Hundreds dead, bodies in the streets and a city reduced to rubble: Full horror of Misrata siege finally emerges

Everyone was in high spirits. After the first night had passed without shelling for seven murderous weeks, the people of Misrata yesterday emerged from the bombed out ruins of their homes to stock up on emergency supplies and savour the apparent peace.
As cars full of families cheered and waved, honking their horns and turning their stereos to maximum volume, many hoped and prayed that the siege of this strategically-important city by Muammar Gaddafi’s troops was now, at last, over.
After the tyrant announced at the weekend that he was withdrawing his fighters, following intense street battles with armed civilians battling to end his 42-year-rule, the brave people of Misrata also yearned for an end to the bloodshed that has left at least 2000 dead and thousands more injured.
Scene of devastation: A man walks across the shattered Tripoli Street in Misrata. Gaddafi's forces have been using civilians as human shields to avoid fighting
Scene of devastation: A man walks across the shattered Tripoli Street in Misrata. Gaddafi's forces have been using civilians as human shields to avoid fighting
Defiance: A rebel kicks rubble near a tank that was blown up by a NATO missile in Misrata
Defiance: A rebel kicks rubble near a tank that was blown up by a NATO missile in Misrata
Those hopes were fuelled by an announcement from Gaddafi. "The leader is  leading the battle for peace and democracy in Libya," said regime spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, adding that the tyrant was now leading 'the battle to provide people with services, with food, medicine, fuel.' But Gaddafi’s announcement, of course, was a lie. This soon became apparent.
Along with six French journalists, photographer Jamie Wiseman and I headed to the port on the outskirts of Misrata, once the most prosperous, cultured and civilised place Libya, and now  lying in ruins, with rotting corpses littering the streets.
An empty aid ship was due to arrive that afternoon from Benghazi, the rebel-held city in the east of the country. Having notified Gaddafi’s officials that the ship was coming to evacuate people trapped inside the city, as well as hundreds of horrifically injured civilians, the vessel’s skipper believed he had been granted safe passage.
That proved not to be the case. As we arrived at the port, hoping to hitch a lift back to Benghazi, the awful whistling noise of incoming mortars, rockets and tank shells suddenly sang out over the noise of the wind.
Misrata’s sole lifeline to the outside world, the port is also where vital food and medical supplies - not to mention arms for the rebels – is shipped in secretly, helping Misrata’s people withstand the siege.
Dock workers and armed rebels leapt into their cars and roared off; other people sprinted for cover. Ahmed, 26, our Libyan driver, a kind young man who has helped us enormously since we arrived here, spun our mini bus around and roared off, hoping to take us to safety.
But there is a long, empty stretch of road out of the sprawling port which is totally exposed to enemy fire. As we entered this stretch, bombs and missiles rained down. Our vehicle bucked and rocked as Ahmed slalomed up the road, dodging the bombs and gunning the engine.
Guard: Rebels stand on the Libyan border at the Wazin crossing. The centre of fighting has shifted to Misrata after a stalemate in the east of the country
Guard: Rebels stand on the Libyan border at the Wazin crossing. The centre of fighting has shifted to Misrata after a stalemate in the east of the country
Desperate: Libyan women who fled to Tunisia to escape the violence, walk in a refugee camp in Ramada
Desperate: Libyan women who fled to Tunisia to escape the violence, walk in a refugee camp in Ramada
Civil war: Rebels pose with their weapons in Kabao, near the Tunisian border. The city of Misrata has been under constant artillery bombardment for nearly a month
Civil war: Rebels pose with their weapons in Kabao, near the Tunisian border. The city of Misrata has been under constant artillery bombardment for nearly a month
Damage: Tripoli Street has seen the brunt of the fighting and NATO has also launched air strikes near the area at Gaddafi artillery and tanks
Damage: Tripoli Street has seen the brunt of the fighting and NATO has also launched air strikes near the area at Gaddafi artillery and tanks
Amid the deafening noise of explosions and blinding flashes, cars full of civilians ran into ditches and careered across the road, the people inside leaping out and trying desperately to find cover.
Ahmed rammed two burned out vehicles blocking our way. As we crouched on the floor of the vehicle - with colleagues shouting to Ahmed: Go!  Go! Keep going! - it seemed like there was little prospect of of escape. But, suddenly, miraculously, we were through the worst of the barrage. We roared into a residential area on the outskirts of the port, and local people – who had barricaded their doors for the onslaught – bravely threw them open and urged us to run in.
An old man brought us tea and sweet biscuits. Some of us gabbled and swore; others sat in silence, breathing heavily, scarcely able to believe we had all somehow survived unscathed. Others were not so lucky. Gaddafi’s men also shelled a refugee camp at the port, crammed with women and children trapped here since the siege began. At least three people died and scores more were injured.
‘As Gaddafi breathes, so he lies,’ said Mohammed Abdullah, 33, a bakery worker. ‘Why doesn’t somebody just kill him? It is one man who is causing all this death – just one crazy man.’ So where are NATO and the coalition’s much-vaunted airstrikes? In truth, Gaddafi’s fighters are always one step ahead. From positions on the outskirts of the city, they train their artillery and mortars on civilian areas.
Out of harm's reach? Stall holders prepare at a market in Benghazi, which has remained in rebel hands largely since protests began
Out of harm's reach? Stall holders prepare at a market in Benghazi, which has remained in rebel hands largely since protests began
Training: New recruits are put through their paces at a base in Misrata
Training: New recruits are put through their paces at a base in Misrata
Deathtrap: Rebels and civilians walk past a destroyed vegetable market in Misrata. Hundreds of people have been killed in fighting in the city
Deathtrap: Rebels and civilians walk past a destroyed vegetable market in Misrata. Hundreds of people have been killed in fighting in the city
Then, as high-flying surveillance aircraft spot the signs of Gaddafi’s weapons being fired, and call in airstrikes by NATO jets at bases around the Mediterranean, they simply move their mobile weapons and hide.
As soon as the noise of fighters over the city fades again, Gaddafi’s men simply reappear at different positions – and launch their deadly barrages again. They appear – judging by the carnage at the city’s sole remaining hospital – to always be one step ahead of the coalition bombers, leaving many furious about the impotence of the powerful western forces supposed to be saving them from Gaddafi’s.
Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani, the rebel spokesman, dismissed reports of progress in Misrata."It is a disaster there," he said. "Kadhafi is not going anywhere. Misrata is the key to Tripoli. If he lets go of Misrata, he will let go of Tripoli. He is not crazy enough to do that."
Later, in silence, the French journalists and the Mail tried again to make it to the port. But the aid ship had refused to dock and sat at harbour several miles out at sea. We returned to the city, which was now deserted again.
The families, who had earlier honked their horns and given us the victory sign as we passed, had once more disappeared into the labyrinth of bombed out alleys and buildings they now call home.
The bloody siege of Misrata, it seems, continues for another night and day.
READ MORE - Hundreds dead, bodies in the streets and a city reduced to rubble: Full horror of Misrata siege finally emerges

WikiLeaks: Montreal mosque 'is a top Al Qaeda recruiting zone'

