Two Hamas Members Killed in Saturday’s Explosion

Hamdan: Two Hamas Members Killed in Saturday’s Explosion

Hamas chief in Lebanon Osama Hamdan on Sunday announced that the movement’s members Bassel Jomaa and Hassan al-Haddad were killed in Saturday night’s explosion that targeted "a Hamas office that also has sleeping quarters for bodyguards."

"Hassan Saeed al-Haddad, 21, and Bassel Ahmed Jomaa, 26, were martyred in Saturday night’s explosion," Hamdan said.

Hamdan identified the pair as "senior bodyguards."

But he refused to speculate on the reasons behind the blast or who was behind it, echoing remarks made earlier by Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha on Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television. Taha also said three people were wounded.

"The circumstances of the explosion are unclear and it is too early to name the party" responsible, Taha said.

Military Judge Rahif Ramadan and the concerned security services examined Haret Hreik’s explosion site, according to state-run National News Agency.

The explosion resulted from a 15 kilograms TNT bomb that was planted in an underground office and led to the death of two and the injury of another two, according to examinations.

The explosion came on the eve of the climax of Ashoura.

Thousands of Lebanese Shiites gathered in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Sunday to mark the end of 10 days of rituals marking the Shiite holy day of Ashoura.

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addressed the crowd in a speech broadcast by videolink but did not mention Saturday’s blast.

An AFP photographer said late on Saturday that the blast occurred in an alley in Harek Hreik, meters away from a community center where Hizbullah was organizing a ceremony to commemorate Ashoura.

Witnesses said that local Hamas official Ali Baraka has an office in the area where the blast occurred.(Naharnet-AFP)

India Can Have Headley In About 300 Years

Headley not to be extradited to India: FBI

PTI

NEW DELHI: The FBI has politely turned down India’s request for extradition of terror suspect David Headley to this country on the ground he will have to first undergo a sentence which could be imposed on him in the US for the offences committed if convicted.
Indian officials were told there was no realistic possibility of the Pakistani-American being handed over since the sentence could range between 200 and 300 years of imprisonment.
The US stand was conveyed to the Indian investigators by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials during their regular interaction to discuss the case related to Headley, whose links with the banned Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) were being probed by the two countries, official sources said here today.
The polite turning down of the Indian request for extradition of 49-year-old Headley, arrested in Chicago on October three last, came in the wake of repeated statements including that by Union Home Secretary G K Pilai that India would press for the extradition of the terror suspect.
Pillai had said earlier that India will seek his extradition after completing investigation by January next year into his links with the Mumbai terror attacks.
However, FBI seems to be in no mood to hand over him to India and very politely conveyed that he could be handed over once the sentence ranging to 300 years is completed. He can also be sentenced to death, the sources said.
Headley has been charged by the FBI for 26/11 attacks in Mumbai also on December seven. He is alleged to have conducted reconnaissance of all targets attacked by Lashker militants on November 26 last year besides drawing the routemap for their landing on the Mumbai coast.

The establishment strikes back

The establishment strikes back

By Yousuf Nazar
Lawyers shout slogans in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad on December 16, 2009 after the decision on NRO. — AFP

The Supreme Court’s verdict on the NRO and the way it has been decided to enforce it leaves no doubt in my mind that the establishment is once again out to get the PPP and bring back its favourite civilians to power.

Familiar forces are once again trying to seize the initiative they lost after a decade-long military rule which gave us the ‘war on terror’ and has brought us to a state where Pakistan is bracketed with Afghanistan and is considered one of the hottest spots in the world that can explode anytime.

Never mind the blunders of the masters of ‘strategic lack of depth’ and architects of the policies that have turned Pakistan into a client state of America with few friends; they seem to have decided to strike back again.

Now faced with the question of how to justify this attempt to take back power, they seem to have decided to divert the public’s attention to an easy target and a handy dog to whip; the government of Asif Zardari. It is even speculated that the very reason why the establishment facilitated the entry of Zardari into the corridors of power was because he was considered so vulnerable that getting rid of him would be a piece of cake.

