Norway gunman fired for 1.5 hours on island

Norway gunman fired for 1.5 hours on island

BY IAN MACDOUGALL AND LOUISE NORDSTROM

ASSOCIATED PRESS

OSLO, Norway — A gunman who opened fire on an island teeming with young people kept shooting for 1.5 hours before surrendering to a SWAT team, which arrived 40 minutes after they were called, police said Saturday.

Survivors of the shooting spree have described hiding and fleeing into the water to escape the gunman, but a police briefing Saturday detailed for the first time how long the terror lasted – and how long victims waited for help.

When the SWAT team did arrive, the gunman, who had two firearms, surrendered, said Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim.

“There were problems with transport to Utoya,” where the youth-wing of Norway’s left-leaning Labor Party was holding a retreat, Sponheim said. “It was difficult to get a hold of boats, but that problem was solved when the SWAT team arrived.”

At least 85 people were killed on the island, but police said four or five people were still missing. Divers have been searching the surrounding waters. Police earlier said there was still an unexploded device on the island, but it later turned out to be fake.

The attack followed a car bomb outside a government building in Oslo, where another seven people were killed. Police are still digging through rubble there, and Sponheim said there are still body parts in the building.

Police have not identified the suspect, but Norwegian national broadcaster NRK say he is 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik.

Authorities have not given a motive for the attacks, but both were in areas connected to the Labor Party, which leads a coalition government.

Officials have said the suspect visited Christian fundamentalist websites and had links to a rightist party. Mazyar Keshvari, a spokesman for Norway’s Progress Party – which is conservative but within the political mainstream – said that the suspect was a paying member of the party’s youth wing from 1999 to 2004.

Police said he is talking to them and has admitted to firing weapons on the island. It was not clear if he had confessed to anything else he is accused of. Police said he retained a lawyer, but the attorney did not want to be named.

“He has had a dialogue with the police the whole time, but he’s a very demanding suspect,” Sponheim said.

Earlier in the day, a farm supply store said they had alerted police that he bought six tons of fertilizer, which is highly explosive and can be used in homemade bombs.

In all, 92 people have been killed in what Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said was peacetime Norway’s deadliest day. The Oslo University hospital said it has so far received 11 wounded from the bombing and 19 people from the camp shooting.

“This is beyond comprehension. It’s a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for those who have been killed, for their mothers and fathers, family and friends,” Stoltenberg told reporters Saturday.

Gun violence is rare in Norway, where the average policeman patrolling in the streets doesn’t carry a firearm. Reports that the assailant was motivated by political ideology were shocking to many Norwegians, who pride themselves on the openness of their society. Indeed, Norway is almost synonymous with the kind of free expression being exercised by the youth at the political retreat.

Stoltenberg vowed that the attack would not change those fundamental values.

“It’s a society where young people can … have controversial opinions without being afraid,” he told reporters.

Norway’s royal family and prime minister led the nation in mourning, visiting grieving relatives of the scores of youth gunned down. Buildings around the capital lowered their flags to half-staff. People streamed to Oslo Cathedral to light candles and lay flowers; outside, mourners began building a makeshift altar from dug-up cobblestones. The Army patrolled the streets of the capital, a highly unusual sight for this normally placid country.

The city center was a sea of roadblocks Saturday, with groups of people peering over the barricades wherever they sprang up, as the shell-shocked Nordic nation was gripped by reports that the gunman may not have acted alone. Police have not confirmed a second assailant but said they are investigating witness reports.

The queen and the prime minister hugged when they arrived at the hotel where families are waiting to identify the bodies. Both king and queen shook hands with mourners, while the prime minister, his voice trembling, told reporters of the harrowing stories survivors had recounted to him.

On the island of Utoya, panicked teens attending a Labour Party youth wing summer camp plunged into the water or played dead to avoid the assailant in the assault. A picture sent out on Twitter showed a blurry figure in dark clothing pointing a gun into the water, with bodies all around him.

The carnage began Friday afternoon in Oslo, when a bomb rocked the heart of Norway. About two hours later, the shootings began at the youth retreat, according to a police official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that information had not been officially released by Norway’s police.

The blast in Oslo, Norway’s capital and the city where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded, left a square covered in twisted metal, shattered glass and documents expelled from surrounding buildings.

The dust-clogged scene after the blast reminded one visitor from New York of Sept. 11. People were “just covered in rubble,” walking through “a fog of debris,” said Ian Dutton, who was in a nearby hotel.

Asked whether all victims at Utoya died from gunshot wounds or if some had drowned, Stoere, the foreign minister, said “you will likely see a combination.”

A 15-year-old camper named Elise who was on Utoya said she heard gunshots, but then saw a police officer and thought she was safe. Then he started shooting people right before her eyes.

“I saw many dead people,” said Elise, whose father, Vidar Myhre, didn’t want her to disclose her last name. “He first shot people on the island. Afterward he started shooting people in the water.”

Elise said she hid behind the same rock that the killer was standing on. “I could hear his breathing from the top of the rock,” she said.

She said it was impossible to say how many minutes passed while she was waiting for him to stop.

At a hotel in the village of Sundvollen, where survivors of the shooting were taken, 21-year-old Dana Berzingi wore pants stained with blood. He said the fake police officer ordered people to come closer, then pulled weapons and ammunition from a bag and started shooting.

Several victims “had pretended they were dead to survive,” Berzingi said. But after shooting the victims with one gun, the gunman shot them again in the head with a shotgun, he said.

“I lost several friends,” said Berzingi, who used the cell phone of one of those friends to call police.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack “is probably more Norway’s Oklahoma City than it is Norway’s World Trade Center.” Domestic terrorists carried out the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City, while foreign terrorists were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Aerial images broadcast by Norway’s TV2 showed members of a SWAT team dressed in black arriving at the island in boats and running up the dock. People who had stripped down to their underwear moved in the opposite direction, swimming away from the island toward the mainland, some using flotation devices.

The United States, European Union, NATO and the U.K., all quickly condemned the bombing, which Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague called “horrific” and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen deemed a “heinous act.”

“It’s a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring,” President Barack Obama said.

Obama extended his condolences to Norway’s people and offered U.S. assistance with the investigation. He said he remembered how warmly Norwegians treated him in Oslo when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II wrote to Norway’s King Harald to offer her condolences and express her shock and sadness at the shooting attacks in his country.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said the United States knew of no links to terrorist groups and early indications were the attack was domestic. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was being handled by Norway.

Nordstrom reported from Stockholm. Associated Press reporters Bjoern H. Amland in Spundvollen, Norway, Nils Myklebost Oslo, Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Rita Foley in Washington, Paisley Dodds in London, and Paul Schemm in Tripoli, Libya, contributed to this report.

Russia and Uzbekistan: oil and gas cooperation

Russia and Uzbekistan: oil and gas cooperation

Russia and Uzbekistan: oil and gas cooperation

Russia and Uzbekistan: oil and gas cooperation

© AFP/ Osman Karimov

This story by Vladimir Paramonov, Oleg Stolpovsky, Alexey Strokov, political scientists (Uzbekistan), Strategic Culture Foundation experts, was published in International Affairs magazine.

Since Uzbekistan had always been known for having plenty of natural gas deposits and well-developed pipeline infrastructure, already in Soviet times the country actively cooperated with Russia as part of a single oil and gas complex providing gas supplies to industrial centers in the Urals and to the European part of the USSR. Apart from this, Uzbekistan was a transit country for the Turkmen gas. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and Uzbekistan experienced dramatic changes in oil and gas cooperation, living through both decline and rise.

In 1990s, that was a period of decline, when Uzbekistan did not supply much of its natural gas to Russia. On the other hand, as Uzbekistan boosted its own crude production capacity and reduced exports of the Russian oil and oil products. Such decline was mainly linked to a general crisis-in Russia and in its relations with Uzbekistan, as well as to a lack of new legal basis for oil and gas cooperation.

After Vladimir Putin had come to power in Russia in 2000, and an agreement on oil and gas cooperation between Gazprom and Uzbekneftegaz was signed in 2002, the two countries saw a revival of their energy partnership. The year 2004 marked the beginning of active investment activity for the Russian oil and gas giants, Gazprom and Lukoil, in Uzbekistan. Noteworthily, in comparison to other countries, Russia managed to take the leading positions in the Uzbek energy market.

Since the republic is rich in natural gas deposits and thus has good export opportunities, exploring its gas fields is a matter of economic priority for Russia. The country already shows dynamic growth and strategic perspectives in the republic`s oil and gas sector. However, this cooperation is first of all aimed at boosting oil output, preprocessing and exports of hydrocarbons to   external markets but not focuses on deep processing of hydrocarbon raw materials. It appears that the current format of cooperation fails to ensure stable and full-fledged economic cooperation between Moscow and Tashkent.

The Soviet period
In Soviet times, oil and gas cooperation between the two countries mainly focused on gas deliveries from Uzbekistan, coordination of measures to ensure functioning of a unified gas transportation system and supplies of oil and oil products to the republic. When in ealry 1960s Uzbekistan opened Gazly gas deposit, the Soviet Union started receiving natural gas for its industries in the Urals and in the European part of the country. The Bukhara-Urals pipeline was built to deliver gas. And when new gas fields were discovered in south-western Uzbekistan, they offered additional resources for the Central Asia-Center gas pipe. In 1990, Russia received about 10.8 billion cubic meters of gas out of 46 billion produced in the republic at the time. Besides, Uzbekistan as well as Kazakhstan allowed the transit of natural gas produced in Turkmenistan. In 1990 over 54 billion cubic metersof Turkmen gas were delivered through the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline.