A mosque in Montreal has been ranked in the world’s top nine Al Qaeda recruiting zones and linked to a terror cell planning attacks on Los Angeles airport, new released documents claim.
The WikiLeaks files, written by U.S. military chiefs, list the Al Sunnah Al Nabawiah mosque among nine houses of prayer worldwide considered as a place ‘Al Qaeda members were recruited, facilitated or trained’.
The leaked ‘Matrix of Threat’ documents, designed in the early days of the Guantanamo detention centre to assist intelligence officials, rank the Canadian mosque alongside sites in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Al Sunnah Al Nabawiah Mosque in Montreal is considered by the U.S. military to be among places where
The Al Sunnah Al Nabawiah Mosque in Montreal is considered by the U.S. military to be among places where 'known al-Qaeda members were recruited.'
A terror cell linked to a mosque in Montreal were planning an attack on Los Angeles Airport, pictured, according to WikiLeaks documents
A terror cell linked to a mosque in Montreal were planning an attack on Los Angeles Airport, pictured, according to WikiLeaks documents
The mosque, which was also linked to the September 11 attacks, is the only Islamic prayer house in North America listed as a threat in the leaked report.
The classified documents claim the mosque’s former Imam and current Guantanamo inmate, Mohamedou Ould Salahi, was the leader of the Canadian-based Al Qaeda cell.
The Mauritanian man arrived in Montreal from Germany in November 1999 but left Canada after police began to question him about ties to Ahmed Ressam, the so-called ‘Millennium Bomber’ who planned to attack Los Angeles airport and other U.S. targets.
Ressam, an Algerian who lived in Montreal, was arrested at the U.S.-Canada border carrying explosives before he could execute the ‘Millennium plot’.
According to the documents, Salahi met with Ressam four days after arriving in Montreal and had prior knowledge of the plot as well as contact with the extremists planning the attack.
The documents also claim that the 39-year-old electrical engineer recruited three of the September 11, 2001, terrorist hijackers and facilitated their training.
Algerian Ahmed Ressam was convicted of plotting to blow up the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium
Algerian Ahmed Ressam was convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium
Salahi has acknowledged joining the mujahedeen in its fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But he says he had no role in the millennium bomb plot and denies any connection with Al Qaeda, the Taliban or their associates since 1992.
The leaked documents claim Salahi and a number of his contacts met frequently at a Montreal safehouse operated by a friend and former classmate Salahi met in Germany who was later arrested in Israel.
Salahi has tried unsuccessfully to obtain Canadian intelligence documents from interviews the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) conducted with him in 2000, which he claims could corroborate his claim of abuse at the hands of his American captors.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear his case while the Federal Court of Canada ruled last year that he is not entitled to the information because he is neither a Canadian citizen nor subject to legal proceedings in Canada.
He has been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than seven years.
An attempted prosecution was called off when questions arose about whether key evidence had been obtained by torture.
The documents, prepared by the U.S. defence department in 2008 and titled ‘JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment’, consider Salahi one of the most valuable sources at Guantanamo.
‘Detainee still has useful information regarding extremist activity in North Africa, Europe and Canada, as well as information concerning the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks,’ the documents say.
Finsbury Park Mosque in London was named by WikiLeaks as another Al Qaeda recruiting ground
Finsbury Park Mosque in London was named by WikiLeaks as another Al Qaeda recruiting ground
The memo concluded he should continue to be detained at Guantanamo because he swore bayat (allegiance) to Osama bin Laden and was prepared to be a martyr.
The classified documents released by WikiLeaks are assessments of almost 800 past and present Guantanamo detainees. On a scale of low, medium or high, they rate the detainees for their intelligence value and the risks they could pose if released.
Salahi was assessed by the U.S. military to be ‘high’ risk, an assessment given to most of the 172 remaining Guantanamo detainees.
About one-third of the 600 prisoners already transferred to the custody of other nations were also declared ‘high risk’ before their transfers, the New York Times reported.
Also among the documents dumped online by WikiLeaks is a detainee assessment that suggests another Guantanamo inmate acted as an informer for Canadian intelligence but continued to maintain his militant ties.
MORE AL QAEDA RECRUITING GROUNDS
  • Finsbury Park Mosque, London UK
  • Laennec Mosque, Lyon, France
  • Islamic Cultural Institute, Milan
  • Italy Abu Bakr Islamic University
  • Karachi, Pakistan Makki Mosque
  • Karachi, Pakistan Al Khair Mosque
  • Sanaa, Yemen Dimaj Institute
  • Sadah, Yemen Wazir Akbar Khan
  • Mosque, Kabul, Afghanistan
The 2008 assessment file says Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili acted as an intelligence source for both the British and Canadians because of his connections to members of various Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.
But the document says after repeated interrogations, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded Hamlili ‘withheld important information’ from the British and Canadians and was found to be a threat.
The document says Hamlili, an Algerian, was involved in a plot to attack a U.S. consulate in Pakistan and was possibly the leader of an extremist cell that carried out a string of bombing attacks against civilian targets in 2002.
Interrogators at Guantanamo Bay also uncovered serious plots to unleash chemical and nuclear weapons on the West, the WikiLeaks documents show.
According to detainees’ confessions, Al Qaeda mastermind Kalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed they had hidden a nuclear bomb in Britain, which would be detonated if Osama Bin Laden was captured or killed.
Detainees admitted that Mohammed, currently facing trial over the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was involved in a plot to blow up U.S. atomic plants and unleash a ‘nuclear hellstorm’.
According to the files, a Libyan detainee and close friend of Bin Laden, Abu Al-Libi, ‘has knowledge of Al Qaeda possibly possessing a nuclear bomb’.
Another told his interrogators the bombers would be ‘Europeans of Arab or Asian descent’.
READ MORE - WikiLeaks: Montreal mosque 'is a top Al Qaeda recruiting zone'

Sixty-five Afghan prison escapees recaptured


Afghans show prison break tunnel

Officials in Afghanistan show a tunnel dug by Taliban insurgents through which hundreds of prisoners escaped. Jon Decker reports.
  • Taliban launch jail break, freeing 500 inmates
  • Prisoners escaped through km-long tunnel
  • At least 65 caught,  others still on the run
AUTHORITIES have recaptured 65 prisoners who were among about 500 inmates who escaped in an audacious Taliban-led jailbreak in southern Afghanistan.
The prisoners, mostly insurgents, escaped overnight on Sunday through a kilometre-long tunnel that the Taliban said took them five months to dig into the prison in Kandahar city, the heartland of the Islamist insurgency.
A manhunt was launched to recapture the escapees who, according to the Taliban, included more than 100 rebel commanders.
"Afghan national security and ISAF forces launched a huge searching operation right after the prisoners escaped and have massive civilian support and positive results," Kandahar provincial authorities said in a statement.
"Joint security forces have recaptured 65 of the prisoners who escaped from Kandahar prison."
More than 130,000 international troops, mainly from the United States, are in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and other insurgents.
The daring breakout in the Taliban's heartland, the second from the prison in three years, threatens to undermine recent gains claimed by NATO forces in the area after a US-led troop surge, just as the annual fighting season begins.
It is also a major embarrassment for Afghan forces who are due to take on greater responsibility for security in their country ahead of the planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.
READ MORE - Sixty-five Afghan prison escapees recaptured

Lawyer says 'large scale' war crimes by Gaddafi forces

A young Libyan boy is treated at a hospital after he was lightly wounded from shelling by Muammar al-Gaddafi's forces overnight in the Ras Amar area of Misrata - AFP
A young Libyan boy is treated at a hospital after he was lightly wounded from shelling by Muammar al-Gaddafi's forces overnight in the Ras Amar area of Misrata - AFP
Benghazi, Apr 26 : Muammar Gaddafi's forces have committed 'crimes against humanity and war crimes on a large scale', according to a human rights lawyer gathering evidence in Libya to present to the International Criminal Court.
Torture, mass executions, using humans as shields and banned cluster bombs all testify to the violence inflicted by Gaddafi's regime on the Libyan population in recent weeks, French lawyer Philippe Moriceau told AFP.
Government forces charged eastwards in the middle of March, pushing back rebels seeking to topple Gaddafi into their stronghold Benghazi, and then began bombarding its western gate.
They were beaten back when NATO launched air strikes from March 19 under a UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians caught in the fighting between Gaddafi's troops and the rebels.
Newspapers worldwide have reported that Libyan troops are raping children as young as eight, even as their parents watch. Some even witnessed the murders of their fathers and mothers.
According to Moriceau, vice president of the France-based Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) group, in the short time Gaddafi's forces attacked Benghazi, 'the motto was to 'rape, rob and kill'.
"There was systematic murder of men, women and children and rape by soldiers," the lawyer said in an interview in Benghazi.
Moriceau said there had been 'massacres and houses with dozens of bodies of civilians' found in areas on the outskirts of the city.
"We have videos," he said.
Moriceau and an Italian colleague are in Libya carrying out a Lawyers Without Borders mission to 'identify victims' and prepare a file for submission to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
"I do not know", whether the court will then launch proceedings against the Libyan leader," Moriceau said, adding however he believed Gaddafi was being sought to be brought to international justice.
Moriceau said a succession of LWOB teams would be working on the case as the probe "will be long and far reaching" and take "several years."
He added that Gaddafi was 'smarter than many others' and if pushed to that point would try to negotiate a departure that would ensure he did not face a trial.
The New York Times earlier this week reported that the US government had launched a search to find a country which is not a signatory to the ICC so that Gaddafi could be offered a safe haven in any exit deal.
Moriceau said the evidence gathered so far is 'extremely accurate' and shows 'systematic and widespread attacks against civilian populations on a large scale'.
"We are talking of thousands of victims" dead or wounded only in the Benghazi region alone, he said, adding that hundreds of others were missing.
Aside from the current conflict, Moriceau has dealt with previous victims of Gaddafi, who has been in power since 1969.
He said there are a number of cases of 'arbitrary imprisonments for decades without ever seeing a judge, with people dying in jail without anyone knowing'.
Moriceau cites an example of a woman who 'always brings food to the prison of Benghazi .. even though there is no hope that her husband, jailed in the 80s, is still alive. It is terrible'.
In Libya, families are obligeed to feed their jailed relatives.
Moriceau said most Libyans are suffering 'massive trauma'.
"It is rare to find somebody who has not lost a relative," he said.
"We will yet uncover many things as the repression was totally random."
READ MORE - Lawyer says 'large scale' war crimes by Gaddafi forces