When I wrote about this almost 14 months ago, some PPP stalwarts and senior media pundits dismissed the idea saying the United States was firmly behind him forgetting a basic tenet of Washington’s policy: the US is always with the Pakistan military.

The humiliation of Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar may have come as a shock to some but it was hardly a surprise as it was a demonstration of who really runs the country, a warning to Mr Zardari and an ominous sign of things to come.

If withdrawal of cases on charges of plundering of the national wealth are acts that are void ab initio then so is the deal between Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf that, in effect, washed away all the former’s crimes in exchange for exile, confiscation of property and the Sharif brothers’ promise to stay out of politics for five years according to Nawaz Sharif’s own public admission — and 10 years per the documents released subsequently and according to the Musharraf government’s account of the events.

Let’s see how far the court goes to pursue the loan write-off cases, with the amount totalling billions and allegedly involving the Ittefaq Group, the Chaudhry brothers and many retired generals, regardless of technicalities. Wasn’t that the plunder of national wealth? Or is there one standard for the politicians from Sindh and Balochistan and another for those from the land of the five rivers?

I can already hear screams of ‘provincialism’ and anticipate charges of fanning ethnic discontent but it is just not a coincidence and is an indisputable fact that the judiciary’s every decision has so far favoured Nawaz Sharif and has gone against the PPP.

This is a continuation of the pattern witnessed during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s trial by the Lahore High Court in 1978, the rejection of his appeal by a split 4-3 verdict of the Supreme Court, Nasim Hasan Shah’s restoration of Nawaz Sharif’s government dismissed by Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and more recently the failure of the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the ‘deal’ between Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif that effectively whitened all the latter’s wealth.

I have no love for Mr Zardari and think it is a tragedy that he heads a party that was founded by a political giant like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but personal dislike for Mr Zardari should not blind us to the sinister and dangerous game that is being played by the establishment.

For better or worse, we have a parliament and it is parliament that should be sovereign. But it is the judiciary that seems to be sovereign, with no accountability whatsoever.

It is now too obvious that the judges got rid of Musharraf when he became a liability to the establishment. Now they could be part of a hidden agenda because an overt exercise of powers by the establishment does not fit in with the current internal and external environment.

One has to be politically quite naive or a paid journalist (it does not matter by which agency, IB or the ISI) to eulogise all this as the triumph of justice or some rubbish like that. Why doesn’t the Supreme Court order the ministry of information and broadcasting to publish the names of all those media persons who have been the beneficiaries of secret funds during the past 20 years? Why does only the PPP (not that it is innocent) have to face ‘accountability’?

Why is that only Benazir Bhutto had to explain where the funds for Surrey Palace came from and the Sharif brothers can continue to enjoy their escapades to London and stay in their luxury apartments in Park Lane, one of the most exclusive and expensive neighbourhoods in London, and certainly more expensive than Surrey?

It is time to wake up and face the ugly reality. In Pakistan, the judiciary has been used as an instrument of the establishment. Could it be that this time the modus operandi has become rather sophisticated compared to the cruder methods employed in the past?

‘Arrested US men had maps of Pak N-sites’

‘Arrested US men had maps of Pak N-sites’

ISLAMABAD: Police are trying to determine whether five Americans detained in Sargodha had planned to attack a complex that houses nuclear power facilities, authorities said on Saturday.

The young Muslims were picked up earlier this month in a case that has spurred fears that Westerners are traveling to Pakistan to join the militant groups.

Police and government officials have made a series of escalating and, at times, seemingly contradictory allegations about the men’s intentions, while the US officials have been far more cautious, though they, too, are looking at charging the men.

A Pakistani government official said on Saturday that the men had established contact with the Taliban commanders and planned to attack sites in Pakistan. Earlier, however, the local police accused the men of intending to fight in Afghanistan after meeting militant leaders.

The men had a map of the Chashma Barrage, a complex that, along with nuclear power facilities, houses a water reservoir and other structures, said Javed Islam, a senior police official in Sargodha.

He stressed that the men were not carrying a specific map of any nuclear power plant, but rather the whole of the Chashma Barrage. The detained men also had exchanged e-mails about the area, Islam said. “We are also working to retrieve some of the deleted material in their computers,” he said. Police plan to recommend that courts charge the five men with collecting and attempting to collect material to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan, police official Nazir Ahmad told The Associated Press. The punishments for those charges range from seven years to life in prison, he said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the men had established contact with the Taliban commanders.

He said they had planned to meet Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Qari Hussain before attacking sites inside Pakistan. The nuclear power plant might have been one of the targets, Sanaullah said.

Police have also alleged that the men met representatives from the al-Qaeda-linked Jaish-e-Mohammed group in Hyderabad and from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa in Lahore, but the groups turned the men away because they did not trust them.

US ready to seize Pak nuke installments: Qazi

US ready to seize Pak nuke installments: Qazi

PESHAWAR: Former Jamaat-e-Islami Amir Qazi Hussin Ahmed has alleged that the United States has made the arrangements for the seizure of country’s nuclear installments.

Speaking to media at a reception in Ghazi, Ahmed said the Americans have established their set-up in Kahota and Tarbela.

A large number of Americans are present in the country, he told media.

He expressed serious concerns over presence of Americans in such a large number at Kahota and Tarbela in the name of trainings.

The former JI Amir further said that innocent people were getting killed in tribal areas due to the US drone attacks. He declared both suicide and drone attacks as haram (illegitimate).

The US has tasted defeat in Afghanistan, he said, advising Pakistani people to remain prepared for giving sacrifices like people of Pakistan.

War and siege leave Gaza children traumatized

War and siege leave Gaza children traumatized

Sarah Jacobs

December 27, 2009

The majority of children in Gaza are suffering from anxiety, depression or behavioral problems as a result of their experiences of conflict and living through a deepening humanitarian crisis, warns Save the Children.

One year on from Israel’s three-week military offensive in Gaza, leading psychologists working with the children’s charity report that many Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering sustained psychological damage as their experiences of violence and loss during the conflict are compounded by the hardships of life under the blockade.

Osama Damo, aid worker for Save the Children in Gaza, said: “This is a traumatized nation. Many children we work with are not able to sleep at night for fear of soldiers returning. Others cry at the sound of loud noises, mistaking them for military jets and tanks coming to bomb their homes. Young children in Gaza are surviving under extreme levels of stress, which will pose long-term dangers not only for their mental health, but for the future of the region.”

Save the Children warns that until Israel’s tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza are lifted and the threat of further conflict eased, the mental health of the 780,000 children living in Gaza could continue to deteriorate.

Osama Damo continued: “The psychological crisis facing children in Gaza just keeps getting worse. Thousands of children are still living in half-destroyed homes or in overcrowded conditions with host families. Hundreds still live in tents where they risk being attacked by packs of wild dogs and don’t have proper protection against the cold and rain.”

Research currently being conducted by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program suggests that the majority of children in Gaza are showing signs of anxiety, depression and behavioral problems, including aggression and bed-wetting.

Dr. Ahmed Abu Tawanheena, director of Gaza Community Mental Health Program, has worked with victims of trauma in Gaza for 20 years. He said: “The safety and comfort children rely on their parents for has been destroyed twice in one year: first, during the conflict, when they saw their parents terrified and unable to protect them from the violence. Now, under the blockade, they see their parents are still unable to provide for their basic needs, such as shelter or food. Many children report feeling abandoned by their parents and by the outside world, and parents are left struggling with feelings of guilt. It’s a crisis which is threatening families and communities across the Gaza Strip.”

Osama Damo said: “Save the Children’s priority is to try and restore a sense of well-being and normality for children in Gaza. We are helping them take baby steps toward regaining their childhood, but there’s a huge job in front of us. If things are really to change for children here, there has to be an immediate lifting of the blockade to allow children to recover, and Israeli, Palestinian and international governments have to act urgently to make this happen.”

As part of its emergency response to the conflict, Save the Children provided psychological support to children in Gaza, creating “safe places” where they could play, draw and express themselves. Save the Children has been working in Gaza since 1973, where they are currently running health, child protection and education projects.

— Sarah Jacobs is head of news at Save the Children and can be reached at –S.Jacobs@savethechildren.org.uk