Amid such productive gas cooperation, oil partnerships were not that active. Though in Soviet times Uzbekistan was one of the oil producing republics, its oil production capacity (some 4 million tons in 1990) did not fulfil its needs, that is the fuel was also imported. In Soviet times, Uzbekistan received the Russian oil mainly from western Siberia. When delivered, the oil was sent for processing at the Ferghana and Altyarykskiy plants via the Omsk-Pavlodar-Shymkent oil pipeline, and by railways through Kazakhstan. As of 1990, Uzbekistan received from Russia about 6.5 million tons of oil.

The post-Soviet period
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, oil and gas cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan weakened. There were both decline and rise in their cooperation.
Gas deliveries
When the Russian-Uzbek oil and gas cooperation was in decline in 1990s-in the beginning of the 21st century, natural gas supplies from Uzbekistan to Russia reduced significantly. And before 2003 Russia had not received more than 1 billion cubicmeters of the Uzbek gas per year. The international group of companies ITERA working jointly with Gazprom was the main gas supplier at the time. In 1996-2003 ITERA exported only 8.9 billion cubic meters of gas from Uzbekistan.
Such decline was mainly linked to a general crisis in Russia-Uzbekistan economic partnership, as well as to a lack of new legal basis for oil and gas cooperation. Above all this, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to closure of most industrial facilities in the Urals (and they were key consumers of the Uzbek gas). At the same time, Uzbekistan boosted domestic gas consumption as part of a national program to bring gas to rural areas.

The situation started to change after in December 2002 Gazprom and Uzbekneftegaz had signed an agreement on strategic gas cooperation. Apart from other issues, the deal stipulatedlong-term purchasing of the Uzbek gas in 2003-2012. The year 2004 marked a real breakthrough in energy cooperation when Gazprom took control of all issues related with purchasing and transportation of the Uzbek gas. And if in 2003, when ITERA was buying gas from Uzbekistan, the amount was only 1.3 billion cubic meters, in 2004 Gazprom exported from Uzbekistan 7 billion. In consecutive years (2005-2009) these figures changed from 8 billion to 15.4 billion cubic meters. Russia had used to buy gas from Uzbekistan at special prices, in accordance with annual contracts, but starting from January 1, 2009, the sides agreed on a new form of pricing which relied on the European average gas prices, and this could not but improve the bilateral cooperation.
Transit of gas
After the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1990 and through 2003 the transit of Turkmen gas to Russia via Uzbekistan was sharply reduced (in 2003, Russia received only 5.2 billion cubic meters, many times less than in 1990). And the deliveries were more of sporadic character due to difficulties in cooperation between Moscow and Ashgabat. In 1997-1999 Russia did not receive gas from Turkmenistan at all.

After relations between Russia and Turkmenistan improved, gas delivery and transit rates increased. What was also important is that gas supplies from Turkmenistan were resumed on regular basis. In February 2005, Gazprom and Uztransgaz (sub holding for Uzbekneftegaz) signed a long-term agreement on the natural gas transportation in 2006-2010 via Uzbekistan. In 2008 about 47 billion cubic meters of gas were pumped through the Uzbek territory, but in 2009 transit rates reduced because of differences between Moscow and Ashgabat over pricing amid a sharp decline in gas demand in Europe.

Oil& oil products deliveries
In the post-Soviet period Russia supplied little oil to Uzbekistan. Mainly it was because Tashkent sought energy independence. Enjoying growing oil production, the republic no longer had to import crude from abroad, first of all from Russia. Since 1997, when Uzbekistan was producing 8 million tons of oil per year, it stopped importing crude.

But for some reasons, including those of technological character, in the beginning of the 21st century, oil production rates slowed down, while demand remained as high as before. In 2005 this tendency reached the peak after oil production rates in Uzbekistan dropped. As a result, starting from 2006, Uzbekistan had to resume imports of oil and oil products from Russia and Kazakhstan. Currently, oil is being delivered to the republic by the Russian Lukoil company from the Kumkol deposit in the Kyzylordinsk region of Kazakhstan.

New fields of cooperation
After Gazprom and Uzbekneftegaz signed an agreement on oil and gas cooperation in 2002, the two countries saw a revival of their energy partnership. Equally with agreements on long-term gas purchase deals, Russia was invited to join exploration of new deposits and develop the republican infrastructure.

In 2004 Gazprom and Lukoil launched their investment activity in Uzbekistan. Gazprom focused on  the development of old and exploration of new deposits in the Ustyurtsk plateau, while Lukoil was dealing with new fields in the Bukhara-Khivin region and in the Uzbek part of the Aral Sea. Apart  from the aforementioned companies, some other Russian companies have been actively operating in Uzbekistan as part of various less significant projects.

Since Uzbekistan is rich in natural gas and thus has good export opportunities, exploring its gas fields is a matter of economic priority for Russia. The country already shows dynamic growth and strategic perspectives in the republic`s oil and gas sector. If in 1990s Russia`s investments in the Uzbek oil and gas sector were harldy noticeable, as of early 2010 they exceeded $1.25 billion. This year Lukoil expects to invest in the local deposits more than $470 million, while the total amount of money Russia plans to spend on exploration and modernization of the Uzbek energy sector by 2012 is approximately estimated between $4.7 and $ 6.2 billion.

***
In comparison to other foreign companies operating in Uzbekistan, Russia manages to regain the leading position in the Uzbek energy market,which however in no way guarnatees that things will unfold this way further.

On the one hand, the Russian companies yet have not joined Uzbekistan in its projects aimed at deep processing of hydrocarbon raw material, relying mainly on geological exploration, production and transportation of gas. Such approach, however, does not meet Uzbekistan`s economic goals since the republic has been focusing on innovative approach and ways to get substantial added value through modernization of the national gas transit system.

On the other hand, taking into consideration some technical and financial restrictions in terms of the Russian energy business, Uzbekistan has been seeking cooperation with China, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore and Japan for these countries can boast modern technology as well as vast financial resources. It is also important to mention here that Russia has lost its monopoly on gas exports from the region. Although Uzbekistan yet has not officially announced its plans for diversification of gas export routes, some experts believe that the republic could start exporting small amounts of gas to China.

In other words, Moscow and Tashkent will hardly advance to a brand new level of economic and political cooperation unless they revise their energy partnership based only on raw materials.

 

(Views expressed in this article reflect the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect those of RIA Novosti news agency. RIA Novosti does not  vouch for facts and quotes mentioned in the story)

US Public Diplomacy Deploying Homosexual Activism As Destabilization of Religious Societies

[The American embassy in el Salvador, just like the American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan is forcing the issue of “gay rights” to the forefront of  the national conversation, in order to stimulate right-wing reactions.  In Pakistan, they had a gay rights parade down the middle of Islamabad’s streets, knowing that it would spark widespread conservative reactions, hoping that those reactions would be violent.  In both cases, religious societies are confronted with the Imperial demand that they create special rights for individuals who are violating fundamental religious laws shared by the indigenous culture.   The result is predictable; it is intentional, and it harmful to real attempts to foster democratic rights within those countries.  Criminal American foreign policy, such as this, which is intended to destabilize entire nations will one day be on the list of war crimes that we will be called to account for one day, to a power  greater than the US military.]

By Will Ferguson

An editorial by the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, promoting gay rights, has set off a debate between “pro-family” activists and gay rights groups in El Salvador.

U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte published a letter in the La Prensa Grafica newspaper on June 28, strongly supporting the rights of lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgenders in El Salvador. The article received strong backlash from conservative Salvadorans.

“We have seen some arguments back and forth between different groups in the country after the article’s publication, however our position remains the same,” said Robert McInturff, a representative from the U.S. embassy in El Salvador. “The editorial speaks for itself.”

Almost two dozen self-described “pro-family” organizations in El Salvador responded with their own editorial, accusing Aponte of trying to force an agenda that doesn’t mix with the country’s Christian beliefs. The groups also sent a letter of protest to the U.S. senate, asking for Aponte to be removed from her position.

Aponte was appointed to her current position by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010 during a congressional recess. She drew heavily from Obama’s agenda in her editorial and quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying, “Gay rights are human rights” in the editorial. In addition, she called for an end to discrimination against members of the gay community in the workplace.

Her letter references a United Nations declaration from March 2010 to eliminate violence directed against the LGBT community. During a meeting of the UN Council of Human Rights, 83 countries including the United States and El Salvador signed a declaration to eliminate violence directed against the LGBT community. In May of 2010, El Salvadorian president Mauricio Funes signed decree 56, which prohibits the Salvadorian government from discriminating against people based on their sexual preference.

Despite the political agreements to stem negative sentiments against the LGBT community, a coalition of some 22 human rights groups and pro-family organizations in El Salvador have accused Aponte of seeking to impose a homosexual political agenda on a heavily Christian country.

The coalition responded to Aponte’s letter with its own publication in El Diaro de Hoy. The letter states the ambassador is ignoring one of the first rules of diplomacy, respecting the culture and customs of the country you are in.