Syrian Tanks Roll Into Daraa

Government closes border with Jordan, attacks civilians

This video image taken from amateur video released by Sham News Network, a Syrian Freedom group, shows a tank in the Daraa, Syria Monday April 25, 2011.
This video image taken from amateur video released by Sham News Network, a Syrian Freedom group, shows a tank in the Daraa, Syria Monday April 25, 2011.   (AP Photo/Sham News Network via APTN)

Syria closed off its border with Jordan today as troops and tanks poured into the border city of Daraa—the original hotbed of the protests that have erupted across the country. Bodies were seen strewn throughout the streets of the city, witnesses tell Reuters, with one human rights campaigner accusing the army of waging "a savage war designed to annihilate Syria's democrats."
"Ambulances could not help the injured because of the snipers and army officers who are deployed all over the city," another witness tells CNN. "They shoot on anything that moves." One resident estimated that there were around 3,000 soldiers in the town. “They are breaking into people’s houses, firing randomly at houses,” he said. News agencies couldn’t independently confirm the reports, but Jordan confirmed that the border has been closed—making it harder for the people of Daraa to flee.
READ MORE - Syrian Tanks Roll Into Daraa

Iran Detects Second Attack In 'Cyber War'

'Stars' Virus Detected By Iran In Second Cyber War Attempt

Iran Computer
(Reuters) - Iran has been targeted by a second computer virus in a "cyber war" waged by its enemies, its commander of civil defense said on Monday.
Gholamreza Jalali told the semi-official Mehr news agency that the new virus, called "Stars," was being investigated by experts.
"Fortunately, our young experts have been able to discover this virus and the Stars virus is now in the laboratory for more investigations," Jalali was quoted as saying. He did not specify the target of Stars or its intended impact.
"The particular characteristics of the Stars virus have been discovered," Jalali said. "The virus is congruous and harmonious with the (computer) system and in the initial phase it does minor damage and might be mistaken for some executive files of government organisations."
Jalali warned that the Stuxnet worm, discovered in computers at Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor last year, still posed a potential risk. Some experts described it as the world's first "guided cyber missile," aimed at Iran's atomic program.
Iranian officials said they had neutralized Stuxnet before it did the intended damage to its nuclear facilities. They blamed Israel and the United States -- which believe Iran is seeking nuclear weapons -- for the virus.
Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
STUXNET RISK
The existence of Stuxnet became public knowledge around the time that Iran began loading fuel into Bushehr, its first nuclear reactor, last August. Iran said in September that staff computers at Bushehr had been hit but that the plant itself was unharmed.
Bushehr is still not operational, having missed several start-up deadlines. This has prompted speculation that Stuxnet damaged the plant, something Iran denies.
Officials have said the virus could have posed a major risk had it not been discovered and dealt with before any major damage was done.
Some defense analysts say the main target was more likely to be Iran's uranium enrichment program. Enrichment creates fuel for nuclear power plants or, if pursued to a much higher degree, can provide material for an atomic bomb.
Jalali said Stuxnet might still pose a risk. "We should know that fighting the Stuxnet virus does not mean the threat has been completely tackled, because viruses have a certain life span and they might continue their activities in another way."
He urged the government to take action against the enemies he said were waging cyber war on Iran.
"Perhaps the Foreign Ministry had overlooked the options to legally pursue the case, and it seems our diplomatic apparatus should pay more attention to follow up the cyber wars staged against Iran," Jalali said.
READ MORE - Iran Detects Second Attack In 'Cyber War'

Gaddafi Compound Bombed By NATO

Libya Airstrikes Gaddafi
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – NATO forces flattened a building inside Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound early on Monday, in what a press official from Gaddafi's government said was an attempt on the Libyan leader's life.
Firefighters were still working to extinguish flames in part of the ruined building a few hours after the attack, when foreign journalists were brought to the scene in Tripoli.
The press official, who asked not to be identified, said 45 people were hurt in the strike, 15 of them seriously, and some were still missing. That could not be independently confirmed.
Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam said the Libyan government would not be cowed by such attacks.
"The bombing which targeted Muammar Gaddafi's office today... will only scare children. It's impossible that it will make us afraid or give up or raise the white flag," he was quoted as saying by the Jana state news agency.
"You, NATO, are waging a losing battle because you are backed by traitors and spies. History has proved that no state can rely on them to win."
Gaddafi's compound has been hit before, but NATO forces appear to have stepped up the pace of strikes in Tripoli in recent days. A target nearby, which the government called a car park but which appeared to cover a bunker, was hit two days ago.
The United States, Britain and France say they will not stop their air campaign over Libya until Gaddafi leaves power.
Washington has taken a backseat role in the air war since turning over command to NATO at the end of March but is under pressure to do more. Last week it sent Predator drone aircraft, which fired for the first time on Saturday.
MISRATA BOMBARDED
Government troops bombarded the western rebel bastion of Misrata again on Sunday, two days after announcing their withdrawal following a two month siege.
An engineer who works for a dissident radio station in Misrata told Al Arabiya television that at least 30 people had been killed and 60 wounded by the shelling in the coastal city.
The number of dead could not be independently verified.
"There is very intense and random shelling on residential areas. Burned bodies are being brought into the hospital," Ahmed al-Qadi told Al Arabiya.
A doctor in a hospital in Misrata said that among the dead from what he called heavy artillery and mortar shelling was a 10-year-old boy killed while he was sleeping at home.
A government spokesman said the army was still carrying out its plan to withdraw from the city, but had fired back when retreating troops were attacked.
"As our army was withdrawing from Misrata it came under attack by the rebels. The army fought back but continued its withdrawal from the city," Mussa Ibrahim told reporters.
The government says its army is withdrawing and sending in armed tribesmen instead. Rebels say the announcement may be part of a ruse to mask troop movements or stir violence between rebels and locals in nearby towns.
Rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a news conference in Kuwait that the Gulf state had agreed to give 50 million Kuwaiti dinars ($177 million) to his rebel council to help pay workers in the eastern part of the country under its control.
"This amount will help us a lot in paying the salaries of employees who did not receive their little salaries for two months," he said. "We are capable of only covering 40 percent of this amount. We are in need of urgent aid."
The rebels have been seeking international recognition as well as material support from the west and the Arab world.
Hampered by their lack of firepower, equipment and training, they have been unable to advance from eastern Libya but are fighting back and forth with Gaddafi's troops on the coast road between the towns of Ajdabiyah and Brega.
Abdel Jalil also said the rebels had received weapons from "friends and allies," but did not name them.
At least three people were killed in the mountain town of Zintan, around 160 km (100 miles) southwest of Tripoli, by fire from Gaddafi's tanks and rockets, residents said.
(Additional reporting by Guy Desmond and Maher Nazeh in Tripoli, Alexander Dziadosz in Benghazi and Sami Aboudi in Cairo; writing by Peter Graff and Myra MacDonald; editing by Tim Pearce)
READ MORE - Gaddafi Compound Bombed By NATO

Al-Qaeda threatens nuclear hellstorm if Osama is caught or killed

Osama bin Laden
Washington, Apr 25 : Osama had watched horrifying scenes 9-11 attacks beamed live on TV with key al-Qaeda commanders at a safe house in Karachi.
Al-Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" on the West if their leader and world's most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden is nabbed.
A senior al-Qaeda commander has claimed that the terror group has stashed away a nuclear bomb in Europe which will be detonated if bin Laden is ever caught or assassinated, according to new top secret files made public by internet whistleblower WikiLeaks.
The documents are secret details of the background to the capture of each of the 780 people held at or have passed through the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, along with their medical condition and the information they have provided during interrogations.
The documents have been released to select European and US news outlets and reveal that the day 9/11 terror killings took place in United States, the core of al-Qaeda was concentrated in a single city of Karachi in Pakistan.
The author of September 11 attacks watched the horrifying scenes of the planes crashing into the twin towers of World Trade Centre beamed live on TV with key al-Qaeda commanders at a safe house in Karachi.
While in a nearby hospital, the accused mastermind of the bombing of USS' Cole off Yemen waters was recovering from an tonsillectomy, the alleged organiser of the 2002 Bali bombing was buying lab equipment for a biological weapons programme.
Within a day much of the al-Qaeda leadership disappeared back to Afghanistan to plan for a long war, the Washington Post reported quoting the fresh leaks on whereabouts of the international al-Qaeda terror brigade.
The cache of classified military documents portray the planning of the 9/11 terror attacks and whereabouts of its plotters including the world's most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri on that fateful day.
The Guantanamo detainees are assessed "high or medium or low" in terms of their intelligence value and the threat they pose while in detention and the continued threat they might pose if released.
The leaks say that four days after September 11 attacks, bin Laden visited a guest house in Afghanistan's Kanadhar province where he told his gathered Arab fighters to "defend Afghanistan against infidel invaders" and to "fight in the name of Allah".
The intelligence report says after the 9/11 attacks began a peripatetic three weeks for bin Laden and his deputy as they criss-crossed Afghanistan handing out assignments to followers, meetings with top Taliban leadership and delegating control of al-Qaeda to the group's 'shura' council, presumably because he feared being captured or killed as US forces closed in.
READ MORE - Al-Qaeda threatens nuclear hellstorm if Osama is caught or killed

