A sophisticated spying device disguised as a rock, which was allegedly planted by Israeli intelligence, was found by Lebanese Army troops on a hill located a few miles from the Lebanese-Israeli border. The discovery was reported early on Saturday by several Lebanese news websites, including Al-Mayadeen and Al-Manar, which are closely affiliated with Hezbollah. Al-Manar said that the spy device had been found in the outskirts of Kfarchouba, a predominantly Shiite Lebanese village, located in Arkoub, 100 miles southeast of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Kfarchouba’s location is extremely strategic, as the village overlooks northern Israel on the south and the Golan Heights on the east. It has been bombed by Israel several dimes between the 1970s and today, and is remains heavily militarized.

Reports from Lebanon said that a Lebanese Army patrol found the device hidden inside a fake rock, which had been placed on a hill outside Kfarchouba. The device had been placed in direct view of a major Lebanese military outpost, known as Rawisat. As soon as the device was detected, the patrol reportedly called in the Lebanese Army’s intelligence corps for support. Technical experts soon examined the discovery and determined that it contained a sophisticated thermographic camera. Also known as infrared or thermal imaging cameras, thermographic cameras capture images using infrared radiation, instead of using visible light, as is the case with commonly used cameras. This allows them to capture relatively clear images in the darkness, and are thus used for military operations that require night vision. Some Lebanese websites published photographs showing parts of the alleged spy device, which appear to bear writing in Hebrew.

This is not the first time that alleged Israeli spy devices have been found in southern Lebanon. In September of 2014, one person was killed when a mysterious device found near the Lebanese village of Adloun suddenly exploded as Hezbollah troops were examining it. It was later suggested that the device had been attached by Israeli troops to the Hezbollah-owned telecommunications network that spans southern Lebanon. Hezbollah said that the device had been remotely detonated by an Israeli drone in order to prevent it from being reverse-engineered. Two other devices found by a Lebanese Army patrol in the same region in October of 2009 suddenly exploded, as Lebanese security personnel were approaching. A Lebanese Army official said on Sunday that the device found in Kfarchouba will be dismantled by Lebanese Army engineers.

Ex-spy chef jailed as elite power struggle widens in oil-rich Kazakhstan

The Tengiz oil refinery in Kazakhstan

 A former director of Kazakhstan’s feared intelligence agency has been given a lengthy prison sentence, as a ruthless power struggle between rival factions surrounding the country’s president widens. From 2001 to 2006, Nartai Dutbayev directed the Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB), a direct institutional descendant of the Soviet-era KGB. Founded in 1992, the KNB is today directly controlled by Kazakhstan’s authoritarian President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Many officials serving in senior KNB positions are members of the president’s family, or close friends.

For many years, Dutbayev enjoyed unchallenged power, which was afforded to him by way of his close links to the presidential palace. But in 2006, he resigned from his top KNB post in the aftermath of the murder of popular Kazakh opposition politician Altynbek Sarsenbaev. Ten members of a specialist commando unit within the KNB were found guilty of Sarsenbaev’s murder. He was killed soon after he announced his decision to compete electorally against President Nazarbayev. But Dutbayev was never personally censured by the government. Then, in December of last year, Dutbayev was arrested on charges of “divulging government secrets”. The former spy chief’s trial began in July of this year, but was conducted in its entirety behind closed doors.
This past Monday it was reported that Dutbayev was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison for espionage on August 24. It is not known why Dutbayev’s sentence was announced to the country’s media more than two weeks after it was formally imposed by the court. Additionally, Kazakh authorities have said nothing about who Dutbayev is believed to have divulged government secrets to, or why. Three alleged accomplices of Dutbayev, including former senior KNB officials Erlan Nurtaev and Nurlan Khasen, were also sentenced to between three and five years in prison for espionage.
Many observers believe that the jailing of the KNB officials is part of a broader power struggle that is currently taking place between rival factions competing to succeed President Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan’s leader has ruled the former Soviet Republic with an iron fist since before its independence from the USSR in 1991. The KNB appears to be a central player in the unfolding power struggle between the country’s governing elites. Almost exactly nine years ago, a Kazakh intelligence officer tried unsuccessfully to abduct another KNB former director, Alnur Musaev, who was living in self-imposed exile in Austria at the time. Many believe that he was acting under Nazarbayev’s direct orders. In 2014, two Kazakh men, believed to be KNB officers, tried unsuccessfully to abduct Viktor Khrapunov, Kazakhstan’s former Minister for Energy and Coal, who also served as mayor of Almati, before leaving Kazakhstan for Switzerland.
Dutbayev is reportedly already in prison. He is believed to be sharing a cell with Serik Akhmetov, Kazakhstan’s former prime minister, who is serving 11 years for alleged corruption.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Photos show US, South Korean, and Japanese aircraft on mission to flex on North Korea after ICBM test