“Mrs. Aponte, in clear violation of the rules of diplomacy and international law, you seek to impose on Salvadorans, belittling our fundamentally Christian values, rooted in the natural law, a new vision of foreign values, totally alien to our way of thinking, disguising them as supposed human rights,” the coalition wrote on July 7, 2011.

Aponte’s post as ambassador to El Salvador has never been approved by the U.S. Senate due to ongoing allegations about her suspected association with suspected Cuban intelligence agents during the 1980s and 1990s.

Aponte’s appointment was given the green light after an investigation by the FBI yielded no suspicious activity. However, her position has yet to be officially confirmed.

Aponte’s letter:

http://www.laprensagrafica.com/opinion/editorial/201657-por-la-eliminacion-de-prejuicios-dondequiera-que-existan.html

Response by coalition:

http://www.elsalvador.com/mwedh/epaper/20110706/EDH20110706NAC025P.PDF

Has State Dept. Identified the Weakest Link, or the Toughest Nut To Crack In the Stans?

US Entrenchment in Uzbekistan

Aleksandr SHUSTOV

The hypothesis that the US is planning a partial relocation of its military infrastructures from Afghanistan to Central Asia appears increasingly realistic, the countries of key interest to Washington being Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Tashkent’s current preferences are illustrated with utmost clarity by the contrast between the heightened intensity of its diplomatic transactions with the US and the sluggish pace of its dealings with Moscow.

US diplomats seem to be touring Uzbekistan in a continuous mode. NATO Secretary General’s special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai showed up in the country on May 11 to meet with the republic’s parliamentarians, diplomats, and defense ministry officers. On May 12, a US Department of State team led by coordinator of the Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative (NSOI) program Michael Stafford visited the Uzbek foreign ministry to discuss joint non-proliferation efforts. On May 20, Uzbek diplomats held talks with a US delegation headed by US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman. On May 30, the Uzbek foreign ministry hosted a meeting with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia Susan Elliott. On May 31, Uzbek president I. Karimov received US Deputy National Security Advisor Denis R. McDonough. The US Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Duane Butcher came to Uzbekistan on June 3. On July 1, Laurie Bristow, Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the UK’s Foreign Office, visited the Uzbek foreign ministry, where, the same day, new US ambassador to Uzbekistan George Krol handed over his credentials. George Krol paid another visit to the Uzbek foreign ministry on July 4, and on July 5 Uzbekistan welcomed a US  delegation headed by US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kurt Amend. On July 7, a US diplomatic contingent with senior Republican aide on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for foreign operations Paul Grove at the helm landed Tashkent.

In the meantime, Russian president D. Medvedev’s June visit to Uzbekistan drew surprisingly scarce coverage. On June 10, the site of the Uzbek foreign ministry featured a line saying that president Medvedev would be in Uzbekistan on June 13-14 on president Karimov’s invitation. The two presidents met briefly at the Tashkent airport and president Medvedev headed back for Moscow, with no information about the talks released.

Uzbekistan traditionally plays the key role in implementing a series of US infrastructural projects related to Afghanistan. A recent example was the opening of the Uzbek-built Khairaton – Mazar-i-Sharif railroad. Backed by a $165m loan from the Asian Development Bank, the route is going to be used to supply the Western coalition in Afghanistan. The current chill between the US and Pakistan and the tide of Talib activity can’t but tell on the functioning of NATO’s southern supply route, forcing the alliance to increasingly switch to the alternative northern one which traverses Russia and Central Asia.

US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake expressed a view at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy early in 2011 that the US should take control over Central Asia, a strategic region bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia, and Iran. Uzbekistan’s centrality to the region was, in fact, stressed in Z. Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard, which makes it clear why the Central Asian republic is as of today at the focus of the US foreign policy.

The deepening US-Uzbek diplomatic engagement is paralleled by an evident decline in the relations between Tashkent and Moscow. Russia’s Regnum media outlet quoted an unnamed foreign ministry source as saying that the Uzbek president asked twice during phone talks with D. Medvedev to be received in Moscow, but no reaction followed. Several major Russian companies – for example, Wimm Bill Dann, one of Europe’s largest dairy products suppliers, and the Knizhny Mir bookstore chain – withdrew from Uzbekistan recently. Last June, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation announced axing its cooperation with the V.P. Chkalov Tashkent aircraft company which used to be the manufacturer of IL-76 military airlifters back in the Soviet era. At the moment, some success in the Russian-Uzbek cooperation can be credited only to the oil and gas sector which, along with cotton export, is the main cash earner for the Uzbek economy.

Russia’s irreversible split with Uzbekistan – likely to be followed by those with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – would leave the republics entirely under US protectorate and would cut a new divisive line across Eurasia along the southern frontier of Kazakhstan, opening a gap between the post-Soviet Central Asian republics and the Customs Union comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

Exclusive: U.S. Blocks Oversight of Its Mercenary Army in Iraq

Exclusive: U.S. Blocks Oversight of Its Mercenary Army in Iraq


By January 2012, the State Department will do something it’s never done before: command a mercenary army the size of a heavy combat brigade. That’s the plan to provide security for its diplomats in Iraq once the U.S. military withdraws. And no one outside State knows anything more, as the department has gone to war with its independent government watchdog to keep its plan a secret.

Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), is essentially in the dark about one of the most complex and dangerous endeavors the State Department has ever undertaken, one with huge implications for the future of the United States in Iraq. “Our audit of the program is making no progress,” Bowen tells Danger Room.

For months, Bowen’s team has tried to get basic information out of the State Department about how it will command its assembled army of about 5,500 private security contractors. How many State contracting officials will oversee how many hired guns? What are the rules of engagement for the guards? What’s the system for reporting a security danger, and for directing the guards’ response?

And for months, the State Department’s management chief, former Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, has given Bowen a clear response: That’s not your jurisdiction. You just deal with reconstruction, not security. Never mind that Bowen has audited over $1.2 billion worth of security contracts over seven years.

“Apparently, Ambassador Kennedy doesn’t want us doing the oversight that we believe is necessary and properly within our jurisdiction,” Bowen says. “That hard truth is holding up work on important programs and contracts at a critical moment in the Iraq transition.”

This isn’t an idle concern or a typical bureaucratic tussle. The State Department has hired private security for its diplomats in war zones for the better part of a decade. Poor control of them caused one of the biggest debacles of the Iraq war: the September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square, where Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Now roughly double those guards from the forces on duty now, and you’ll understand the scope of what State is planning once the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq at the end of this year.

 

“They have no experience running a private army,” says Ramzy Mardini, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who just returned from a weeks-long trip to Iraq. “I don’t think the State Department even has a good sense of what it’s taking on. The U.S. military is concerned about it as well.”

So far, the Department has awarded three security contracts for Iraq worth nearly $2.9 billion over five years. Bowen can’t even say for sure how much the department actually intends to spend on mercs in total. State won’t let it see those totals.

About as much information as the department has disclosed about its incipient private army comes from a little-noticed Senate hearing in February. There, the top U.S. military and civilian officials in Iraq said that they’d station the hired guard force at Basra, Irbil, Mosul and Kirkuk, with the majority — over 3,000 — protecting the mega-embassy in Baghdad. They’ll ferry diplomats around in armored convoys and a State-run helicopter fleet, the first in the department’s history.

But there are signs of even deeper confusion as State prepares to take the lead in Iraq. An internal State Department audit from June faulted top officials for “a lack of senior level participation” (.pdf) in an “unprecedented” transition to civilian control. The result is that “several key decisions remain unresolved, some plans cannot be finalized, and progress in a number of areas is slipping,” the audit concluded. It raises the prospect that the U.S. military will leave Iraq the same way it entered it — without any planning worthy of the name.

Bowen has minimal visibility into State’s planning process. His teams of auditors are in Iraq, reviewing reconstruction contracts for waste, fraud and abuse, as they have since the early days of the war. They just can’t see anything about the guard force. As far as Bowen is concerned, even though there’s been a nearly 90 percent drop in violence since the surge, State’s hired army still acts like Iraq is a killing field, with death squads and insurgents around every corner.

“Have the standards for convoy travel changed at all from the worst moments of Iraq civil war? The answer’s no,” Bowen says. Diplomats are allowed an hour for meetings outside secured U.S. fortresses. Then it’s time to hit the road, in armored cars full of men armed to the teeth and wearing black sunglasses.

The State Department says it’s learned its lessons from Nisour Square and now places stricter rules on contractors, like putting cameras in contractor vehicles and revising “mission firearms policies,” as Kennedy told a congressional panel last month. (.pdf) It’s an issue Kennedy’s well-versed in handling: He ran the department’s internal investigation into Nisour Square in 2007. Now, according to Bowen, he’s shielding State’s plans from scrutiny.

State wouldn’t comment for this story, saying it would be “inappropriate” to discuss an internal matter concerning Bowen. A department official who wouldn’t speak on the record merely said that it provides him with “extensive materials in response to their audit requests for documents and information falling within its statutory responsibilities.”

But Congress is showing signs of restiveness over State’s stonewalling. A bill that the House Foreign Affairs Committee crafted this week includes a provision specifically instructing State to let Bowen’s office to do its job: “SIGIR should audit military, security, and economic assistance to Iraq during the term of SIGIR’s existence,” the language reads, inserted at the behest of the panel’s chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

But it’ll take months for that bill to pass. Until then, Bowen is shut out of State’s ad hoc foray into generalship. “From my conversations with State Department people,” Mardini says, “they really don’t have a sense of how difficult this is going to be.” And it doesn’t look like they want to know.

