Two killed in Russia police station blast

Two police officers were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a police station in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Ingushetia.

A car bomb exploded near the station a short time later, but local media says no-one was injured in the second blast.

A spate of suicide attacks across Russia has killed about 50 people over the past week.

Russia has sought to tighten security and boost efforts to hunt down insurgents since a pair of suicide bombers attacked the Moscow metro last week, killing 40 people.

Ingushetia is a predominantly Muslim region of Russia’s North Caucasus which neighbours war-torn Chechnya and has been troubled in recent years by a violent Islamist insurgency.

In recent months, Russia has increased security as it battles a growing Islamist insurgency in the Northern Caucasus region.

Muslim Aid’s links to banned terror organisations being probed

London, Apr. 4 (ANI): A widely acclaimed British Muslim charity is being probed by the Charity Commission for allegedly channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds to a banned terrorist organisation.

According to its accounts, the Muslim Aid paid 325,000 pounds to the Islamic University of Gaza, where leading Hamas figures teach, and 13,998 pounds to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, which is described by the US government as a “sponsor of terrorism” and a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

Security sources said that Muslim Aid has helped channel a further 210,600 pounds to six other Hamas-linked organisations in the Gaza Strip since July 2009.

“We take very seriously allegations of links between charities and terrorist activity, and consider funding of terrorist organisations to be a ‘zero tolerance’ issue,” The Telegraph quoted the Charity Commission, as saying.

“The Commission has opened an investigation into Muslim Aid in light of these allegations and is working with the charity to address the issues raised,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Aid has refused to deny these claims.

The group, banned from the West Bank by the Israeli Government, has been praised by Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for its “valuable work”.

“I wish the Muslim Aid and its passionate and committed staff and supporters the very best for another 25 years of achievement,” Brown said in a video address to Muslim Aid’s 25th anniversary last month.

The Prince also sent a message saying that “our country is incredibly fortunate to be able to count on organisations like Muslim Aid, who bring not only help, but hope to those most in need”. (ANI)

Video shows Marriott bomber’s last moments

An Indonesian terrorism prosecutor has described a chilling mobile phone video made by a suicide bomber as he approached his victims in Jakarta’s Marriott hotel last year.

The video shows the live stream from the bomber’s mobile phone as he closed in on his targets before blowing himself and killing five people, including three Australians.

This is the first time a description of the events has been made public.

To date the only known footage of the event was captured by closed-circuit television cameras in the hotel lobby.

The recording shows the events from the bombers perspective – beamed back live by streaming video to his handler as he closed in on his victims.

It is an electronic rendering of the moments before 18-year-old suicide-bomber, Danni Dwi Permana, blew himself up and killed five others.

Australian trade official Craig Senger and businessmen Garth McEvoy and Nathan Verity, as well a New Zealander and an Indonesian, were killed in the blast.

Terrorism prosecutor Firman Syah says the video begins as the bomber leaves room 1808 – the hotel room used by the terror cell as a control centre to prepare for the attacks.

As Permana travels down to the foyer his handler, a man known as Syaifudin Zuhri reassures him, repeating the phrase “Allahu Akhbar”, which means God is great in Arabic.

Mr Syah says the recording shows Permana was well prepared to be a suicide bomber, not wavering from his path and proceeding downstairs straight to his victims without hesitation.

He says the footage, made on Syafudin Zuhri’s phone, continues after the blast and Zuhri can be heard saying “Allahu Akhbar” again, and then crying.

When Mr Syah asked an alleged co-conspirator about the crying, he was told Zuhri was emotional because their mission had been accomplished.

He says the recording was intended as a sort of accountability mechanism – a report back from Zuhri to the man who planned the attack, Noordin Mohammad Top.

Mr Syah says Top, a terrorist who led a splinter group of Al Qaeda in the Malay archipelago, had allegedly sent an intermediary to Saudi Arabia to raise funds for the attack and the video would have been used to raise yet more funds for another bombing.

But police found the video after surrounding Top’s hideout and killing him during a raid last year.

