U.S. Arrests Saudi Student in Bomb Plot



Source:  tvinx.com

U.S. Arrests Saudi Student in Bomb PlotA 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student living in Texas has been arrested by federal agents, who charged him with planning to build bombs for terror attacks in the United States, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

According to an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the student, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, indicated in online research and in a journal that he was considering attacking the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush as well as hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, nightclubs and the homes of soldiers who were formerly stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Mr. Aldawsari, a business major at South Plains College in Lubbock, Tex., is in the United States legally on a student visa, the bureau said. He came to the government’s attention on Feb. 1, when a North Carolina supply company reported that he had tried to order five liters of a chemical that can be used to make an explosive.

A subsequent investigation found that he had already obtained large supplies of the other two chemicals needed for the explosive compound — trinitrophenol or TNP — in December, court documents said.

“Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States,” said David Kris, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s national security division. “Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further.”

There was no indication on Thursday that investigators had found links between Mr. Aldawsari and Al Qaeda or some other foreign militant group. According to the affidavit, he wrote in his journal that he wanted to found a new terrorist group modeled after Al Qaeda, which he would lead, and he indicated that he had been methodically planning for years to commit a terrorist attack.

“I excelled in my studies in high school in order to take advantage of an opportunity for a scholarship to America” that was offered by the Saudi Arabian government, investigators said he wrote. “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives, and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”

The journal was also said to list “important steps” toward his goal, including obtaining a forged United States birth certificate, applying for a passport and driver’s license, renting cars online, putting bombs in them and taking them to various sites during rush hours, and then leaving the city for a “safe place.”

The affidavit says that in his journal, Mr. Aldawsari said he was inspired by the speeches of Osama Bin Laden and wrote that the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had produced a “big change” in his thinking. It also contends that he was the writer of a blog called FromFarAway90, published in a mix of English and Arabic.

The Arabic posts on that blog speak at times about war and distress in Palestine and other Muslim lands and about driving infidels out of the Islamic world, and they ask that Allah make the writer a martyr. It is not clear whether Mr. Aldawsari wrote the posts or copied material from elsewhere.

The affidavit also said Mr. Aldawsari, using several e-mail accounts, often sent research to himself about potential targets and explosives. The authorities retrieved several e-mails about manufacturing TNP and other explosives and about how to convert a cellphone into a remote detonator.

Other e-mails — with subject lines like “Nice targets” — contained the names and addresses of three Americans who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib during their military service in Iraq and the locations of 12 reservoirs and dams in Colorado and California. An e-mail entitled “Tyrant’s House” listed the address for Mr. Bush’s house in Dallas.

Mr. Aldawsari also made “numerous Internet searches” related to realistic-looking baby dolls and strollers and viewed photographs of altered dolls, which the F.B.I. said “could indicate” that he was considering concealing explosives in such a doll.

The search of his apartment, the affidavit said, also found flasks and chemical lab equipment, a gas mask, a protective suit and Christmas light wiring that it said was suitable for producing a bomb.

Link: http://www.tvinx.com/u_s_arrests_saudi_student_in_bomb_plot.news.3853.en

Afghanistan pins hopes on natural resources



Source: Al Jazeera (Jennifer Glasse reports from Kabul province)

Country is estimated to have deposits of various elements, mostly copper, worth $1 trillion.

Afghanistan’s finance minister says the economy will easily survive the departure of international forces next year. His optimism is based on reports that the country has huge reserves of natural resources – mostly copper.

The US estimates that Afghanistan could be sitting on deposits worth $1 trillion. That includes gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones, including emeralds.

But for now, agriculture remains Afghanistan’s biggest export earner with fruit and nuts, tobacco and wool topping the list.

Afghanistan & Pakistan: States of Play



Source: Al Jazeera

How will the 2014 US troop withdrawal and Pakistan‘s upcoming elections affect regional and global politics?


The April issue of the Al Jazeera English digital magazine presents in depth coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries that continue to face numerous internal and external challenges.