Photo: DoD

London’s Long History with the Militants/Terrorists of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group

Exiled Islamists Fuel Libyan Revolution

OnIslam & Newspapers

Some of exiled commanders shuttle between London and Benghazi to strategize and share donations collected from the Libyan expatriates.

CAIRO – Hiding for years from tyrant Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, members of Islamic groups are coming to light from their forced exile as real patriots to map out freedom fighters’ strategy against the current authoritarian rule.

“We are part of the Libyan people and we just want to help our country,” Abu Sohaib, not his real name, a senior commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, told the New York Times on Tuesday, July 19.

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group was formed in 1995 with the goal of ousting Colonel Qaddafi.

Daring to protest against Gaddafi in the 1990s, members of the Islamic group were captured and died in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.

Ever since, they hid from Qaddafi security forces in the caves in Darnah until the Libyan revolution, giving them opportunity to come out to be celebrated as patriots.

Exiled for years in London away from his homeland, Abu Sohaib and a dozen or so former commanders make up a rear-guard headquarters for revolution fighters.

Some of those commanders even shuttle between London and Benghazi to strategize and share donations collected from the Libyan expatriate community in Britain.

Yet, Abu Sohaib, banned from Libya and its neighbors, could not join those shuttle missions to his home country.

He spends most of his time online to keep in contact with friends on the ground there and follow Libya news.

“I would like to be there myself; I tried to go,” he said, pausing to look at the car keys in front of him.

“But Tunisia and Egypt wouldn’t let me in even after their revolution.”

Scrambled to save his 42-year regime, Gaddafi has launched a deadly crackdown on protestors who demand an end to his rule of the oil-rich Arab country.

Estimates say that at least 10,000 people have been killed in the bloody crackdown.

Five months into the revolt against his rule, Gaddafi is still holding doggedly onto power despite weeks of NATO strikes on his military and command structures.

The conflict has now reached a stalemate, with Gaddafi in control of most of the west of the country, while the opposition is hemmed in to their stronghold in the east and a few pockets in the west.

Distrust

Driven into the mountains or exile by Libyan security forces, the group’s members were among the first to join the fight against Qaddafi security forces.

“We wanted to live in a country in which we can live and promote Islam the way it should be,” said Abu Sohaib.

“We are sure Islam is good for everyone.”

A soft-spoken man in his mid-40s, Abu Sohaib recalls times when Britain wanted to hand him over to Gaddafi.

“There was a time when the British wanted to hand us over to Muammar el-Qaddafi, though they knew we would be tortured,” he said, staring at his hands.

Though cooperating with them, American intelligence officials are still worried about members of the group, who received training in Pakistan tribal region.

Abu Sohaib insists that he and his brethren have severed ties with Al Qaeda and have warned the terrorist group it is not welcome in Libya.

“It has been made very clear to them, that it is better for them to stay out of the country,” he said.

That distrust was shared by Libyan fighters, who still question the motive behind the NATO operation into Libya.

“We start to question the true intentions of the West in Libya,” a 36-year-old Libyan associated with the fighting group who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Salah and who travels between Europe and Libya said.

“If they would have wanted to kill Muammar el-Qaddafi, they could have done it several times,” Abu Salah added.

“I guess this is about making as much money with oil and weapons deals as possible.”

Abu Sohaib recalls the cooperation between the US and Libyan authorities to combat terrorism after Libya disbanded its unconventional weapons program in 2003.

“Isn’t it interesting how they were hunting us for years and were working with Muammar el-Qaddafi?” said

“Now we are cooperating with NATO and the West, those who used to put us in jail.”

MacDill Reservist’s Indiscretions Rattle Psywar Commanders

[SEE:  Looking for Trouble In the Data Mine–Suspicious Spending]

Reservist’s top-secret clearance worrisome

By HOWARD ALTMAN | The Tampa Tribune

In Courtroom 14 B Thursday, U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington asked a question about the man who had just been convicted of lying to obtain housing at MacDill Air Force Base.

How could Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Scott Allan Bennett, 40, obtain a top-secret clearance despite a previous misdemeanor conviction in 2008 for lying to government officials?

Prosecutors had the same questions and were unable to get answers, but former intelligence officers and those who currently deal with security clearance issues contacted by The Tampa Tribune say that Bennett should probably have never gotten clearance and that somebody somewhere “dropped the ball.”

In December 2006, Bennett told U.S. government officials that he was working with the office of President George W. Bush and the State Department. In that role, he was helping a woman from South Africa obtain a visa to visit the country. He said she would be working for the president.

It turned out that the woman was someone he had met over the Internet and that he created a job “out of whole cloth” to get her into the country, according to federal documents.

Two years later, Bennett was convicted of the misdemeanor crime of lying to government officials. Bennett obtained TS/SCI clearance, top-secret/sensitive compartmentalized information, the highest level of security clearance available, in October 2008, according to Army Lt. Col. Gerald Ostlund.

There are at least three “adjudicative guidelines” used by the government to determine whether someone should be given security clearance that should have raised red flags about Bennett, according to Evan Lesser, founder and managing director of Clearancejobs.com, an employment website for people with security clearance.

“Guideline B, which deals with foreign influence, says if you have contact or connections with a foreigner, you are at a heightened risk of exploitation,” Lesser said.

“There are two other guidelines that more than a few things here would have called out this individual as being a problem.” Lesser said. “Guideline E, personal conduct, looks at any conduct involving questionable judgment or dishonesty and Guideline J, criminal activity, says that any criminal activity brings into doubt that person’s judgment or trustworthiness.”

 

* * * * *To obtain a TS/SCI clearance, an individual has to submit to a background check that delves into the previous 10 years of personal history, according to the Defense Security Service. The information is then presented to an adjudicator, who looks at the guidelines and determines whether there are any circumstances that would allow, for instance, someone with a conviction to still obtain clearance.Depending on how much information was known about Bennett, adjudicators “would have most likely denied this person clearance,” Lesser said.

The timeline, he said, is critical.

Bennett was convicted in August 2008. He was hired sometime that year by Booz Allen Hamilton as a contractor, although the company won’t say when.

Booz Allen Hamilton spokesman James Fisher would not comment on whether Bennett obtained clearance to work for the company, although it was required for the job he was hired to perform at MacDill in 2010, working as a counter-threat finance analyst at U.S. Central Command’s Joint Intelligence Operation Center.

Ostlund said Bennett’s clearance was requested by the defense contractor. Bennett did not enter the Army Reserve, where he served as a personnel officer with the 11th Psychological Operations Battalion, until four months after he obtained his clearance, Ostlund said.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA employee who also worked at the State Department’s Counterterrorism Office, offered a blunt assessment of how Bennett obtained clearance.

“One of two things happened,” said Johnson, currently a military contractor with TS/SCI clearance who frequently visits MacDill. “Either the folks who conducted the background investigation failed, or the adjudicator was negligent. There is no in between. There are no mitigating factors” that would allow Bennett clearance.

Pat Lang, a retired senior U.S. military intelligence officer who later served in the Pentagon in the Defense Senior Executive Service and at the Defense Intelligence Agency as defense intelligence officer for the Middle East, has a similar view.

Giving Bennett security clearance, he said, was “a bad call. It is a judgment call, but I have a very hard time imagining someone being convicted for lying about immigration status being cleared. I wouldn’t have cleared them, if it were up to me.”

In January 2010, Bennett moved onto MacDill housing by claiming he was an aide to Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson and lying about his status as an active duty officer. Investigators later found Bennett had 10 guns and more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition without authorization.

On Thursday, Bennett was convicted of one count of making a false statement, one count of wearing his uniform without authorization and two counts of violating a security agreement by bringing concealed weapons on base and storing weapons and ammunition in his apartment without permission.

Bennett, who faces up to seven years and six months in prison, will be sentenced Oct. 25.

* * * * *Even before Thursday’s convictions, Bennett’s job in the Joint Intelligence Operation Center made him a threat to security, according to Lesser, Lang and Johnson.”If you already have a track record of lying to the government, what guarantee is there that you will not commit that behavior again?” Johnson asked.

“This is the type of person who could be coerced easily,” Lesser said. “The criminal activity he has done puts him at risk of being exploited or manipulated. That is something the government is always worried about.”

Lesser said that government agencies need to investigate how Bennett got his clearance, what information he had access to and what, if anything, he did with that information.

“It seems really difficult to believe that he did not have red flags from past behavior,” Lesser said. “Should somebody be concerned about this person? I would say most definitely. He had high level clearance and access to a fair amount of classified information at a very high level. It seems like somebody dropped the ball on this particular person.”

haltman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7629

Norwegian Terror Bombing Suspect Reportedly Purchased Six Tons of Ammonium Nitrate

Norway bomb suspect bought 6 tons of fertilizer

BY BJOERN H. AMLAND AND LOUISE NORDSTROM

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SUNDVOLLEN, Norway — The 32-year-old man suspected in bomb and shooting attacks that killed at least 91 people in Norway bought six tons of fertilizer before the massacres, the supplier said Saturday as police investigated witness accounts of a second shooter.

Norway’s prime minister and royal family visited grieving relatives of the scores of youth gunned down in a horrific killing spree on an idyllic island retreat. A man who said he was carrying a knife was detained by police officers outside the hotel, as the shell-shocked Nordic nation was gripped by reports that Norwegian gunman may not have acted alone.