us air force b-1b
A US Air Force B-1B Lancer prepares for takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to conduct a mission with South Korean F-15, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets, July 7.


Three days after North Korea demonstrated its ability to hit the US with long-range nuclear missiles, the US, South Korea, and Japan put on a display of air power expressly meant to frighten Kim Jong Un.

Flying 10 hours from Guam to the Korean peninsula, US B-1 Lancer bombers joined up with South Korean F-15s and dropped dud bombs at a range near the demilitarized border between North and South Korea. On the way back, Japanese F-2 fighters escorted the US heavy bombers.

"North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland," Gen. Terrence O’ Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said in a statement. "Let me be clear, if called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces."

In the pictures below, see how the US and its allies train to respond to North Korea.

The B-1 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons but is no longer able to. But it can carry more conventional bombs than any US Air Force plane and fly at mach 1.2.

The B-1 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons but is no longer able to. But it can carry more conventional bombs than any US Air Force plane and fly at mach 1.2.
US Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger
 

Due to tensions in the Pacific, the US maintains a constant bomber presence in Guam.

Due to tensions in the Pacific, the US maintains a constant bomber presence in Guam.
US Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Skovo
 

Here's the US and South Korea sending a strong bilateral message to Kim Jong Un.

Here's the US and South Korea sending a strong bilateral message to Kim Jong Un. 
 
US Air Force B-1B Lancers fly with South Korean F-15 and US Air Force F-16 fighter jets over the Korean Peninsula, July 7.Republic of Korea air force
 
The US frequently flies over Korea with heavy bombers to signal resolve, but this time the Air Force stepped it up by dropping inert bombs near the DMZ.
Inert weapons dropped from US Air Force B-1B Lancers practicing attack capabilities land on the Pilsung Range, July 7.US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Schneider

On the way back, Japanese F-2s escorted the B-1s.

On the way back, Japanese F-2s escorted the B-1s.
Two US Air Force B-1B Lancers fly with a Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-2 fighter jet over the East China Sea, July 7
 

Russian security firm Kaspersky denies spy agency work

Eugene Kaspersky
Eugene Kaspersky founded Kaspersky Lab in 1997  

Moscow-based security company Kaspersky Lab has denied working with Russian intelligence agencies, following US media and government suspicion.

News website Bloomberg said it had seen emails showing Kaspersky had developed tools for Russia's intelligence agency.

And, on Tuesday, the US government's General Services Administration removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved vendors.

But the company has now insisted it has "no ties to any government".

Kaspersky Lab is known for its anti-virus software and provides cyber-security products to businesses.

Bloomberg reported it had seen emails between chief executive Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, outlining a secret cyber-security project apparently requested by the Russian intelligence service FSB.

In the emails Mr Kaspersky describes tools to "protect against attacks" and also engage "active countermeasures".

Bloomberg suggested that the tools not only deflected cyber-attacks, but also captured information about the hackers launching them, to pass on to Russian intelligence services.

In the emails, Mr Kaspersky said the software could one day be sold to corporate customers worldwide.

Refuting the claims, Kaspersky Lab said: "The communication was misinterpreted or manipulated to try to make the media outlet's narrative work.

"Kaspersky Lab is very public about the fact that it assists law enforcement agencies around the world with fighting cyber-threats, including those in Russia, by providing cyber-security expertise on malware and cyber-attacks."

However, the US General Services Administration said it had removed Kaspersky Lab from its list of government-approved suppliers "after review and careful consideration".

In a further statement, Kaspersky Lab said: "The company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber-espionage efforts.

"Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations."

In the statement, Mr Kaspersky offered to meet US government officials and provide his company's software code for audit.

"Kaspersky Lab, a private company, seems to be caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight where each side is attempting to use the company as a pawn in their political game," the company said.

