Chilling: The grinning faces of suicide bombers who killed 39 people in Iran mosque attack

Chilling photographs of two men believed to behind the bombing of a mosque in Iran show them looking relaxed and smiling at the camera as they pose in their explosive vests before carrying out the deadly attacks.
The suicide bomb attacks killed at least 39 people, including a newborn baby, during a Shi'ite religious ceremony in the southeastern Iranian city of Chabahar on Wednesday.
The men, thought to be Hessan Khashi and Saiful Rahman Chabahari were members of Sunni Muslim militant group Jundallah (Soldiers of God).
Suspected suicide bomber Hessan Khashi
Suspected suicide bomber Saiful Rahman Chabahari
Grinning killers: Hessan Khashi (left) and Saiful Rahman Chabahar are allegedly behind the bombing of a mosque in Iran that left 39 people dead and a further 90 injured.  These chilling photographs show the bombers apparently relaxed and happy as they pose in their exlosive vests
One of the men was arrested before he managed to detonate his vest and a third man was also arrested in connection with the attacks.
In another picture, Khashi and Chabahrari can be seen posing together brandishing machine guns whilst holding their explosive vests up for the camera.
 
The attack, which injured a further 90 people, took place outside the Imam Hussein Mosque near the border with Pakistan, the official IRNA news agency said.
The bombers targeted a group of worshippers at a mourning ceremony a day before Ashoura, which commemorates the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most beloved saints.
Sunni militant group called Jundallah have claimed responsibility in a statement posted on its website.
The group has carried out sporadic attacks in Iran's southeast to fight alleged discrimination against the area's Sunni minority in overwhelmingly Shiite Iran.
SRelaxed: Suspected suicide bombers Saiful Rahman Chabahari (left) and Hessan Khashi were spotted just prior the attacks in the Iranian city of Chabahar. One of the men was arrested before detonating his vest
Relaxed: Suspected suicide bombers Saiful Rahman Chabahari (left) and Hessan Khashi were spotted just prior the attacks in the Iranian city of Chabahar. One of the men was arrested before detonating his vest
The group said Wednesday's attack was a second act of revenge for the execution of its leader, Abdulmalik Rigi, in June.
'This operation is a warning to the Iranian regime that it must end its interference in the religious affairs of the Sunnis, stop executions and release the prisoners,' said the Internet statement.

'Otherwise, martyrdom operations will continue with a stronger forcer.'
One of the attackers detonated a bomb outside the mosque and the other struck from within a crowd of worshippers, state TV reported.
Security forces shot one of them, but the bomber was still able to detonate the explosives, the report added, quoting deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi.
Mahmoud Mozaffar, a senior Iranian Red Crescent Society official, said emergency services had been put on alert over the past few days because of anonymous threats.
The deputy interior minister blamed Sunni militants, an apparent reference to Jundallah.
'Evidence and the kind of equipment used suggest that the terrorists were affiliated with extremist...groups backed by the U.S. and intelligence services of some regional states,' Abdollahi told state TV.
Harrowing: Blood stains on the road near the mosque in the Iranian city of Chabahar which killed at least 39 people. The mosque was packed with worshipers who had gathered for a Shiite religious procession
Harrowing: Blood stains on the road near the mosque in the Iranian city of Chabahar which killed at least 39 people. The mosque was packed with worshipers who had gathered for a Shiite religious procession
Iranian officials claim Jundallah, which has operated from bases in Pakistan, receives support from Western powers, including the United States.
Washington denies any links to the group, and in November the State Department added Jundallah to a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.
President Barack Obama condemned the attack and said the United States stands with the loved ones of those killed and with the Iranian people.
'This and other similar acts of terrorism recognize no religious, political or national boundaries. The United States condemns all acts of terrorism wherever they occur'.
Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said the bombing sought to create sectarian splits in the country.
'The aim of the terrorists...is to sow discord among Shiites and Sunnis,' he said. 'Such actions can be done only by the Zionist regime and the U.S.'
In July, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a mosque in the same province, Sistan-Baluchestan, killing at least 28 people.
Carnage: Images from Iran's state-run Al-Alam TV show the extensive wreckage of the site after the suicide bombings. Sunni rebel group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) have claimed responsibility for the attacks
Carnage: Images from Iran's state-run Al-Alam TV show the extensive wreckage of the site after the suicide bombings. Sunni rebel group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) have claimed responsibility for the attacks
Jundallah had said that attack was also carried out in revenge for the execution of its leader a month earlier.
The group has also attacked members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the country's most powerful military force.
In its deadliest strike, a suicide bomber hit a meeting between Guard commanders and Shiite and Sunni tribal leaders in the border town of Pishin in October 2009, killing 42 people, including 15 Guard members.
READ MORE - Chilling: The grinning faces of suicide bombers who killed 39 people in Iran mosque attack

Christmas chaos: Al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks across Europe and the U.S., warn insurgents

Terrorists are plotting deadly Christmas attacks in what could make for holiday travel chaos.
Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim Al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the holiday season.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said that the botched bombing in central Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots the insurgents revealed.
The new terror warnings are based on information gathered from recent detainees. Earlier this month security forces arrested 39 al Qaeda militants, including the group's leadership in Anbar province, some of whom are seen here
The new terror warnings are based on information gathered from recent detainees. Earlier this month security forces arrested 39 al Qaeda militants, including the group's leadership in Anbar province, some of whom are seen here
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in a telephone interview from New York, called the claims 'a critical threat.'
Both al-Bolani and Zebari said Iraq has informed Interpol of the alleged plots, and alerted authorities in the U.S. and European countries of the possible danger.

 
Neither official specified which country or countries in Europe are alleged targets.
Western counter-terrorism officials are on high alert during the holiday season.
Last year saw the failed attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day by lighting explosives in his pants.
 Last Christmas Day Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab of Nigeria, tried to blow up a Northwest/Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detriot
Last Christmas Day Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab of Nigeria, tried to blow up a Northwest/Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detriot

THE UNDERWEAR BOMBER: Here are his charred and singed underpants with a packet of explosive powder sewn into the crotch
THE UNDERWEAR BOMBER: Here are his charred and singed underpants with a packet of explosive powder sewn into the crotch
Likewise, shoe bomber Richard Reid tried to blow up a Paris to Miami plane on December 22, 2001.
Al-Bolani said several insurgents claimed to be part of a cell that took its orders directly from Al Qaeda's central leadership. He said at least one of the captured suspects was a foreign fighter from Tunisia.
The confessions were the result of recent operations by Iraqi security forces that have netted at least 73 suspected operatives in the last two weeks, al-Bolani said.
Links between Al Qaeda's central leadership, which is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, and the terror organization's front group in Iraq are tenuous as the local branch in recent years has been run by local insurgents.
But al-Bolani said the claims — if true — show Al Qaeda remains a presence in Iraq.
Iraq's Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said that the botched bombing in Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots insurgents revealed
Iraq's Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said that the botched bombing in Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots insurgents revealed
'Several members of this terrorist group have direct links with the central leaders of the Al Qaeda organization,' al-Bolani said.
'Those captured represent the main structure of the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq.'
Zebari, who is in New York for a meeting of the U.S. Security Council, said he informed 'the countries concerned.' He mentioned the U.S, but would not specify which countries in Europe.
Al-Bolani said the suspects claimed that last Saturday's suicide bombing in Stockholm — carried out by an Iraqi-born Swede on Saturday — was among the plots. He said the suspects made the claim after the bombing happened.
READ MORE - Christmas chaos: Al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks across Europe and the U.S., warn insurgents

UK to launch biggest ever nuclear submarine

LONDON: British Navy is all set to launch its biggest ever nuclear submarine that can fire guided-missiles to pulverise an enemy more than 1,600km away.

The 'super-sub, called HMS Ambush, has a huge nuclear reactor that can power a city the size of Southampton and it will never need refuelling.

The killer submarine, which is more complex than the US space shuttles and able to circumnavigate the globe without surfacing, is also able to make oxygen and fresh water from seawater to keep the 98 crew alive in time of crisis.

The awesome 7,400-tonne sub is 291 foot long, the same length as a football pitch, as wide as four double-decker buses and 12 storeys high.

A true titan of the deep, the 1.2-billion-pound warship will be launched at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria on Thursday, the Daily Mail reported.

According to the report, its nuclear-powered engine can propel her at more than 20 knots, allowing her to travel 500 miles a day.

And, despite being 50 per cent bigger than the Swiftsure and Trafalgar subs she will replace, Ambush is quieter. Her propellers are said to make less noise than a baby dolphin -- making her virtually undetectable to enemy vessels, the report said.

HMS Ambush will carry 38 missiles, a mixture of Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a range of 1,240 miles, and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes to target other ships and submarines.

The submarine has been fitted with the most advanced sonar and radar which are so sensitive that they can detect enemy ships from a distance of 3,000 nautical miles.

It means if the submarine is in the English Channel, it would if a ship left New York's harbour.

But naval chiefs will hope that the newly-named craft won't suffer the same catalogue of disasters that has recently befallen her sister vessel, HMS Astute.

Astute's captain, Commander Andy Coles, was relieved of his duties after the submarine ran aground on a sandbank off the Isle of Skye in October.

Ambush will be unveiled and officially named by Lady Anne Soar, the wife of the Royal Navy's Commander in Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar.

After the ceremony, the sub will be wheeled from her shed and lowered into the wet dock for further outfitting and testing, the report added.
READ MORE - UK to launch biggest ever nuclear submarine

Richard Holbrooke, Famed U.S. Diplomat, Dies

http://wwwimage.cbsnews.com/images/2010/12/13/image7146928g.jpgRichard Holbrooke, one of the nation's top diplomats, has died at the age of 69.

The lifelong diplomat known to some as "The Bulldozer" for his persistent negotiating style passed Monday following complications from emergency heart surgery at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

CBS News State Department reporter Charles Wolfson says Holbrooke was well known for his ability to get the job done no matter the circumstances and to never shy away from the toughest diplomatic assignments.

Charles Wolfson on Richard Holbrooke

Holbrooke's career saw him posted to such challenging assignments as Vietnam, the Balkans and Afghanistan, almost always shortly after a major conflict. He also authored part of the Pentagon papers and was most recently President Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Holbrooke was said to like the tough challenge. For more than one president, if something needed to get done, Richard Holbrooke's name was always at the top of the list, Wolfson reports. Not everyone he worked for liked him but they all respected his ability to get the job done.

Holbrooke had received telephone calls from the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan as he recovered from emergency surgery, correcting a tear in the large artery that moves blood from his heart, the Associated Press reports.

The president's diplomatic point man on the Afghanistan war, Holbrooke was stricken Friday while at the State Department and was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent more than 20 hours of surgery to repair the tear and bleeding in his aorta.

The State Department said Sunday that he received calls from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the AP reports. As President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the longtime diplomat has made numerous visits to the region.

Holbrooke was meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about midmorning Friday when he fell ill, collapsed and was rushed to the hospital a few blocks away, the AP reports.

Holbrooke, with his long-standing ties to Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, was a strong supporter of her 2008 bid for the White House. He had been considered a favorite to become secretary of state if she had won. When she dropped out, he began reaching out to Mr. Obama's campaign.

"Richard Holbrooke saved lives, secured peace and restored hope for countless people around the world," Bill Clinton said in a statement late Monday.

Reflecting on his role as Obama's special envoy, Holbrooke wrote in The Washington Post in March 2008 that "the conflict in Afghanistan will be far more costly and much, much longer than Americans realize. This war, already in its seventh year, will eventually become the longest in American history, surpassing even Vietnam."

In a statement released by the White House, Mr. Obama said: "The progress that we have made in Afghanistan and Pakistan is due in no small measure to Richard's relentless focus on America's national interest, and pursuit of peace and security. He understood, in his life and his work, that our interests encompassed the values that we hold so dear."

Holbrooke's passing comes just days before the Obama administration is expected to roll out the results of its review of the Afghanistan war, on Thursday.

Holbrooke's absence could effect the administration's ability to put in place - and also sell to a skeptical Congress - its push for Afghan forces to assume a greater role in the fighting, allowing U.S. troops to come home. It is a transition in which Holbrooke was expected to play an important part.

The feisty and sometimes abrasive diplomat - whose forceful style earned him "The Bulldozer" nickname, along with "Raging Bull" - is perhaps best known for helping broker the Dayton accords, a 1995 agreement that ended the war in Bosnia.

He served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration. He also was ambassador to Germany from 1993 to 1994 and then assistant secretary of state for European affairs.

CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk says Holbrooke was best known at the U.N. for strong-arming American politicians, and enlisting the help of Ted Turner, to pay off a $1 billion U.S. debt to the world body. He also launched a lasting campaign to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa during his time as president of the Security Council.
READ MORE - Richard Holbrooke, Famed U.S. Diplomat, Dies

WikiLeaks 'rape' victims had hidden agendas ... and I've seen the proof says Julian Assange's lawyer

Accused: Julian Assange is in a British jail, fighting extradition to Sweden
Accused: Julian Assange is in a British jail, fighting extradition to Sweden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer says he has seen secret police documents that prove the whistleblower is innocent of rape claims made against him by two women in Stockholm.
Bj√∂rn Hurtig, who is representing Mr Assange in Sweden, said the papers, which form part of the official Swedish investigation, reveal both women had ‘hidden agendas’ and lied about being coerced into having sex with Mr Assange, 39.
The freedom of information crusader is being held in Wandsworth jail in London while fighting extradition to face the accusations, which his defenders say are part of a plot to stop him releasing more embarrassing information on his website about governments worldwide.
Australian Mr Assange met both women at a seminar in Stockholm last August. After having intercourse with each, at different times, he faced sex charges – which he strenuously denies – that were withdrawn and then reinstated.
Mr Hurtig said in an exclusive interview from his Stockholm office: ‘From what I have read, it is clear that the women are lying and that they had an agenda when they went to the police, which had nothing to do with a crime having taken place.
‘It was, I believe, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had very big expectations for something to happen with Julian.’
He has asked for Swedish prosecutors’ permission to disclose more ‘sensational’ information.
‘If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade,’ he said. ‘If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point.
‘But at the moment I’m bound by the rules of the Swedish legal system, which say that the information can only be used as evidence in this country. For me to do otherwise would lead to me being disbarred.’
Mr Hurtig, a top sex-crime defence lawyer, is ready to fly to London and present the evidence when Mr Assange appears in court this week – if he is given the all-clear.
Campaign: Supporters of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, hold posters with his photo during a protest in Madrid, Spain, this weekend. The protesters are wearing masks depicting anti-establishment figure from the movie 'V for Vendetta'
Campaign: Supporters of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, hold posters with his photo during a protest in Madrid, Spain, this weekend. The protesters are wearing masks depicting anti-establishment figure from the movie 'V for Vendetta'
Mr Assange has not been charged yet. Mr Hurtig said that when they met, ‘I was struck by how good-looking he was. He gave off an aura of someone who was very self-assured and comfortable with himself – the way famous people do.
‘He denied vehemently that he had raped or in any way indulged in non-consensual sex. He was very upset. He kept saying, “How can they do this to me? I’ve done nothing wrong. They are trying to destroy my credibility.” He kept saying it was a witch-hunt and we must fight it.’
 
One of the women, a political activist in her 30s described as Miss A, claims she was unlawfully coerced and subjected to sexual molestation and deliberate molestation. The other woman, Miss B, who is in her 20s, has alleged he had sex with her without a condom while she was sleeping.
Mr Assange told Mr Hurtig he had a brief affair with Miss A – who had organised a seminar for the Centre-Left group Brotherhood Movement – while staying in her flat.
Miss B admitted in her police statement that she sought out Mr Assange after seeing him on TV and, clearly infatuated, attended the seminar he was giving. They had a ‘sexual encounter’ in a cinema on their first meeting and two days later had protected sex at her flat, 40 miles from Stockholm. But the woman told police that she woke up next morning to find him having sex with her without a condom.
‘This is what they are saying is rape,’ said Mr Hurtig. He said Mr Assange and Miss B parted on good terms, with Miss B buying his train ticket back to Stockholm. But Mr Hurtig said that after Mr Assange reneged on his promise to call her and failed to return her phone calls over the next few days, the drama took a ‘bizarre’ turn.

