U.S. Officials Continue to Shift Focus From al Qaeda to ‘Home-Grown Extremists’

U.S. Officials Continue to Shift Focus From al Qaeda to ‘Home-Grown Extremists’

By Madison Ruppert
theintelhub.com

Last year I broke down a report from the Homeland Security Policy Institute which not only lent support for increasingly harsh and widespread police state measures, but also served to shift attention away from the supposed threat posed by foreign terrorist groups towards the alleged threat of domestic terrorists.

One of the prime targets for demonization by both the establishment media and law enforcement has been the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement, something which I have written about previously here at End the Lie.

This is all part of a concerted effort to turn almost everything into a sign of potential terrorist activity while breeding a culture of delusional paranoiacitizen spying and ubiquitous surveillance.

Now U.S. government officials have said that al Qaeda’s core organization cannot carry out another attack like the horrific events of September 11, 2001 and the likelihood of a chemical, biological, atomic or radiological attack over the next year are minimal.

Interestingly, this view expressed by the deputy director of U.S. National Intelligence Robert Cardillo conflicts with the ludicrous claims made recently about al Qaeda potentially planning another 9/11 in an attempt to justify an extended American military presence in Afghanistan.

Cardillo and other anonymous U.S. officials described their assessments on a conference call with journalists during which they claimed that the Arab Spring is also helping weaken the “core” al Qaeda organization.

However, al Qaeda has been quite vocal in showing support for Western-backed uprisings in Syria and Libya, which is hardly surprising when one is aware of what al Qaeda actually is and what purpose they serve, especially in the current events in the Middle East.

Mark Hosenball reports for the Associated Press that, “More worrying to U.S. counterterrorism officials and their allies abroad is the possibility of home-grown extremists, or “lone wolves,” who are radicalized over the Internet or in small cells, but who also now are being given encouragement by media outlets connected to al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

The officials would not go as far as to say that al Qaeda is on the brink of “strategic defeat,” since this would completely eradicate the primary justification for the American police state along with the Department of Homeland Security’s massive operations, the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, etc.

While discounting the planning power and resources available to the “core” al Qaeda organization, these officials did identify four loosely affiliated groups which they say still pose “threats of greater or lesser degree to U.S. interests”

They claim that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the most dangerous group, which is hardly surprising seeing as they need to justify bombing people without knowing who they are and killing American citizens based on secret legal justifications.

They also cited al Qaeda in Iraq – which emerged thanks to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation – which they claim maintains “a potentially lethal presence” in Iraq.

Furthermore, they claim al Qaeda in Iraq may be expanding operations into Syria, although they admitted that they do not think that it poses a threat to U.S. interests outside of that region.

They also brought up al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is in the North Africa region, although they said that it is mostly engaged in criminal activities like kidnapping for ransom money.

However, they did say that they were worried that these tactics could eventually become “more spectacular kidnappings intended to win publicity for militant causes.”

The officials noted that despite a short period during which Somalia’s al Shabaab enjoyed attention from “disillusioned Islamic youths in both the United States and Europe,” they are now seeing a measurable falloff in the organization’s Western support and recruiting.

However, an anonymous official in counterterrorism noted that it is “clear we’ve made progress towards defeating al Qaeda the organization,” although the ideology and other elements of the organization remain intact.

He also claimed that “a number of active networks in the United Kingdom” remain.

I see this as part of the larger push to shift the attention away from foreign threats and towards the people of the United States in order to legitimize the ludicrous spending and eradication of liberties required to maintain the American police state.

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Washington And Israel Threaten Humanity

Washington And Israel Threaten Humanity.

By Stephen Lendman

So does NATO. It’s America’s imperial tool. An alliance for war, not peace, enemies were invented post-Soviet Russia.

Communism then was the alleged threat. Today it’s terrorism. Strategically intervening under US control, world peace and humanity are threatened.

NATO wages America’s wars. Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asian ones involve Israel. Both countries threaten world peace.

Israel wants unchallenged regional power. Washington wants it globally. Together, they threaten humanity. Hell hath no fury like their alliance.

Obama is America’s latest warrior president. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. He accomplished the impossible. He governs to the right of George Bush. Yet he retains enough support so far for reelection.

In November, perhaps the economy will undo him. Perhaps he’ll avoid it by heightening fear for more war. He’s more belligerent than all his predecessors.

Public apathy lets him get away with it. People worry more about pocket book issues. Manipulated fear diverts them to security. It works most every time.

Peter Bergin’s an establishment figure. He directs national security studies for the New America Foundation. He’s also a right-wing print and television contributor, as well as a member of the National Security Preparedness Group. It replaced the 9/11 Commission to perpetuate its whitewash.

On April 28, his New York Times op-ed headlined “Warrior in Chief,” saying:

After getting the Nobel Peace Peace prize months into his tenure, he “turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.”

He’s worse than that, of course. He exceeds all his predecessors by far. No one’s been more belligerent. No one waged more wars simultaneously and threatens more. No one endangers humanity like he does.

Candidate Obama promised peace. President Obama doubled down George Bush and then some. Discussing Afghanistan on October 27, 2007, he said:

“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this (and the Iraq) war(s). You can take that to the bank.”

Months earlier he said:

“If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and (Afghan) President Musharraf won’t act, we will. I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America.”

Perhaps no remembers either statement. Perhaps too few know America’s only enemies are ones it invents. Terrorism is a catch-all term used to incite fear and justify conflict. When it wears thin, something else will replace it.

Bergin tried having it both ways. His title implies criticism. His content combines praise and muted disapproval. He avoided rule of law principles, truth and full disclosure.

His article ignores Obama’s threat to world peace, his Nobel award hypocrisy, and how he and Bush alienated more countries than any previous US leader.

Liberals helped elect him, said Bergin “in part because of his opposition to the Iraq (and Afghan) war(s).” They “probably don’t celebrate (his) military accomplishments.”

Bergin calls them “sizable,” but couldn’t name any. He tried, of course, but failed. He “decimated Al Qaeda’s leadership,” he claimed. In fact, popular resistance across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia looks stronger than ever. The more deaths at America’s hands, the more enemies it makes.

“He overthrew the Libyan dictator.” In fact, Africa’s most developed country was ravaged, not liberated. Libya’s a charnel house, a raging cauldron. No central authority exists. Battles rage for control. Libyans are terrorized, traumatized, and impoverished. Some accomplishment!

“He ramped up drone attacks in Pakistan, waged effective covert wars in Yemen and Somalia, and authorized a threefold increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan.”

Is Bergin pleased or critical? It’s hard to say. He admitted that Obama “became the first president to authorize the assassination of a (US) citizen.” He falsely called Anwar al-Awlaki a threat. He also claimed Obama killed Osama.

He ignored the staged event. Bin Ladin wasn’t killed or targeted. Seriously ill, he died naturally in December 2001. On December 26, 2001, Fox News reported it, saying:

He “died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended (his) funeral.”

Other media also reported his death. In October 2007, appearing on BBC with David Frost, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said bin Laden died years ago. In December that year, she was assassinated in Rawalpindi. Perhaps her admission played a part.

Obama didn’t kill Osama. Dead men don’t die twice.

Bergin wonders why Obama supporters ignore his “acting as judge and executioner” by ordering hundreds of drone strikes, killing thousands since 2009.

There’s been a “dramatic cognitive disconnect between (his) record and the public perception of his leadership.” Despite his belligerence, conservatives and others think he’s a “peacenik.”

Political posturing, of course, explains it. Supporter views are another matter. Clear facts are in plain sight. Many don’t accept them. Obama’s rhetoric belies his policies.

During Bush’s tenure, drone attacks struck Pakistan “every 43 days.” In Obama’s first two years alone, it was “every four days.”

Perhaps it’s now multiple times daily in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, other targeted countries, and more to come. Obama the peace candidate is “more Teddy Roosevelt than Jimmy Carter.”

In 1906, TR won a Nobel Peace Prize, but didn’t wage war on humanity. Carter was the 2002 recipient. Obama elevated Nobel hypocrisy to new heights. Bergin noted how fast he opts for military intervention.

Knowledgeable supporters shouldn’t be surprised. Politicians always say one thing and do another, especially on issues matter most like waging war.

In office, Bush expanded CIA funding, staff, and operations. Obama outdid him and then some for covert missions, drone wars, and other initiatives. Stopping short of calling him “trigger-happy,” Bergin said he’s “completely shaken the ‘Vietnam syndrome….”

Perhaps he forgot GHW Bush saying on March 2, 1991, after the Gulf War:

“By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

He was right. From January then to now, America’s been at war with Iraq, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere from North Africa to Central Asia. Obama’s its latest exponent. Trigger-happy fits him well.

Waging multiple wars, he can’t wait to start another. In a second term, who knows what he’ll do.

Partnered with Israel should give supporters pause. Both nations are modern day Spartas. Militarism and war is their way of life, overtly and covertly. Both are also nuclear armed and dangerous.

Under its current leadership, Israel is especially threatening. On April 28, Haaretz headlined “Israel’s former Shin Bet chief: I have no confidence in Netanyahu, Barak,” saying:

Yuval Diskin harshly criticized both leaders. They’re not worthy to lead Israel, he said, explaining:

“My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war.”

“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings.”

Both are “messianics,” he said. One’s from “Akirov or the Assuta project.” The other’s from “Gaza Street or Caesarea.” He referred to where they live. They ought to be cordoned off and kept there.

“Believe me, I have observed them from up close…. They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event.”

“They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”

In March, former Mossad head Meir Dagan said attacking Iran would be “devastating” for Israel. Doing so would ignite regional war. You know how things start, but not end. Attacking Iran will put Israel “in a very serious situation for quite a time.”

Diskin added that over the past 10 or 15 years, Israel got “more racist….toward Arabs and foreigners, and we are also….a more belligerent society.”

He also worries about extremist Jews. He fears another political assassination like Yitzhak Rabin, and wonders what could come next.

Commenting at the time, Haaretz contributor Amos Harel headlined “Shin Bet chief’s vote of no confidence is another blow to Netanyahu and Barak,” saying:

His rebuke and Diskin’s elevated “the confrontation over the Iranian question to another level….Dagan seems to be on a divine mission to stop the bombing.”

Diskin feels the same way. So do other cooler heads, but they’re outnumbered in high places.

Nonetheless, senior Israeli security officials “whisper” similar views. Shouting might work better.

Diskin’s rebuke followed IDF chief Benny Gantz calling Iran’s leadership “very rational.” He doubted Tehran would “go the extra mile” to develop nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu, Barak, and others around them go to great lengths to cite nonexistent threats, Israel’s determination to remove them, and efforts to enlist America’s support. In an election year. Perhaps 2013, not now.

Political Washington wants regime change. Whether by war isn’t known. Even America has cooler heads but not enough.

“Nothing has been determined in the Iranian story, and the spring is about to boil over into another summer of tension,” said Harel.

If Obama heads for Israel soon, it’ll show Washington’s going all out to avoid war this year. Wait ’till next year, he may say. Belligerent partners may delay another fight, but seldom decline them.

For now, Syria is top priority. Obama and Netanyahu want Assad replaced with a puppet regime subservient to Washington and Israel. Western generated violence rages for it. Intervention may follow.

Harel left that issue unaddressed or the legitimacy of waging wars against non-belligerent states. What’s more important than that.

Haaretz contributor Gideon Levy believes “Nothing has changed in Israel since 1948,” saying:

Business as usual continues. “In 1948, new immigrants were brought straight from the ships into abandoned Palestinian homes with pots of food still simmering in the kitchen, and no one asked too many questions.”

“In 2012, the Israeli government is trying to whitewash the theft of Palestinian lands, all the while scorning the law.”

Earlier crimes repeat now. Those in power “us(e) the same corrupt means” as before. War crimes then become today’s. Justifications always are fraudulent. At issue are land and power grabs.

Continuing them sends the world a message. “We will never stop this crushing, ultranationalist melody – then as now, in 1948 and in 2012.”

Levy also came down hard on Zionist ideology headlining “After 115 years, it’s time for Zionism to retire,” saying:

It should have happened long ago. Something more legitimate is needed. In its 64th year as a state, “no one even knows what” role Zionism has or “how it is defined.”

Consign it to the history books and be done with it. It’s no longer relevant. It’s done enough damage. Reinvigorating or reinventing a bad idea assures something worse as a result.

“In Israel 2012, a pursuer of justice and human rights is by definition not Zionist.” Even discussing morality and rule of law principles “is blatantly ‘not Zionist.’ “

“Anyone who blindly supports all of Israel’s misdeeds (is) Zionist. Critics are called anti-Semites, even if they are Jewish.”

“Zionism is a negative epithet and….mark of shame.” It’s time has passed. It never should have been in the first place.

Imagine the bloodshed avoided. Imagine how many lives will be spared if peace, reconciliation, and justice replace Zionist instigated conflict.

It’s about dominance, not Jewishness. Everyone for right over wrong should want it sent to history’s dustbin and rejected.

It might even slow Washington’s war machine. Stopping it takes heavier lifting. What better time to start than now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/


Norwegian Scholar Connects Breivik to Mossad – Israel National News

Norwegian Scholar Connects Breivik to Mossad

Israel National News.

Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung connects Mossad to Breivik massacre, claims Jews control 96% of world media.
 

By Elad Benari

 
Anders Behring Breivik
Anders Behring Breivik
Reuters

Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung has said that he is not ruling out the possibility that the Mossad was involved in the massacre carried out by Anders Behring Breivik last July.

The comments were made by Galtung last September at a lecture entitled “Ten Theses on July 22” at theUniversity of Oslo. July 22 was the date on which Breivik shot panicked youths at point-blank range at the Utoya island, killing 69 people.

He also claimed that Breivik “belonged to the Freemasonry organization which is based on Judaism.”

Galtung, who founded the Peace Research Institute Oslo in 1959, noted that the date on which the massacre took place is the same date when, in 1946, the underground Jewish movement the Irgun planted explosives at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of the British Army at the time. Warnings were given by members of the Irgun to clear the hotel, but were ignored by the British.

Furthermore, in a recent interview with the Norwegian magazine Humanist quoted by the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Monday, Galtung claimed that Jews control the world media and tilt public opinion in favor of Israel.

“The Jews control 96 percent of world media,” Galtung claimed during the interview, adding that the directors of Walt Disney, Warner Brothers and Viacom are all Jews, as are directors in the big American television networks.

“Is this accidental? If there is a Jewish boss it means Jewish control,” he claimed.

Referring to the massacre in Norway, Galtung told the newspaper that a European journalist who had surmised that the Mossad was behind the massacre “was vilified.” He then added that there was also a conspiracy to assassinate a former U.S. senator known for his anti-Israel positions.

Galtung claimed that Israel is the only place in the world in which the issue of anti-Semitism is permitted to be dealt with and said that Jews think that only they are allowed to speak out against themselves.

“I remember a famous professor in Israel who said, ‘Anti-Semitism means opposing us more than we deserve,’” Galtung said. “The meaning of his words is that he believes that Jews deserve some of the accusations, but thinks that only Jews can say that.”

Soon after Breivik carried out his horrendous attack, anti-Zionists tried to pin it on Israel and the Mossad.

The Al Jazeera network, for example, published an article by Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist and political activist known for his criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism.

Atzmon harped on the Norwegian Labor party’s support for boycotting Israel and noted, “The Labor Party Youth Movement have been devoted promoters of the Israel Boycott campaign. Many of the children who were gunned down by Breivik earlier had held up anti-Israel signs.”

Egypt’s Popular Anger Shifts to Israel and Saudi Arabia – Bloomberg

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Egypt’s Popular Anger Shifts to Israel and Saudi Arabia

– Bloomberg.

Egyptians are angry, say Arab commentators, and it’s not just because of unemployment, deteriorating security or the continued de-facto rule of the military.

Their ire is also very much connected to foreign policy, and specifically to the ties with two countries that have loomed so large in Egypt’s modern history: Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both states took a beating in the Egyptian media this past week: Israel, over a controversial gas deal with Egypt that has been suspended, and Saudi Arabia over its arrest of a prominent Egyptian human-rights campaigner who was performing a religious pilgrimage.

In each case, Egyptian generals and their unelected allies in government have been forced to try to tame the conflicts, which are being fueled by a wide popular movement — strongly backed by elected political parties including the Muslim Brotherhood — to reassert Egypt’s dignity and prestige in the region.

The annulment of the contract leads to “the achievement of a definite popular wish to stop the exportation of gas to the Zionist entity,” wrote the columnist Wagdi Zeineddin in Al-Wafd, the Cairo-based newspaper of the liberal Al-Wafd party.

The deal to deliver Egyptian natural gas to the Israel Electric Corp. was signed in 2008 under ousted President Hosni Mubarak and accounts for 40 percent of Israel’s annual natural-gas usage.

It has long been condemned by Arab columnists because the sale price that the Mubarak government agreed to – allegedly thanks to huge bribes to the Egyptian-led gas consortium and government officials – is said to be well below market price.

Since last February, the pipeline that supplies gas to Israel, as well as to some Arab states such as Jordan, has been blown up more than a dozen times.

“We hope the decision will not be recanted and that the Egyptians’ joy will not be wasted or caused to go in vain,” said Zeineddin, who warned the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces against restarting gas shipments to Israel even at market price.

“Mubarak’s era was characterized by a submission to Israeli dictations, the implementation of Israel’s wishes and a subjugation to American pressures which prevented Egypt from constituting a source of defiance to Israel,” wrote the columnist Abdul Ghafar Shukr in the Al-Ahram daily, which generally supports the military council.

Under Mubarak, Shukr asserted, the Egyptian government avoided:

…any action which could be considered by Israel as harmful to it, whether at the level of direct Egyptian-Israeli relations or at the level of the Gaza Strip where Mubarak’s consecutive governments participated in the imposition of the blockade and the implementation of Israel’s conditions to enter it or exit it from the Egyptian side.

The annulment of the gas deal has revived “the spirit of Egypt’s position towards its historical enemy,” he concluded, “and we will not allow the killing of this spirit ever again.”

Equally delighted by the Egyptian decision, the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds wrote in an editorialthat it signals changes that go well “beyond gas.”

“The issue has another aspect, deeply related to politics in light of the radical change taking place in Egypt since the fall of Mubarak and his regime,” it wrote.

Even though the armed forces council is keen to “calm its foreign fronts until the situation is stabilized at home,” sooner or later “change will come, and Egyptian-Israeli relations will no longer be as calm they used to be in the days of Mubarak.”

This could have positive consequences for the Palestinian struggle, the paper said, as Israel will want to end its occupation of Palestinian lands sooner to avoid provoking the wrath of the growing “revolutionary forces and Islamic trends” in  surrounding states.

Although Israel has long been the target of Arab columnists, Saudi Arabia never faced large, sustained public criticism in Egypt during the Mubarak era.

This past week, however, there were raucous protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Cairo – it was eventually closed and the ambassador was withdrawn – which was accompanied by a graffiti and social-media campaign disparaging the Saudi king directly. Pundits chimed in to say they are fed up with how the Saudis treat Egyptian workers and how they treat Egyptians in Egypt.

The cause of the indignation was the arrest of the Egyptian lawyer Ahmed el-Gizawi upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia on April 17. The Saudi authorities eventually claimed Gizawi had been found with more than 20,000 Xanax pills hidden in his luggage, a grave offense.

Joseph Mayton, editor-in-chief of Egypt’s Bikyamasr.com, suggested that the real reason for his arrest was that Gizawi had recently filed cases against the Saudi government “over its refusal to take action to end the horrific conditions of Egyptian workers.”

The treatment of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia, he wrote in an opinion piece for the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar daily, has angered human-rights workers, labor activists and social commentators in Egypt for several years.

Mayton said any “reasonable observer” can see the holes in the Saudi case. “The weight of a bag carrying that much medicine would be enormous. Activists even calculated the expected weight of 20,000 pills to be much higher than the allotted weight permitted on a flight!”

Recounting the flood of social-media invective against the Saudis, he cautioned:

While the anger is understandable, attacking Saudi citizens for the ills of their government is counterproductive. Activists should focus their outrage toward the government and the powers that have arrested Gizawi and permitted the abuse of Egyptian workers to continue. This would allow for allies among the Saudi people to emerge that could assist in releasing Gizawi and help to reduce, and ultimately end, the dangers associated with working in the kingdom.

Either way, Mayton concluded:

…the Egyptian psyche has changed. Online, Egyptians are fighting against corruption across borders, attempting to hold their own government responsible for the well being of their citizens abroad, and more importantly, taking ownership over matters they perceive as infringing on Egyptian dignity. And it is no longer a one-off expression of frustration, but a concerted effort for change.

The era when “Arab despots entertained one another, oblivious to the masses, is over, at least in Egypt,” he said.

Still, unlike the widespread support for canceling the gas deal with Israel, the deteriorating relations with Saudi Arabia brought calls for caution among some politicians and commentators.

The Salafist An-Nour party, which subscribes to the Saudi brand of ultraconservative Islam, announced it would hold “love and appreciation” counter-demonstrations in support of the kingdom. That probably was met with relief by government officials desperate to ensure the imminent delivery of more than $1 billion in Saudi aid.

The columnist Samir Rajab, writing in the pro-military council Al-Jumhuriyah, was among those who chastised demonstrators.

“It is not acceptable that the demonstrators protesting outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo raise slogans carrying statements that insult the ruling system there or the king himself,” he wrote. Still, he directed some gentle criticism at the Saudi authorities over Gizawi’s arrest for an offense “which did not happen.”

Abdel-Beri Atwan, the editor in chief of Al-Quds al-Arabi, wrote that the dispute over Gizawi, in addition to serving notice to other states that Egyptians can no longer be trampled, sends “a message of warning to all the other Arab authorities that are humiliating Arab citizens because their governments are weak and corrupt and do not defend these citizens the way they should.”

That puts the Saudis in a bind, he said: “Gizawi’s release after all this commotion would be a problem and his arrest and lashing would be a greater problem. Had there been a just judiciary in Saudi Arabia, the picture would have been completely different.”

The Egyptians’ call for justice and dignity both at home and abroad contradicts the theories of Western columnists such as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who just this weekendexplained that the Arab revolts are the first popular movements in more than a century “not animated by foreign policy or anti-colonialism or Israel or Britain.”

Try to telling that to Arabs on Twitter… or, for that matter, to Egyptians protesting outside the Saudi Embassy.

(Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad are the Beirut correspondents for the World View blog. The opinions expressed are their own.)

To contact the writers of this article:

noe@mideastwire.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this article:

Lisa Beyer at lbeyer3@bloomberg.net or +1-212-205-0372.

Over 100 still missing in Assam’s ferry disaster, search operation on

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Over 100 still missing in Assam’s ferry disaster, search operation on

– The Times of India.

GUWAHATI:Rescue operations continued in the Brahmaputra in Assam Tuesday, a day after a ferry capsized in the river killing nearly 70 people, but with at least 150 still missing the death toll was expected to rise, officials said. 

On Tuesday, the district administration pressed into service a helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to step up the rescue operations in Monday’s incident, in which a storm hit the ferry, causing it to drown in Lower Assam’s Dhubri district. 

Abdul Aziz, a survivor, said there were over 300 passengers on the ferry. “The storm was so strong that it broke the ferry into pieces,” he said. 

A district administration official said: “The casualty might go up as we are yet to ascertain the exact number of passengers on the ferry. As per our information, about 240 passengers bought tickets but there were passengers without tickets too.” 

“We have taken all possible measures to search and rescue victims.” 

At least 68 people died and over 150 are still missing after the ferry, which was on its way to Madattari under Fakirganj police station from Dhubri town, capsized in heavy storm inBrahmaputra river Monday evening. 

The Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF), which started rescue operations immediately after the incident along with local people, could bring ashore 80 people till Monday night. Some passengers managed to swim to the river bank. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP from the state, Monday expressed shock about the loss of lives in the boat tragedy and conveyed his deepest condolences to the near and dear ones of those who lost their lives, said an official release. 

He has also instructed officials for all possible assistance to the state government in relief operations and also for assistance from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to families of the deceased. 

The prime minister spoke to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to convey his condolences and express solidarity with the people of Assam. 

An official communique from the chief minister’s office said Gogoi has directed the chief secretary and principal secretary, revenue and disaster management department, to expedite rescue and relief operations.