The Trump administration has been fighting allegations that it had contact with Russian officials during the US election in 2016.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-40580896

The US had a clear shot at killing Kim Jong-un on 4 July - here's why it didn't strike

kim-jong-un.jpg

When North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile in the early-morning hours of 4 July, US military and intelligence personnel watched for a full 70 minutes, a source told The Diplomat's Ankit Panda.

During that time, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smoked cigarettes and strolled around the launchpad under the US's gaze.

The US knew North Korea was in the final stages of building an ICBM after a recent rocket-engine test. The US knew North Korea liked to test missiles on the American Independence Day to send a message. The US knew this missile was different from any it had seen before, and the US knew it could destroy it with a variety of precision-fire platforms in the region. Importantly, the US also had Kim in its crosshairs for over an hour — and did nothing.

Those facts speak volumes about the security climate in the Koreas.
While it's “fairly standard that the US didn't strike the missile ahead of the launch,” Rodger Baker, the lead analyst of Asia Pacific and South Asia at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm, told Business Insider, “the unusual aspect may be saying they were watching, or at least allowing that to leak.”

Video of the launch clearly shows Kim on-site, sometimes feet away from the missile. The next day, the US and South Korea put on a blistering display of precision-guided firepower demonstrating they could have both killed Kim and stopped the launch. But they didn’t.

By letting North Korea know it watched Kim as he prepared for one of his country's most provocative missile tests ever, Baker says, the US may have sent two powerful messages.

The decision fit with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement that the US wanted “to bring Kim Jong-un to his senses, not his knees” and that regime change was not the US's ultimate goal.
But regime security is the reason North Korea wants long-range nuclear weapons in the first place.
If the US demonstrates it's not intent on killing Kim, that could communicate that there's “no need to continue” the missile programme, according to Baker.

But “if the program is continued,” Baker said, the US showed it could “strike it and Kim.” Though North Korea varies and tries to hide its launch points, the US tracks them vigorously, and footage of the launches always shows Kim nearby.

Perhaps rather than kill Kim and trigger a North Korean response, which could be massive, the US elected to signal that the best path to regime security would be to stay indoors and not play around near dangerous rocket engines, which have a habit of blowing up.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/north-korea-kim-jong-un-us-assassination-4-july-missile-launch-testing-a7837176.html

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Armed SAS troops are posing as beggars and road sweepers in UK cities amid fears of more terror attacks




With fears of more terror attacks still gripping Britain, SAS troops have taken to our streets in a bid to prevent any further bloodshed.

Special forces soldiers armed with Heckler and Koch MP7 are disguised as beggars and road sweepers at key at key positions in cities and poised to strike at a moment’s notice.

It is hoped the troops can stop any repeat of the London Bridge or Manchester attacks or at least try to restrict casualties.

One source said: “The view is there are so many homeless people out there undercover operators will remain safe and anonymous.

“Anyone trying to pick on them would be extremely foolish and the public should feel reassured that a lot is being done to minimise the effect of another attack.”

A military source added: “The armed units have been deployed for some time now and it is unlikely the operation will be brought to a halt.

“The threat level is still assessed by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre as severe and that means an attack is highly likely so we must be ready.


Special forces soldiers armed with Heckler and Koch MP7 are disguised as tramps and road sweepers

"These soldiers provide a very good layer of immediate response at least to ­minimise casualties or stop injuries or deaths if they react quickly.

"The operation is police-led but the director of special forces is kept in touch with ­developments and is in touch with his men at all times.”

SAS soldiers from the regiment’s G-Squadron and Counter ­Revolutionary Warfare Wing have been drafted in for the operation.
Soldiers from the G-Squadron and Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing have been drafted in
They were deployed alongside police from the Counter Terrorist Firearms Officer unit when the terror threat level went to “critical” after the Manchester attack when Salman Adebi killed 23 people, including seven children, at an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester.

The troops and police are stationed around transport hubs and in ­shopping centres.

They are fed by comrades dressed as members of the public who on rotation pass by and drop ­take-aways and drinks for them to keep up the pretence.

As well as carrying the MP7 rifle the troopers and police officers also have an ­emergency medical kit to help victims of an attack.

The police-led drive was inspired by previous armed operations such as the Millennium Dome robbery in East London which was smashed by officers who used undercover ­observation posts.