The suspect in police custody – a blonde blue-eyed Norwegian with reported Christian fundamentalist, anti-Muslim views – is suspected in both the shootings at Utoya island and a massive explosion that ripped through an Oslo high-rise building housing the prime minister’s office two hours earlier, killing seven people. He has been preliminarily charged with acts of terrorism.

Oddny Estenstad, a spokeswoman for agricultural material supplier Felleskjopet, confirmed Saturday that the suspect in custody purchased six tons of fertilizer 10 weeks ago. Artificial fertilizer is highly explosive and can be used in homemade bombs.

Estenstad said police were alerted to the purchase after it emerged the man was suspected of the deadly attacks.

On the island of Utoya, panicked teens attending a Labour Party youth wing summer camp plunged into the water or played dead to avoid the assailant in the assault that may have lasted 30 minutes before a SWAT team arrived, police said.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the twin attacks made Friday peacetime Norway’s deadliest day.

He was visibly shaken as he described his meeting with surviving victims of the shooting spree and families of children who had been on the island.

“This is very difficult for me because it’s a very, very demanding situation to meet so many people that are hurting so much,” he said, his voice trembling as he recited tales he had heard of how people had tried to hide from the killer to survive.

The toll in both attacks reached 91 Saturday, and police said that could still rise as they search the waters around the island for more bodies. Acting Police Chief Roger Andresen said he did not how many people were still missing. The Oslo University hospital said it has so far received 11 wounded from the bombing and 16 people from the camp shooting.

Nordstrom reported from Stockholm. Associated Press reporters Nils Myklebost Oslo, Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Matthew Lee and Rita Foley in Washington, Paisley Dodds in London, and Paul Schemm in Tripoli, Libya, contributed to this report.

Waging War Against Anti-Mehsud Militias In S. Waziristan, Once Again

[The groups hit in these attacks were remnants of the Abdullah Mehsud group, associated with Turkestan Bhitani and Qari Zainullah Mehsud (SEE:  Army Convoy Bombed On “Abdullah Mehsud” Group Home Turf).]

Suicide bombing: Mehsud repatriation halted

The displaced people stopped returning after an attack in South Waziristan. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: The repatriation of Mehsud tribesmen to South Waziristan Agency was reported to have temporarily halted on Friday after Taliban militants attacked a Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) vehicle in Kot-kai village, the home town of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fugitive chief Hakimullah Mehsud, which military claims is under its complete control.

The attack is said to have occurred on Thursday in which two local contractors associated with the FWO were injured and their vehicles were extensively damaged.

Also on Friday, militants killed two members of pro-military Bhittani group in what appeared to be early signs of a Taliban comeback in anarea which had been under army control since 2009.

Sources in Tank and South Waziristan told The Express Tribune that FWO contractors Hazrat Ali Ishangai and Umar Hayat were injured when a suicide bomber struck their vehicle.

But the men survived because the teenage suicide bomber’s vest is said to have exploded prematurely.

Hazrat Ali was a pro-military tribesman, while one of his sons was part of the TTP suicide bombing squad, who later joined the Qari Zainuddin Mehsud group, a cluster of militants behind the killing of several of Hakimullah’s commanders in Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.

Local sources said the attack might have been motivated by a ‘personal enmity’ but the mere fact that the Taliban were able to send a suicide bomber into an area tightly controlled by the military had sent a worrying signal to those  wishing to repatriate to their hometown.

The killing of two Bhittani tribesmen in the Surgarh area, just 10 kilometres from Kot-kai, the very next morning had intensified fears, prompting the displaced Mehsud tribesmen to stay away.

TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud had warned his fellow tribesmen against returning to the South Waziristan in an interview recently telecast by a Norwegian television and Flashpoint Partners website.

“I urge them not to return to the war zone…we are in the middle of the fighting, the one for which there look to be no end,” said Mehsud.

A military source here said the repatriation was slow but insisted it was more due to the civil administration’s incapability rather than the presence of Taliban militants.

He denied there was any attack on the FWO convoy.

According to a handout, Chief of the Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani discussed the issue of army offensive in the country’s tribal areas and sources said the repatriation to South Waziristan also came under discussion.

 

Published in The Express Tribune

Blaming non-state actors for terror no excuse: Chidambaram

Blaming non-state actors for terror no excuse: Chidambaram

PTIHome Minister P. Chidambaram and Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik during the fourth meeting of SAARC Home/Interior Ministers in Thimphu on Saturday.

PTI– Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik during the fourth meeting of SAARC Home/Interior Ministers in Thimphu on Saturday.

Terming South Asia as the most troubled and vulnerable region, the Home Minister said, “Terrorist groups… have flourished because of the support they have found from state and non-state actors.”

In a veiled attack on Pakistan, India on Saturday said that no country can escape its responsibility by blaming non-state actors for terrorist activities emanating from its soil.

As long as the territory of a country is used by non-state actors to prepare for terror attacks, that country owes a legal and moral responsibility to its neighbours and to the world to suppress those non-state actors and bring them to justice, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said.

“Sometimes, I think that the distinction between state actors and non-state actors is misplaced and intended to misdirect our efforts to deal with terrorist groups at the very source — the recruitment centres, the training camps and their safe havens and sanctuaries,” he said addressing the 4th meeting of the SAARC Interior/ Home Ministers here.

Describing terrorism as the biggest existentialist challenge in South Asia, Mr. Chidambaram said the menace in the region can be best tackled through effective cooperation among the SAARC nations.

“We have no alternative but to deploy the best instruments and resources at our disposal in our fight against terrorism,” he said.

The Home Minister emphasised the need for examining the existing mechanisms for countering terrorism, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, arms smuggling and counterfeiting, including organised production and distribution of fake Indian currency notes.

Mr. Chidambaram said South Asia was perhaps the most troubled and vulnerable region in the world as the vast majority of terrorist incidents this year — as well as last year — occurred there.

“Terrorist groups in this region have flourished because of the support they have found from state and non-state actors,” he said.

The Home Minister said that terrorism is the most significant existential challenge to peace and security in South Asia and it is the single largest hindrance to socio-economic development in the region.

“The lives and safety of our people continue to remain at significant risk from targeted, deliberate and cowardly terrorist outrages,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram also expressed India’s continuing commitment to discharge its responsibilities in SAARC in an effective manner, saying it would do its best to ensure that the grouping evolves into a vibrant regional economic organisation.

“Here, I would like to recall the fruitful meeting that we had during the Conference of the Interior/Home Ministers of SAARC countries in Islamabad in June 2010 where we last met.

We agreed, inter alia, on the broad contours of cooperation to combat terrorism.

“I am sure that all of us are equally committed to our common endeavour in eliminating the menace of terrorism,” he said.

The Home Minister said the process of taking forward a proactive agenda on cooperation in our neighbourhood was integrally connected with the shared ability to cooperate in eliminating the threats posed by terrorists, drug traffickers, arms smugglers and others whose activities affect the safety and security of our people.

“On the positive side, I may note that our leaders have agreed on the need for greater regional connectivity, better transport infrastructure, enhanced flow of material and goods, effective border control regimes, and taking further steps to facilitate integration,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

He said the threat of terrorism, which is a common challenge in the region, can be tackled only with the fullest cooperation amongst the member nations of the SAARC.

“We have no alternative but to deploy the best instruments and resources at our disposal in our fight against terrorism. What we need now is to be more proactive in implementing our resolutions in letter and spirit,” he said.

For instance, he said, much more can be done by sharing information on real-time basis on terrorism and all forms of organised criminal activity.

Referring to the existing Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, signed nearly three years ago at the 15th Summit of the grouping, Chidambaram said if SAARC acts on the provisions of the Convention, it will facilitate evidence-sharing and the seizure and confiscation of criminal and terrorist funds.

“Cooperation in our region should lead us to enhancing our cooperation in international fora as well. The proposed UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is long overdue. As a region with the highest incidence of terror, we need to press for such a Convention soon.

“For our part, insofar as sharing information and capacity is concerned, India is committed to doing so in a reciprocal manner. We remain open to offering support and cooperation through training programmes in areas of criminal investigation, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, cyber crime, economic offences and bank fraud cases,” he said.

The Home Minister also announced that New Delhi will host the ‘Meeting of SAARC Eminent Experts to Strengthen Anti-Terrorism Mechanism’ sometime in October 2011.

ISI-Linked Militant Group MQM-Haqiqi and the Revival of Near Civil War In Karachi

“When the MQM went out of the control of the ISI during the first term of Benazir as Prime Minister (1988-90), the late Gen. Asif Nawaz Janjua, as the then Corps Commander at Karachi, tried to weaken Altaf Hussain’s popularity amongst the Mohajirs by trying to create a divide between the Sunni and Shia migrants from UP and Bihar. When he did not succeed, he created a split between the migrants from UP, who remained solidly behind Altaf, and some sections of those from Bihar. Allured by the ISI and Asif Nawaz, these sections formed a splinter group called the MQM (Haqiqi–Real). The MQM (H), trained, armed and instigated by the ISI, indulged in widespread acts of violence against the followers of Altaf as well as against the Sindhi nationalists.”