Vatican 'made Irish give immunity in abuse probe'

Ireland succumbed to Vatican pressure and gave church officials immunity in exchange for testifying in an investigation into paedophile priests, it is claimed in the latest WikiLeaks disclosures.
The Vatican had been offended by requests for information from the Murphy Inquiry into the priests, according to US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.
A US diplomat wrote that, according to the deputy to the Irish ambassador to the Holy See, the Irish government gave in to Vatican pressure and granted church officials immunity in exchange for testifying.
The diplomatic missives claim that some in the Catholic hierarchy believed the Irish government ‘failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigation’.
A cable released on the Wikileaks website was entitled: ‘Sex abuse scandal strains Irish-Vatican relations, shakes up Irish church and poses challenges for the Holy See.’
The Vatican described the leaks as ‘a matter of extreme gravity’. The US ambassador to the Holy See condemned the leaks and said the Vatican and America continued to co-operate in promoting universal values.
Last year’s Murphy Inquiry identified 320 people who complained of child sexual abuse between 1975 and 2004 in the Dublin archdiocese.
Miss B called the office of Miss A, whom she had briefly met at the seminar, asking the whereabouts of Mr Assange. During the conversation they realised that they had both been ‘victims of his charms’.
Mr Assange told Mr Hurtig he refused their request to take a test for sexually-transmitted diseases.
He said Miss B was especially anxious about the possibility of HIV and pregnancy. It was then that
she and Miss A walked into a police station and told their stories.
Mr Hurtig said: ‘I don’t believe Miss B felt she had been raped until she went to the police station. She was encouraged by a policewoman and a junior female prosecutor to think that way. While I don’t think there was any conspiracy, Julian says he is being victimised because of his role with WikiLeaks. The fact that he has a high profile has made him a target for opponents.’
Mr Hurtig said that before leaving Sweden to lecture in Britain at the end of September, Mr Assange tried in vain several times to arrange an interview with Stockholm police.
The strong sense of women’s rights in Sweden means 53 rape allegations are reported per 100,000 people, the highest rate in Europe.
Also, under Swedish law there are gradations of rape. There is the most serious kind, involving major violence, ‘regular rape’, which could include a degree of violence, and ‘unlawful coercion’, which might involve putting emotional pressure on someone.
The case may turn on whether consensual sex turned into non-consensual sex – and whether a man’s decision not to use a condom can amount to a crime.
But Mr Hurtig remains confident that Mr Assange will get a fair hearing in Sweden.
‘This is not a banana republic,’ he said. ‘It’s just that when it comes to sex crimes, the police and prosecutors and members of the court seem to lose their ability to think logically. That said, I’m convinced that as soon as the case is heard in Sweden it will be thrown out.’
READ MORE - WikiLeaks 'rape' victims had hidden agendas ... and I've seen the proof says Julian Assange's lawyer

Suicide attack on Pak hospital kills 17, injures 20

At least 17 people were killed and 20 others injured on Friday when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a hospital being built by the minority Shia community in Pakistan's restive northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Hazara Hospital in Hangu town collapsed following the blast and several persons were buried under the rubble, witnesses said.

Rescue workers and local residents pulled bodies and the injured out of debris.
Seventeen people were killed and 20 others injured in the attack, officials said.

Several nearby buildings were damaged by the powerful blast.

Rescue efforts were hampered by the lack of heavy machinery and a power outage caused by the explosion.

Kohat Commissioner Khalid Khan said the bomber had targeted the hospital.

Hangu is located near Kohat, where a suicide bomber struck a crowded bus terminal on Wednesday, killing 19 people and injuring over 30 others.

Sources said the minority Shia community was also the target of Wednesdays attack.

No group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack. Hangu district has been declared "very sensitive" by intelligence agencies for the Islamic holy month of Muharram, which began on Wednesday.

Authorities have put in place strict security arrangements across Pakistan as sectarian and militant violence has occurred during the month in past years.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned Friday's attack in Hangu, describing it as a "brutal and inhuman act of militants".

He reiterated his government's resolve to fight the menace of terrorism and militancy till its eradication.
READ MORE - Suicide attack on Pak hospital kills 17, injures 20

'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy

New Delhi: Had they been true, they could have brought temperatures between India and the United States down by a few degrees, handed Islamabad a big stick to beat New Delhi with, and perhaps obliged India to do some explaining in international fora. Except that they were completely untrue.
'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy
Major Pakistani newspapers Thursday published reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables in which American diplomats were said to have described the Indian Army as faction-ridden, Indian military officers as incompetent, and an ongoing "Bosnia-like genocide" in Jammu and Kashmir.
PTI, reporting from Islamabad, said the papers had "reproduced an elaborate Internet hoax". The Guardian, which is one of the newspapers partnering with WikiLeaks in the publication of the cables, said the reports could be "the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes".
"An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations," said The Guardian report on the fake cables. Pakistan's The News ran a screaming front-page headline 'Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan, Waziristan'. A similar story was published in the group's mass-selling Urdu daily Jang. The Urdu Nawa-i-Waqt too carried the story.
'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy
The Nation ran a story on its front page headlined 'Kashmir genocide like Bosnia'. The Express Tribune, a partner of the International Herald Tribune, reported the fake leaks on an inside page.
The reports claimed former Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor had been described in the cables as an "incompetent combat leader" and "rather a geek", and that the Army was split into "two groups" led by Gen. Kapoor and current chief Gen. V K Singh.
The cables were purported to have had US officials describing a "Bosnia-like genocide" in Kashmir, and that the slain Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare had told the Americans about a nexus between Indian military leaders and "Hindu fanatic groups". An Indian military officer had been compared to Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who was charged with war crimes, in the cables, the reports said.
The PTI story on the fake WikiLeaks reports referred to unspecified Pakistani bloggers noting that the "Internet hoax" for which the newspapers fell "was first traced to the website of the Daily Mail, a Pakistani newspaper known for publishing conspiracy theories.
'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy
The Guardian reported that the stories were credited to Online Agency, "an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-Army stories in the past". Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor at The News, told The Guardian that his paper had carried "agencies copy" and that he would investigate.
The Guardian noted that the publication of the stories "fits in with the wider Pakistani reaction to WikiLeaks since the first cables emerged". While reports in the West have focussed on US worries over Pakistan's nuclear weapons and its establishment's backing of terrorists, the Pakistani media has, in general, "given a wide berth to stories casting the military in a negative light", the newspaper said.
"The lopsided media coverage highlights the strong influence of Pakistan's Army over an otherwise vigorous free press," The Guardian wrote.
Source: The Indian Express
READ MORE - 'FakeLeaks' has Pak in a frenzy

Most Americans now think China is the most powerful economy in the world

The majority of Americans think the United States is No.2 in the world behind China and is likely to stay that way, a poll has revealed.
Just one in five Americans said they have the strongest economy, compared to nearly half who chose Beijing’s.
Asked which nation will have the be in the strongest economic position in 20 years, 34% picked the United States, compared with 37% who chose China and 6% who named Japan.
The gloomy findings come as the U.S. struggles with a record debt and a weakened president who is still recovering from the ‘shellacking’ he received during the mid-term elections.
The gloomy findings come as Obama has had to compromise on taxes after getting crushed in the midterm elections
The gloomy findings come as Obama has had to compromise on taxes after getting crushed in the midterm elections
On the diplomatic stage Barack Obama has come off second best in the ‘currency wars’, with the Chinese openly condemning him for pumping trillions into the U.S. economy and lowering the value of the dollar.
Beijing has also amassed an enormous surplus in its international accounts while accumulating huge amounts of U.S. government debt, putting it in a position to call the shots on world affairs.
The poll by U.S. magazine The National Journal of 1,200 people found the traditional American optimism clouded by uncertainty and anxiety over the future.
Some two thirds of those surveyed said they do not expect the U.S. to return to the position it enjoyed last century any time soon.
A huge 58% said they agreed it is ‘inevitable that Americans’ incomes will grow more slowly’ in coming years because of competition from lower-paid workers around the world.
In addition, only one in four believe their children will have better opportunities than themselves.
Beijing has amassed an enormous surplus in its international accounts while accumulating huge amounts of U.S. government debt
Beijing has amassed an enormous surplus in its international accounts while accumulating huge amounts of U.S. government debt
A major part of the uneasiness was the shift away from manufacturing to a service industry.
When asked if the nation should allow that trend to continue without taking steps to reverse it, just one-third said yes; three-fifths said they wanted action.
The National Journal said that housewife Dana Rigby, from Kirksville, Montana, was typical of those who responded to the survey.
‘I’m trying to get my kids on the right path; who doesn’t want that?
But I don’t know if there’s going to be enough out there for all the young kids to have good jobs,’ she said.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337210/Most-Americans-think-China-powerful-country-world.html#ixzz17gbxMAVD
READ MORE - Most Americans now think China is the most powerful economy in the world

Bomb threat forces emergency landing in Portugal

Bomb threat forces emergency landing in Portugal
A Portugalia Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Lisbon after it received a bomb threat.

The flight was carrying 25 passengers from Marseille to Lisbon when French authorities alerted the pilots to the bomb threat.

However, a search of the Embraer plane did not turn up anything suspicious, an airport spokesman told .


After an emergency landing at 8:10 pm (2010 GMT), the plane was evacuated and brought a remote area of the airport to be searched.


Further details are awaited.
READ MORE - Bomb threat forces emergency landing in Portugal

Hezbollah has built up arsenal of 50000 rockets: WikiLeaks

Militant group Hezbollah has acquired an arsenal of more than 50,000 rockets as well as 50 Fateh missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv raising fears of a conflict to Israel which could turn into a full-scale regional war.

The Lebanese have also covertly received more land-to-land Scud-D missiles from Syria, New York Times reported despite assurances given by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Damascus was not channelling arms to the Lebanese militant group.

The Times said the Obama administration had lodged a confidential protest with accusing Syria of "doing precisely what it had denied doing".

Quoting leaked US diplomatic cables, the paper said Hezbollah's arsenal now include upto 50,000 rockets and missiles, including 40 to 50 Fateh-110 missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and most of Israel and 10 Scud-D missiles.

Pentagon says the huge flow of arms to Hezbollah had raised fears of a conflict with Israel, which may engulf the whole region.

Wielding surveillance photos and sales contracts, American diplomats have confronted foreign governments about shadowy front companies, secretive banks and shippers around the globe, according to secret State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to several news organisations.

American officials have tried to block a Serbian black marketer from selling sniper rifles to Yemen. They have sought to disrupt the sale of Chinese missile technology to Pakistan, the cables show. But while American officials can claim some successes

Russia appears to have deferred delivery of the S-300 air defence system to Iran the diplomats dispatches underscore how often their efforts have been frustrated in trying to choke off trade by Syria and others, including Iran and North Korea.
READ MORE - Hezbollah has built up arsenal of 50000 rockets: WikiLeaks

Suicide bombers kill 50 tribesmen in Pakistan

Peshawar: Two militants wearing vests studded with explosives and bullets blew themselves up outside a government-backed meeting of anti-Taliban tribesmen close to the Afghan border Monday, killing 50 people and wounding 100 others.
Suicide bombers kill 50 tribesmen in Pakistan
The strike in Mohmand region underscored the tenacity of the Islamist uprising in the northwest despite Pakistani army offensives over the last 2 1/2 years. The operations have retaken areas where militants enjoyed safe haven, but authorities have struggled to hold onto the gains.
The tribally administered region is home to thousands of militants staging or supporting attacks on American troops fighting a related insurgency in Afghanistan. It also houses al-Qaida leaders and operatives from around the world plotting attacks on the West.
The United States is squeezing the insurgents with missiles fired from unmanned drones. The frequency of such attacks has surged under the Obama administration. In the most recent strike, seven people were killed Monday in a different part of the tribal area from where the suicide bombing took place, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Suicide bombers kill 50 tribesmen in Pakistan
The Pakistani army has supported the creation of tribal militias against the militants, but the groups have been ruthlessly attacked. On three separate occasions this year suicide bombers killed more than 65 people attending meetings between officials and tribesmen, who are typically paid for attending.
Security is tight at the gatherings, with attendants frisked well away from the fortified government buildings where they take place. But local police and soldiers are poorly equipped and trained, while suicide bombers - especially when they work in pairs or more - are hard to defend against.
The attackers Monday were wearing the uniforms of local tribal police, allowing one of them to get inside the government compound and blow himself up, said regional political officer Amjad Ali Khan. Seconds later, another militant detonated his explosives at the gate, said Khan, who was attending the meeting.
Suicide bombers kill 50 tribesmen in Pakistan
The dead and wounded included tribal elders, police, political officials and civilians. Two television journalists who were at the compound reporting were also killed, said Shakirullah Jan, president of Mohmand's journalist association.
"There was a deafening sound and it caused a cloud of dust and smoke," said Qalandar Khan, who was being treated for his wounds at a hospital in Peshawar, the largest city in the northwest. "There were dozens on the ground like me, bleeding and crying. I saw body parts scattered in the compound."
The blast destroyed one building, and the shrapnel left dozens of holes in the walls. Amjad Ali Khan said the explosives were wrapped with bullets rather than the usual ball bearings, nails or nuts and bolts. He said this may have made the blasts especially deadly.
Suicide bombers kill 50 tribesmen in Pakistan
Militants have killed more than 1,300 people in attacks across Pakistan this year, most of them civilians. But there have been fewer attacks than last year, perhaps because of the army operations, including one in Mohmand, and the expanded U.S. drone strikes.
"We are not scared of such attacks and will keep on taking these enemies of humanity to task until they disappear from society," said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Monday's U.S. missiles were the latest of more than 100 to hit the area this year.
They struck a shop and a vehicle close to the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan region, said Pakistani intelligence officials on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media. The identities of the dead were not immediately known.
U.S. officials do not say whom they are targeting, but some of the attacks are believed to have killed midlevel or senior Taliban and al-Qaida figures. Pakistan publicly condemns the missile strikes but secretly supports some of them. Civilians are sometimes said to be among the dead, but some locals say the strikes are very accurate in targeting militants.
Almost all the strikes this year have been in North Waziristan, which has yet to see a Pakistani army offensive.
Source: AP
READ MORE - Suicide bombers kill 50 tribesmen in Pakistan

Hot Russian spy busted in British parliament

LONDON: An attractive Russian woman working for a British lawmaker is facing deportation after security services detained her on suspicion of espionage, the Sunday Times reported.

The paper reported that Katia Zatuliveter, 25, secretly worked for the Russian intelligence as a "sleeper" agent. She had been working for Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock who sits on parliament's defence select committee which examines defence policy but has no access to secret material.

Hancock, who is also an MP for Porstmouth in southern England where there is a large naval base, denied his research assistant had done anything wrong.

"She is not a Russian spy. I know nothing about espionage , but she has been subjected to a deportation order ," Hancock said in a statement . He said she would appeal moves to deport her.

The lawmaker said that the domestic security service , MI5, had never raised any concerns about her with him. "No one has ever said to me under any circumstances whatsoever that she has been involved in anything like that," he said. "It is now in the hands of her lawyers. I am sure that in the end she will be proved to be right."

Hancock told the BBC in an interview she was arrested on Thursday morning and taken to an immigration detention centre in London, before being moved to another centre where she is being held and putting her appeal together.

"Nobody has shown me any evidence to support the view that she is any way a threat to the United Kingdom ," Hancock said. The Russian embassy in London could not be reached for comment . A security source told the Sunday Times Zatuliveter's presence was not "conducive to national security" , and the intention was to "show her the door" .
READ MORE - Hot Russian spy busted in British parliament

US helpless, millions flow from Mideast to terrorists

Washington: Nine years after the US vowed to shut down the money pipeline that finances terrorism, senior Obama administration officials say they believe that many millions of dollars are flowing largely unimpeded to extremist groups worldwide, and they have grown frustrated by frequent resistance from allies in the Middle East, according to secret diplomatic dispatches.

The government cables, sent by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and senior State Department officials, catalog a long list of methods that American officials suspect terrorist financiers are using, from a brazen armed bank robbery in Yemen last year to kidnappings for ransom, drug proceeds in Afghanistan and annual religious pilgrimages to Mecca.

While American officials in their public statements have been relatively upbeat about their progress in disrupting terrorist financing, the internal State Department cables, obtained by WikiLeaks, offer a more pessimistic account, with blunt assessments of the threat to the US from money flowing to militants affiliated with the al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hamas, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other groups.

A classified memo sent by Clinton last December made it clear that residents of Saudi Arabia and its neighbours, all allies of the US, are the chief financial supporters of many extremist activities. "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide", the cable said.

The dispatch and others offered similarly grim views about the United Arab Emirates ("a strategic gap" that terrorists can exploit), Qatar ("the worst in the region" on counter-terrorism) and Kuwait ("a key transit point"). The cable stressed the need to "generate the political will necessary" to block money to terrorist networks.


While President George W Bush frequently vowed to cut off financing for militants and pledged to make financiers as culpable as terrorists, President Obama has sought to adopt a more conciliatory tone with Arab nations. But his administration has used many of the same covert diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement tools as his predecessor and set up a special task force in the summer of 2009.

But as the US has pushed for more aggressive crackdowns on suspected supporters of terrorism, foreign leaders have pushed back. In private meetings, they have accused American officials of heavy-handedness and of presenting thin evidence of wrongdoing by Arab charities or individuals.

The documents are filled with secret government intelligence on possible terrorist-financing plots, like the case of a Somali preacher who was reportedly touring Sweden, Finland and Norway last year to look for money and recruits for the Shabab, a militant group in Somalia; or that of a Pakistani driver caught with about $240,000 worth of Saudi riyals stuffed behind his seat.

One memo even reported on a possible plot by the Iranians to launder $5 billion to $10 billion in cash through the Emirates' banks as part of a broader effort to "stir up trouble" among the Persian Gulf states, though it was not clear how much of the money might be channelled to militants.

One episode that set off particular concern occurred in August 2009 in Yemen, when armed robbers stormed a bank truck on a busy downtown street in Aden during daylight hours and stole 100 million Yemeni riyals, or about $500,000. American diplomats said the sophistication of the robbery and other indicators had all the markings of a Qaeda mission. "This bold, unusual operation" could provide the al-Qaeda "with a substantial financing infusion at a time when it is thought to be short of cash", a dispatch summarising the episode said.


The al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is seen as a rising threat by the US and was blamed for a parcel bomb plot in October and the failed attempt to blow up a jetliner last December 25.

"Terrorists avoid money transfer controls by transferring amounts below reporting thresholds and using reliable cash couriers, hawala, and money grams," a recent cable warned. "Emerging trends include mobile banking, pre-paid cards, and Internet banking."

Saudi Arabia emerges in the cables as the most vexing of problems. Clinton's memo two months earlier said the al-Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups "probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan".

The United States Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reported in February that the Saudi authorities remained "almost completely dependent on the C.I.A." for leads and direction on terrorist financing.

In conversations last week, Obama administration officials said that since the latest cable released from WikiLeaks, from February 2010, the Saudis had made notable progress, including the arrests of some major donors to terrorist groups. Despite such pledges of cooperation between the countries, tensions have occasionally flared.

In 2007, a senior Bush administration official, Frances Fragos Townsend, told her Saudi counterparts in Riyadh that Bush was "quite concerned" about the level of cooperation from the Saudis on terrorist financing. Townsend questioned whether the kingdom's ambassador to the Philippines, Mohammed Ameen Wali, might be involved in supporting terrorism because of his involvement with two people suspected of being financiers, the summary said.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, challenged the assertion, however, saying the ambassador might be guilty of "bad judgment rather than intentional support for terrorism", and he countered with an assertion of his own: an unnamed American bank handling the Saudi Embassy's money in Washington was performing unnecessary audits and asking "inappropriate and aggressive questions".

Saudi leaders also appear resigned to the situation, according to the cables. "We are trying to do our best," Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who leads the Saudis' anti-terrorism activities, was quoted as telling Richard Holbrooke, the special representative of the US to the region, in a May 2009 meeting. But, he said, "if money wants to go" to terrorist causes, "it will go."

Source: The Indian Express
READ MORE - US helpless, millions flow from Mideast to terrorists

Cablegate: US analysed India's military contingency plans

London: American embassy cables leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks reveal that the US conducted its own secret analysis of India's military contingency plans codenamed ''Cold Start'', the Guardian reported.
Cablegate: US analysed India's military contingency plans
"It is the collective judgement of the mission that India would likely encounter very mixed results. Indian forces could have significant problems consolidating initial gains due to logistical difficulties and slow reinforcement," according to an American cable.
But the US ambassador to India, Tim Roemer warned in February that for India to launch Cold Start, would be to "roll the nuclear dice".
It could trigger the world's first use of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"Indian leaders no doubt realise that, although Cold Start is designed to punish Pakistan in a limited manner without triggering a nuclear response, they cannot be sure whether Pakistani leaders will in fact refrain from such a response."
US diplomats in Islamabad were told that Pakistan was working on producing smaller, tactical nuclear weapons that could be used on the battlefield against Indian troops.
"The result of this trend is the need for greater stocks of fissile material.... Strategic considerations point Pakistan in the direction of a larger nuclear force that requires a greater amount of fissile material, Pakistani officials argue," an extract from one of the cables published by the daily said.
A senior US intelligence official was also "unrelentingly gloomy" about Pakistan.
Cablegate: US analysed India's military contingency plans
Peter Lavoy, national intelligence officer for south Asia, concluded in November 2008 that nuclear-armed Pakistan's economy was "in tatters" and the country could "completely lose control of its Pashtun territories over the next few years", according to a leaked US cable.
More than a third of people were unemployed or underemployed, he said.
"Pakistan's population is becoming less and less educated, the country lacks sufficient energy and clean water resources to serve its population, and there is minimal foreign investment."
Timothy Roemer said that the implementation of India Army's Cold Start doctrine, which lacks consensus in India and has not been fully embraced by the Manmohan Singh Government, is likely to yield "mixed results" if put to use under present circumstances, the cable said.
"The Indian Army's 'Cold Start Doctrine' is a mixture of myth and reality. It has never been and may never be put to use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious resource constraints, but it is a developed operational attack plan announced in 2004 and intended to be taken off the shelf and implemented within a 72-hour period during a crisis. Cold Start is not a plan for a comprehensive invasion and occupation of Pakistan," said the US cable, dated February 16 and signed off by Roemer.
Cablegate: US analysed India's military contingency plans
"Instead, it calls for a rapid, time and distance- limited penetration into Pakistani territory with the goal of quickly punishing Pakistan, possibly in response to a Pakistan-linked terrorist attack in India, without threatening the survival of the Pakistani state or provoking a nuclear response," it said.
"It was announced by the BJP-led government in 2004, but the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not publicly embraced Cold Start and GOI uncertainty over Pakistani nuclear restraint may inhibit future implementation by any government," it said, adding that if the Indian Government were to implement Cold Start given present Indian military capabilities, it is the collective judgment of the US Mission that India would encounter mixed results.
"The GOI failed to implement Cold Start in the wake of the audacious November 2008 Pakistan-linked terror attack in Mumbai, which calls into question the willingness of the GOI to implement Cold Start in any form and thus roll the nuclear dice.
"At the same time, the existence of the plan reassures the Indian public and may provide some limited deterrent effect on Pakistan," the cable said.
"We think that the November 2008 Pakistan-linked terror attack in Mumbai and its immediate aftermath provide insight into Indian and Pakistani thinking on Cold Start.
"First, the GOI refrained from implementing Cold Start even after an attack as audacious and bloody as the Mumbai attack, which calls into serious question the GOI's willingness to actually adopt the Cold Start option," it said.
"Second, the Pakistanis have known about Cold Start since 2004, but this knowledge does not seem to have prompted them to prevent terror attacks against India to extent such attacks could be controlled. This fact calls into question Cold Start's ability to deter Pakistani mischief inside India," it said.
"Even more so, it calls into question the degree of sincerity of fear over Cold Start as expressed by Pakistani military leaders to USG officials. Cold Start is not India's only or preferred option after a terrorist attack."
Cablegate: US analysed India's military contingency plans
Depending on the nature, location, lethality, public response, and timing of a terrorist attack, India might not respond at all or could pursue one of several other possible options, it said.
"Finally, several very high level GOI officials have firmly stated, when asked directly about their support for Cold Start, that they have never endorsed, supported, or advocated for this doctrine. One of these officials is former National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, who has recently been replaced. While the Army may remain committed to the goals of the doctrine, political support is less clear," the cablesaid.
The cable said Indian leaders realize that, although Cold Start is designed to punish Pakistan in a limited manner without triggering a nuclear response, they can't be sure whether Pakistani leaders will in fact refrain from such a response.
"Even in the absence of a Pakistani nuclear response, GOI leaders are aware also that even a limited Indian incursion into Pakistan will likely lead to international condemnation of Indian action and a resulting loss of the moral high ground that GOI leaders believe India enjoys in its contentious relationship with Pakistan," it said.
According to the cable, the Indian Government's intent to ever actually implement Cold Start is very much an open question.
"The Cold Start doctrine was announced in April 2004 by the BJP-led government that was replaced shortly thereafter by the Manmohan Singh government, which has not since publicly embraced Cold Start," it said.
"A political green-light to implement Cold Start, fraught as it is with potential nuclear consequences, would involve a highly opaque decision-making process and would likely necessitate broad political consensus, a factor that could prolong the time between a precipitating event such as a Pakistan-linked terror attack and Cold Start deployment (which in turn could reduce the element of surprise)," it said.
Source: Indian Express
READ MORE - Cablegate: US analysed India's military contingency plans
 
 
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