Afghan govt reports massive jailbreak in Kandahar

Kandahar: Afghan officials say more than 400 inmates have escaped from the main prison in Kandahar city. They say many of the men who dug a tunnel out of the facility are Taliban insurgents.
Prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said on Monday that they estimate about 476 prisoners escaped through a tunnel they had dug to the outside. He says the jailbreak happened about 11 pm on Sunday and that many of those missing were held for working for the insurgency.
Kandahar prison holds about 1,200 inmates.
Afghan govt reports massive jailbreak in Kandahar
Police and government officials also confirmed the jailbreak but said they did not have details.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said about 100 of those who escaped are Taliban commanders and many of the others are fighters with the insurgency.
READ MORE - Afghan govt reports massive jailbreak in Kandahar

Drones can be used by Nato forces in Libya, says Obama

Senior Nato military commanders have been pressing for the unmanned US planes to strike Gaddafi forces in besieged Misrata
Predator drone aircraft
Precision targeting provided by unmanned drones has become a favoured strike weapon in Afghanistan, and could help Nato pinpoint Gaddafi forces in Libya. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features
The White House has approved the use of missile-armed Predator drones to help Nato target Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya.
Coalition commanders have been privately urging the Americans to provide the specialist unmanned aircraft, which have become a favoured – if controversial – weapon in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Their ability to hone in on targets using powerful night-vision cameras is considered to be one way of helping rebels in the besieged city of Misrata, where a humanitarian crisis has unfolded in the last week.
The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said Barack Obama had approved the use of the Predators which are armed with Hellfire missiles, signalling a marked growth in the US contribution to the Nato effort.
Gates told a Pentagon news conference that the Predator was an example of the unique US military capabilities that the president is willing to contribute while other countries enforce a no-fly zone.
General James Cartwright said that the first Predator mission in Libya had been scheduled for Thursday night but was abandoned because of poor weather. The US military plans to maintain two patrols of armed Predators above Libya at any given time, permitting better surveillance – and targeting – of Gaddafi's forces as they dig into positions next to civilian areas, Cartwright told the same briefing.
The drones are based in the region but typically flown via remote control by pilots in the US. The drones for Libya had not been withdrawn from Afghanistan, Gates and Cartwright said.
Khaled Kayim, Libya's deputy foreign minister, said the deployment of the drones would result in the deaths of more civilians. He described the move as "undemocratic and illegitimate and I hope they will reverse their decision".
Liam Fox, the British defence secretary, and Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff, are due in Washington next week to discuss the situation in Libya.
The use of Predators is one of the topics to be discussed at the Pentagon talks next Tuesday, as well as other specialist equipment that might be provided by the US.
David Cameron has again insisted that Nato had no intention of deploying ground troops, but that did not mollify Russia. It condemned the sending of military advisers to Libya by the UK and France, saying it exceeded the mandate of UN security council resolution 1973. "We are not happy about the latest events in Libya, which are pulling the international community into a conflict on the ground," said the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov."This may have unpredictable consequences," he added.
But senior Whitehall officials believe the use of drones, also known as UAVs, would not be beyond the remit, or the spirit, of the UN resolution which gave the coalition a mandate to protect civilians. "A UAV with sufficiently high-resolution sensors, were it armed, could fire that weapon in line of sight and still meet the tight rules of engagement," a Whitehall source said.
"We have been asking if we can get the US to provide that capability for us. It exists – the question is can we get it to be deployed? UAVs would give you speed of response where you see the regime transgressing the UN resolution," the source said. The US is understood to have the UAVs in the region already.
Gates said Obama continues to be opposed to sending US ground forces into Libya and there were no plans to send US trainers to augment Nato forces already working with rebel forces. "There's no wiggle room in that," Gates said.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, urged Gaddafi to "stop killing people", and estimated that 500,000 Libyans had fled the country. The MoD also sought to counter criticism Nato is not doing enough for Misrata, saying the RAF had hit 58 targets around the city in the past three weeks, including 37 main battle tanks. But officials concede the difficulties of targeting within the city are considerable.
Earlier this week Nato's commander, Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, described the situation within Misrata as being akin to "a knife fight in a phone booth". He said Gaddafi forces were hiding on the rooftops of mosques, hospitals and schools, and that they were shielding themselves behind women and children.
The military difficulties were underlined when further details emerged of the death of British photographer Tim Hetherington, who was killed on Wednesday in a mortar attack along with a colleague, Chris Hondras. An Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Hetherington, 41, wrote in his last Twitter post on Tuesday: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Gaddafi forces. No sign of Nato." Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said Hetherington was "about as perfect a model of a war photographer as you're going to find these days".
READ MORE - Drones can be used by Nato forces in Libya, says Obama

Thai, Cambodian troops clash at border

Bangkok, Apr 22 : A long-running border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia flared anew Friday, with troops from the two Southeast Asian countries exchanging fire along their disputed frontier, security officials from both nations said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in the clash, the first between Thailand and Cambodia since four straight days of artillery duels and gunfire erupted in February at the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, killing at least eight people.
Thai Army Spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Associated Press the latest skirmishes erupted after dawn and continued for at least half an hour. Cambodian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Chhum Socheat confirmed the fighting and said it took place about 250 km west of Preah Vihear.
Chhum said the fighting took place at another temple in Ta Krabey that is also claimed by both nations. He said both sides had used rocket launchers, machine guns and rifles.
It was unclear what sparked the latest fighting.
The conflict is rooted in a decades-old border dispute over ancient temples and the land surrounding them, which has fuelled nationalist passions on both sides.
Tensions between the neighbours have been exacerbated in recent months in part by pressure from powerful Thai nationalist groups, which have staged protests in Bangkok urging the government to reclaim the land.
Clashes have erupted several times since 2008, when Preah Vihear was given U.N. World Heritage status.
Source: AP
READ MORE - Thai, Cambodian troops clash at border

19 killed, 45 injured in Karachi explosion

Karachi, Apr 22 : At least 19 people were killed and around 45 injured in an explosion at an illegal gambling den in Pakistan's commercial capital, which was also attacked by some armed men, in one of the city's old areas, Ghas Mandi.
19 killed, 45 injured in Karachi explosion
The health minister of the Sindh province, Sagheer Ahmed put the number of casualties at 16 but "Express" news channel reported 19 people had been killed in the explosion.
A senior police official of the area, Iqbal Mehmood told reporters that initial investigations indicated that the assailants had planted a timer explosive device under a table in the club which is located in the huge parking lot of an old residential building, Zahid apartments.
"It appears to be a planted bomb which it went off also set off shrapnels killing and injuring people," Mehmood said.
Initial reports suggested that armed men raided the club and threw hand grenades and other explosive material causing extensive damage and causalities.
But city police chief told reporters the attack was carried out after the explosion shook everyone inside the outside the club.
"Several people suffered knife wounds as some of the attackers carried knives and also lobbed some hand grenades," one survivor carrying wound marks on his face said.
Leghari said the club was operating upfront as the Birch bridge club but the owners ran a illegal rummy club that was frequented by some very influential people.
19 killed, 45 injured in Karachi explosion
"In the past in fact last September police raided the club but the owners went to the court and got relief," Leghari said. The place is located close to Lyari, which is the main constituency of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.
Geo News reported the club was operating under the patronage of some underworld elements as well. Ahmed Chennai who heads the citizens police liaison cell said the club was known as one of the biggest rummy clubs in the region.
"It had seating capacity for around 100 people at one time and was operated round the clock," he said.
Chenai admitted that it would not be possible for the rummy club to operate without the patronage of law enforcement agencies.
"It is unfortunate that such an illegal club was being run from within the premises of a residential building," he added.
The health minister said many of the injured had been wounded in the lower part of their bodies due to the shrapnels and the condition of some of them was critical.
Police didn't rule out the possibility of a enmity between underworld gangs being the reason for the explosion.
The Ghas Mandi area has in recent times been the site of clashes between gangs and has seen a increasing presence of the Sunni Tehreek a religious party.
The blast comes just few days after armed men lobbed grenades at the Rainbow centre in the bustling Saddar area and which is the largest market for audio and video CDs in the country.
Source: PTI
READ MORE - 19 killed, 45 injured in Karachi explosion

FBI hunt suspect as bombs are found in Columbine mall on 12th anniversary of massacre

  • Two propane tanks and a pipe bomb uncovered
  • Police probe possible link to high school massacre
  • CCTV image shows man sought by FBI
Detectives are hunting a suspected terrorist after two propane tanks and a pipe bomb were found in a mall just two miles from Columbine High School on the 12th anniversary of the chilling massacre.
Investigators were today probing possible connections between the 1999 tragedy and yesterday’s discovery which came after a blaze broke out near the store's food court.
The FBI has now released two surveillance pictures of a 'person of interest' sought in connection with the fire which started at around noon at the Southwest Plaza Mall in Littleton, suburban Denver.
Suspect: CCTV shows a 'person of interest' sought after explosives were found at a mall in Littleton, Colorado, on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine massacre
Suspect: CCTV shows a 'person of interest' sought after explosives were found at a mall in Littleton, Colorado, on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine massacre
The man pictured is white with greying hair. He has a silver moustache and was wearing a dark coloured cap with a light-coloured logo on the front.
He was also wearing a grey and white horizontally striped shirt, a dark jacket with silver buttons, blue jeans and dark coloured shoes. Video surveillance recordings showed a bag-toting man enter a private-access mall corridor.
Evidence found at the scene has been traced back to a Target furniture store across the street from the mall where potential witnesses were being questioned today.
Crime scene: The Southwest Plaza Mall where two propane tanks and a pipe bomb were found by fire-fighters yesterday after a blaze broke out
Crime scene: The Southwest Plaza Mall where two propane tanks and a pipe bomb were found by fire-fighters yesterday after a blaze broke out
Up to 10,000 shoppers and 300 employees were evacuated from the mall following the fire. No one was injured and the bombs did not explode but the location and timing of the incident has been termed ‘disturbing’.
Unexploded pipe bombs and a propane tank with explosives attached were found at Columbine High School after two student gunmen killed 13 people and themselves on April 20, 1999.
‘The fact that has happened on April 20, 12 years later, near the school and with similar devices is very disturbing,’ Jefferson County sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said.
‘It's something that can't be ignored’.
Eric Harris practices shooting a weapon at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999
Dylan Klebold fires a sawed-off shotgun at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999
Chilling practise: Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999 in Douglas County, Colorado, about six weeks before the massacre
Through the years, students across the country have been accused of threats and incidents modelled on Columbine.
FBI spokesman Dave Joly said authorities have identified a possible person of interest, but no details were immediately available.
He said it was too early to speculate on whether the incident was an act of terrorism.
The pipe bomb was found around 5 pm. A bomb squad team had been drafted in to detonate the device but it fell apart when investigators picked it up, reports suggested today.
There was no fire damage and only one security guard was treated for smoke inhalation.
On a normal day some 6,000 to 10,000 people flock to the mall at lunchtime.
Caught on film: Columbine High School killers Eric Harris (l) and Dylan Klebold (r) pictured on a surveillance tape in the canteen at Columbine High Schoo
Caught on film: Columbine High School killers Eric Harris (l) and Dylan Klebold (r) pictured on a surveillance tape in the canteen at Columbine High School
Today about 25 schools in the area were on ‘lockout’ as a precaution, meaning access was being restricted to one point, The Denver Post reported.
Classes had been cancelled at Columbine High School in remembrance of those who died in the shootings.
In total, 12 students and one teacher were killed after pupils Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, tore through the school, firing automatic weapons and throwing homemade bombs.
The teenagers, dressed in balaclavas and trench coats, later turned their weapons on themselves. Their bodies were found in the library.
A bomb, which they hoped would destroy the crowded cafeteria, failed to go off.
In memory: Miniature crosses are displayed in Clement Park, Littleton, Colorado, to commemorate the disaster's ten-year anniversary in 2009
In memory: Miniature crosses are displayed in Clement Park, Littleton, Colorado, to commemorate the disaster's ten-year anniversary in 2009
The Colorado shooting was one of a spate of killings at US high schools. It represented the greatest loss of life in any such incident at the time.
Soon afterwards US Vice-President Al Gore backed a bill to bring in tougher gun controls but it was thrown out by the US Congress.
In April 2001 the families of most of the victims of the Columbine school shootings were awarded $2.5m (£1.8m) after suing the gunmen's parents and the men who sold them the weapons.
Eight years after the Columbine attack, a 23-year-old student killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech University in what became the United States' worst mass-shooting.
READ MORE - FBI hunt suspect as bombs are found in Columbine mall on 12th anniversary of massacre

Governments Struggle To Recruit, Keep 'Cyber Warriors'

Cyber Warriors

By Peter Apps

LONDON | Wed Apr 21
- Cyberspace is likely to be a key battleground for states in the 21st century but recruiting those with the technical skills to fight there and retaining their loyalty will be a tough task.
From hacking attacks aimed at information theft and commercial espionage to the Stuxnet computer worm believed to have been designed to attack Iran's nuclear programme last year, information warfare is rising rapidly.
Code making and breaking has been a prized skill in the art of espionage since ancient times but the swiftly moving pace of technology and the sometimes erratic personas of those at the cutting edge pose many challenges.
"There is absolutely not enough of them, you need an order of magnitude... more than we have at the moment," said John Bassett, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London and a former senior official at Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
In both Western countries and emerging powers such as China and Russia -- seen as viewing cyber warfare as a key area of interest -- governments have been recruiting hard through competitions, universities and sometimes social media sites.
A Reuters special report last week showed some U.S. experts were concerned Beijing was already pulling ahead in the cyber espionage field, revealing that proxy talks between the two powers were already underway on avoiding unintended escalation.
For a PDF of the special report on cyber espionage, click here: http;//link.reuters.com/duh98r
In an era of heightened confrontation and technical advances, retention is a challenge. Skilled specialists can burn out, be poached by the private sector or can be tempted by criminal or anti-establishment causes. Many of the best may have difficult, sometimes eccentric personalities.
HUMAN FACTOR
A young U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, is widely suspected to have been the main source for Wikileaks of classified U.S. files. Some worry about what experienced government-trained "cyber warriors" might do.
"If they go rogue in some way, that's most unfortunate," said Bassett. "You can't rule it out... The central factor in all of this... is the human factor... Part of managing them is that these are going to be slightly edgy people."
Some say states are running to catch up with private companies who have long been left largely to fend for themselves against criminal and individual cyber attacks and hacking.
"We've seen more and more (government) organisations taking people on secondment, bright sparks coming in for a few years," said Julian Midwinter, vice president at information security firm I2. "Partnership is the only way to get that capability fast enough."
I2 says it is itself a good example of such a partnership. Based in the English university town of Cambridge, it is at the cutting edge of analysing huge quantities of data intercepted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies and says its software helped track down former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Some insiders say the private sector brings with it a more mainstream style -- well-groomed Silicon Valley types rather than basement hackers or eccentric academics reminiscent of Britain's World War Two codebreaker HQ at Bletchley Park.
But companies themselves are also looking to poach good government talent.
"The most difficult problem for any state will be first finding these cyber warriors with the mindset, the skills and who can be trusted with... national security and then keeping such people when they're in very high demand and can earn twice as much in the private sector," said Toralv Dirro, security strategist for anti-virus firm McAfee.
The skills governments need are also evolving, moving beyond the technical and analytical functions normally required by intelligence agencies. Security experts say complex battles in cyberspace are increasingly possible, with rivals potentially burrowing into each other's systems to inflict damage.
"HERDING CATS"
That requires learning what could be a whole new form of warfare, exploiting fleeting opportunities, reacting to the moves of an opponent, utilising new technology, code and programmes to maximum possible effect.
"It's going to be a mixed discipline and any team will need deep techs, smart analysts and... people with flair and imagination -- "cyber special forces"," said Bassett, adding that only a handful of such people existed at present.
An article in a U.S. Air Force academic journal this year examining a hypothetical future cyber and conventional military conflict between China and the United States suggested it might be necessary to co-opt criminal hackers into government service.
Computer science graduates could also suddenly find themselves commissioned into National Guard units, it suggested.
Russia and China are already believed to have outsourced much of their cyber capability to semi-independent "patriotic hackers" encouraged to scour foreign computers for information and occasionally mount attacks such as those against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008.
But such an approach is not without risks and mean that cyber warfare capabilities are less under national control than conventional militaries.
Should such countries ever face North Africa-style revolts, those in power could find they have sown the seeds of their own destruction, facing the theft and distribution of embarrassing official information as well as attacks on key systems.
"Given the nature of hackers, it's going to be like herding cats," said Bassett. "You might be able to give them some money or tools which they would find interesting and keep them pointing in a certain direction for a certain period of time. But whether that would then give them any residual loyalty is a very open question."
(Editing by Gareth Jones)
READ MORE - Governments Struggle To Recruit, Keep 'Cyber Warriors'

Indonesia arrests six over 'book bombs'

INDONESIAN police today arrested six people suspected of being behind a series of recent parcel-bombs in Jakarta, they said, as another device was found near a church in the morning.

"We arrested six people at 8.10am AEST," national police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam told reporters.

"We're still investigating their possible links with terror groups," he said.

The men, held in anti-terror raids on two rented houses in East Jakarta, were believed to be connected to mysterious deliveries of bombs hidden in hollowed-out books last month, an unnamed police source told AFP.

The "book bombs" were sent to several addresses including those of liberal Muslim figures and a counter-terrorism official, but no one was killed.

Another parcel bomb was found today morning near a church in Serpong on the outskirts of Jakarta, local police chief Heribertus Ompusunggu told AFP.

"The bomb was placed on an empty plot with a gas pipe running underground. We're trying to remove it," he said.

Indonesia has been rocked by a series of bombings staged by regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Local resident Mohammed Syarif, 32, detonated explosives strapped to his body at a police mosque in Cirebon, West Java province, last Friday as worshippers began their prayers, killing himself and injuring 30 others.

The attack was the first suicide bombing inside a mosque in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation of 240 million people.

Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) on Tuesday pointed to a new trend of small violent groups adopting "individual jihad" aimed at local "enemies", including police and Christians.

Jakarta police are deploying 20,000 officers to safeguard Easter celebrations in the capital tomorrow.
READ MORE - Indonesia arrests six over 'book bombs'

The battle for Tripoli Street

Misrata misery as fight for Libyan city centres on main road divided '50/50' between rivals

  • Eight killed in key thoroughfare in Libya's third-largest city
  • UN says Libyan government 'may have committed war crimes'
  • France to send 'very small number' of military liaison officers
  • Libyan foreign minister says elections possible if air strikes stop
Intense fighting is continuing on the main thoroughfare in Misrata as rebels continue to clash with forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.
Eight people were killed yesterday in battles for control of Tripoli Street, with rebels struggling to hold their position under bombardment from Gaddafi’s men.
As control of the street was split 50-50 between insurgents and loyalists, the United Nations said the Libyan government may have committed war crimes by using cluster weaponry on Misrata.
Field of conflict: Tripoli St in Misrata is split 50-50 between rebel forces and Gaddafi loyalists
Field of conflict: Tripoli St in Misrata is split 50-50 between rebel forces and Gaddafi loyalists
A rocket-propelled grenade rips into a building occupied by forces loyal to Gaddafi
A rocket-propelled grenade rips into a building occupied by forces loyal to Gaddafi
Misrata, Libya's third-largest city and the insurgents' last major stronghold in the west of the country, has been under siege for more than seven weeks.
Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed in the city, where aid groups say the humanitarian situation is worsening with a lack of food and medical supplies.
France's government has today said it will send a small number of military liaison officers to Libya to work with opposition forces, but no ground troops.
Britain is sending up to 20 military advisers to help Libya's rebel force break a stalemate with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi bombarded several areas of Misrata yesterday, but no shelling was currently taking place, the spokesman, giving his first name as Reda, said.
'Fighting is still going on in Tripoli Street,' he told Reuters by phone, referring to the main street that leads to the centre from Misrata's southern outskirts.
The rebels 'are now controlling 50 per cent of the street. The other 50 per cent is controlled by Gaddafi soldiers and snipers'.
Libya's third-largest city, the insurgents' last major stronghold in the west of the country, has been under siege for more than seven weeks.
Holding firm: Rebel fighters fire on loyalist snipers from a window in a trashed house on Tripoli Street
Holding firm: Rebel fighters fire on loyalist snipers from a window in a trashed house on Tripoli Street
Libyan rebels run for cover during continued clashes with Gaddafi supporters
Libyan rebels run for cover during continued clashes with Gaddafi supporters
At least 1,000 people are reported to have been killed in six weeks of fighting in the besieged city
At least 1,000 people are reported to have been killed in six weeks of fighting in the besieged city
Rebel claims of gains on the ground in recent days - despite at times heavy shelling by government forces - have not been verified independently.
'There was random bombardment on several areas in Misrata yesterday. The situation is calm now but shelling may resume at any moment,' Reda said.
He said the area near the city's port - a rebel-held zone that is a lifeline for trapped civilians and for badly needed food and medical supplies - was also calm and ships were able to dock.
‘A Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid arrived there about 30 minutes ago. Two Qatari ships were in yesterday. They evacuated around 1,500 Africans,’ Reda said, referring to migrant workers desperately trying to flee Misrata.
An international aid agency said a ship bringing humanitarian aid to Misrata was due to arrive in the port later on Wednesday aiming to evacuate more stranded migrants, estimated to number around 5,000 in the port area.
A Libyan rebel wearing a pilot's helmet fires a heavy machine gun mounted on a pick-up truck during heavy clashes in Misrata
A Libyan rebel wearing a pilot's helmet fires a heavy machine gun mounted on a pick-up truck during heavy clashes in Misrata
At least 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in six weeks of fighting in the besieged city
At least 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in six weeks of fighting in the besieged city
In a statement, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for a halt to the siege of Misrata and condemned attacks, including a cluster bomb that exploded last week several hundred metres from the hospital in the western city.
‘Under international law, the deliberate targeting of medical facilities is a war crime and the deliberate targeting or reckless endangerment of civilians may also amount to serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law,’ Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge, said.
As French President Nicolas Sarkozy  met the head of Libya's rebels, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, in Paris, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al Obeidi also hinted that Gaddafi's future might be up for negotiation.
The government has previously refused to discuss elections, but Mr Al Obeidi said elections could be held if Western air strikes stopped.
'If the bombing stopped, al Obeidi said, after six months the could be an election supervised by the UN,' BBC radio reported.
'The foreign minister said the election could cover any issue raised by all Libyans, anything could go on the table, including, he implied, the future of Gaddafi as leader.'
READ MORE - The battle for Tripoli Street

Inside the mind of a 14-year-old suicide bomber

Umar Fidai survived when his explosive vest failed to detonate properly. His family has not been in touch since he was found lying in the street
In early April a suicide blast ripped though a Pakistani shrine packed with thousands of devotees, leaving scores dead. Both attackers were schoolboys in their early teens. But one survived and told the BBC's Aleem Maqbool what made him want to take his life and the lives of others.
"All I was thinking was that I had to detonate myself near as many people as possible. When I decided it was the right time, it was a moment of happiness for me," said 14-year-old Umar Fidai.
"I thought that there would be a little bit of pain, but then I would be in heaven."
Umar did not make it to paradise. Instead, we find him in custody.
His left arm is missing, his right arm entirely strapped up, and there are bandages around his torso. But he is alert, polite and disarmingly frank.
"The plan was that Ismail would blow himself up near the shrine. I would wait for the ambulances to come and detonate myself near them to kill more people. I had no doubts at all beforehand."
But Umar's suicide jacket failed to explode properly.
Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

But at the time I detonated myself, thoughts of my family were not in my mind, I was only thinking about what the Taliban had taught me.”
Umar Fidai He blew off his own arm, tore open his abdomen and was knocked unconscious. When he came round, Umar reached for a grenade in his pocket.
"We had been taught that if the belt does not go off, we should kill ourselves with the grenade. There were three policemen standing close by, and I thought if I killed them too, I would still make it to heaven."
As Umar raised the grenade to his mouth to pull out the pin with his teeth, a police officer shot him in the arm.
Extraordinary mobile phone footage shows Umar lying on the ground as police then went about defusing the remains of his suicide jacket.
'Taliban all round'
His journey to get to this point had started five months earlier, in his hometown in the mountainous tribal regions of north-west Pakistan, close to the Afghan border.
This picture taken on April 3, 2011 shows the injured suicide bomber with his explosive vest partially detonated lying on the ground
Umar Fidai failed to detonate his suicide vest and survived
"Where I used to go to school, there were Taliban all around. One day one of them told me to go with him to become a suicide bomber, but I told him if he wanted to kill people he should do it himself, not ask children. But he kept coming back.
"He said there was no point studying. He told me that nothing was better than paradise, and that you could earn that by killing non-believers.
"The Taliban prayed all the time and read the Koran, so I thought they were good people. My heart told me to go and train with them."
Umar said he was blindfolded and sometimes handcuffed when he was taken to the training compound, so he would not be able to reveal its location.
He said he was trained in the use of weapons and explosives with three other boys.
Thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in militant attacks in the past three years.
It is thought that the majority of suicide bombings are now being carried out by children like Umar, trained by the Taliban.
The targets across Pakistan have been diverse, but several recent bombings have been at the shrines of Sufi saints, like the one Umar was involved in.
These shrines have long been a focus of devotion and prayer, but hardline Islamists have decided that worship at them is un-Islamic.
"The Taliban always told us we would go to Afghanistan to kill non-believers," says Umar. "We agreed, because they said that would mean we would go to paradise.
"But when we travelled by bus to the place of our attack, I saw it was still Pakistan so I questioned them. They said the people who pray to the dead at shrines are even bigger infidels, and I believed them.
"When we got to the shrine, Ismail and I went up a hill to a place nobody could see, took our suicide jackets out of our bags, and put them on.
"Then we said our goodbyes and promised we would pray for each other, but we were not sad, because we thought we were going to heaven."
Pakistani blast victims wait for help in an ambulance outside a hospital in Multan on April 3, 2011
Dozens of injured devotees were rushed to hospital after the attack
Umar said it was only when the police were trying to defuse his explosives and when he saw the care the doctors were giving him, that he started to realise he had been wrong.
"I am so grateful, because I have been saved from going to hell. I am in a lot of pain, but I know there are many people in hospital even more severely injured than me and I am so sorry for what I did and for what Ismail did.
"We did a very bad thing by killing children and old men and women. I now realise suicide bombing is un-Islamic. I hope people will forgive me."
Umar told me that nobody from his family had got in touch with him since the attack
"I know my mother and my younger sisters, in North Waziristan, would know what's happened and they must be very upset. I just want to apologise to my mother. But at the time I detonated myself, thoughts of my family were not in my mind, I was only thinking about what the Taliban had taught me."
The attack could still cost Umar his life, he remains seriously ill.
He is also now scared that the Taliban could come to kill him at any time for failing in his suicide mission.