The Saudi national accused of acting as a bagman for the terror cell is on trial in Jakarta, but he has so far resisted revealing the source of the funds.

Instead he claims he met Zuhri by accident at the airport when he arrived for a holiday and needed a local translator.

US-bound flyers face new security checks

The United States has announced that it will begin using new security protocols for people flying into the country.

The change in security procedures is the result of a review ordered by President Obama after the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a jet heading for Detroit.

The so-called underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was a young Nigerian man travelling from Amsterdam to Detroit.

He was able to board the flight even though US intelligence had been alerted to information on him.

After the Christmas day bombing attempt last year the US imposed extra scrutiny on all passengers arriving from a list of 14 mostly Muslim countries.

The new system will be more targeted and will be based on intelligence about any traveller whose travel patterns or personal traits create suspicions.

The system is designed to pick up fragments of information about passengers such as their travel history and their nationality and match them against intelligence reports.

If the cross-referencing raises any concerns, the person will be barred from boarding the plane.

All passengers have been told to expect increased use of explosive trace detections, advanced imaging technology, sniffer dogs and pat downs.

US government guidelines prohibit authorities from singling out people on the basis of race or ethnicity, but the Christmas Day plot swiftly recharged the delicate debate surrounding racial profiling.

In the wake of the botched bombing at least one lawmaker, Republican Peter King from New York, called for US authorities to be less hesitant on the issue.

“The fact is, while the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding people, on the other hand 100 per cent of the Islamic terrorists are Muslims, and that is our main enemy today,” he told Fox News after Abdulmutallab was apprehended.

Since December the Obama administration has meanwhile also pledged to boost airport security by speeding up the installation of full body scanners at US airports, and to increase funding for federal air marshals on flights deemed most at risk.

Suicide bombers hit Baghdad embassies

Three suicide bombers killed as many as 41 people and wounded more than 200 after they detonated car bombs in a coordinated attack on foreign embassies in central Baghdad.

The blasts, which went off within moments of each other near the Iranian, Egyptian and German embassies, followed mortar attacks on the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, home to government buildings, official residences and foreign embassies.

The attacks came two days after gunmen slaughtered 24 people in a Sunni village south of Baghdad.

One bomb blew up in front of the main gate of the Iranian embassy, just outside the Green Zone, destroying about 30 cars.

The Iraqi finance ministry said the nearby offices of its budget directorate and the government real estate bank were damaged.

“This is enough. We are tired of explosions. We do not feel safe,” said Jassim Mohammed, 39, who was wounded in the head, arm and leg.

“We go out of our homes and we do not know whether we will come back or not.”

A man who went to the scene began crying and moaning when he realised his brother’s mini-bus had been destroyed by the blast.

“Why did they kill him? He got married a week ago,” he said.

At the Egyptian embassy the bomber rammed his car into a concrete blast wall, blowing a three-metre crater in the street.

“The car crashed into the blast wall and the guards of the embassy shot the terrorist but he went and blew himself up,” Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said. “The same thing happened with the Iranian embassy.”

Mr Moussawi said Iraqi security forces defused a fourth car bomb in the al-Masbah district of central Baghdad and arrested the would-be bomber.

Iraqi authorities had warned of a possible escalation of violence because of rising tension after a March 7 parliamentary election produced no clear winner.

The outcome promises weeks of potentially divisive talks to form a government.

Sectarian violence exploded when politicians took more than five months to form a government after parliamentary elections in 2005.

‘Jihad Jane’ friend charged

A second woman has been charged in the case of the terrorist suspect dubbed “Jihad Jane” after she flew back to the United States and surrendered to authorities.

Jamie Paulin Ramirez, 31, a US national and a former Colorado resident, is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, the US Justice Department said in a statement.

It says Ramirez had travelled with Colleen LaRose, who dubbed herself “JihadJane” online, “to and around Europe to participate in and in support of violent jihad”.

Ramirez surrendered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after flying back from Europe. The charge against her carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $US250,000.

Ramirez was reportedly also arrested in Ireland last month accused of conspiring to kill a Swedish cartoonist who made fun of the Prophet Mohammed, but was later freed without charge.

LaRose, a 46-year-old American, pleaded not guilty last month in a Philadelphia court to recruiting Islamist militants and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $US1 million fine.

Prosecutors charge that LaRose, in an early August 2009 email, urged Ramirez to join her and others in Europe at a location she described as “like a training camp as well as a home.”

In another message quoted in the indictment, LaRose wrote to Ramirez: “when our brother[s] defend our faith [and] their homes, they are terrorists … fine, then I am a terrorist and proud to be this.”

“Thats right … if that’s how they call it then so be it, I am what I am,” Ramirez allegedly responded.

On September 12, 2009 Ramirez traveled to Europe with her young son “with the intent to live and train with jihadists” and later married an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, whom she had only previously met in online exchanges, according to the indictment.

Suicide bombers hit Russian town

Twin suicide bomb blasts in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region have killed at least 12 people and most of the victims are believed to be policemen.

The bombings in the town of Kizlyar in the Russian republic of Dagestan followed typical militant tactics.

Police say a car refused an order to stop, then blew up as officers approached.

About 20 minutes later, as rescue workers responded, a man dressed in a police uniform approached the scene and detonated a second blast.

Authorities say the blasts were part of a coordinated attack.

Suicide bombings have become commonplace in the North Caucasus, where Islamic militants are fighting for a separate state.

There have already been 10 bomb attacks this year.

Suicide bombings have also been blamed for Monday’s blasts in Moscow’s underground Metro, which killed at least 39 people.

On Tuesday Moscow held a day of mourning for the victims of the blasts, which authorities said were set off by female suicide bombers linked to the North Caucasus.

The speaker of Chechnya’s parliament has said Russian security services were behind that attack.

Colombian rebels release hostage after 12 years

A Colombian soldier captured as a teenager by the country’s left-wing FARC rebels has been released after more than 12 years as a hostage.

Sergeant Pablo Moncayo was 19 when he was captured. He was a corporal at the time but was promoted while in captivity.

The Red Cross coordinated the handover that took place at a remote jungle location in the south of the country.

Sergeant Moncayo’s plight has received international media attention largely due to his father’s lobbying efforts in which he would wear chains to symbolise his son’s captivity.

But the rebels say no more hostages will be released until Colombian president Alvaro Uribe agrees to negotiate a prisoner exchange.

Mr Uribe has a hardline policy against the rebels, but says an exchange is possible if freed guerillas do not rejoin the FARC.

Survivor describes Moscow blast horror

Moscow University lecturer Marina Zagrebelnaya was catching the train to work during the city’s peak hour yesterday when a woman in her carriage detonated a belt packed with explosives.

Monday’s double suicide bomb attack killed 38 people.

Ms Zagrebelnaya was still suffering shock and smoke inhalation as she described how the train was ripped apart.

“It was a huge bomb. It was approximately 1.5 metres from me,” she told the BBC.

“And one man who was standing near me, he was like a wall because he was all in blood.

“And all my clothes are just also all in blood.”

The professor was just one of hundreds of train commuters caught up in the double suicide bomb attack, which has left Moscow residents feeling under siege.

“Most of all I felt sorry for those people who were there in the subway at that moment, both for the dead and those alive,” one commuter said.

“Sure I’m frightened to some extent too. But we live in Moscow. It’s like sitting on a powder keg.”

Caucasus blamed

The head of Russia’s federal security bureau, Alexander Bortnikov, has pinned the blame on Islamic rebels from the North Caucasus region, where Russia has been fighting to reassert its control over areas including Chechnya and Ingushetia.

“This is likely to be our main conclusion, because fragments of the bodies of two female suicide bombers were found earlier at the scene of the incident and examinations of the bodies show that these individuals came from the North Caucasus region,” he said.

Sydney University Professor of government and public administration, Graeme Gill, agrees.

“The Caucasus groups are the most likely ones because they are the ones who have been involved in this before,” he said.

“The use of women as carriers of bombs is again something that has been typical of these sorts of groups.

“Now certainly there are other groups in Russia, some of whom are pretty loony. But none of them has actually gone out and done this sort of activity before. It would be new if it was another group doing it.”

Professor Gill says the rebels may be showing they can still fight back after a recent Russian military crackdown.

“Things have been relatively quiet [in the Caucasus] in the sense that while conflict goes on, there’s a sort of a low-level guerrilla war going on there rather than the mass movement of troops like before,” he said.

“The Russian government has been saying for some time that it is now under control and this clearly suggests that things aren’t as under control as they were.”

Fear breeding terrorism

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to hunt down those responsible for the attacks.

But with Russia talking tough on terrorists, human rights activists are concerned about reprisal attacks against people from Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Andrei Mironov, who works for the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, has just visited the Caucasus. He says people there live in fear, which only plays in to the hands of those recruiting terrorists.

“Their basic sense of despair, I think this is fertile soil for terrorism,” he said.

“Even the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, [said]: we will not put them on trial. We will just kill them.”

Arrests won’t deter Al Qaeda in Arabian peninsula

Analysts are warning Saudi Arabia not to be overly triumphant after busting Al Qaeda cells planning a major attack, because the terrorist group will not be easily defeated.

The Saudi government says it has broken up three separate Al Qaeda cells and foiled their plans for attacks on the kingdom’s oil installations.

Analysts say it is a major victory for the Saudi counter-terrorism authorities, which have been attempting to dismantle the cells since October last year.

Authorities say they seized arms, ammunition, computers, pre-paid telephone cards, cash and documents as part of the operation.

One cell had 101 people while the two others had six each and were unaware of each other’s existence.

But Macquarie University terrorism expert Clive Williams warns that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains well organised and should not be underestimated.

He says the Saudi government should be able to contain the fundamentalists but the Al Qaeda leadership is experienced and competent.

“You’ve got a very competent ideology and you’ve got a very competent military guy,” Professor Williams said.

“The overall commander of the group, Nasser al-Wahayshi, was actually detained by the Yemenis and escaped from jail in Yemen, so he was part of a large group that escaped in 2006.

“It’s interesting that of the three leaders of AQAP, you’ve got two that have been detained in Yemen and escaped, and one who has come out of Guantanamo under the rehabilitation to a Saudi Arabia program.

“So all of those people are very experienced and well versed in Western methodology and so on.”

Connections to Al Qaeda

Saudi interior ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki says the groups are linked to Al Qaeda even though they did not know about each other.

“The network and the two cells were both targeting the oil facilities in the eastern province and they had plans that were about to be implemented,” he said.

“It has been proven through initial investigations that there was correspondence between some arrested elements and the Al Qaeda organisation in Yemen.”

The largest cell was uncovered after suspected militants – two of them dressed as women – tried to infiltrate Saudi Arabia in October last year.

Two were killed in a shootout at the border while a third was arrested.

Professor Williams says it is most likely Al Qaeda deliberately kept them isolated to avoid detection.

“I assume that what they [authorities] have done is, they probably tortured the third person or persuaded him in other ways to provide information which has led to the detection of this other group,” he said.

Professor Williams says Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a number of motivations, primarily widespread discontent with the Saudi royal family’s opulent lifestyle, which many Saudis believe is at odds with their pronouncements on Islam.

What is more, fundamentalist groups have long expressed discontent over the family’s decision to allow US troops in the kingdom.

“That was seen by very many fundamentalists as being a completely unacceptable thing to do – inviting infidels into Saudi Arabia, which is of course the protector of the holy places,” he said.

“This simply was unacceptable. So that was another nail in the coffin of the royal family as far as the fundamentalists and the extremists were concerned.”

Yemen causing headaches

Other analysts say that while Saudi Arabia’s wealth allows it to keep a lid on militants, the same cannot be said of Yemen, which has trouble controlling its territory.

A professor of government and politics at George Mason University in the US, Mark Katz, says terrorist groups are shifting from Saudi Arabia to its neighbour.

“Part of the reason why we’re facing this problem now with Yemen is that they were so successful in getting rid of so many Al Qaeda operatives from Saudi Arabia and they all fled to Yemen,” he said.

“They’re basically using Yemen as a base to mount operations back in Saudi Arabia. And in many cases it’s easier because they’re not being cracked down on in Yemen the way they were in Saudi Arabia.”

He says the Yemeni government has promised to crack down on Al Qaeda but it has other problems to worry about.

“I think the Yemeni government is just telling the Americans and Westerners what they want to hear: yes, yes, give us resources to fight Al Qaeda,” he said.

“But in fact they’re really interested in these resources to fight their more immediate enemies, the Houthis and the southern secessionists.

“The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula does not threaten to overthrow the Yemeni government the way the Houthis does, nor does it threaten to divide the country the way the southerners do.

“So I think that for the Yemeni government, Al Qaeda is the lesser of the threats.”

Mumbai Police undergoes reshuffle following Raghuvanshi”s transfer

Mumbai, Mar 25 (ANI): The Maharashtra Government on Thursday undertook wholesale changes in the Mumbai Police force. It transferred Additional Director General K P Raghuvanshi from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) to the Law and Order Department.

Raghuvanshi”s transfer is being attributed to his going public on information related to terror suspects.

Joint Police Commissioner of Crime Rakesh Maria is expected to take over as the state”s new ATS chief.

Joint Police Commissioner (Law and Order) Himanshu Roy is likely to replace Maria as Joint Police Commissioner of Crime.

Sources said Maria met Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil after the reshuffle.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had earlier said he was aware that the Central Government was unhappy with the way certain information was given away soon after the arrests.

Raghuvanshi was appointed ATS chief on June 11, 2009 after Hemant Karkare had lost his life in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. (ANI)

India tense as Maoist rebels boost attacks

Security forces are on alert in parts of eastern India after a series of attacks by Maoist militants.

The rebels blew up rail lines in four states and are promising further attacks as part of their campaign to overthrow the Indian government.

The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of India’s rural poor but the government says the militants are now the biggest threat to India’s internal security.

More Indians are being killed by Maoist violence than by any other unrest or terrorism. Last year, the Maoist uprising claimed more than 900 lives.

The rebels are active in more than a quarter of India’s territory, particularly in the east, where the land is rich and many of the people are poor.

Executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management, Dr Ajai Sahni, says while the rebels say they are fighting against poverty, their support base is limited.

“It’s very, very small. But you must understand what is meant by a support base. When you have a gun, everyone supports you – especially if no one else with a gun is there in the region,” he said.

“Areas have been abandoned to the Maoists. They have not been taken or overrun by the Maoists.”

The rebels have a presence in areas where the Indian government is accused of failing to provide basic services.

The so-called “red corridor” includes states such as Orissa and Bihar, where millions of people are still waiting for their share of India’s economic boom.

Dr Sahni says there are not enough police to restore order.

“India is a very, very under-policed country and a very under-policed society, and we have a very low police-population ratio,” he said.

“We have a poorly equipped police force, a very poorly trained police force, and abruptly we are taking what is essentially civilian police and asking it to fight an insurgency.”

The Indian government has launched Operation Green Hunt to round up the rebels, but the Maoists have retaliated by blowing up rail lines and attacking police.

Prakash Singh, an author and one of India’s most highly decorated former border security chiefs, says the rebel movement can be defeated.

“It is a rag tag army of about 8,000 people and they have some sophisticated weapons also,” he said.

“They are good for guerrilla warfare but they can’t take on the Indian security forces in a head-on conflict. The paramilitary forces would be much too formidable for them.”

Yesterday, while the security forces were on alert, one of the long-time leaders of the rebellion, Kanu Sanyal, took his own his own life.

He was found dead in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari, which gave its name to the Naxalite uprising more than 40 years ago.

The 81-year-old had been suffering from chronic ill health.

In his latter years he had condemned violence, but the campaign of bloodshed is expected to escalate.

March 24 talks would help US to forge closer ties with Pak : Clinton

Washington, Mar.23 (ANI): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the upcoming strategic dialogue with Pakistan would offer an opportunity to the Obama Administration to work closely with the Pakistan government and allay the massive anti-America sentiment prevailing in that country.

In her message on the occasion of Pakistan Day, Clinton said Washington is supporting Pakistan in its effort to dismantle and destroy the network of extremist groups that is not only posing threat to it but also to the US and the whole world.

“The US is supporting Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, foster economic development, expand opportunity, and defeat the extremist groups who threaten Pakistan and the world,” The Daily Times quoted Clinton, as saying.

Describing the relationship with Pakistan as a “broad partnership” which is based on mutual respect, Clinton said the United States is committed to help Islamabad to establish peace and stability in the country.

“Today, your country is suffering from terrorism and your security forces and civilians are making great sacrifices to fight extremists. The people of the United States will stand by and support Pakistani efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future,” Clinton said. (ANI)

March 24 talks would help US to forge closer ties with Pak : Clinton

Washington, Mar.23 (ANI): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the upcoming strategic dialogue with Pakistan would offer an opportunity to the Obama Administration to work closely with the Pakistan government and allay the massive anti-America sentiment prevailing in that country.

In her message on the occasion of Pakistan Day, Clinton said Washington is supporting Pakistan in its effort to dismantle and destroy the network of extremist groups that is not only posing threat to it but also to the US and the whole world.

“The US is supporting Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, foster economic development, expand opportunity, and defeat the extremist groups who threaten Pakistan and the world,” The Daily Times quoted Clinton, as saying.

Describing the relationship with Pakistan as a “broad partnership” which is based on mutual respect, Clinton said the United States is committed to help Islamabad to establish peace and stability in the country.

“Today, your country is suffering from terrorism and your security forces and civilians are making great sacrifices to fight extremists. The people of the United States will stand by and support Pakistani efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future,” Clinton said. (ANI)

Afghan bomb attacks kill 12 civilans

A suicide bomber has killed 10 civilians after detonating his explosives near a crowd in southern Afghanistan, while a roadside bomb in the country’s east killed two others, officials said.

In the first incident, a suicide bomber driving a three-wheeled rickshaw detonated his explosives near a picnic for the Afghan New Year in Gereshk district of Helmand province, the provincial governor’s spokesman said.

“The target was an Afghan Army vehicle. The first reports are that 10 civilians have been killed and seven more wounded,” spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said.

Witness Khan Mohammad, who says he was no more than 50 metres away from the blast, says the bomber missed his target.

“The bomber was … targeting an army vehicle. When the soldiers saw the rickshaw they sped up. The bomb exploded in a crowded area where many people were having picnics,” he said.

A spokesman for NATO-led forces in Kabul says none of its forces were killed or wounded in the attack, but that foreign troops were now in the area assessing the situation.

In a separate incident in Khost province in the south-east of the country, a roadside bomb killed two Afghan civilians and wounded four, a senior police chief said.

Violence in Afghanistan has surged, with 2009 being the worst year since US-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

More than 2,400 civilians were killed last year, a 14 per cent rise on 2008, the United Nations said.

In February, thousands of US Marines launched an assault in Marjah, another part of Helmand, which had been under the insurgents’ control.

The operation was described as the biggest offensive of the eight-year war.

There are some 120,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan and that is set to rise to nearly 150,000 by the end of this year as Washington sends in more troops as part of a new strategy to try and quell the mounting violence.

- Reuters

Mumbai siege suspect pleads guilty

A Pakistani-American man accused of scouting out the deadly 2008 Mumbai siege has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in Chicago.

David Coleman Headley spent two years surveying Mumbai, including taking boat tours around the city’s harbour to scope out landing sites for the attackers who killed 166 people.

Headley also had Bollywood and one of India’s most sacred Hindu temples in his sights as he began plotting a second attack during a 2009 surveillance trip.

Headley told prosecutors he changed his name in 2006 so he could “present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani”.

He was also facing charges over plotting to kill a Danish cartoonist, who sparked outrage with cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

In a deal to change his earlier not guilty plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty or to allow Headley to be extradited to either India, Pakistan or Denmark to face related charges.

United States attorney-general Eric Holder says Headley will be required to truthfully testify in any proceedings held in the US.

“Today’s guilty plea is a crucial step forward in our efforts to achieve justice for the more than 160 people who lost their lives in the Mumbai terrorist attacks,” he said.

“David Headley is now providing us valuable intelligence about terrorist activities.

“Working with our domestic and international partners, we will not rest until all those responsible for the Mumbai attacks and the terror plot in Denmark are held accountable.”

Headley is the Washington-born son of a former Pakistani diplomat and American woman.

He allegedly befriended Bollywood stars and even dated an actress during his lengthy surveillance trips to India.


US is ‘doing more’, and will ‘announce more’ for Pak: Holbrooke

Lahore, Mar.20 (ANI): Responding to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement that it was now America’s turn ‘to do more’ to help Islamabad tackle the menace of terrorism more effectively, President Obama’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, has said the US is already ‘doing more’ and will ‘announce more’ for Pakistan.

Briefing the US State Department, Holbrooke said the Obama Administration has been doing all that it could for the overall development of Pakistan.

“We are doing more, we will announce more, we want to do as much as the Congress will support, but Congress writes the cheques,” The Daily Times quoted Holbrooke, as saying.

Commenting on the upcoming strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States, scheduled to be held on March 24, Holbrooke said the deliberation “marks a major intensification in the relationship” between both countries.

He said the US would also discuss with the Pakistani delegation, which would be headed by Qureshi, issues related to the distribution of water and power.

“Beyond the strategic broad-range discussions, we want to move into operational things like water, energy,” he said. (ANI)

Government tinkers with sedition law

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has introduced a range of amendments to Australia’s counter-terrorism laws, including one that renames the offence of sedition.

The changes also include giving police new powers to enter a place without a warrant if there is material that is a risk to public safety.

Mr McClelland says it is already an offence to urge force or violence against a group on the basis of race, religion, nationality or political opinion, if those actions would threaten national peace.

“The offence will also be expanded so that it applies to the urging of force or violence against an individual, not just a group,” he said.

“It covers the urging of force or violence even where the use of the force or violence does not threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth,” he said.

He says the changes help ensure the right balance in national security.

“The Government is confident that this package of reforms delivers strong laws that protect our safety whilst preserving the democratic rights that protect our freedoms,” he said.

“[It] helps prepare us for the complex national security challenges of the future.”

Drone strike kills CIA attack plotter

A key Al Qaeda figure involved in a recent attack on the CIA in Afghanistan appears to have been killed in Pakistan.

A United States counter-terrorism official says Hussein al-Yemeni was apparently killed in a drone strike in the Pakistani city of Miram Shah last week.

“We have indications that Hussein al-Yemeni – an important Al Qaeda planner and facilitator based in the tribal areas of Pakistan – was killed last week,” he said.

“The strike that appears to have got him was in Miram Shah, a clean, precise action that shows these killers cannot hide even in relatively built-up places.”

The official says al-Yemeni was involved in suicide operations and is suspected of playing a key role in an attack at a US base in eastern Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.

A Jordanian doctor, said to have been a triple agent, blew himself up at the US base in Khost near the Pakistani border on December 30 in the deadliest attack against the CIA since 1983.


Possibility of catching Osama bin Laden alive simply does not exist: US Attorney General

Washington, Mar. 17 (ANI): US Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the possibility of America catching Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden alive “simply doesn’t exist.”

“Based on the intelligence I’ve reviewed, the possibility simply does not exist. He will be killed by us or he will be killed by his own people so that he is not captured alive,” Holder said. “We know that,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted Holder as telling a House appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday.

His statement came amid a salvo of criticism by Republicans who accused the Obama administration of a lackluster approach to terrorism.

Amid hostile questioning, the attorney general also pledged that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would never be released from US custody.

He made the assertion after being asked what the administration would do if a civilian judge ordered Mohammed released.

“If that were to be the case, he would not be released. I am not qualifying it. He would not be released,” Holder said.

The comment seems to contradict the administration’s announced rationale for holding public trials for Mohammed and other terror suspects in civilian courts. (ANI)