KARACHI: Bloodshed made its way back into Karachi on Friday with 13 killings as the city, reeling from ethnic and political conflicts that had killed over 100 people earlier this month, saw a new twist in its violent history when the Muhajir Qaumi Movement, better known as Haqiqi, attempted to stage a comeback in strongholds of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Haqiqi tries to stage comeback; Karachi party feud claims 13 lives

By Imran Ayub
Police armored personnel carrier (APC) and vehicles patrol to avoid any untoward incident during violence after a clash between two rival groups at Malir area in Karachi on Friday, July 22, 2011. – Photo by PPI

City police chief Saud Mirza said the violence was sparked when “some men of a group entered Khokhrapar area of Malir and targeted their opponents”.

The area remained under siege for over three hours and gunmen were seen strutting about without facing any resistance from police and Rangers.

As the city’s south zone remained under tight security due to the presence of President Ali Asif Ali Zardari at Bilawal House, the law enforcers appeared helpless in controlling the situation in the east district.

“We have arrested at least six suspects and are currently engaged in a major intelligence gathering action in the strife-hit
areas. We have also requested the high-ups to politically engage the parties concerned for restoration of peace,” Mr Mirza said.

The assurances from the security administration, however, fell short of easing the MQM’s fears as its legislators staged a walkout from the Sindh Assembly.

The Muttahida’s leaders blamed ‘politically patronised groups’ with support of ‘a few ministers’ for the deadly episode.

“The way our workers and sympathisers are being targeted in Malir and Landhi makes it obvious that this unleashing of
terrorism is calculated and being patronised by someone,” MQM’s deputy parliamentary leader Syed Faisal Ali Subzwari said
before leading the walkout.

However, the opposition party assured the members on the treasury benches of its cooperation in every effort for peace in Karachi.

The concerns also echoed in MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s statement issued from London.  He, however, also appealed to his party’s workers to stay calm, calling upon the government for action against terrorists.

“The MQM believes in harmony and brotherhood. It’s making all effort for peace and stability in the city, but criminals through their moves are attempting to foil its efforts,” he said.

A spokesman for the MQM-H claimed that the party had lost five senior activists who were returning to their homes in Malir early in the morning when they were attacked. According to sources, they had left their homes almost a decade ago.

The shooting sent shockwaves through the presidential camp office and President Zardari summoned Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Hussain Wasan to discuss the situation.

The meeting, which lasted almost an hour, ended with a resolve to meet the challenge and take indiscriminate action against terrorists.

“It would not be justified to blame anyone for recent violence as I don’t believe in politics of blame game,” the minister said.

Talking to reporters, he said: “It may take time to bring the situation under control in entire Karachi, but we are moving fast and in the right direction.

“The situation in Malir and Landhi is now under control except for random incident of firing.”

The violence offered another opportunity to the Awami National Party, which is now considered a ‘stakeholder’ in the city’s politics, to repeat its demand for an army operation.

Saudi Arabia Most Undemocratic Middle Eastern Regime

Saudi Arabia’s new law would make political dissent a crime

Kingdom’s ‘anti-terror’ legislation follows wave of upheavals across the Arab world

By Patrick Cockburn

Arab Spring protests
REUTERS

Arab Spring protests

The Saudi authorities have drafted new anti-terrorism legislation that makes political dissent a criminal offence and would enable the government to jail anyone who questioned the integrity of the King or Crown Prince for a minimum of 10 years.

A draft copy smuggled from the kingdom and obtained by Amnesty International shows that the definition of “terrorist crimes” under the proposed new law is so broad as to enable the authorities to detain anybody for as long as they want on such wide-ranging charges as “endangering… national unity” or “harming the reputation of the state or its position”.

The Draconian draft legislation is a sign of the deep sense of threat felt by King Abdullah and the Saudi royal family because of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement, the emergence of a Shia Iraq in the aftermath of the US invasion, and the collapse of the status quo across

Wherever the ageing Saudi rulers look, old friends are disappearing or are under pressure, and new rivals of uncertain strength are emerging.

The Saudis are known to have been particularly shocked by the fall of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the failure of the US to support him.

Yemen, in the south of the Arabian peninsula, teeters on the edge of civil war, and a Saudi-led military force has helped crush the mainly Shia pro-democracy movement in Bahrain.

The Saudi authorities were particularly worried that the open protests of the Shia majority in Bahrain would spread to the Shia population in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

In addition, they have always been suspicious, to the point of paranoia, of an Iranian-orchestrated Shia conspiracy to overthrow the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf.

Amnesty International obtained copies of of the Draft Penal Law for Terrorism for Terrorism Crimes and Financing of Terrorism, which is still to be passed, and is currently being examined by a Saudi government security committee.

“This draft law poses a serious threat to freedom of expression in the kingdom in the name of preventing terrorism,” says Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Philip Luther.

“If passed it would pave the way for even the smallest acts of peaceful dissent to be branded terrorism.”

Detainees’ rights – which have never been substantial in Saudi – would be effectively abolished. Suspects can be held for 120 days or longer if a special court so decides.

The proposed law also gives the authorities the power to arbitrarily detain somebody for up to a year or longer, and there is no right of appeal or access to a lawyer. Torture is not outlawed. The death penalty is to be applied to anybody taking up arms against the state.

Saudi officials have confirmed that the draft is authentic, but are quoted as saying that it may still be amended.

To a degree the law will institutionalise existing practice under which some 5,000 “terror” suspects are being tried or have already been sentenced. A further 33 people have been beheaded in the kingdom this year.

Though the draft law is nominally directed against “terrorism”, the Saudi authorities have proved largely successful in crushing or driving abroad al-Qa’ida.

Its surviving leaders are mostly in Yemen as part of the Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula organisation which has about 300 members according to Yemeni officials. The precise letter of Saudi law is unlikely to impress them.

The ferocity of the crackdown by the Saudi-backed al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain after demonstrations in February and March is an indication of the seriousness with which Saudi Arabia fears them spreading to the kingdom.

The draft law is evidently a pre-emptive strike against any future demand for change.

Non-“Al-Qaeda” Ultra-Rightwing Fundamentalist White Boy Hitting Norwegian Liberals

Arrested 32-year-old called himself nationalist

VG NETT

EXTREME RIGHT: Anders Behring Breivik (32) let the extreme right messages on websites.  Photo: Private“Everyone always holds a Norwegian passport is full of Norwegians’ … Which means that even Somali coach (with a Norwegian passport) who chew qat all day, banks wife and sends half the benefit of al-Shabaab should be viewed as a full Norwegian. If anyone in this country dared to look at the Somali shoulder as something other than a full Norwegians, they are racists and should burn marked public. And you say that everyone who disagrees with their extreme kulturmarxistiske world view – the utopian, global citizen definition are racists?. In that case, I think you have labeled 95% of the world’s population as just that but it does just a minor role for you?

Evacuated Apartment building: Armed police from the emergency squad was Friday night action at the apartment that the arrested 32-year-old put in Oslo.  All the neighbors were evacuated and the press were told to pull away.  Photo: Frode Hansen
Evacuated Apartment building: Armed police from the emergency squad was Friday night action at the apartment that the arrested 32-year-old put in Oslo.All the neighbors were evacuated and the press were told to pull away. Photo: Frode Hansen

Published 23.07.11 – 0:58, edited 23.07.11 – 11:20 (AP)

LONDON / Utøya (AP) Anders Behring Breivik (32) who has been arrested for the bomb in the city center, and mass killing of vermin, has lived in Oslo’s West End in his life, before he announced relocation of Hedmark for a month.

VG has received confirmation from several independent sources that it was Anders Behring Breivik, who was arrested by armed police after the mass killings of Utøya Friday.VG was also present when the emergency squad took action against the flat 32-year-old susceptible west of Oslo. Several foreign media have also named Breivik as the perpetrator. Unknown to the police

Arrested: Anders Behring Breivik (32). Photo: PRIVATE

From what VG has reported Breivik is unknown to the police before. He should have been convicted of minor traffic matters for over 10 years ago. He has no background in the military, apart from regular military service. He is registered with a Glock pistol, a rifle and a shotgun in the gun registry. Witnesses said the AP that the car the perpetrator used the stand by one of the jetties at Utstranda. The cars should be more weapons, including assault rifles. A childhood friend of Breivik says to VG Nett that he should have been right-wing in the late 20’s, and posted a series of controversial opinions on Facebook. The profile of his was deaktiviert after a while. He later created a new profile where it mainly is posted links to music videos. Do you know about the attacks or Breivik? Contact VG reporters here. Shortly before midnight police went into action against the apartment as a 32-year-old susceptible west of Oslo. Breivik must have lived there with his mother. – I was sitting in front of the TV at home and read newspapers. Suddenly the police came to the door and we were asked to leave the apartment immediately. I have not met in person, but saw him when he visits his mother, said neighbor Hemen Noaman (27), who lives on the same floor. Breivik established firm GeoFrame in 2009, and stated that the company should engage in the cultivation of vegetables, roots and tubers.The company in this industry you can get access to large amounts of fertilizer.The end of June / July, he moved well out of the apartment in Oslo west and rural Rena in Hedmark. Critical to Islam in your debates marks Anders Behring Breivik as well read, and a with strong opinions about Norwegian politics. He promotes a very conservative opinions, which he also called nationalist. He expresses himself strongly opposed to multiculturalism – that cultural differences can live together in a community. Breivik has had many posts on the site Document.no, an Islam-critical site that publishes news and commentary. In one of the posts he states that the policy in day no longer revolves around socialism against capitalism, but that the fight is between nationalism and internationalism. He expressed clear support for the nationalist mindset. Anders Behring Breivik has also commented on the Swedish news articles, where he makes it clear that he believes the media have failed by not being “NOK” Islam-critical. Created Twitter Account For six days ago he put out his first and only message on the social networking site Twitter, where he laid out a famous quote by British philosopher and sosialliberalisten John Stuart Mill. “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 WHO garden only interests.” On Facebook provide Breivik to be the director of his own company Geofarm. He claims he has an education in finance and religion, but does not disclose what universities he should have studied at. The only school he gives are Oslo Handel. All the pictures on your Facebook profile is now available that were published as late as 17 July this year. All posts on the wall was published on 17 and 18 July. Let the image of pistolløp 32-year-old is among other things, registered as a member of Oslo gun club and the Masonic Lodge. Among other interests expresses his admiration for Winston Churcill, classical music and Max Manus. The 32-year-old man has been active in computer games and has been engaged in the online game World of Warcraft. In connection with this game, he posted a picture of a pistolløp.