READ MORE - Inside the mind of a 14-year-old suicide bomber

Weakened US a laughing stock, says Donald Trump

Donald Trump
Billionaire Donald Trump said US President Barack Obama is a weak leader / AFP
  • Donald Trump slams timid US foreign policy
  • Says US is the laughing stock of the world
  • Libya a mess, "take the oil or don't go in at all"
BILLIONAIRE businessman Donald Trump, who is flirting with a White House run, has lamented that the United States has become a "laughing stock" too timid to wield its power assertively on the world stage.
"We have such power if we knew how to use it," Trump told CNN television in an interview.
He said that by failing to move more decisively in its foreign policy, "this country is a laughing stock throughout the world".
Trump, 64, has not yet announced that he is running for president, but he has become more visible in recent weeks, giving more interviews and stepping us his criticism of President Barack Obama ahead of a possible 2012 challenge.
The wise-cracking, straight-talking real-estate magnate, an early frontrunner among possible Republican presidential contenders, renewed his criticism of Obama as an "ineffective" leader.
He offered the US role in military action against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi as proof of America's new impotence.
"Look at Libya. Look at this mess," an exasperated Trump said.
"We go in, we don't go in, he shouldn't be removed, we don't want to remove him, we don't want to touch him, but he should be removed. Nobody knows what they're doing on Gaddafi.
"I'd do one thing. Either I'd go in and take the oil or I don't go in at all," he said.
"In the old days, when you have a war and you win, that nation is yours."
The billionaire mogul was equally incensed over US policy toward Beijing.
"If you look at what China is doing, they're stealing our jobs, they're taking our money. They're then loaning our money back. It's amazing," Trump said.
"They're making all of our products," he said. "They are also manipulating the currency that makes it almost impossible for our companies to compete with China."
Trump, as much a celebrity in the US as he is a business tycoon, has a massive financial empire that spans everything from beauty contests to prime New York real estate.
Ranked the 420th wealthiest person this year by Forbes magazine with $US2.7 billion ($2.57 billion), the man nicknamed The Donald has said if he runs he is likely to make the announcement on his own hit reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice.
He insisted he would be a reluctant candidate, despite his recent barrage of interviews.
"I wish I didn't have to do it. I would prefer not doing it. But I love this country," said Trump.
"If you ask me, what are the odds, I'll let you know some time prior to June. But I will tell you, I am giving it serious, serious thought."
READ MORE - Weakened US a laughing stock, says Donald Trump

Nuclear Submarine Secrets Spilled In Internet Error

Nuclear Sub Internet Error

An Internet error recently exposed military secrets to the public, according to the BBC.
The blunder occurred when an improperly censored military document about the U.K.'s nuclear submarines appeared on a Parliament website.
Although portions of the partially classified document were blacked-out for security, merely copying and pasting from the document revealed the restricted words, the BBC reports.
The file was meant to inform the public that some submarines' nuclear reactors were "potentially vulnerable" to meltdown. However, the leaked information reportedly revealed startling details about how an on-board nuclear disaster might occur and how prepared the fleet would be to cope with such circumstances.
"The censored sections also discuss ways American subs deal with on-board disasters and reveal they are twice as safe as ours in key areas," writes the Daily Star.
The Ministry of Defense admitted fault for the data breach, calling it a "schoolboy error."
“This is hugely embarrassing. Whoever is responsible should be sacked. The ­Americans will be furious their procedures have been exposed," a senior MoD official said, according to the Daily Star.
“All our enemies are trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons and materials and any information in this ­document would be hugely interesting to them and potentially catastrophic,” a Conservative Parliament member and former Army officer told the Daily Star.
The compromised document has been removed and replaced with a correctly censored version. (via BBC)
READ MORE - Nuclear Submarine Secrets Spilled In Internet Error

Gaddafi’s men ‘use rape as weapon of war’

Anti-Gaddafi protesters

More than 100 women are victims, says doctor as siege of Misrata continues

By David Cairns


Horrifying accounts of the systematic use of gang rape as a weapon of war by fighters loyal to dictator Colonel Gaddafi have emerged from Libya. Women have been violated in front of their own children - and some have asked their relatives to kill them rather than face Gaddafi's men.
Khalifa al-Sharkassi, a German-trained doctor based in al-Baida in north-eastern Libya, told the Sunday Times he is collecting the testimony of abused women. He believes as many as 100 have been subjected to gang rape.

The claims come three weeks after Iman al-Obeidi burst into a government-controlled press conference for foreign journalists in Tripoli, distressed and bruised, to accuse Gaddafi's men of subjecting her to gang rape. She has since become a focal point for opponents of Gaddafi's regime worldwide (above).

Sharkassi decided to speak out despite rigid taboos on discussing rape or "dishonour" as it is known in Libyan society. He told the story of one 28-year-old mother of two, identified only as Leila, who was violated with one of her young children in her arms.

Leila told Sharkassi she was raped on the night of March 14 by Gaddafi's soldiers who came to her home when her husband was away fighting for the rebels.

She said: "The soldiers told me they would kill my children. They sneered 'you or your children'. I held one son close but one of the men forced me down onto the bed, then it happened..."
The attack took place as her children, aged 4 and 5, watched. Such is the shame associated with rape in Libya that Leila's husband will not see her and she is contemplating suicide.

Reporter Hala Jaber says this is just one of many cases he has been told about. In another, a woman was raped over several hours, losing consciousness and waking again to find a bad bite on her breast.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi's regime continues its merciless bombardment of Misrata, a rebel-held town some 150km to the north-west of Tripoli. Such defiance just under his nose is thought to have enraged Gaddafi, making Misrata a key target.

The city is undergoing a savage bombardment every day, prompting comparisons to Stalingrad. In the past 48 hours alone, more than 200 attacks by rockets and artillery have been launched, killing 40 and injuring 105.

Gaddafi's troops are fighting street battles as they try to cut off the rebels' access from Misrata to the sea, the city's only lifeline. If the city falls to Gaddafi it could be decisive in the country's civil war, marking the collapse of opposition to the dictator in the west of the country.

On Friday, it emerged that Gaddafi is using cluster bombs on his own people, prompting a call from General Lord Dannatt, the former UK army chief, for the UN to arm the rebels.