And as they do so, new stories emerge rekindling hope that peace will finally come to the region as well as political, social and economic stability.

Afghanistan is set for a 2014 US troop withdrawal and Pakistan is gearing up for elections in May – for the first time in its history a democratically elected government has completed five years in office.

So how will these major changes affect regional and global politics?

Some of the highlights of the issue include:

  • Kabul: A city of hope and fear – With the US set to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, what does the future hold for the country’s capital?
  • A journey along Pakistan’s Indus River – Fed by the water from the melted snow of the Himalayas and prone to monsoon floods, the ebb and flow of the river impacts on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.
  • Buzkashi: Riding into the scoring circle – Afghanistan’s national sport was banned under the Taliban but it now attracts thousands of passionate fans.
  • Pakistan’s troubled milestone – As the country heads towards elections, the mood remains one of cynicism rather than celebration.
  • Embracing a new Afghan challenge – A skiing competition – including an event for women – reflects a new sense of optimism in a country that is simultaneously holding its breath ahead of the 2014 US troop withdrawal.
  • Navigating Hell’s Road – Meet the Pakistani truckers who must battle arguably the world’s most dangerous road in order to ferry goods to remote mountain villages.

Iran: 2013 will be ‘fall of American empire’


Source: wnd.com(Reza Kahili)

The “American empire” will fall this year, the head of Iran’s Basij forces claimed Sunday, a message that was approved by the Islamic regime’s supreme leader.

“America should not think that with some diplomatic dialogue it can solve its dossier (problem) with the nation of Iran,” Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi said. “The path of this land is directed by the martyrs. America with its hollow slogans … thinks the Iranian nation will believe it.”

The Basij commander was speaking to an audience of the 10th conference of “Journey of Enlightened Land” commemorating the “martyrs” of the eight-year war with Iraqaccording to the Journalist Club, an outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards intelligence division.

Naghdi called President Obama’s actions deceitful, saying, “Obama in letters sent to the Islamic Republic promised to put an end to the Iranian nuclear dossier but … reacted in a different way.”

As reported in January 2012, Iranian officials revealed the contents of an Obama letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that indicated a deep desire by the U.S. president for a dialogue with the radical leaders of Iran. Iranian officials also claimed that a subsequent oral message by Obama delivered through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran was even more revealing than the letter delivered to the Iranian supreme leader.

Hossein Ebrahimi, the vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said last year that in a meeting between Swiss Ambassador Livia Leu Agosti and Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, Agosti informed the Iranian officials that Obama recognizes Iran’s right of access to and use of nuclear technology.

Ebarhimi also disclosed another important point that the Swiss diplomat delivered: Obama said that “I didn’t want to impose sanctions on your central bank, but I had no options but to approve it since a Congress majority had approved the decision.”

The Basij commander called Obama the most seditious president in the history of America: “Within this period, nothing but betrayal has been witnessed by Obama as the president of America. … America with its enmity toward Iran … has surrounded the country with sanctions.” Under the supreme leader’s request, Naghdi warned that “The epic political movement this year will be the fall of the American empire and the revealing of its true face of cruelty by its politicians.”

Naghdi was born in Iraq and moved to Iran after the Iranian Revolution, joining the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He later joined the Quds Forces, which is involved in international terrorism.

In October 2009, Khamanei appointed Naghdi to command the Basij paramilitary forces. Naghdi has been sanctioned by the U.S. as a violator of human rights for having participated in the suppression of the Iranian people.

Naghdi previously had threatened to kill American generals in response to the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

He said at the time, “We will mark the hanging sites of the American and Zionist generals and we will identify which hanging was in retaliation for the blood of our great martyr.”

At Sunday’s ceremony, Naghdi, as promised, presented “The Wet Gunpowder” award to first lady Michelle Obama. The award is given to those who “unknowingly and unwillingly” have contributed greatly to the Islamic Revolution. The prize was sent to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran to be handed over to American officials for delivery to Mrs. Obama.

As WND reported March 14, Naghdi had announced that Iran would give the first lady a special award for allegedly exposing a direct link between Hollywood and the White House. He cited her announcement of the “anti-Iran” movie “Argo” Oscar for Best Picture in a live feed from the White House Feb. 24.

“Mrs. Obama’s action was awesome,” Naghdi said with what he described as irony, “and if we had spent billions of dollars, we could not show a link and allegiance between Hollywood and the U.S. government and the White House, especially since they have always denied the allegations.”

During the past months, U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of the State John Kerry, have repeatedly announced the Obama administration’s willingness to hold bilateral talks with Iran. Although the supreme leader in his latest remarks on the occasion of the Iranian New Year said he would not object to such talks, he said that America was the “center of all conspiracies and the No. 1 enemy” of the Islamic regime.


Source : guardian.co.uk (Carlene Firmin)

MDG : UN Women CSW57 The Commission on the Status of Women

The UK pledged £35m to combat female genital mutilation worldwide during a summit this month at the UN headquarters in New York. Photograph: Catianne Tijerina/UN Women

This month, I spent a week at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The session was on violence against women and girls. About 6,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government delegations from around the world were represented at CSW. Nearly 100 NGOs were from the UK.

Debates ranged from child marriage to girls’ access to primary school education, issues where the UK seems quite progressive. But there are others where we stand alongside countries seeking a solution to a problem; female genital mutilation (FGM) is one such challenge.

Three million girls are thought to be at risk in Africa, but the UK is not immune to this form of gender-based violence. No one knows the exact figures, but it is estimated that in the UK, 20,000 girls are at risk and 66,000 women are thought to be living with the consequences of FGM.

FGM is a curious term. It often gets banded about in meetings and referenced in speeches without clarity about the real experiences of women and girls. This results in professionals and the public distancing themselves from the ensuing injury and trauma.

There are four forms of FGM, which range from the removal of part, or all, of the clitoris to the sealing of the vaginal opening through a repositioning of the labia. The consequences include infection, urine retention and fatal haemorrhaging immediately after the procedure; damage to the reproductive system; complications in childbirth; and mental health difficulties.

The trauma of the procedure and enduring impact cannot be overstated. It is a risk faced by girls born in the UK, who often go missing from school so that the procedure can be undertaken abroad. It is crucial that vulnerable children are identified in advance, and that FGM is considered a potential cause if girls do go missing.

During the CSW session, the UK government pledged £35m to prevent FGM through education and by challenging cultures or arguments that seek to justify the practice, which spans 28 African countries in addition to the US, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and other parts of Europe. Ascribing the practice to one particular culture or country is inaccurate. And there is no one justification that is used. Some view it as a preservation of hygiene or cleanliness, others as a matter of “honour”, and some consider it as a means to avoid social exclusion. Taking a preventive approach within the UK, and around the world, is critical. Unlike France, in the UK no one has yet been convicted for FGM.

It is crucial that FGM is recognised as violence and as a live issue for UK children. Professionals such as teachers and midwives need to be aware of the signs and able to offer the appropriate protection to either prevent the abuse, or the harmful consequences. While the government’s revised action plan on violence against women and girls, published earlier this month, demonstrated the progress that has been made in tackling gender-based violence, it also illustrated how much there remains to address. Female genital mutilation is one of those reminders.

Tensions persist between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar



Source: edition.cnn.com (Phyo Wai Lin, Jethro Mullen and Kocha Olarn)

Yangon, Myanmar (CNN) — Residents of the city in central Myanmar where clashes between Buddhists and the Muslim minority killed dozens of people last week struggled to resume their daily lives on Monday with a state of emergency still in place.

Even as an uneasy calm prevailed in Meiktila, the city at the heart of the unrest, police reported fresh arson attacks on Muslim properties in other areas, showing the challenges Myanmar authorities face in reining in communal tensions in this nascent democracy.

