'Chinese students stealing tech secrets from UK varsities'

China.jpg
British industrial designer Sir James Dyson has alleged that Chinese students at the country’s universities are stealing scientific and technological secrets.

LONDON: British industrial designer Sir James Dyson has alleged that Chinese students at the country's universities are stealing scientific and technological secrets and passing them on to their country.

"They (Chinese students) go back home taking that science and technology knowledge with them and then they start competing with us. This is mad, it is madness,'' Dyson, best know for inventing the bagless vacuum cleaner, told the UK's Sunday Times newspaper.

British universities minister David Willetts said he will carefully study the evidence that Dyson has got.

Universities UK chief executive Nicola Dandridge said, "We are very aware this is going on and we are taking it very seriously."

Electronic engineering and computer sciences are suspected to be among the two sectors where technology is being stolen.

Dyson said many Chinese students continue to do so even after leaving UK. "Bugs are left in PCs so that data continues to be transmitted after the students return home.''
READ MORE - 'Chinese students stealing tech secrets from UK varsities'

The moment a woman was arrested as she tried to tell the world about her gang rape at the hands of Gaddafi's troops

A desperate plea for more help from the world was made yesterday by a woman who burst into a Press briefing to claim she had been gang-raped for two days by 15 of Gaddafi’s henchmen.
She defied government minders to storm into a hotel in the heart of Tripoli to tell her ordeal to foreign journalists – and the television pictures have gone around the world.
As these dramatic images show, Iman al-Obeidi wept as she told how Gaddafi’s troops had held her at gunpoint at a checkpoint, tied her up, then led her away to be raped by 15 men over two days.
Distraught: Iman Al-Obeidi, claimed she had been gang-raped by Gaddafi's troops and detained for two days
Distraught: Iman Al-Obeidi, claimed she had been gang-raped by Gaddafi's troops and detained for two days

Financial Times journalist Charles Clover, centre, attempts to stop a Libya Ministry of Information official from grabbing Iman Al-Obeidi. She alleges she spent two days in detention after being arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli

Financial Times journalist Charles Clover, centre, attempts to stop a Libya Ministry of Information official from grabbing Iman Al-Obeidi. She alleges she spent two days in detention after being arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli
A Ministry of Information official grabs hold of the woman to try and stop her from speaking to foreign journalists about an alleged attack she suffered

A Ministry of Information official grabs hold of the woman to try and stop her from speaking to foreign journalists about an alleged attack she suffered
Her story could not be independently verified, but the dramatic scene provided a rare first-hand glimpse of the brutal crackdown on public dissent by Gaddafi's regime as the Libyan leader fights a rebellion against his rule that began last month.
Her face scratched and bruised, she said she had been singled out because she had connections in the rebel-held city of Benghazi. At one point, she lifted up her black robe to show a bloody thigh.
Waiters called her a traitor and told her to shut up. She retorted: 'Easterners - we're all Libyan brothers, we are supposed to be treated the same, but this is what the Gaddafi militiamen did to me, they violated my honour.'
Government minders threw punches and a waitress brandished a butter knife as they tried to drag her away, and several journalists were embroiled in the fracas.
Before she was bundled out into a car, al-Obeidi said with tears streaming down her face: ‘They defecated and urinated on me and tied me up.
‘They violated my honour. Look at what the Gaddafi militiamen did to me.
‘As soon as I leave here they will take me right to jail.’
Al-Obeidi, circled, is grabbed by hotel staff and government officials who try and stop her from talking
Al-Obeidi, circled, is grabbed by hotel staff and government officials who try and stop her from talking

One of the hotel staff put a coat over Al-Obeidi's head as someone else holds her down
One of the hotel staff put a coat over Al-Obeidi's head as someone else holds her down

Struggle: Al Obeidi is overpowered by those trying to stop her from talking about her ordeal
Struggle: Al Obeidi is overpowered by those trying to stop her from talking about her ordeal
Journalists who tried to intervene to protect the woman were pushed out of the way by minders.
Channel 4 News foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller said he had been assaulted trying to defend the woman.
‘I was punched, violently pushed backwards over a chair and pushed to the floor,’ he said.
‘In seeking to keep her away from the media, the minders not only came after her but the journalists too.’
A CNN camera was also smashed on the ground and ripped to pieces by the government minders.
Help me: Eventually the minders overpowered the woman and led her outside, shoving her into a car that sped away. Al-Obeidi kept crying that she was certain she would be thrown in jail
Help me: Eventually the minders overpowered the woman and led her outside, shoving her into a car that sped away. Al-Obeidi kept crying that she was certain she would be thrown in jail

Devastated: Al-Obeidi urged photographers to take her picture before she was led away by officials. They later claimed that she had mental health problems
Devastated: Al-Obeidi urged photographers to take her picture before she was led away by officials. They later claimed that she had mental health problems

 
At a hastily arranged press conference after the incident, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said investigators had told him the woman was drunk and possibly mentally challenged.
‘We have to find her family and see if she was really abused or not,’ he said.
Tensions have been rising between foreign reporters in the Libyan capital and the government minders who have sought to tightly control what they see and whom they talk to.
Most of the international press corps is being housed at the Rixos hotel.

READ MORE - The moment a woman was arrested as she tried to tell the world about her gang rape at the hands of Gaddafi's troops

Libyan rebels regain Ajdabiya after RAF Tornado jets wreak havoc on Gaddafi's heavy units

Libyan rebels have regained control of the eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya after international airstrikes on Moammar Gaddafi's forces.
Rebel fighters armed with RPGs said the city's eastern gate fell late on Friday, while the western gate fell at dawn on Saturday after airstrikes on both locations.
People were seen driving through the streets, honking cars horns in and firing guns into the air in celebration in Ajdabiya, which has been under siege for over a week.
One pro-democracy fighter, Saif Sadawi, 20, said: 'All of Ajdabiya is free.'
Devastating raids: An RAF Tornado jet takes off from the Italian Airforce base of Gioia del Colle, near Bari in southern Italy
Devastating raids: An RAF Tornado jet takes off from the Italian Airforce base of Gioia del Colle, near Bari in southern Italy
Strike 1
strike 2
strike 3
Fireball: Tornado jets destroyed four of Colonel Gaddafi's main battle tanks. Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the heavy armour had been threatening civilians in Ajdabiya
Ajdabiya's sudden fall to Gaddafi's troops spurred the swift U.N. resolution authorizing international action in Libya, and its return to rebel hands on Saturday came after a week of airstrikes and missiles against the Libyan leader's military.
Tornado GR4 warplanes had earlier fired missiles at four tanks in the key Libyan city, turning them all into fireballs.
On the road into the city on Saturday, at least eight blackened Gaddafi tanks lay on the ground.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the armoured vehicles had been threatening the civilian population.
Gaddafi loyalists, who retook most of the town from rebels last week, had been accused of trying to starve locals and of carrying out beatings, kidnappings and rapes.