91 people killed–The first thing he did was shoot the cutest girl he saw–Eyewitness to VG

Police confirms: 91 people killed

DRAMATIC: There were dramatic scenes played out before rescue crews when they arrived Utøya Saturday.  Photo: Svein Wilhelmsen Gustav

DRAMATIC: There were dramatic scenes played out before rescue crews when they arrived Utøya Saturday. Photo: Svein Wilhelmsen Gustav

Eyewitness to VG: – The first thing he did was shoot the cutest girl he saw

Hid: Marius Helander Roset (left), Matt Moen Kristiansen and Jostein Helsingeng. The teenagers’ parents have given permission for them talking to VG.Photo: MATTIS SAND SHEET

UTSTRANDA / LONDON (AP) The three boys from Hedmark hid, while the mass killing the man walked around with a machine gun and tried to lure them out from their hiding place.

Marius Helander Roset, Matt Moen Kristiansen and Jostein Helsingeng are among those who escaped death by terrorist attack on Labour Youth League summer camp at Utøya. Roset ran into the woods along with three others when the desperadoes weapon began to shoot. The group of four split up, and Roset hiding under a rock. – The first crazy no one did was to shoot the first cute girl he saw, says Marius Helander Roset to VG Nett. – Could not swim There were several others to the area where Roset was to hide. After 45 minutes there was someone who gave permission to swim. – But I could not. The clothes were so heavy and wet. I swam back to the island and found a two-cave where I was hiding along with others, says Roset to VG. – The shooter was standing right near us and threw rocks into the water to lure us back, he explains further.

(AP) Adrian Pracon survived by playing dead, when he heard the perpetrator to go around him and shouting that he would kill anyone who was Utøya.

“I’ll kill everyone! Everyone must die! “

PLAYED DEATH: Adrian Pracon survived the shooting tragedy at Utøya by playing dead. Here you can see more survivors are taken care of by paramedics. Photo: Svein Wilhelmsen Gustav

– I and two others lay on the ground, and the lead because of the bodies that lay around us, we acted like we were dead, said County Secretary Telemark AUF, Adrian Pracon toCNN by telephone from the hospital. Read also: Police confirms: 91 people killed Pracon was in Labour Youth League summer camp at Utøya, when Anders Behring Breivik (32) began to fire at the camp participants on Friday afternoon. – I was perhaps seven feet away from him when he shouted that he would kill everyone, and everyone would die. He charged at me with a gun, but did not shoot, explains Pracon. Further, said county Registrar that he saw the perpetrator chase panic-stricken youth. – I could feel his breath. I could hear his shoes, he said. The man from Skien can also tell that he was among the last who came away from the carnage on Utøya. – It felt like I could not breathe. I had swallowed a lot of water, after I jumped in the water. I had no time to take off my clothes, and felt that I was heavy my clothes went down while I was swimming, he said. VGTV: Stoltenberg on Saturday morning: – A national tragedy before he had arrived in safety, he began to doubt whether he would survive. – I did not know if I should do it, I was already exhausted.Along with party colleague Bjorn Jarle Roberg-Larsen, he tells of the time after Behring Breivik came to Utøya. – He pulled out a gun, and started shooting at people after a few minutes. People panicked and tried to hide.Some jumped into the water, and tried to swim ashore, said Roberg-Larsen told CNN . Read also: mass murder Suspected called Gro “killer country” – He went, but came back maybe an hour later. He shot nearly everyone, explains Pracon.

Looking for Trouble In the Data Mine–Suspicious Spending

What Is a Threat Finance Analyst?

Since the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, the Department of Defense has added many positions to their arsenal as a way to protect the United States from another disaster of its proportions. Analyzing and identifying these threats is one way to ensure the events of September 11th do not happen again. It is also a way of protecting our borders from other threats such as drugs and illegal immigration. One of the positions that has been added is the threat finance analyst.

Tasks of a Threat Finance Analyst

A threat finance analyst works with the Department of Defense and other government agencies to protect the borders of the United States. They do so by working closely with organizations such as ICE, DoC, NCTC, CBP, NDIC, NMIC, CGIS, and the DIA just to name a few.

Someone in this position has a great deal of responsibility and understanding these responsibilities is a big part of understanding the roll of a threat finance analyst.

Some of the common tasks of a threat finance analyst are listed below to help you to determine what a threat finance analyst does.

  • A threat finance analyst must work diligently with the organizations mentioned above and other state and local agencies as a part of Task Force Quiet Storm in order to identify any type of terrorism. This includes identifying any terroristic threats in the form of terrorism, counter-drug, narco-terrorism, counterintelligence, insurgency, or any type of other operation that threatens the integrity or the systems associated with the Department of Defense.
  • The threat finance analyst should posses a working knowledge of the agencies he or she is working both with and against. They will have to know the inner workings of all systems used by the agencies they are working with and for.
  • The threat finance analyst must be prepared to analyze and figure out the meaning of large amounts of communications traffic that can be garnished from raw sources such as text, transactions, and other forms of formal data exchange. They must also piece together things by working cooperatively with other finance analysts.
  • The threat finance analyst must be able to identify the financial rings surrounding and funding any and all terrorist networks of opposition. They must also be able to strategically gather this information and analyze it as a whole to develop a plan of attack against these networks of opposition by devising a plan to attempt to cut off funding for such terrorist attacks.
  • A threat finance analyst must be able to act as a guide or mentor to less experienced analysts so that they can learn the profession and perform well on the job. This requires the review of less experienced analysts work and providing recommendations on how these rookie analysts might improve their performance.

A threat finance analyst, therefore, is an individual with an important role in national security who helps to keep the United States safe from those terrorists who want to cause harm to the country and its infrastructure.

Threat Finance Analyst ~ Washington DC, Charlottesville, VA, Afghanistan and Iraq

HOT JOB HOT JOB HOT JOB

NEK Advanced Securities Group, Inc.

Threat Finance Analyst

Work Location: Washington DC, Charlottesville, VA, Afghanistan and Iraq

APPLY/LEARN MORE AT http://www.intelligencecareers.com/jobs/11-001/jobview.cfm?jobid=3526950&domain=financ

Roles and Responsibilities: Serve as a team member with DOD and other inter-Agency analysts to provide targeting and analysis in support of coordinated inter-Agency operations against Intermittent Explosive Device (IED) proliferation networks and related threat finance and facilitation activities; build upon proven National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) methods as established and integrated with Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Defense Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and other inter-Agency partners under Task Force Quiet Storm to conduct structured, all-source analysis of global supply chain networks associated with terrorism, counterdrug, narco-terrorism, counterintelligence, insurgency, or operations which threaten the security of DOD personnel and systems; analyze specific target threat countries or events and non-state actors and insurgent/terrorist individuals or groups; knowledgeable of data and work products provided by Department of Commerce (DOC), Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), National Maritime Intelligence Center (NMIC), National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS), and various federal, state, regional, and tribal enforcement and intelligence agencies; analyze, synthesize, and interpret large amounts of textual, transactional, and technical data (IIRs, FINTEL, filtered real-time data feeds, directed-searches results, and task-specific data sources); perform pattern, trend, and link analysis based on analysis of message traffic, other raw data sources, and collaboration with other analysts; employ advanced computer tools, applications, and techniques to fuse financial and other transactional data, understand relationships, interdependencies, and conceptual scenarios which yield draft and finished intelligence findings and task-specific products such as targeting packages, pattern-of-life assessments, and intelligence gaps; review all-source information and conduct research and analysis of insurgent networks and complex terrain especially as it relates to the financial support of insurgent groups; guide and provide technical expertise on comprehensive research regarding all aspects of insurgent financial networks, serve as a subject matter expert for insurgent financing; maintain data bases and compare and contrast information from different sources and of varying reliability using current analytical tools and sound judgment; modify and create necessary data files and manipulate data to develop responses to long term production requirements and ad hoc requests; coordinate with Collection Management, regional analytic teams, and Science and Technology analysts to identify information gaps and develop collection requirements; prepare, produce, present and disseminate scheduled and unscheduled intelligence products in all formats to include formal assessments, briefings, and papers; attend and participate in professional development workshops, seminars and courses that relate to financial analysis and specific financial intelligence topics, as they are offered / available; represent NGIC as required with other DOD or national intelligence agencies /organizations; plan work to be accomplished, set priorities and prepare schedules for completion of work, mentor and guide less experienced analysts; review other analyst’s efforts and recommend improvements; serve as (primary) point of contact and targeting team lead; lead the team in identifying, distributing and balancing workload and tasks; articulate and communicate assignments and projects among employees and contractors; make adjustments to ensure timely accomplishment of tasks; develop new or modified work methods, and innovative approaches /alternative uses of new or available data sources.