SAS troops in the past have helped in large-scale surveillance ­operations, joining forces with MI5 and the police.

But in this latest role they are there specifically to open fire on terrorists targeting civilians.

Ordinary police units are either told to avoid areas where there are undercover teams or they steer clear of them if they are nearby.

An MoD spokesman said: “We do not comment on matters relating to special forces.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/armed-sas-troops-posing-beggars-10618574






Sunday, June 4, 2017

London Bridge terror: Seven killed in van and knife attack, three attackers shot dead


At least seven people have been killed and 48 injured in central London after attackers drove a van into pedestrians before stabbing others nearby.

The vehicle was driven at high speed into people on London Bridge just after 10pm on Saturday and then continued to Borough Market.

There, the attackers, reportedly armed with foot-long knives, jumped out of the white van and stabbed people, including a British Transport Police officer who has serious but not life-threatening injuries to his face, head and leg.

Within eight minutes, armed police confronted three male attackers, shooting them dead in Borough Market.

Eight minutes of terror: What happened where

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick condemned the atrocity as "appalling" and "ghastly". She said police believe all attackers had been "neutralised".

Referring to the speed with which officers were able to respond to the incident - in just eight minutes - she said: "We were already at a very high level of alertness.

"Severe means that an attack is highly likely and the threat level was at severe. We were prepared potentially for an incident as we have been for some considerable time."

Appealing to Londoners and visitors "to remain calm, be very vigilant", she also warned: "The last thing we need is people overreacting or take out there frustrations on other people in other communities".

Asking people to contact police if they see anything out of the ordinary, even if insignificant, she said where possible "people should carry on with their normal lives".

The injured were taken to five hospitals across London, according to the city's ambulance service. More were treated at the scene for less serious injuries.

France's President Macron said two of the victims were French citizens, with one in a serious condition.

:: Witnesses tell of gunfire and stabbings

A man on the ground with canisters attached to his chest. Pic: Gabriele Sciotto
Image: A man on the ground with canisters attached to his chest. Pic: Gabriele Sciotto
:: The moment police took down terrorists
The Premier Bankside hotel was evacuated and three hospitals - Guy's, St Thomas' and Evelina London Children's - went into lockdown "to keep patients, relatives and staff safe".

Police also responded to an incident in Vauxhall at 11.45pm but later said this was a stabbing unrelated to the two terrorist incidents.

People leave the area with their hands up after an incident near London Bridge in London
Image: People were told by police to leave the area with their hands up
:: Trump uses London attack to promote travel ban
Prime Minister Theresa May has returned to Downing Street for security briefings and will chair a meeting of the Government's emergency response committee - Cobra - later today.

She said the "terrible incident" was being treated as a "potential act of terrorism".

National campaigning in the General Election has been suspended by the Conservatives and Labour in the wake of the attack, with the PM likely to come under pressure to cancel or postpone Thursday's poll.

But London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who described the atrocity as a "barbaric act", has insisted he is not in favour of delaying the election.

He said: "One of the things we can do to show we are not cowed is to vote in the General Election on Thursday."

Police attend to an incident on London Bridge
Image: Police attend to an incident on London Bridge
Spectator journalist Will Heaven was at London Bridge shortly after the incident and wrote on Twitter that he had seen casualties - one on the pavement and one on the edge of the road.

He told Sky News: "It was about 10.15pm. I was in the back of an Uber cab driving over London Bridge...there was somebody down on the pavement with a small crowd around them clearly very concerned.

"It looked like someone had collapsed. We drove a bit further and noticed there was another person on the right hand side of the bridge who was also not on the pavement but in the road itself.

Was it a mistake to lower the UK terror threat?
"The penny dropped something quite serious was happening. Suddenly the traffic came to standstill. The driver said something bad is happening here.

"We could hear sirens coming and the suddenly ahead of us we noticed another casualty in the road."

He added that "it did not look like an accident", adding it was clear that police "thought they were responding to something far more serious than a road traffic accident".

A witness who gave his name as Jamie was in a restaurant near London Bridge. He said: "We heard a fight and everyone got up and everyone rushed out of the restaurant and we heard a massive, massive bang.

"Then we hid under the table and people came into the restaurant and knocked a bunch of stuff over, like the till.

"And then we ran into the restaurant into the kitchen, where there was a bunch of other people and a guy had been stabbed and he was cut and he was bleeding quite a lot."

Emergency services attend to an incident near London Bridge in London
Image: Emergency services attend to an incident near London Bridge in London
:: Stars to sing at concert 'with greater purpose'
A female companion said: "We were in the restaurant and we just saw three guys come into the restaurant, stabbed someone in the face and someone in the stomach.

"One of them had a big knife, then he came in and walked around the restaurant, I guess they just kind of stabbed anyone that they saw and knocked things on the ground and then we just hid."

Police asked people to avoid the areas affected, with London Bridge being closed in both directions.

London Bridge, Bank, Vauxhall and Borough stations were closed, although Bank and Vauxhall have since reopened.

The attacks come less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester.

Ariana Grande, who had been performing that night, tweeted: "Praying for London".

:: Anyone concerned about friends or relatives who may have been caught up in the attacks can call the police casualty bureau on 0800 096 1233 or 020 7158 0197.

http://news.sky.com/story/knife-attack-after-car-mounts-pavement-in-london-reports-10903580 


UPDATE
Raids taking place across the Barking region of London, 12 arrests made at one apartment block. More raids are going on.









Saturday, May 20, 2017

UK terror plot: Met Police arrest four men in east London on suspicion of planning attack

metropolitan-police.jpg

Four men have been arrested on suspicion of plotting a terror attack in the UK as part of an investigation by MI5.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police's counter terrorism command detained the suspects during raids on their homes.
The men, aged between 18 and 27, remain in custody while searches continue at five homes in east London and a nearby business address.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said they were detained “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”.
“These arrests were pre-planned as part of an ongoing investigation by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command and MI5,” he added. “The arrests are linked to activity in the UK.”
Investigators gave no further details on the operation, which follows a series of stings targeting alleged Isis supporters in Britain.
Security has been intensified in the capital since alleged Isis supporter Khalid Masood killed five people in a car and knife attack in Westminster in March.
Last month, a man was arrested while carrying several knives in Whitehall. Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, 27, has since been charged with preparing a terrorist act and two explosives offences dating back to time spent in Afghanistan in 2012.
In an unconnected case that emerged on the same day, three women have been charged with preparation of a terrorist act and conspiracy to murder following a police raid in Willesden that saw one of the women shot.
Rizlaine Boular, 21, her mother Mina Dich, 43, and Khawla Barghouthi, 20, remain in custody ahead of a hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday.
Separately, 24-year-old Sabbir Miah pleaded guilty to spreading Isis propaganda videos on Tuesday.
British security services have prevented 13 potential terror attacks since June 2013, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley revealed.
Intelligence agencies have been monitoring suspected extremists, as well as tracking the return of some of around 800 Brits who went to fight for Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Police use train station to stage practice terror attack with 200 'victims'

Police use train station to stage practice terror attack with 200 'victims'
The terror training exercise at Leipzig station

Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, rail workers, and rescue workers practiced their terror-fighting skills late on Tuesday night in a mock terror attack at Leipzig central station.
As part of their training, the officers practiced how to respond should armed terrorists attack the station, according to the federal police. Fake perpetrators simulated the assault with automatic rifles and explosive devices, while police had to act fast.
“The women and men of the federal police were confronted by a ‘horror scenario’ tonight in Leipzig train station,” said local federal police president Jörg Baumbach in a statement.
“We never want to experience such an attack in real life, but if it happens, we must be the utmost prepared.”
There were also around 200 officers from around the country acting as victims of the attack, who had to be saved, according to broadcaster MDR.

In total, 500 people took part in the training exercise. MDR reported that travellers had been informed about the exercise at the station, and train travel was not impacted.
Numerous spectators also gathered to watch what was happening, despite the fact that it was hard to observe due to two blocked off platforms.
According to Baumbach, the operation was a success.
“The federal police must act quickly, proactively, decisively against the attack or attackers, and that is exactly what we successfully saw today,” he said. “This exercise stretched my forces to the limits.”


https://www.thelocal.de/20170517/police-take-over-leipzig-station-to-stage-practice-terror-attack-with-200-victims

Moscow planning to send 60,000 Muslim troops to Syria, Saudi newspaper says

Russian troops and armored vehicles

Citing unnamed “informed sources,” a Saudi newspaper says that “Russia has prepared approximately 60,000” predominantly Sunni Muslim soldiers from the North Caucasus to dispatch to Syria, a dramatic expansion in the limited Chechen police contingent now stationed in Aleppo and within the TURAN battalion near Palmyra.
Marwan Ash-Shamali, a Saudi commentator, published that statement in Riyad’s Al-Watan newspaper four days ago. It has now been translated and has received wide coverage in the Russian media (inosmi.ru from the original available at alwatan.com.sa).
The Saudi writer argues that the use of such Muslim troops gives Moscow an advantage in Syria because they can more easily cooperate with or even blend in with Syrian government forces. But he suggests that “in the near term,” such units are unlikely to play “a major role” in that country. That would happen after all of them were there. When that will be is unknown.
Not surprisingly, Ash-Shamali focuses on the impact of these troops in Syria where they would strengthen the Sunni positions favored by Riyad. But the impact of the formation of such forces within Russia is likely to be far greater, spreading from the military to the political and social system.
Creating ethnically or more rarely even religiously-based units is not something Russian rulers have been comfortable with at any time. They have done so only under extreme pressure as during World War I, the Russian Civil War, and World War II, and then they have rapidly disbanded these forces viewing them as a threat.
Russian commanders in recent years have worried about the high concentration of soldiers from Muslim regions in various units, the result of the demographic collapse of the ethnic Russians and the still rapid growth of Muslim nations, and Moscow has sought to compensate for this by cutting severely the draft in Muslim areas.
That hasn’t been popular either in those places or among Russians. In the former, many object to being kept out of the military because that limits career options in the police and other siloviki units. And in the latter, Russians can see that they are being asked to pay a higher “tax” than their Muslim counterparts. A 60,000-man Muslim army would only exacerbate this sense.
But more immediately, many Russians would likely view this as yet another concession by Moscow to Chechnya and its leader Ramzan Kadyrov and an effort by Vladimir Putin to create a kind of janissary corps to defend him against challenges coming from the Russian people.

And to the extent they do, many Russians and those politicians who listen to them are certain to object either to the creation with Moscow’s money of what could be an independent Chechen army or to a new Savage Division, as the North Caucasus troops were known in World War I, that might be used to suppress demonstrations.

Germany considering Jordan, Cyprus for anti-IS base



 Germany's defense minister says her office has drafted a list of eight locations where it could move aircraft supporting the anti-IS mission if Turkey continues to block German lawmakers from visiting troops at the Incirlik base.
Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday a team is already in Jordan to assess a site there for its Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane, and Cyprus is also being considered.
Nonetheless, she stressed talks with Turkey were still ongoing.
Germany has granted asylum to some soldiers Turkey believes were involved in a failed coup attempt last summer. That has prompted Turkey to block a request for German lawmakers to visit some 270 troops serving with the coalition against the Islamic State group at the Incirlik air base.

CZECH SECRET SERVICE REPORT: MONEY WAS SENT FROM CZECH REPUBLIC TO IS TERROR GROUP

Photo: ČT24

The annual reports of the Czech secret service generally deal with the level of extremism, the danger of radicalization of the Czech Moslem community, and the Czech Republic as a possible transit country for radicals. For the first time this year the country’s secret service also speaks about money having been sent to finance Islamic State activities. Intelligence service spokesman Ladislav Šticha confirmed on Wednesday that the secret service is aware of at least one case in which money was sent from the Czech Republic to finance an Islamic State terror group. The group or country to which the money was sent were not identified on the grounds that disclosure of such highly sensitive information would threaten the agency’s long-term operations. Under Czech law financing terrorist activities is a serious crime punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

As regards the Czech Republic serving as a transit country for radicalized individuals, the BIS reported that in 2016 a number of foreign nationals from other countries had travelled to Syria via the Czech Republic, namely using Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport. No such case of a foreigner residing in the Czech Republic was monitored. In its 2015 report the secret service said that seven Muslims who had spent an unspecified period of time in the Czech Republic left the country with the aim of joining extremist groups in Syria, especially Islamic State militants.
Only one case is known so far of a Czech wanting to join a terrorist organization. The Czech national in question was detained at Istanbul’s international airport in February 2016 with a one-way air ticket to the town of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, from where he had ordered a car to take him to Jarabulus where he was to join IS militants. He confessed all this to the Czech police first saying expected to go to war, fight for the IS ideology and kill people. Later he told the court that he had not intended to kill, but to let himself be killed in battle. A regional court sent him to three years in prison and when he appealed the Prague High Court issued an even tougher verdict handing him a six-year jail sentence.
The danger of the possible radicalization of the Czech Republic’s Muslim community persists and must be closely monitored, the secret service report says. The service reportedly monitored a number of individuals who attempted to radicalize Czech Muslims and establish closed communities governed by Sharia law. So far the community has rejected such attempts but the situation needs to be closely watched, the report concludes.



ISIS Video Shows New Weapons, ‘American’ Urging Attacks in U.S.

ISIS has released a new video featuring a purportedly American fighter calling for attacks in the U.S. and footage of new weapons the terrorists have built, including drones and rovers, analysts said.
Using the handle Abu Hamza al-Amriki, the bearded man appears with his face uncovered and urges lone-wolf attacks to avenge U.S. military action in slightly accented English, according to security firm Flashpoint.
It's been nearly a year since an American was featured in official ISIS propaganda. In June, a fighter using the nickname Abu Isma'il al-Amriki praised the Orlando nightclub massacre in another video. Jihadis use al-Amriki in their noms de guerre to mean "the American."
Image: Abu Hamza al-Amriki
Abu Hamza al-Amriki
The latest video also includes photos of U.S. locations — the Las Vegas Strip, Times Square, banks in Washington — meant to represent potential targets, said Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint.
Of particular interest was the weaponry on display in the slickly produced 44-minute clip put out by ISIS' media office in Iraq.
"It showcases a range of proprietary weapons that ISIS militant workshops have developed," Alkhouri said, pointing out rocket-propelled grenade launchers, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, video-equipped guided missiles, a remote-controlled "rover" that can drop explosive devices under military vehicles, and a drone that could potentially drop a bomb on a crowd.
The message is that while ISIS has struggled on the battlefield and lost territory in recent months, "it's innovating and weaponizing whatever material is available," Alkhouri said.
ISIS used the purported American to urge terrorist sympathizers in the U.S. to use knives or vehicles to wage jihad at home. "Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafir," Abu Hamza al-Amriki says at one point.
Counterterrorism analyst Michael S. Smith II said it's far more common to see Europeans delivering such messages in ISIS videos.
"While the Islamic State has very much doubled down on calls for attacks on the U.S....very few Americans have been the poster boys for that incitement," he said. 

Unmarried couple are buried up to their necks and stoned to death for ‘violating Islamic law’



This is not civilization, but savagery at its worst — because it is religious and “righteous.”
This is what the apologists would bring to your neighborhood.
This is what those who enthuse about sharia want to see happen to you if you don’t obey its brutal code.
Ignore this at your peril — the successful spread of sharia will condemn our children and following generations to unimaginable misery.

UNMARRIED COUPLE ARE BURIED UP TO THEIR NECKS AND STONED TO DEATH FOR ‘VIOLATING ISLAMIC LAW’ IN MALI AS JIHADIST GROUPS TAKE HOLD OF THE COUNTRY

  • It was the first known stoning execution to take place in the country since 2012
  • Extremists dug two holes for the unmarried man and woman who lived together
  • Members of the public invited to take part in execution in Taghlit, Kidal region
  • Four people threw stones at the paur until they had died, local officials claimed
By Jay Akbar For Mailonline, 17 May 2017:
An unmarried couple were stoned to death by Islamic extremists in Mali for the first known time since 2012, local officials claimed.
‘The Islamists dug two holes where they put the man and the woman who lived maritally without being married,’ the official said. ‘They were stoned to death.’
The same source said members of the public were invited to take part in the public execution in Taghlit, close to Aguelhok in the Kidal region, adding: ‘Four people threw stones at them until they died.’
An unmarried couple were stoned to death by Islamic extremists in Mali (file photo of Chadian soldiers posing with the flag of terror group Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb in Mali)
Another local official confirmed the information, saying the Islamists had accused the unmarried couple of violating ‘Islamic law’ – which requires punishment by stoning.
Northern Mali fell to jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in March 2012 and although they were driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention the following year, Islamists have regrouped and now have spread further south.
During their brief control of key towns in the vast north, jihadist groups imposed a version of Sharia law which forced women to wear veils and set whipping and stoning as punishment for transgressions.
It is the first public stoning known to have taken place in Mali since July 2012, when the Ansar Dine group stoned a couple in public in Aguelhok who they accused of having children outside marriage.
The young pair were publicly executed in the remote town of Aguelhok, near the vast West African nation’s northern border with Algeria, on Sunday, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine [‘Defenders of the faith’] group said at the time.
A local official said members of the public were invited to take part in the public execution in Taghlit, close to Aguelhok in the Kidal region, adding: 'Four people threw stones at them until they died
‘These two people were married and had extra-conjugal relations,’ the spokesman added. ‘Our men on the ground in Aguelhok applied sharia [Islamic law].’
‘They both died right away and even asked for this application.
‘We don’t have to answer to anyone over the application of sharia,’ he said.

UN COUNTERTERROR CHIEF: EUROPE FACES RETURN OF 'DANGEROUS' IS FIGHTERS

islamic state isis

Europe will face an exodus of Islamic State fighters defeated in Syria and Iraq this year, more dangerous and battle hardened than previous returnees, the head of the UN Security Council's counterterrorism agency said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters following meetings with EU officials, Jean-Paul Laborde said several European countries estimate that the rates of fighters returning from conflict zones has increased by one-third over the past year.

Threat levels in Western Europe are high following a spate of deadly attacks that killed dozens over the past two years, with many nations concerned about their ability to guard their borders.

Laborde said the foreign fighters seeking to return to Europe now are much "more dangerous" than previous waves of returnees, full of resentment after years on the battlefield including in recent confrontations.

Islamic State has lost large swathes of territory during military campaigns, including by the Russian-backed Syrian army and US-backed militias.

"On average, these people are much more committed, more experienced and more skilled," Laborde told reporters.

"In spite of the travel restrictions ... still you will have a number of foreign terrorist fighters which will probably slip through the borders and go back, come back to these countries, especially with smuggling networks," he said.

However, restrictions have worked to help dramatically curb the flow of foreign terrorist fighters leaving to join the ranks of the Islamic State, he said.

Based on estimates compiled from governments, the UN says 40 to 50 percent of some 30,000 foreign fighters, not all of them from Europe, have already left territories controlled by the Islamic State group.


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ISIS creating chemical weapons cell in new de facto capital, US official says

US intelligence believes ISIS is bringing together all of its experts on chemical weapons from Iraq and Syria into a new "chemical weapons cell," according to a US official.
The cell is comprised of chemical weapons specialists from Iraq and Syria who have not previously worked together, the official added. The new unit is being set up in an ISIS-controlled area in Syria within the Euphrates River Valley, between Mayadin, Syria and the town of al Qaim, just across the Iraqi border.
    That location has sparked a good deal of interest on the part of US military intelligence. One US defense official told CNN that "thousands" of ISIS operatives and sympathizers may be in the area and that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi could also be in hiding somewhere nearby. The area is now considered the "de facto" capital of ISIS, with Raqqa under such military pressure from the coalition and local forces, the official said.
    Coalition officials still stress that given its size and status, the capture of Raqqa is still considered to be an important military objective.
    It is assessed that ISIS is consolidating its chemical weapons capabilities in order to boost its ability to defend its remaining strongholds.
    That stretch has become increasingly important to ISIS, particularly since the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have pushed toward Raqqa, the terror group's one-time unofficial capital.
    US defense officials have said that they have observed ISIS officials increasingly abandoning Raqqa for towns and cities further south along the Euphrates River, such as Mayadin and Deir-e-Zor.
    "We know they have been moving a lot of their leadership out of Raqqa and we suspect much of their technical expertise and planning as well," US Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN.
    While not confirming reports of the consolidation of chemical expertise, Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led military coalition, told CNN that "we have seen ISIS use low-grade chemical agents in the past. We know ISIS is willing to use chemical weapons. This is not something we want to see them get good at."
    There has been a significant uptick in low-grade chemical weapons use by ISIS as the terror organization fights to hold on to Mosul.
    Military officials told CNN there have been more than 15 chemical weapons attacks since April 14 in or around West Mosul. While there have been no US or coalition casualties, some Iraqi troops have been treated for injuries. Military officials have downplayed the efficacy of ISIS' chemical weapons, saying they have less battlefield effect than conventional explosives.