The U.N. Security Council authorized the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gaddafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power.
The airstrikes have sapped the strength of Gaddafi's forces, but rebel advances have also foundered, and the two sides have been at stalemate in key cities.
Earlier Friday, British and French warplanes hit near Ajdabiya, destroying an artillery battery and armoured vehicles.
Ajdabiya, the gateway to the opposition's eastern stronghold, and the western city of Misrata have especially suffered because the rebels lack the heavy weapons to lift Gaddafi's siege.
Pinned down: Rebel fighters take cover from shells fired by Gaddafi's forces along the road linking Ajdabiya to Benghazi
Pinned down: Rebel fighters take cover from shells fired by Gaddafi's forces along the road linking Ajdabiya to Benghazi
On Saturday, rebels in Ajdabiya hauled away a captured rocket launcher, adding to their limited firepower.
On Friday, the U.S. commander in charge of the overall international mission, Army Gen. Carter Ham, said: 'We could easily destroy all the regime forces that are in Ajdabiya, but the city itself would be destroyed in the process.
'We'd be killing the very people that we're charged with protecting.'
Instead, the focus was on disrupting the communications and supply lines that allow Gaddafi's forces to keep fighting in Ajdabiya and other urban areas like Misrata, Ham said
The RAF strikes have encouraged pro-democracy fighters around Ajdabiya.
‘This will weaken their forces and more importantly their morale,’ said rebel spokesman Mustafa Gheriani. ‘We feel safe under their [the jets’] protection.’
A rebel fighter inside Ajdabiya said: ‘The air strikes are for humanitarian reasons – Gaddafi’s brigades are killing people, torturing people.’
The RAF’s intervention late on Thursday halted the movement of government reinforcements to the town, which controls the coastal highway to the rebel-held city of Benghazi.
The Tornados were on a reconnaissance mission in the UN no-fly zone when they spotted 12 armoured vehicles, including Russian-made T-72 tanks. At around 30,000ft, the jets fired precision-guided 110lb Brimstone missiles at their targets.
Fierce fighting: The body of a man in civilian clothes lies at the main gate of Ajdabiya after clashes between rebels and government forces
Fierce fighting: The body of a man in civilian clothes lies at the main gate of Ajdabiya after clashes between rebels and government forces
In two sorties, separated by refuelling, they blew up four tanks, while coalition planes took out three armoured vehicles.
Wing Commander Andy Turk, who navigated one of the Tornados during the raid, said: ‘To see the direct effect you’ve had by clearing away the tanks from the anti-regime forces was very rewarding. You get the feeling, “I’ve done something which has saved someone’s life”.’
French jets weighed in by destroying an artillery battery near the town. Gaddafi’s troops had controlled most of Ajdabiya and established a cordon in its outskirts which was broken early on Saturday.
Counter attack: Libyan pro-democracy rebels began massing outside Ajdabiya, encouraged by the air strikes on Gaddafi's forces
Counter attack: Libyan pro-democracy rebels began massing outside Ajdabiya, encouraged by the air strikes on Gaddafi's forces
Action is also continuing in the rebel-held western city of Misrata, about 150 miles east of Tripoli. More than 100 people have been killed and 1,300 injured by Gaddafi’s bombardment of the port.
In Zawiyah, a Government-held town just west of Tripoli, residents are said to be too frightened to go outside after heavy fighting. There are also reports of Gaddafi’s henchmen carrying out beatings and kidnappings. ‘It’s a ghost town. Gaddafi’s men are still firmly in control but they are facing resistance from the rebels in some streets,’ said one resident.
Strong words: Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday warned Gaddafi's troops to lay down their weapons or be tried for war crimes
Strong words: Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday warned Gaddafi's troops to lay down their weapons or be tried for war crimes
British warplanes have carried out 70 sorties against Gaddafi’s forces. The Royal Navy has hit his air defences with submarine-launched missiles.
David Cameron yesterday warned Gaddafi’s troops to lay down their weapons or be tried for war crimes.
In his strongest words yet on the Libyan crisis, the Prime Minister vowed to continue the military campaign until the north African nation’s civilians were ‘safe and secure from attack’.
His comments raised the prospect of British forces being involved in a prolonged conflict – a concern echoed by a French admiral who warned the war could take months to finish. Mr Cameron spoke out as Foreign Secretary William Hague said he expected Nato to take command of the entire mission within days.
The 28-country alliance had been in charge of the no-fly zone and arms embargo while leaving the responsibility for air strikes to the U.S., UK and France.
At a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, Mr Cameron said: ‘The message to those around him is that every day you work for this dictator, who has now declared two ceasefires and broken both of them and continues to murder his own civilians, you are at risk of the International Criminal Court, and you are at risk of being found guilty of war crimes.
‘Don’t obey his orders, walk away from your tanks, leave the command and control that you are doing, give up on this regime.’
Human cost: Libyans stand in prayers during the funeral of people who, according to Libyan authorities, died following air strikes in Tripoli
Human cost: Libyans stand in prayers during the funeral of people who, according to Libyan authorities, died following air strikes in Tripoli

A nation divided for 2,000 years, united by Mussolini

Annexation: Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini united three independent regions in north Africa to create modern Libya
Annexation: Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini united three independent regions in north Africa to create modern Libya
The idea of dividing Libya into two regions – as suggested by armed forces minister Nick Harvey this week – has strong historical pedigree.
In fact, the way the civil war has split the country between a western region centred on Tripoli and an eastern region at Benghazi mirrors the situation over the 2,000 years before the Italian takeover of 1911.
Historically, Benghazi is part of Cyrenaica, founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists around the ancient city of Cyrene.
Tripoli – 1,200 miles to the West – was, on the other hand, founded by Carthaginians, who wanted to trade with the indigenous Berber tribesmen.
Over two millennia both colonies maintained their separate identities. Greek-influenced Cyrenaica developed a reputation for arts, crafts, medicine and learning while Tripoli focused on the commercial skills of its founders. The Roman historian Plutarch described the Carthaginians as ‘coarse and gloomy, submissive  to those who govern them and despotic to those they govern’.
Trade – indeed all contact – between the two regions was rare; land travel over such large distances was difficult and the sea route was not favoured by the prevailing winds.
Under Persian, Egyptian and Macedonian rule, the two regions stayed apart and when the Romans rolled in, they ruled Tripolitania province directly but joined Cyrenaica to their existing province of Crete.
Tripoli and Benghazi had a common language and common legal system but continued to develop separately.
King Idris of Libya
Colonel Gaddafi
Leadership: King Idris, left, was the first and only king of Libya, reigning from 1951 until he was deposed in a coup led by Colonel Gaddafi, right, in 1969
The East embraced Christianity until the marauding Vandals, then Arab invaders and later Ottoman Turks suppressed those who followed the religion.
Under the Ottomans, Tripoli became one of the great cities of the region, jewel of what was known as the Maghreb, or Barbary Coast. Its population was predominantly Moorish and Muslim.
While the Ottoman empire crumbled Tripolitania stayed rich, largely through piracy and the slave trade, which was allowed to continue until 1890.
In 1911, Italy invaded, annexing Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and southern Fezzan as three separate colonies. Mussolini combined them in 1934 into a new country he called Libya, a Latin corruption of Libu, the Greek name for the Berbers.
The country has stayed together under King Idris and Muammar Gaddafi – until now.
READ MORE - Libyan rebels regain Ajdabiya after RAF Tornado jets wreak havoc on Gaddafi's heavy units

Qatar, first Arab country to fly over Libya

Tripoli: Fellow Arab and African nations raised the international pressure on Friday on Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, with tiny Qatar flying the Arab world's first combat missions over his country and the African Union imploring him to move toward democratic elections.
The military operation against Gadhafi, which on Friday included airstrikes by British and French jets, remains a US-led operation, though NATO was preparing to assume at least some command and control responsibility within days.
A Libyan government delegation meeting in Ethiopia with African leaders - but not the rebels seeking Gadhafi's ouster - said he is ready to talk with his opponents and accept political reform, possibly including elections. But the delegation also said Libya is committed to a cease-fire that Gadhafi's forces have flouted since the government announced it, and blamed the current violence on "extremists" and foreign intervention.
Qatar, first Arab country to fly over Libya
NATO named Canadian Lt Gen Charles Bouchard to lead its Libyan operation, finalizing what it hopes will be a unified command to oversee military action against the North African nation.
Envoys from NATO's 28 member countries agreed late on Thursday to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. By Monday, the alliance expects to start doing so, as well as coordinating naval patrols in the Mediterranean to enforce the UN arms embargo against Gadhafi's forces. With further approval expected on Sunday, NATO will take over the responsibility for bombing Gadhafi's military to protect civilians from attack.
A NATO official said on Friday that NATO now hopes to launch both operations simultaneously within a couple of days, avoiding the need for dual commands - NATO for the no-fly zone and the US for the airstrikes. The official requested anonymity because of regulations about speaking to the media.
A Qatari fighter jet flew the country's first sortie alongside a French jet on Friday to enforce the no-fly zone, the first non-Western military flight in support of the operation.
"Having our first Arab nation join and start flying with us emphasizes that the world wants the innocent Libyan people protected from the atrocities perpetrated by pro-regime forces," US Air Forces Africa Commander Maj Gen Margaret Woodward said.
Aside from the United Arab Emirates, which has pledged 12 warplanes, the international effort to protect Gadhafi's opponents has no other countries from the Arab League, a 22-member group that was among the driving forces behind the UN Security Council decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The United States has provided millions of dollars in equipment to many of the league's countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Qatar has close ties to the US military, a reputation for international mediation, and hosts the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network.
"Qatar has been a great ally from Day One," said Mustafa Gheriani, spokesman for opposition Benghazi city council. "It's an Arab country to be proud of."
A Health Ministry official, Khaled Omar, said a total of 114 Libyans have died in the international airstrikes, but he did not provide a breakdown of how many were soldiers or civilians.
"We think it is immoral and illegal to kill even our soldiers because we are taking defensive positions only," said government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.
Army Gen Carter Ham said late on Thursday that although he was not sure whether civilians died in airstrikes, "we have been very, very precise and discriminate in our targeting." British Foreign Secretary William Hague went further, saying there have been "no confirmed civilian casualties" from airstrikes.
The UN Security Council authorized the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gadhafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power. The airstrikes have sapped the strength of Gadhafi's forces, but rebel advances have also foundered, and the two sides have been at stalemate in key cities.
The rebels claimed late on Friday that they had taken the eastern gates of Ajdabiya, although that could not be independently confirmed, and such claims have been made before and proven wrong.
Earlier on Friday, British and French warplanes hit near Ajdabiya, destroying an artillery battery and armored vehicles. Ajdabiya, the gateway to the opposition's eastern stronghold, and the western city of Misrata have especially suffered because the rebels lack the heavy weapons to lift Gadhafi's siege.
Rida al-Montasser, an activist from Misrata, said Gadhafi forces fired mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades from rooftops along a main street, hitting a market and a residential building. He said rebels were trying to chase the snipers from rooftops, and had rounded up about 30 of them so far.
A Libyan delegation met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with five African heads of state to discuss a solution to the crisis. Rebels, who were not at the Ethiopia meeting, demand Gadhafi's ouster and say they will not negotiate with him.
African Union commission chairman Jean Ping said the AU favors a transition period in Libya that would lead to democratic elections. The statement is the strongest to come out of the AU since the Libya crisis began, and could be seen as a strong rebuke to Gadhafi, who has long been well regarded by the continental body.
Libyan negotiator Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi blamed the violence in Libya on "extremists" and foreign intervention but said the government was willing to consider talks.
"We are ready to discuss what the Libyan people want," he said. "What kind of reform do they want? If it is elections we are willing to discuss about the details. We are willing to negotiate with anyone. These are our people. There is no division between the Libyan people; there is a division between extremists and the Libyan people."
Britain's senior military spokesman said the international mission was succeeding.
"We have not been able to stop all Col. Gadhafi's attacks, and we would never pretend that we could," Maj Gen John Lorimer told reporters in London on Friday. But, he said, "They are losing aircraft, tanks, guns that they cannot replace. His ability to use these weapons against his own people is diminished daily."
NATO also heads the ship blockade, but British officials on Friday have refused to say whether NATO ships would patrol the rebel-held coastal areas in the east. A slide shown to journalists on Friday seemed to underline the ambiguity of the naval arms embargo.
"The entire coast will need to be monitored," said Capt. Karl Evans, who briefed reporters at the Ministry of Defense in London. Behind him, a map of Libya visualizing the NATO blockade showed only the 600 miles (965 kilometers) of Gadhafi-controlled coastline highlighted in red, with the rebel-held east seemingly left out.
When pressed, senior military spokesman Lorimer intervened, saying that "we don't have those kinds of details here."
In Washington, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will give a speech to the nation on Monday explaining his decision-making on the Libyan war.
The timing comes as some lawmakers of both major parties have complained that Obama has not sought their input about the US role in the war or explained with enough clarity about the US goals and exit strategy.
READ MORE - Qatar, first Arab country to fly over Libya

Al Qaeda on a budget: Christmas Day bomber 'chose to target Detroit because it was cheapest flight'

Plot: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly planned to detonate explosives on a Detroit-bound plane. Sources have revealed he chose the city because it had the cheapest flights
Plot: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly planned to detonate explosives on a Detroit-bound plane. Sources have revealed he chose the city because it had the cheapest flights
An Al Qaeda operative behind the failed Christmas Day bombing chose to target Detroit because flights elsewhere were too expensive, it has emerged.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly smuggled a packet of explosives on board the Amsterdam-Detroit plane by sewing it into the crotch of his underpants.
As it began to make its final approach, the 24-year-old is said to have attempted to detonate the device by injecting it with a chemical-filled syringe.
But it failed to explode and instead caught fire, leaving the young Nigerian with severe burns after he was overpowered by passengers.
Abdulmutallab is believed to have considered targeting Houston, where he attended an Islamic conference in 2008.
And he also targeted Chicago, but was discouraged by the cost of flights.
The decision is among new details emerging about one of the most sensational terrorism plots since President Barack Obama took office.
It reveals that Al Qaeda's Yemen branch does not share Osama bin Laden's desire to attack symbolic targets, preferring instead to strike at targets of opportunity.
It had previously been reported that Abdulmutallab had not even specifically chosen Christmas for the plot.
But the mission did involve one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists and Al Qaeda's top bomb maker, according to officials.
Before Abdulmutallab set off on his mission, he visited the home of Al Qaeda manager Fahd al-Quso to discuss the plot.
Abdulmutallab
Plot: Abdulmutallab is arrested on board the Detroit-bound flight after he was restrained by other passengers and crew
Al-Quso, 36, is one of the most senior leaders from the organisation publicly linked to the Christmas plot.
His association with the terror group dates back to his days in Afghanistan when bin Laden implored him to 'eliminate the infidels from the Arabian Peninsula'.
Al-Quso is from the same tribe as radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who also had an operational role in the botched attack.
He ranks only behind bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri as the most sought-after Al Qaeda terrorists.
After meeting with Al-Quso, Abdulmutallab left Yemen in December 2009 and made his way to Ghana, where he paid $2,831 in cash for a round-trip ticket from Nigeria to Amsterdam, to Detroit, and back.
He is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring with others to kill 281 passengers and 11 crew members on board the Northwest Airlines Flight 253.
He is scheduled to go on trial in October while representing himself.
READ MORE - Al Qaeda on a budget: Christmas Day bomber 'chose to target Detroit because it was cheapest flight'

350 British special forces already deep inside Libya... and more are ready to be deployed

Hundreds of British troops have been deployed deep inside Libya targeting Colonel Gaddafi’s forces – and more are on standby.
While Chancellor George Osborne repeated that UK ground troops would not be involved, the Daily Mail can reveal there are an estimated 350 already mounting covert operations.
In total it is understood that just under 250 UK special forces soldiers and their support have been in Libya since before the launch of air strikes to enforce the no-fly zone against Gaddafi’s forces.
Rebel fighters take cover: There are already hundreds of British troops helping forces targeting Colonel Gaddafi loyalists
Rebel fighters take cover: There are already hundreds of British troops helping forces targeting Colonel Gaddafi loyalists
Drawn from a squadron of SAS and SBS personnel, some have been in Libya for a month and are being re-supplied with water, food and ammunition via airdrops from Cyprus.
Those numbers were further boosted by nearly 100 this week when paratroopers from the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) were sent to Libya as coalition commanders prepare to increase the tempo of operations.
A further 800 Royal Marines are on five days’ notice to deploy to the Mediterranean to support humanitarian relief and aid operations.


800 Marines are on standby with five days' notice
800 Marines are on standby with five days' notice
Finally, Nato takes command
Finally, Nato takes command
The beefing up of the Special Forces contingent comes as commanders switch attacks against command and control centres to low-level attacks against Gaddafi’s tanks.
With Gaddafi forces continuing to pound rebel positions, more special forces will be needed in the next phase of operations to ensure that RAF pilots do not kill civilians used as human shields by Gaddafi or destroy key public buildings.
Officials say the UK force is under very clear directions not to get drawn into close combat operations with regime forces unless their own lives are threatened or in extreme circumstances in which Gaddafi forces are killing unarmed civilians.
A senior official said: ‘Our aim is maintain a low profile, and simply deliver information and facilitate the situation for other agencies to splash (destroy) the targets.’
Revelations about the true scale of the ground deployment cast grave doubt on the Government’s estimate of the cost of the war.
Mr Osborne yesterday sought to allay public fears, saying: ‘Our estimate is that it will be in the tens of millions of pounds in terms of the cost.’
But Daily Mail calculations show that the MoD has spent at least £29.2million in just five days on the air operations and cruise missile strikes – not including the costs of the Special Forces deployed in Libya.
At that rate the war will cost more than £100million after just 17 days.
Yesterday a French fighter jet blasted a Libyan warplane caught violating the no-fly zone. The plane – said to be a single-engine Soko G-2 Galeb trainer aircraft – was hit by an air-to-ground missile as it landed at Misrata air base after flying over the besieged rebel-held city.
The strike by a coalition Rafale fighter is the first incident of its kind since the no-fly zone was imposed last week. Coalition military sources had previously claimed Libya’s air capability had been totally neutralised.
A French fighter jet shot a Libyan warplane when it landed at Misrata air base after it violated the no-fly zone
A French fighter jet shot a Libyan warplane when it landed at Misrata air base after it violated the no-fly zone

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will head to London for a conference on Tuesday to discuss the military action against Libya
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will head to London for a conference on Tuesday to discuss the military action against Libya
More than 100 people have been killed and 1,300 injured in Misrata following days of tank bombardment and sniper attack by the tyrant’s army.
■ THE RAF is planning a military evacuation of British nationals from Yemen – where pro-democracy protests against the Arab state’s president have descended into chaos.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the military has begun contingency planning for a mission to fly the remaining 200 Britons to safety.
READ MORE - 350 British special forces already deep inside Libya... and more are ready to be deployed

What does the world want of Libya?

At first it is an easy question to answer: The cessation of all hostilities towards the Libyan people on the part of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. But on closer inspection, the plot thickens, and one is not sure where, when or how the dénouement will arrive.
What does the world want of Libya?
A tank belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi explodes after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.
Consider this: At first, the US seemed reluctant to join the military intervention in Libya despite repeated coaxing from the UK and France. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quoted mammoth figures as the costs of sustaining a no-fly zone over 10,88,000 sq km of Libyan territory.
"Assuming an operational tempo similar to that of the no-fly zones in Iraq, the ongoing cost might be in the range of $100 [million] to $300 million per week," said a US State Dept report.
The full option would require taking out Libyan air defense systems in what the report says would be a "series of coordinated strikes" at a "one-time... cost between $500 million and $1 billion".
Admittedly, these are huge sums of money, and the US concerns seem justified. Moreover, Barack Obama would not want to be drawn into another military quagmire in the Greater Middle East, having burnt his finger enough with Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, as pressure mounted on Obama -- the head of the most powerful nation on earth -- to be seen as doing at least something in Libya, he endorsed and later embraced the British-French initiative.
On Tuesday, three days after Allied forces began pounding Col Gaddafi's forces, including his bastion in Tripoli, Obama said: "I have stated that it is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go."
"We've got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy," he said, referring to US unilateral sanctions and push for international sanctions on the Gaddafi government.
Suddenly, from a playing a supporting role to UK and France, the US has become a mouthpiece for the war on Libya.
"Obviously, the situation is evolving on the ground," said Obama, "and how quickly this transfer takes place will be determined by the recommendation of our commanding officers that the first phase of the mission has been completed."
What does the world want of Libya?
A tank belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi burns after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.

As a rider, almost as an afterthought, he added: "Our military action is in support of an international mandate from the Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Col Gaddafi to his people," and that "the US will stick to that mandate".
Which brings us to the United Nations.
Moving swiftly in response to a request by Arab nations, the UN Security Council on March 18 paved the way for international air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
This after Gaddafi refused any dialogue and expressly stated that the affairs of his country were his business and not the entire world's.
The UN vote was 10-0 with five countries abstaining including Russia and China, which have veto power in the council, along with India, Germany and Brazil.
Russia and China expressed concern about the United Nations and other outside powers using force against Gaddafi, and Germany expressed fear that military action would lead to more casualties. But the UN Resolution 1973 was passed anyway.
"This council moved with remarkable speed in response to the great urgency of the situation on the ground," US Ambassador Susan Rice said.
That was on Thursday. On Saturday, French and British aircraft bombarded location held by Gaddafi's forces and supporters. And, on Sunday, when bombs fell at the government headquarters in Tripoli, reportedly 50 metres from where Gaddafi was sitting, a very different question was raised: Is Gaddafi, ultimately, the actual target? Is this 'war' an Allied mission to fulfil Obama's refrain that "Gaddafi must go"?
"We are not going after Gaddafi," Vice Admiral William Gortney said at the Pentagon on Sunday.
What does the world want of Libya?
Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.

UN rejects emergency meeting sought by Libya
But, what makes Gortney's comment seem hollow is the United Nation's strange stand on the Libya crisis, going back on the very premise that led it to war in the first place: Dialogue, or the lack of it, with Col Gaddafi.
On Monday, displaying blatant double standards, the UN Security Council rejected a Libyan request for an emergency meeting to halt what it called "military aggression" by France and the United States.
Council members held closed-door discussions in response to a letter dated Saturday from Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kousa who claimed that "an external conspiracy was targeting... (Libya) and its unity and territorial integrity."
According to the letter, obtained by The Associated Press, Kousa accused France and the U.S. of bombing "several civilian sites" in violation of the U.N. Charter and called for "an emergency meeting in order to halt this aggression."
So, why did the UN reject the dialogue offer? The answer is even more dubious.
What does the world want of Libya?
A supporter of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi stands on a building, destroyed in what the government said was a western missile attack, inside Bab Al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi's heavily fortified Tripoli compound March 21, 2011.
India's U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said the resolution requires Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report to the Security Council "within seven days" of the passing of the Libya resolution on the implementation of its provisions, which also include a more robust arms embargo and additional Libyan individuals, companies, banks and other entities subject to travel bans and asset freezes.
"That seven days is on Thursday, so people didn't want to get into a discussion on who represents whom and what the letter is," Puri said. "They want to have a discussion on substance which will be on Thursday."
So, until then, the air strikes will continue.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described the operation on Libya as a "crusade", although he was later censured for the remark by President Dmitry Medvedev.
"This absolutely reminds me of a medieval call to crusade, where somebody goads others to march into a certain area and free it," said Putin. "The degree of nonchalance at the international level about launching hostilities upon a sovereign state is unsettling."
In his letter to the UN, the Libyan foreign minister asked why the Security Council didn't similarly intervene in other conflict situations between a state and armed groups such as the Palestinians, Chechnya, the Lord's Resistance Army, Kashmir and Algeria.
"This indicates that the Security Council has double standards and raises suspicions that this is an attempt to seize Libya's resources, its funds deposited abroad and its oil revenues in order to pay off the debts accumulated by certain states as a result of the global economic crisis," Kousa wrote.
What does the world want of Libya?
And these sentiments have been echoed by MSN readers following the unfolding crisis in Libya.
14,144 readers responded to a poll conducted by MSN India. We asked: Western nations launched air strikes in Libya in efforts to defeat Col Gaddafi. Do you think Libya needs this intervention or should the world leave Libya to solve its own problems?
58 per cent (8,127 readers) said "Yes, we have seen no action against Iran and North Korea, why the interest in Libya?"
38 per cent (5,406 readers) said "No, a dictator like Col Gaddafi with no respect for human rights must be dealt with severely."
4 per cent (611 readers) offered no opinion.
So, why the interest in Libya? Is it because Libya sits on the ninth largest reserves of oil in the world, the largest in Africa? Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets. Is that why France and Britain are so enthusiastic about wielding the rod against Gaddafi?
Spain, Belgium and Canada have contributed fighter jets and other weapons to the Libyan mission, while Italian and Danish fighter jets have also been participating in enforcing the no-fly zone.
The Qatari air force will be participating in the enforcement of the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya, Qatari media reported Monday.
This would make the Gulf state the first Arab country to actively participate in the mission.
The UN states: "This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Gaddafi and his regime that the violence must stop, the killing must stop, and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely."
One would hope the UN stands by what it says and that Libya does not turn into another Iraq.
Source: India Syndicate
READ MORE - What does the world want of Libya?

US court martial after grisly Afghan photos aired

Seattle (Washington), Mar 22 (AFP) A soldier from a "rogue" US army unit accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport goes on trial today, two days after grisly photos of troops posing with dead bodies were published.

One of three pictures published by the German news magazine Der Spiegel shows Jeremy Morlock smiling over the corpse of an Afghan man he allegedly murdered in southern Afghanistan.News reports say Morlock has agreed to plead guilty at his court martial to his role as part of an allegedly drug-addled rogue unit that slaughtered Afghan civilians in the explosive Kandahar region early last year.

The photos, recalling the notorious Abu Ghraib prison abuse images from Iraq, show Morlock and another soldier -- Private Andrew Holmes, who also faces murder charges -- holding up the head of a blood-spattered corpse.

Under military procedures, if Morlock enters a guilty plea on Wednesday the hearing would immediately go to the sentencing phase. An attorney for Morlock did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The court martial has already been postponed once, but Army spokeswoman Major Kathleen Turner, speaking after the surprise publication of the photos, said Morlock is still scheduled to go before the court today.

Morlock is also the government's star witness against four other soldiers accused over the execution of Afghan civilians -- in particular the alleged ring-leader, Staff Sergeant Calvin R. Gibbs.Morlock led Army investigators to gruesome trophies allegedly taken from the bodies of civilians killed by members of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Division's Stryker brigade, based out of Fort Lewis, Washington.

At a pre-trial hearing for Holmes in November, Special Agent Benjamin Stevenson testified that, using a map drawn by Morlock, he was able to find severed fingers in a large protective barrier near where the soldiers lived.How Der Spiegel obtained the photos is unclear, but the Army apologised on Monday for their appearance, saying the pictures were "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.

"We apologize for the distress these photos cause," said a US Army statement.

But at least one person was glad to see the photos made public.Holmes's attorney, Dan Conway, has been fighting with the Army to obtain the photos so he can have an outside forensic investigator examine them. (AFP)
READ MORE - US court martial after grisly Afghan photos aired

Yemen President Saleh's regime to fall

http://static.indianexpress.com/frontend/iep/highlight/1300712607_saleh.jpgDubai: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year-old iron fisted rule appeared to be tottering on Monday after three army generals, including his longtime confidant, defected, asking him to step down and deployed tanks and armoured vehicles to protect the protesters.

Maj Gen Ali Mohsen Saleh, who belongs to President's influential 'Hashid' tribe and is commander of the army's powerful 1st Armoured Division, publicly announced his defection, al Jazeera reported.

Simultaneously with defections in the army, al Jazeera said the governor of Yemen's southern province of Aden, Ahmad

Qaatabi, had also joined the protesters.

A confrontation could break out as tanks and armoured carriers belonging to the elite Republican Guards led by Saleh's son and one time heir apparent were deployed outside the presidential palace on the southern outskirts of the capital.

Along with Mohsen two other key generals and dozens of high and middle ranking officers also pledged their support for the protest movement.

Quoting highly placed sources, the Arab news channel said about "90 per cent of the army had now joined the protesters."

Minutes after the general's announcement, units of his armoured division, which included tanks, took up positions in a major square in the capital, Sanaa, where protesters have been camping out to call for President to step down.

The two others are Mohammed Ali Mohsen and Hameed al-Qusaibi, who both have the rank of brigadier.

All three officers belong to Saleh's tribe, which also called on the President to resign on Sunday, dealing a serious blow to his desperate attempts to cling on to power.

News of the defections came one day after crowds flooded cities and towns across Yemen to mourn 52 protesters killed Friday when Saleh's security forces opened fire from rooftops on a demonstration in the Yemeni capital.

Quoting Hakim Al Masmari, editor -in-chief of Yemen Post, al Jazeera said the defections spell the end for Saleh.

The channel said that dozens of army officers had one by one announced their decision to quit Saleh's regime at the sit-in near Sanaa University.

Welcoming the defections, the Opposition leaders leading the protest march said they would press for formation of a national emergency government on the pattern of the one formed in Egypt.
READ MORE - Yemen President Saleh's regime to fall

'Suicide squad' mans Japan's n-plant

Tokyo: Personnel attempting to cool down Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have been dubbed a "suicide squad" with their families accepting their fate like a "death sentence".
'Suicide squad' mans Japan's n-plant
Officials scan people for radiation, 60 km west of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, in Koriyama on March 18, 2011. Japan battled a nuclear and humanitarian crisis as engineers worked to restore power to a stricken atomic plant, while the toll of dead and missing from the quake and tsunami topped 16,000. AFP
The Sankei Shimbun newspaper called the police team "Kesshitai" - meaning a "unit that expects to die", according to The Independent. This assumes significance after Japan raised from level four to five on an international scale the measure of the nuclear accident at its earthquake-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The nuclear plant was badly damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. There have been explosions at three reactors while a fire engulfed a fourth reactor, sparking fears of a nuclear meltdown.
The radioactive leak at the troubled plant is thus the severest nuclear crisis, Xinhua reported quoting Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Agency officials said the radioactive severity at No.1, No.2 and No.3 reactors was rated at level five while that at No.4 was rated at level three.
The upgrade has made Japan's nuclear leak severity rise to the same level as the Three Mile Island accident in the US in 1979.
Experts have been working round the clock to cool the reactors and giant helicopters have been used to dump water over them. Twenty people have been confirmed to have suffered from radiation exposure.
A worker's daughter told The Sun: "My father says he has accepted his fate much like a death sentence." There are about 180 personnel working round the clock to cool the plant. Working in rotating teams of 50, they enter the radiation hotspots for only 15 minutes at a time to limit their exposure.
'Suicide squad' mans Japan's n-plant
Another worker sent a message to his wife that said: "Please continue to live well, I cannot be home for a while." Citing Japanese broadcaster NHK, DPA reported that seven military fire trucks sprayed 50 tonnes of water on the fuel storage pool at reactor No.3 Friday.
Steam was seen rising from the damaged building, an indication that the water was reaching the overheating fuel rods. Cooling systems at the reactors failed after the electricity system was knocked out in the disaster.
Around 30 Tokyo fire department tankers were also expected to spray reactor No.1, where the level of water in the fuel storage pool was falling, an official said. Throughout Thursday, army helicopters continued to pour water over the reactors.
But NHK said the plan had to be abandoned because the chopper pilots were exposed to gamma rays from the stricken complex. Growing concern about the status of the nuclear plant has also led warnings by embassies in the country.
While, France advised its citizens to leave Tokyo, Britain, Ireland and others have recommended its nationals to reconsider travelling to the capital.
Experts have said the levels of radiation detected in Tokyo were not harmful to human health, but thousands of foreigners have put their families on trains to other parts of the country, or on planes to Asia, Europe or America.
This exodus, however, was in sharp contrast with the determination of millions of Japanese citizens. Office-goers in smart black suits can be seen going to work, while housewives queued up for bread and water.
Source: IANS
READ MORE - 'Suicide squad' mans Japan's n-plant

Yemeni snipers open fire on protesters, kill 40

Emergency declared in Yemen after government forces open fire at protesters killing 40 people.
Yemeni snipers open fire on protesters, kill 40
Sanaa: Yemeni government snipers firing from rooftops and houses shot into a crowd of tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators on Friday, killing at least 40 people and injuring hundreds demanding the ouster of the autocratic president.
The protest in the central square was the largest yet in the popular uprising that began a month ago -- and the harsh government response marked a new level of brutality from the security forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key -- if uneasy -- ally in the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida who has ruled Yemen for 30 years.
Saleh declared a nationwide state of emergency hours after the shootings in the capital, formally giving the security forces a freer hand to confront the demonstrators. There was no word on how long the emergency laws would remain in place.
Dozens of enraged protesters stormed several buildings that were the source of the gunfire, detaining 10 people including paid thugs who they said would be handed over to judicial authorities.
Demonstrators have camped out in squares across Yemen for over a month to demand that Saleh leave office. Security forces and pro-government thugs have used live fire, rubber bullets, tear gas, sticks, knives and rocks to suppress them. The protesters say they won't go until Saleh does.
"They want to scare and terrorize us. They want to drag us into a cycle of violence -- to make the revolution meaningless," said Jamal Anaam, a 40-year-old activist camping out in the square that the protesters call "Taghyir Square" -- Arabic for "Change."
"They want to repeat the Libyan experiment, but we refuse to be dragged into violence no matter what the price," he said.
Before the shooting Friday in Sanaa, a military helicopter flew low over the square as protesters arrived from prayers. Gunfire soon erupted from rooftops and houses above the demonstrators, where witnesses said beige-clad elite forces and plainclothes security officials took aim.
A state TV report denied government forces were behind the gunfire.
Police used burning tires and gasoline to make a wall of fire that blocked demonstrators from fleeing down a main road leading to sensitive locations, including the president's residence.
Yemeni snipers open fire on protesters, kill 40
Panic and chaos swept the square, where dozens of dead and wounded sprawled on the ground. Witnesses said the snipers aimed at heads, chests and necks. Protesters carried their friends, scarves pressed over bleeding wounds.
"It is a massacre," said Mohammad al-Sabri, an opposition spokesman. "This is part of a criminal plan to kill off the protesters, and the president and his relatives are responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen today."
Saleh announced a press conference later Friday. Opposition groups also planned an emergency meeting to discuss their next steps.
Before the protests, Yemeni elite forces fortified the president's residence, the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the building housing the ruling party, apparently fearing demonstrators would storm those areas, as they have done elsewhere in uprisings across the Middle East.
Doctors at the makeshift field hospital near the protest camp at Sanaa University confirmed at least 40 dead, three of them children. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Interior Minister Gen. Mouthar al-Masri, who is in charge of internal security forces, put the number of dead at 25 and the injured at 200.
Medical officials and witnesses say hundreds were wounded in Friday's violence, which marks a dramatic escalation of the crisis that has engulfed Yemen.
The protests are just one of the problems in this extremely poor, tribal country. Saleh's weak central government also faces one of the world's most active al-Qaida branches, a secessionist rebellion in the south and a Shiite uprising in the north.
Source: AP

READ MORE - Yemeni snipers open fire on protesters, kill 40

Raymond Davis: The great escape!

Seven weeks of diplomatic drama that produced a thrilling screenplay fit to be churned into a Bond movie
Raymond Davis: The great escape!
CIA operative Raymond Davis was first indicted, then released (the very same day) in a double murder case in Lahore
Raymond Davis thought he could gun down 2 'bad guys' in the streets of Pakistan and pull a true Bond-styled getaway. After nearly seven weeks, he actually did.
Wednesday, 1pm Pakistan Standard Time (PST)

CIA operative Raymond Davis is indicted by a sessions court in Lahore. Davis was accused in a double murder case where he shot dead two Pakistanis (allegedly ISI operatives) in Lahore on January 27 following what he described as an attempted armed robbery.
Wednesday, 5pm PST

Raymond Davis is set free. Lahore's Provincial law minister confirms the news that the court set Davis free. 'Blood money' (Diyat) was paid in accordance with sharia law.
1pm: Indicted. 5pm: Freed. What happened during those 4 hours?
Here are the twists and turns.
Raymond Davis: The great escape!
The families' lawyers now allege they were forced to accept blood money.In this photo taken on March 14, Mohammad Wasim (C), the brother of Mohammad Fahim, one of the victims shot dead by Raymond Davis, leaves with lawyers outside the High court building after a hearing in Lahore.
Twist 1: 'Forced at gunpoint'
Geo News reports that 'the counsel of the bereaved families, Manzoor Butt alleged that the families of Faizan and Fahim were forcibly brought from their homes to the court.'
The news station claims that 'The lawyers were also warned against uttering a word before the media'.
Blood money, or 'Diyat' is a provision under Islamic sharia law in which compensation can be paid to relatives of those killed to secure a pardon, and is commonly used to resolve such cases in Pakistan.
Conflicting versions appear concerning how much was paid. Sources on various TV channels aired figures ranging from Rs. 60 million to Rs. 200 million (about $700,000 to $2,350,000).
In addition, on Wednesday, Pakistani media also aired that 18 members of both families had announced in front of the judge in Kot Lakhpat jail that they had forgiven Raymond Davis and then accepted the cash rightaway.
Raymond Davis: The great escape!
Latest reports suggest the release of Raymond Davis was arranged in less than 48 hours and was a result of collaboration between the Punjab government and intelligence agencies
Twist 2: 'We did not pay the money'
Forcing the families to accept the money at gunpoint may have been shocking enough. But wait, there's more.
The US government has flatly denied it paid any compensation.
When asked, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Cairo, "The United States did not pay any compensation or blood money. You will have to ask the families." Asked if the Pakistani government had paid compensation, she said: "You will have to ask the Pakistani government."
In other words, it's for me to know and you to find out.
Twist 3: Blood money paid by Saudi Arabia?
So it wasn't the US. It wasn't the Punjab government. And of course, it wasn't Raymond Davis.
News reports now suggest it could be Saudi Arabia that shelled out the moolah. Quoting diplomatic sources, Dawn reported late Thursday that the 'Saudis arranged the blood money that allowed CIA contractor Raymond Davis to go home'.
The Arab nation ventured the money 'at least for now' to prevent 'irreparable damage' to US-Pak relations.
Raymond Davis: The great escape!
Protests by religious parties, political opposition and students raged across Pakistan after Davis' release
Final Score: ISI:1 CIA:0 Pak Govt:0
There has been no public comment from the government which has declared 'high alert' for the whole week. In fact, the fear of a backlash was so intense that the Foreign Office cancelled its weekly media briefing, usually held every Thursday.
Pockets of the nation remain outraged, the protests continue. Various religious and political parties are up in arms. The anti-US rage now translating into anger against the Zardari government which will find it increasingly hard to justify Davis' release.
The Pakistani president is expected to address parliament next week. Hopefully, he will offer an interesting explanation to the fiasco.
Administrative woes aside, what has indeed changed now is the ISI-CIA equation. And the unlikely winner of this Raymon Davis round: The ISI.
With Davis' fiasco, the Pak intelligence agency has one upped the CIA and consolidated its turf- resetting rules of the game, rules that were earlier bypassed. They made the CIA sweat a little, bargain hard and dole out the goodies.
But ISI-CIA aside, at the end of the seven week-long saga, there emerged two men satisfied.
With Davis' freedom, president Zardari earned back his meal-ticket to the US. Zardari was scheduled to visit early this month but the public spat put relations in jeopardy. Now, he is definitely a happier man.

And Davis? Well, just like James Bond, no one (except 'M' maybe) knows where he is.
Source: India Syndicate
READ MORE - Raymond Davis: The great escape!

Combating jihadists and free speech: How the U.S. military is using fake online profiles to spread propaganda

  • Fake profiles would NOT operate in English as this would contravene U.S. law
  • Instead operators would work in languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu
The American military has spent $2.8million on software to create fake personas on social networking websites in a bid to curb online jihadists.
The U.S. Central Command (Centcom) has awarded a $2.76million contract to California company Ntrepid in order to create false identities – known as ‘sock puppets’ – to manipulate conversations on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The move is reportedly intended to hamper online extremism but critics will argue the scheme actually strikes a blow against free speech.
Online manipulation: The U.S. military is to use software that creates fake personas so as to combat extremism and spread propaganda
Online manipulation: The U.S. military is to use software that creates fake personas so as to combat extremism and spread propaganda
A June 2010 contract shows the software in question would allow users to control ‘10 personas… replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent’.
Up to 50 users of the software would be ‘able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world’ with the intention of interacting ‘through conventional online services and social media platforms’.
Centcom’s contract also stipulates that the users of the software should be able to handle a number of false online personas from one workstation ‘without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries’.

Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks told the Guardian: ‘The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the U.S.’
He stressed the ‘sock puppets’ would not operate in English as to use such technology would contravene U.S. law – instead the false identities will conduct online conversations in languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.
However, the implications of the Centcom contract – which would allow U.S. forces personnel to contribute to Facebook conversation, tweets and message boards under a false name – could be of concern for free speech campaigners.
Jihadist: The U.S. project hopes to infiltrate online conversations between suspected terrorists - pictured here is Abdullah Ahmed Ali, 27, who was found guilty in 2008 of conspiring to kill hundreds of people in a bombing campaign
Jihadist: The U.S. project hopes to infiltrate online conversations between suspected terrorists - pictured here is Abdullah Ahmed Ali, 27, who was found guilty in 2008 of conspiring to kill hundreds of people in a bombing campaign
By contributing to online discussions while using a fake identity, the U.S. military would potentially be able to disseminate pro-American propaganda, attempt to quash dissenting opinions and create an artificial consensus.
With the software allowing users to manage several personalities from one location – thought to be Macdill air force base in Florida in this instance – its development may encourage governments or private firms to engage in similar practices.
Centcom commander James N. Mattis told a senate hearing earlier this month: ‘Our enemies operate within cyberspace (and its associated relevant physical infrastructure) to plan, coordinate, recruit, train, equip, execute and garner support for operations against the U.S., its allies and interests. Clearly, in the information age, our military must adapt to this new domain of warfare.’
The new scheme to develop fake online personas is believed to be part of Operation Earnest Voice, which manages Centcom's Information Operations, and in the words of Mattis, ‘seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda’.
A report by the inspector general of the U.S. defence department suggested Operation Earnest Voice had involved multinational forces in Iraq but the Ministry of Defence told the Guardian it had ‘no evidence’ of British involvement in the programme.
The MoD also declined to confirm if it had engaged in false persona creation, saying: ‘We don't comment on cyber capability.’
Cyber campaign: The project would see military personnel conversing on Facebook in languages such as Arabic or Urdu
Cyber campaign: The project would see military personnel conversing on Facebook in languages such as Arabic or Urdu
READ MORE - Combating jihadists and free speech: How the U.S. military is using fake online profiles to spread propaganda

Libya declares immediate ceasefire... but British fighters jets are already on way to Middle East

  • RAF Tornados and Typhoon moving into position to strike
  • Gaddafi is 'already bombing rebel stronghold of Benghazi'
  • Military action against Gaddafi backed by ten votes to zero
  • Libyan dictator threatens planes and ships in Mediterranean 
  • Country's air space now closed to all traffic ahead of attack
  • Commons WILL have debate on intervention on Monday
Libya today declared an immediate ceasefire just hours after the United Nations backed air strikes against Muammer Gaddafi's forces.
In a day of rapid developments, the Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa said that the brutal onslaught against rebels fighters would be halted.
Even as he spoke, David Cameron was on his feet in the Commons to confirm that RAF fighter jets had received orders to go to the Middle East.
The Prime Minister confirmed preparations to deploy RAF Tornado and Typhoon fighters were well underway.
The aircraft will join an international task force in the region in the next hours with air strikes expected imminently.
Tough talk: David Cameron (right) and Foreign Secretary William Hague leave Downing Street today after an emergency Cabinet meeting on the Libyan crisis
Tough talk: David Cameron (right) and Foreign Secretary William Hague leave Downing Street today after an emergency Cabinet meeting on the Libyan crisis
In action: Three Typhoon fighter planes flying past RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. British planes are on their way to Libya
In action: Three Typhoon fighter planes flying past RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. British planes are on their way to Libya
The move follows last night's UN resolution authorising 'all measures necessary' short of sending in ground troops to protect the Libyan population.
Libya today closed its airspace to all traffic, anticipating an immediate attack.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Cameron called upon Gaddafi to immediately stop attacking his own people and stressed that there had been 'appalling' human rights abuses.
'The clock is now ticking,' he said. 'We need now a sense of urgency because we do not want to see a blood bath in Benghazi and further repression and killing of innocent civilian life in Libya.'
The Prime Minister told Parliament that there would be a Commons debate on intervention in the Middle East on Monday.
British armed forces would not be deployed lightly or 'without careful thought,' Mr Cameron said.
'We have, I believe, in this case given extremely careful thought to the situation that we have in hand.
'I think it is absolutely right that we played a leading role on the UN Security Council to secure permission for this action and I believe it is absolutely right that we now work with allies to make sure that resolution is brought about.
'I know there will be many people in our country who will now want the questions answered about what we are doing and how we will go about it and I intend to answer all those questions in the hours and days ahead and to work with our brave armed services to make sure that we do the right thing for the people of Libya, for the people of our country and for the world as a whole.'
Libya Nato forces graphic
Mr Cameron stressed that he was satisfied that his three tests for action - demonstrable need, regional support and a clear legal basis - had been met.
As well as deploying fast jet fighters, Britain would be deploying surveillance and air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
The Prime Minister said that a 'clear statement' would be issued later today setting out what the international community now expected Gaddafi to do.
He said action was urgently needed as Libyan warplanes had already begun bombing the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in preparation for what was expected to be an all-out assault on the city.
Earlier, Mr Cameron chaired an emergency session of the Cabinet where ministers were advised on the legal position by the Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
The PM spoke  to Barack Obama last night and French President Nicolas Sarkozy this morning to discuss the situation.
The UN Security Council’s vote in favour of a no-fly zone and air strikes against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces came last night after weeks of indecision on the world stage.
By ten votes to zero, it backed ‘all necessary measures’ short of a full-scale ground invasion ‘to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas’.
Anticipating the move, Gaddafi had threatened to attack any air or maritime traffic in the Mediterranean, including civilian targets.
In session: Member states including both the UK and U.S. vote to approve the resolution during the meeting of the Security Council last night
In session: Member states including both the UK and U.S. vote to approve the resolution during the meeting of the Security Council last night
Solidarity: UK Representatives Mark Lyall and Susan Rice for the U.S. sit together as they raise their hands in support of a no-fly zone over Libya during the meeting of the UN security council last night
Solidarity: UK Representatives Mark Lyall and Susan Rice for the U.S. sit together as they raise their hands in support of a no-fly zone over Libya during the meeting of the UN security council last night
He took to the airwaves to condemn any UN action as an act of ‘flagrant colonisation’. ‘This is craziness, madness, arrogance,’ ranted the dictator.
‘If the world gets crazy with us we will get crazy too. We will respond. We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace.’
Gaddafi had earlier told Libyan rebels that his mercenaries would invade Benghazi, saying: ‘There will be no mercy. Our troops will be coming to Benghazi tonight.’
Diplomatic sources in Paris said military action might come as soon as today and could include France, Britain, possibly the U.S. and one or more Arab states.
But senior defence sources in Britain warned action would not take place straight away and the U.S. said enforcement of the no-fly zone would begin on Sunday or Monday.
‘We have to deconflict the assets of those who will take part and who will do what,’ said one. ‘It won’t be immediate.’
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there would be action to protect the planes and the pilots, ‘including bombing targets like the Libyan defence systems’.
Italy announced it was opening its air force and naval bases in Sicily for operations against Libya – another potential base for British jets.
The UN Security Council’s resolution was passed 10-0 with abstentions from China, Russia, Brazil, India and Germany.
The resolution included freezing the assets of Libyan National Oil Corp and the central bank because of their links to Gaddafi. It was proposed by the UK, France and Lebanon.
Warning: Gaddafi took the the airwaves last night to say 'We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace'
Warning: Gaddafi took the the airwaves last night to say 'We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace'
Celebratory gunfire was heard in Benghazi following the vote. There was also joy in Tobruk, another rebel-held town.
The move is a diplomatic coup for David Cameron, one of the first leaders to advocate intervention despite President Obama’s reluctance to allow the U.S. to be drawn into another Middle East war.
The Prime Minister cancelled a visit to Scotland planned for today and is instead expected to convene an emergency session of the Cabinet.
Last night he was speaking to leaders of Arab nations to encourage them to take part in the strike against Gaddafi.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said: ‘We have been clear that the world would not accept Gaddafi’s brutality against his own people.
‘This resolution is the expression of that resolve. It is a positive response to the call by the Arab League last weekend for measures to protect and safeguard the civilian population of Libya and it is the culmination of a great deal of hard work in the last few days.
‘This resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire. For an end to violence. We have said all along that Gaddafi must go. It is necessary to take these measures to avoid greater bloodshed.’
Sir Mark Lyall Grant, British ambassador to the UN, said the resolution ruled out a foreign occupation force in any part of Libya.
Malcolm Rifkind, a former foreign secretary, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted. Without action of this kind, Benghazi would have been a bloodbath.
AT last: Libyans in Benghazi who have battled amidst constant bloodshed erupt in joy after hearing news that the UN has backed a no fly zone
AT last: Libyans in Benghazi who have battled Gaddafi's onslaught since protests began erupt in joy last night after hearing news that the UN has backed a no fly zone
Joy: Several rebels take to their cars to celebrate following the announcement of the resolution
Joy: Several rebels take to their cars to celebrate following the announcement of the resolution

What it means: These two men sink to their knees on a Benghazi street as the news to impose the zone spread across the country
What it means: These two men sink to their knees on a Benghazi street as the news to impose the zone spread across the country
‘By the standards of the last 20 years, this is a remarkable vote. This is a tremendous morale booster for Libyans, not just in Benghazi.’
The move came after Colonel Gaddafi warned there would be no hiding place for opposition forces in Benghazi.
In a radio address to the eastern city he said: ‘We will come, zenga, zenga. House by house, room by room. It’s over ... We are coming tonight.
‘You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets. We will have no mercy and no pity.’
He claimed he would offer pardon to those who laid down their arms, however, and told his troops not to pursue them.
Government sources suggested the tyrant would be given 24 hours to call a ceasefire or face immediate airstrikes. The Arab League has already called for the imposition of a no-fly zone to stop the slaughter in Libya.
Anger: Supporters of Gaddafi chants slogans and show their displeasure at the decision during a protest in Tripoli
Anger: Supporters of Gaddafi chants slogans and show their displeasure at the decision during a protest in Tripoli
Licence to kill: Libyan deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said at a news conference that vote amounted to an agreement for Libyans to kill each other

Gaddafi supporters: Libyan deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said at a news conference that the vote amounted to an agreement for Libyans to kill each other
Last night there were indications that two Arab countries were willing to participate in the initiative, with speculation centred on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Experts last night warned a no-fly zone would take up to two weeks to set up – although air strikes could be ordered much more quickly.
Government critics have questioned the ability of the UK to police a no-fly zone following defence cuts and the scrapping of the Harrier fleet.
But Shashank Joshi, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said Britain could make a ‘very significant’ military contribution.
He added: ‘The Typhoons are available, as are the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft following their reprieve. There are also frigates available. And there are special forces who could form rescue teams.’
But Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former Army colonel, warned: ‘It would appear that Colonel Gaddafi is almost at the gates of Benghazi, so you have to ask whether this is all going to be too late.’
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said his government had abstained because it saw ‘considerable dangers and risks’ in military action against Gaddafi.
He said German forces ‘will not take part in a military operation in Libya’.

How British forces could enforce a no-fly zone


British forces will be heavily involved in the attempt to prevent Gaddafi crushing the uprising in Libya.
Military experts predict the RAF’s Typhoon fighter jets – which are not fully deployed in Afghanistan – are likely to be among the first sent out to establish and police the no-fly zone.
The multi-role jets are capable of delivering the latest high-accuracy bombs, and their capabilities as fighter aircraft far exceed those of Gaddafi’s ageing Russian jets.
RAF Typhoon F2 fighter from
Military might: RAF Typhoon fighter jets are likely to be among the first sent out to establish and police the no-fly zone, experts predict
The British fighters are likely to be deployed alongside French aircraft initially, although it is hoped they could be joined quickly by aircraft from at least one Arab nation, possibly Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.
Foreign Secretary William Hague indicated yesterday that the no-fly zone would be policed from land bases – avoiding criticism of the recent cuts to the Royal Navy, which severely limit the capacity of the UK to carry out airborne operations from the sea.
Allied forces could use French bases along the Mediterranean or the British base in Cyprus. Negotiations have also been under way about the possibility of operating some aircraft from bases in Arab countries.
Italy last night said it would make its military bases available to enforce the UN resolution. Its airbase at Sigonella in Sicily is one of the closest Nato bases to Libya.
U.S. navy aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean are initially expected to provide radar and logistical support.
The RAF’s ageing Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft, which were recently given a temporary reprieve from the scrapyard, could also play a role in monitoring the movement of Gaddafi’s forces. British special forces will also be involved in the operation. The size of the SAS has increased rapidly in recent years and experts believe special forces units could be deployed to Libya without affecting operations elsewhere.
They will be dropped behind enemy lines to identify potential targets for bombing raids. They could also be asked to carry out other covert missions designed to weaken the forces remaining loyal to the Libyan tyrant.
Experts last night suggested that British warships could also be deployed to the region to carry out bombardments along the coast or to protect merchant shipping from attacks by the Libyan navy.

READ MORE - Libya declares immediate ceasefire... but British fighters jets are already on way to Middle East
 
 
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