A group of Buddhists on Saturday night torched 65 houses and religious buildings in Yemethin Township, which is about 40 kilometers south of Meiktila and not under a state of emergency, according to Lt. Col. Aung Min, a spokesman for the Myanmar Police Force.

And on Sunday night, smaller outbreaks of arson took place in other towns further south, including Okpo and Tatkon, he said.

The attacks over the weekend caused property damage, but didn’t result in any deaths, Aung Min said. That contrasts with the violence in Meiktila last week, which killed at least 32 people, according to the New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper.

In the Meiktila clashes, which were reportedly set off by a dispute between a Muslim gold shop owner and two Buddhist sellers, rioters set fire to houses schools and mosques, prompting thousands of residents to flee their homes.

State of emergency

As the violence threatened to spiral out of control, authorities declared a state of emergency on Friday, which allows the military to help reinstate order.

Police confiscated weapons such as swords and machetes from groups of Buddhists — some of them monks — who were roaming the streets, officials said.

As authorities began to clear up after the mayhem, they found more than 20 bodies so badly burned they couldn’t be identified, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

The newspaper said Sunday the unrest had left 8,707 people living in temporary shelters such as a soccer stadium and a monastery in Meiktila, a lakeside city about 130 kilometers north of the administrative capital, Naypyidaw.

But Win Htein, an opposition member of parliament for the area, on Monday gave a higher estimate for the number of people displaced by the unrest, saying 10,000 Muslims and 7,000 Buddhists had been driven from their homes.

“We are facing the problem of not having enough food and blankets,” he said.

At the same time, he said, the overall situation in the city had improved,with shops starting to reopen.

Win Htein had said last week that he believed that most of those killed in the violence were Muslims.

Police have detained a total of 36 people in relation to the recent clashes in Meiktila and other towns, Aung Min said Monday.

Concerns after previous unrest

The United Nations and the United States have both expressed concern about the recent violence in Myanmar, which is emerging from decades of military repression and has taken a number of significant steps toward democracy in recent years under President Thein Sein.

The sudden boiling over of tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in central Myanmar follows sectarian troubles that killed scores of people in the west of the country last year.

Those clashes, in Rakhine State, took place between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim group.

Most of the victims in that unrest were Rohingya. Tens of thousands more were left living in makeshift camps, and many of them have since joined those who attempt each year to flee to Thailand and Malaysia in flimsy boats.

Brooklyn cabbie who forced daughter’s arranged marriage suspected in relatives murders



Source: creepingsharia

A ruthless Brooklyn cabby allegedly kidnapped and shipped his daughter back to Pakistan for an arranged marriage, threatening to kill her if she tried to escape.

Then, when a sympathetic cousin helped her flee back to New York City, the irate father vowed to kill the relative and other kin if his daughter did not return to Pakistan, law-enforcement sources said.

But Amina Ajmal refused her father’s demand — and Monday, someone made good on the dad’s heinous threat to do harm.

The sister and father of the brave cousin who helped Ajmal flee Pakistan last month were fatally shot in the province of Punjab, authorities said.

Ajmal’s father, yellow-taxi driver Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, 60, is being held by authorities in Brooklyn. He was charged with visa fraud after trying at some point to illegally arrange for his daughter’s husband to enter the United States, officials said.

Choudhry is expected to be charged with making the death threats, too.

The dad had allegedly forced Ajmal, a US citizen in her early 20s, to travel back to Pakistan more than three years ago to marry Abrar Ahmed Babar.

The cabby ordered his brother to hold Ajmal captive until the wedding this past November, sources said.

But Ajmal escaped back to the United States with the help of her cousin and the US Embassy. She agreed to participate in a wiretap to help the feds nail her dad.

In two taped conversations, on Feb. 20 and 21, Choudhry allegedly threatened the cousin and kin.

Ajmal’s brother, Shakeel Choudhry, 33, last night acknowledged, “My dad was angry and said he’d kill their family, but it meant nothing.’’ The timing of the murders and his dad’s threats “was all a coincidence,’’ the Brooklyn man said.