DARPA Looking for Facebook Warriors

Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC)

Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-11-64
Agency: Other Defense Agencies
Office: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Location: Contracts Management Office
Solicitation Number:
DARPA-BAA-11-64
Notice Type:
Presolicitation
Synopsis:
Added: Jul 14, 2011 2:48 pm

DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of social media in strategic communication. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice. See the full DARPA-BAA-11-64 document attached.
Important Dates
Posting Date: see announcement at http://www.fbo.gov
Proposal Due Date
Initial Closing: August 30, 2011, 12:00 noon (ET)
Final Closing: October 11, 2011, 12:00 noon (ET)
Industry Day: Tuesday, August 2, 2011

U.S. Defense Department to do battle with social media

[The Internet is officially the new battlefield.]

U.S. Defense Department to do battle with social media

Calcutta News.Net

The Pentagon is asking experts to help figure out how to detect and counter propaganda on social media networks in the aftermath of theArab uprising.

The US military’s high-tech research wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has sent a request for experts to look at ‘a new science of social networks’ that would attempt to get ahead of the curve of events unfolding on new media.

The program aims to track ‘purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation” in social networks and to pursue’. According to DARPA’s request for proposals issued on July 14, the program will also help ‘counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations’, The Telegraph reports.

Some senior US officials have spoken of the need to better track unrest revealed in social networks and to look for ways to shape outcomes in the Arab world through Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

“Events of strategic as well as tactical importance to our Armed Forces are increasingly taking place in social media space. We must, therefore, be aware of these events as they are happening and be in a position to defend ourselves within that space against adverse outcomes,” an announcement by DARPA said.

“Changes to the nature of conflict resulting from the use of social media are likely to be as profound as those resulting from previous communications revolutions,” it added.

DARPA has planned to spend 42 million dollars on the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, with prospective contractors asked to test algorithms through experiments with social media. (ANI)

Ukraine and the South Stream bogeyman

[When did trans-national pipeline building become the equivalent of waging economic war?]

New Europe: Ukraine and the South Stream bogeyman“South Stream is more of an alternative to the Russian gas pipeline transiting Ukraine,” Pavel Sorokin, an oil and gas analyst at Moscow’s Alfa Bank, said.

Ukraine and the South Stream bogeyman

Author: Kostis Geropoulos
Energy Insider: A New Europe Column by Kostis Geropoulos

The thing that keeps Ukrainian officials awake at night in Kiev is Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline – the fear that the project will finally be constructed and remove gas volumes crossing the former Soviet republic on the way to Europe and thus lucrative transit fees.

“South Stream is more of an alternative to the Russian gas pipeline transiting Ukraine,” Pavel Sorokin, an oil & gas analyst at Moscow’s Alfa Bank, told New Europe on 20 July. “It was one of the bargaining points with Ukraine and one of the factors which should have made Ukraine more cooperative in the gas questions because, of course, if South Stream was built it would take most of the volumes away from Ukraine which would have significantly worsened the economic situation in the country, as that would take the transit fees for gas away from Ukraine and that could have a disastrous effect for Ukraine’s economy.”

South Stream, a pricey joint-project of Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI, is strongly backed by Russia, which has a strong interest in the ambitious project since it would enable larger gas sales to Europe, reinforce its position on the European market, limit access for its competitors namely the EU-backed Nabucco and thus strengthen Russia economically and politically, European analysts say. It will also strengthen its influence on the countries in Southeast Europe. Russia has signed cooperation agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria. Romania and FYROM are also to be included.

On 19 July, Ukraine independently launched in a symbolic ceremony the modernization of the country’s Gas Transportation System (GTS). The EU predicts that European financial institutions will take positive decisions on allocation of credit means to Ukraine for modernisation of the GTS will be made in late 2011, the EU Delegation in Ukraine said in a statement. Nevertheless, Ukrainian officials also hope in Russian participation.

South Stream spokesman Sebastian Sass told New Europe on 22 July that their investors – including majors ENI, French EDF and German Wintershall as well as smaller companies from the Balkans – are committed to the Gazprom-led South Stream project. But in terms of security of supply, the advantage of South Stream is that it is providing diversification of routes, Sass said. “If you extend existing routes, if you increase the capacity of existing routes, then you will not achieve any diversification… We believe that the advantage of South Stream vis-a-vis upgrading the Ukrainian network is that we provide an additional route option.”

Sorokin added that upgrading Ukraine’s transit pipelines and Russia’s South Stream project are linked: “I think in a way these two projects are interconnected at least politically and of course Ukraine did oppose South Stream significantly. So Ukraine is indeed engaging or once again considering refurbishment of its gas transit system with the help of Gazprom so that may indicate some agreement being reached between the two sides. We have to wait and see who takes part in the refurbishment, in what form and proportion,” Sorokin said.
Russia has also being pushing for a merger of Ukraine’s state-owned oil and gas firm Naftogaz with Gazprom. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has said Kiev is not planning such a merger. He added that Naftogaz was interested in cooperation with Gazprom in such joint projects as modernisation of Ukraine’s GTS. Russia has said it is open to discuss modernising Ukraine’s pipelines but added that it will not abandon South Stream. “Gazprom is definitely interested in securing a major shareholding in the Ukrainian transit and distribution entities but it is hard to say where exactly the talks stand now,” Sorokin said.

For now, Ukrainians will keep tossing and turning during these warm summer nights, worrying that South Stream will be built and, as one source privately said, “We will lose everything.”

Moscow Laser Attacker Apprehended

Laser attacker on aircrews detained in Moscow

Laser attacker on aircrews detained in MoscowSpecial services have detained a laser attacker in Moscow, who pointed laser beams at aircrews near the Vnukovo Airport.

Interfax-Ukraine

Moscow, July 22 (Interfax) – Special services have detained a laser attacker in Moscow, who pointed laser beams at aircrews near the Vnukovo Airport.

“The Federal Security Service has carried out a combined search operation jointly with police, tracking down Alexander Kuleznyov, born in 1987, who had used a laser to blind aircrews repeatedly from near the Vnukovo Airport,” the FSB’s Public Relations Center informed Interfax on Friday.

Two laser pointers were discovered at Kuleznyov’s apartment on July 21. One of them produces a beam with a range of up to 40 kilometers, the FSB said.

Labour Camp Death Count Climbing, Now Estimated at 30

LABOUR’S CAMP TURNS DEADLY

July 22, 2011

Unconfirmed reports were streaming in Friday evening that as many as 30 young members of the Norwegian Labour Party were gunned down and feared dead, victims of a suspected terrorist dressed as a police officer. The shootings began at the party’s annual summer camp on an island in the Tyri Fjord, just a few hours after the Norwegian capital was also struck by a massive and deadly explosion.

The drama began after the gunman reportedly arrived on the island known as Utøya in a high-speed rubber raft. He was dressed as a police officer and witnesses said he started gunning down campers, many of them teenagers, who were gathered along the water.

Bodies in the water
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) aired video taken from a helicopter of bodies floating in the water, and others desperately trying to swim from the island back to the mainland in an effort to escape the gunman. One man who tried to help rescue campers off the island in a small boat told NRK he saw as many as 25 to 30 dead, but police could not confirm any number of fatalities.

There were more than 600 members of Labour’s youth organization AUF on the island at the time. They were being evacuated Friday night and taken to nearby Sundvollen, where police set up an emergency center for victims and their families. The main E16 highway through the area, which runs between Oslo and Bergen, was closed. A long line of ambulances carried the wounded and dead to nearby hospitals.

The annual summer camp is viewed as a breeding grounds of sorts for future Labour Party leaders, attracting young and often ambitious future politicians. It also attracts current leaders of the party, known as Arbeiderpartiet (Ap) in Norwegian, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was scheduled to visit the camp on Saturday. Former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland had been scheduled to visit the camp on Friday, but her status was unclear. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre was at the camp on Wednesday.

Prime Minister deeply shaken
Stoltenberg, who escaped Friday’s bombing of ministries including his office in downtown Oslo, was clearly shaken by the reports of shootings at this party’s summer camp. He has taken part in the camp himself every summer since the early 1970s.

“It’s supposed to be a place for discussions, play, summer experiences,” he told NRK Friday evening, while being interviewed from a location undisclosed for security purposes.

“This is dramatic, it’s frightening, but we must not allow ourselves to be scared,” Stoltenberg said. “We stand for an open society, and open democracy in Norway, and violence like this can’t scare us.”

He said that Friday’s apparently parallel attacks, both in downtown Oslo and on Utøya, “puts our system to the test,” but he remained confident the country’s emergency response would meet the challenge.

Asked whether he thought the attacks were an attack on Labour, he declined to give a straight answer, saying instead that “it’s very worrisome.” Stoltenberg was meeting in emergency session with his fellow government ministers, many of whom were on Norway’s traditional July summer holidays when the attacks began.  Stoltenberg said he also had received many condolences from other heads of state, including a message of support and sympathy from the US.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund