The State Department says the safety of Americans traveling abroad is its 'highest priority,' but at the same time the department is not offering any specifics of how justice has been pursued in the cases of 134 Americans who were murdered in Mexico over the past three years.
'Protection of American citizens overseas is the State Department’s highest priority,' a State Department official told CNSNews.com. 'The Department of State urges the Mexican authorities to investigate and prosecute in all cases of crimes committed against U.S. citizens.'
The latest State Departmen report on Non-Natural Death Cases Abroad says that 134 Americans were murdered in Mexico between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2008. For eleven of these, the cause of death is listed as 'execution.'
by John Robb
Al Qaeda proper is focused, rightly from a strategic perspective, on hollowing out Pakistan. So if there is a terrorist attack on US soil, from which hub of the open source insurgency will it come from? The strategist Tom Barnett makes the call:
The group involved, al Shabab, is described as a post-9/11 version of al Qaeda: loosely coupled cells and very decentralized. The ties between this group and al Qaeda go way back, and 'many in the current leadership cadre are graduates of al Qaeda training camps.' AQ vets make up a significant portion of al Shabab's top talent.
Then we hear about the wormholes that link Somalia to Minneapolis, Stockholm, Cardiff and Dubai... When the attack finally comes, the evidence trail leading up to it will be vast.
by Simon Hughes
Jailed hate preacher Abu Qatada was linked to al-Qaeda for the first time yesterday — by one of the terror group’s own leaders.
Adil al-Abbab, revealed recently as Osama Bin Laden’s head of religious affairs in Saudi Arabia, said: 'Free our prisoners and the prisoners of the Muslims. O Allah! Free Sheikh Abu Qatada.'
Qatada, long suspected of being the network’s top European envoy, was respectfully referred to as 'Sheikh' which denotes leadership.
A UK security source said of the web rant: 'This is clearly an own goal.
'These calls for his freedom from a senior al-Qaeda figure end any doubt about his significance to Bin Laden.'
Qatada, 48, is behind bars fighting the Home Secretary’s decision to boot him out of Britain.
He has always dodged questions about his connections to al-Qaeda — but he is wanted in Jordan on terror charges.
Qatada is appealing to Europe against the decision to deport him.
'Mexico has been publicly pressing the United States to do more to stop the flow of U.S. weapons south. The State Department says weapons originating in the U.S. were used in 95 percent of all drug-related killings, and the Mexican government says more than 9,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon took office on Dec. 1 and launched a national crackdown on cartels.'
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Are we supposed to believe that these guns came from my local gun store in the US? Or were they illegally imported into Mexico or stolen out of Mexican military arsenals?
- According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.
-According to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo more than 150,000 soldiers have deserted in the Mexican army in the last 6 years and took their weapon, an M16, with them.
* The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years -- but those grenades and the RPGs aren’t legal in the US. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea.
Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.
Some of the items pictured
6 hand grenades - Not legal in the US
6 RPG rounds - Not legal in the US
M72 rocket launcher - Not legal in the US
10' barrel AR15 - Not legal in the
US Ruger AC-556 - short barreled select fire, Not legal in US
Source: http://www.flickr.com/groups/worldpolitics/discuss/721576169 78640181/
by Kevin Poulsen
A sophisticated FBI-produced spyware program has played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in federal investigations into extortion plots, terrorist threats and hacker attacks in cases stretching back at least seven years, newly declassified documents show.
As first reported by Wired.com, the software, called a 'computer and internet protocol address verifier,' or CIPAV, is designed to infiltrate a target's computer and gather a wide range of information, which it secretly sends to an FBI server in eastern Virginia.
The FBI's use of the spyware surfaced in 2007 when the bureau used it to track e-mailed bomb threats against a Washington state high school to a 15-year-old student.
by James Hider
Iraqi security forces have arrested four children who were allegedly part of a group of youngsters being groomed by al-Qaeda to become suicide bombers, an Iraqi army general said.
The children, who were detained in a village near the northern city of Kirkuk, were part of a cell known as the 'Birds of Paradise' and were being specially trained to avoid detection as they carried out attacks, security officials said.
'Special forces units have arrested an organisation of children consisting of four individuals under the age of 14 who call themselves the 'Birds of Paradise',' said General Abdelamir al-Zaidi, the commander of the Iraqi army division in Kirkuk. 'The group relies on children and is connected to al-Qaeda. It works to recruit children and young people to carry out suicide attacks and to aid the terrorist groups in detonating roadside bombs.
So here's the bottom line: by failing to oppose Iran more effectively, the West is unintentionally encouraging it to be more extremist and dangerous. By failing to help relatively moderate Arab regimes, the West is making them more susceptible to having to appease Iran. By pressuring and criticizing Israel, the West is encouraging Iran's regime to believe it can be destroyed.
Not a pretty picture. But neither is that of the would-be fuehrer being an honored guest at UN meetings. No wonder Ahmadinejad and his backers believe that theirs is a winning bet.
Cleric says no room for democracy in Islam
MINGORA: Swat cleric Sufi Muhammad, who played a central role in the imposition of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation in the valley, declared on Sunday that the country’s superior courts were un-Islamic and could not hear appeals against decisions of the newly set up qazi courts.
'There is no room for democracy in Islam,' said Sufi, the chief of the banned Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), while addressing a gathering in the central Grassy Ground in the main Swat town of Mingora.
Western democracy was a 'system of infidels' and had divided the clerics and the people of Pakistan into factions, he said, and the Supreme Court and the high courts were strengthening the system.
The TNSM chief told the government to withdraw all judges from Malakand division – including from Kohistan district – within four days and set up a Darul Qaza to hear appeals against the decisions of qazi courts.
He also demanded the appointment of qazis at the district and tehsil levels throughout the division.
LAST November, extremists on motorbikes opposed to education for women sprayed acid on a group of students from the Mirwais School for Girls in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Several young women were severely burned. Yet it did not take more than a few weeks for even the most cruelly disfigured girls to return to school. Like the crowds of women in Kabul this week who protested a new law that restricts their rights, the Mirwais students demonstrate unbending courage and resolve for progress. They don’t fear much — except that the world might abandon them.
That is why President Obama’s Afghanistan-Pakistan policy speech last month and his administration’s related white paper are worrisome: both avoided any reference to democracy in Afghanistan, while pointedly pushing democratic reforms in Pakistan.
The new policy represents critical shifts — such as a new emphasis on civilian work, and recognizing the regional nature of the problem and the inadequacy and abuse of resources. But a faltering commitment to the democratization of Afghanistan and ambiguous statements from Washington on an exit strategy have left us Afghans scratching our heads.