Source: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/77824,news-comment,news-politics,gaddafis-men-use-rape-as-weapon-of-war#ixzz1JtFlbeYo
READ MORE - Gaddafi’s men ‘use rape as weapon of war’

U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, WikiLeaks reveals

  • $6million for Syrian exiles to help fund TV channel
The U.S. Government has secretly dished out $6million to help Syrian opposition groups WikiLeaks has revealed.
Documents show the State Department has been funnelling cash to London-based satellite TV channel Barada TV, made up of a group of Syrian exiles, since 2006 to cover mass protests in the country and finance activities inside Syria as part of a campaign to overthrow President Bashir Assad.
Violence has been sweeping the nation for the past month as President Assad faces his deepest crisis in 11 years in power amid growing demands for greater freedom from Syrians who are still ruled under ‘emergency’ laws imposed in 1963.
Flashpoint: TV channel Barada TV has been in receipt of cash from the U.S. since 2006 to cover mass protests
Flashpoint: TV channel Barada TV has been in receipt of cash from the U.S. since 2006 to cover mass protests
Human rights groups estimate the death toll to be in the region of 200 which Syrian authorities blame on armed gangs.
Barada TV, named after the Barada River which flows through the Syrian capital Damascus, has links to the London-based Syrian exile network Movement for Justice.
Doctor turned dictator: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his wife Asma
Doctor turned dictator: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his wife Asma
Cash from the U.S. for Syrian opposition figures first arrived under President George W. Bush after political ties with Damascus were frozen in 2005, the Washington Post reported.
This has continued under President Barack Obama despite his efforts to rebuild relations with the leader.
In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.
It is not known if the groups are still being funded by the U.S. but diplomatic cables reveal money was definitely allocated in September last year.
The previously undisclosed cables show that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus became worried in 2009 when they learned that Syrian intelligence agents were raising questions about U.S. programs.
An April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time read Syrian authorities "would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change.
"A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti- factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive," the cable said.
The Post said the State Department declined to comment on the authenticity of the cables or answer questions about its funding of Barada TV.
Violence has been sweeping the nation for the past month as President Assad faces his deepest crisis in 11 years in power
Violence has been sweeping the nation for the past month as President Assad faces his deepest crisis in 11 years in power
Mass movement: Despite the threat of reprisals, thousands of anti-government protesters have been calling for wider democracy
Mass movement: Despite the threat of reprisals, thousands of anti-government protesters have been calling for wider democracy
READ MORE - U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, WikiLeaks reveals

Mubarak could face execution: top judge

(File photo) Egypt president Hosni Mubarak - AP
(File photo) Egypt president Hosni Mubarak - AP
Cairo, Apr 15 : Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may be hanged or jailed for life if found guilty of ordering the killing of pro-democracy protesters, as he was shifted to a military hospital pending a transfer to prison, state media said.
Zakaria Shalash, head of the Cairo's Appeal's Court was quoted by official al-Ahram newspaper as saying that Mubarak may face execution after a trial, if he is found guilty of ordering killings of protesters during the January popular uprising.
An estimated 800 people were reported killed in pro-democracy protest, that shook Egypt for more than a fortnight.
The judge said, that such a trial could be last upto a year.
His comments come as Egypt's prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmoud ordered the transfer of the ailing Mubarak from a civil to a military hospital, until his health allows him to be transferred to prison.
"Mubarak would be provided with the health care he needs and security measures suitable for a temporary prisoner," Mahmoud said.
The chief prosecutor has instructed health official to keep him informed about the health status of Mubarak, so that he can be moved to prison once he is fit enough, al-Ahram reported.
Though state media did not disclose where Mubarak was being shifted, other media reports said that the former president is being moved to the military hospital in Hadayk-al-Quba in capital Cairo.
The toppled Egyptian president and his two sons Alaa and Gamal have been remanded to 15 days custody this week after prosecutors launched a probe into violence against protesters during a 18 day popular uprising that forced Mubarak out of office and on allegations of corruption and misuse of authority.
The top Egyptian judge said, the confession of the former interior minister Habib al-Adly who is also on trial on charges of ordering shootings of anti-democracy protesters could make Mubarak an accomplice.
Adly has confessed before a court that he ordered firing on protesters on the orders of the former president.
"If these charges are proved in the court, he (Mubarak) could face the same punishment as the person who carried it out and it cant be anything less than execution, Salash said.
But he added that the court may take a lenient view if it was proved that Mubarak did not act in a pre meditated manner.
READ MORE - Mubarak could face execution: top judge

Blitzed: Moment RAF's £80m Typhoon destroyed two of Gaddafi's tanks

  • First time Typhoon fires weapons in anger in ground attack role
  • Pilots were grounded last year through lack of aircraft availability
Britain's most-advanced fighter jet has fired its weapons in anger for the first time, destroying two Libyan tanks threatening rebels.
The attack, using laser-guided Paveway II bombs near the besieged city of Misrata, took place while the pilot was patrolling with a Tornado GR4.
In total three Soviet-built T72 tanks were destroyed in the raid, bringing the total number of tanks destroyed by the RAF on Tuesday to eight.
Target: The T72 tank is sighted by the pilot near the besieged Libyan city of Misrata
Target: The T72 tank is sighted by the pilot near the besieged Libyan city of Misrata
News of the bombing came before it emerged that pilots of the £80m plane were grounded last year because shortages of aircraft spares mean they cannot put in enough flying hours to keep their skills up to date.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee said five Typhoon pilots had to be temporarily grounded last year because a lack of aircraft availability meant they could not do the required flying time.
It said the shortages were also affecting the training programme, with only eight of the RAF's 48 Typhoon pilots qualified for ground attack operations - the role for which it is currently being in Libya.
The RAF is currently having to cannibalise aircraft for spare parts in order to keep the maximum number of Typhoons in the air on any given day.
The committee said the Ministry of Defence had warned the problems were likely to continue until 2015 when it expects the supply of spares finally to have reached a 'steady state'.
'The department relies on a small group of key industrial suppliers who have the technical and design capability to build, upgrade and support Typhoon,' the committee said.
Explosion: The tank is destroyed after the Typhoon pilot drops its laser-guided bomb
Explosion: The tank is destroyed after the Typhoon pilot drops its laser-guided bomb
Aftermath: The T72 burns following the raid, one of eight tanks to be destroyed in a single day by the RAF
Aftermath: The T72 burns following the raid, one of eight tanks to be destroyed in a single day by the RAF
'Problems with the availability of spare parts have meant that Typhoons are not flying as many hours as the department requires.
'The Typhoon supply chain is complex and stretches across Europe. However, the department admitted that it had not been managed well enough or delivered all the required parts when needed.'
Overall, it said that while the MoD was now buying 30 per cent fewer Typhoons than it had originally planned, the cost of the project had risen by an estimated £3.5billion - representing a 75 per cent increase in the cost of each individual aircraft.
When the MoD first entered into the contract for the Eurofighter, as it was then known, in 1998 in collaboration with Germany, Italy and Spain, it had envisaged buying a total of 232 aircraft in three tranches.
That has since been cut to 160 - with the 53 oldest aircraft due to be retired from service by 2019, leaving a long-term fleet of 107 aircraft.
Typhoon fighters have been used in attacks on Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Libya this week
Shortages: The bombings came before it emerged that RAF Typhoons were unable to fly due to supply problems
French forces have already used their own warplanes to seige Misrata
Nato effort: French forces have already used their own warplanes to attack Misrata
The overall cost of the programme is now estimated at £20.2billion - £3.5billion more than the original budget - with the cost per plane rising from £72million to £126million.
The committee complained that the MoD had been unable to offer a 'coherent explanation' for a decision in 2004 to equip the early Typhoons for ground attack operations at a cost of £119 million, only to switch them back to an air defence role in 2009, a year after the upgrade was finally ready.
'The history of the Typhoon fighter aircraft represents yet another example of over-optimism, bad planning and an unacceptably high bill for the taxpayer,' said the committee chairman, Margaret Hodge.
'This pattern of decision-making is more about balancing the books in the short-term rather than ensuring value for money over time.'
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the project was 'under control and back on track'.
'The NAO's March report concluded that after years of financial mismanagement and project delays under the previous government, the Typhoon project has been turned around,' he said.
'The project is finally under control and back on track. The PAC report recognises that the MoD and industry have worked to resolve spares issues and performance targets are now being met.
'The Typhoon is a world beating, air-to-air fighter and is fast developing a ground attack capability as is being demonstrated in Libya. We have sufficient numbers of qualified ground attack pilots to meet our operational tasks and this number is increasing all the time.
'As the PAC acknowledges, the UK's operational requirements have changed dramatically since the Typhoon programme began and this has led to tough decisions throughout its life.
Gaddafi has already shown defiance to his opponents by taking an open top car tour around Tripoli while the Libyan capital was being bombed by NATO
Target: Gaddafi has already shown defiance to his opponents by taking an open top car tour around Tripoli while the Libyan capital was being bombed by NATO
'But today it has 'done well (and) collaboration offers significant potential benefits from sharing costs and developing common capabilities with allies'.
'I am determined that in the future such projects are properly run from the outset, and I have announced reforms to reduce equipment delays and cost overruns.
'I will also chair regular major projects review boards to ensure our armed forces are well equipped and taxpayers get value for money.'
Air Vice Marshal Phil Osborn, Air Officer Commanding 2 Group, said: 'We have sufficient Typhoon aircraft and pilots to undertake the task in Libya with the appropriate training for the systems and weapons carried by the aircraft.
'We wouldn't deploy a capability if we couldn't support it and we weren't able to execute it in the way that you would expect the RAF to execute it, which is in a proportionate, disciplined, reliable way.'
READ MORE - Blitzed: Moment RAF's £80m Typhoon destroyed two of Gaddafi's tanks
 
 
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