Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts

December 21, 2016

Picture of Tunisian Man Wanted in Berlin Terror Attack

The Independent Uk reports The image appeared to match those on a Facebook profile of a Tunisian man called Anis Amri.
Der Spiegel reported that the suspect was born in 1992 in the city of Tataouine, although he was also believed to go under at least two other aliases and gave authorities differing dates of birth.
In the district of Kleve, in North Rhine-Westphalia, he went under the name Ahmed A, 21, the Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
It was unclear when the suspect arrived in Germany but a confidential security database entry from February reportedly showed authorities believed he had links to Isis, which was reported to be using his hometown as a transit base for fighters last year.

German Police Looking for Tunisian Man in Terror Truck Killings

Image: Christmas market attack

The truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany. Tobias Schwarz / AFP - Getty Images

German authorities scoured the country Wednesday for a Tunisian asylum seeker who is being sought in the truck rampage through a Christmas festival here that killed 12 people and injured 48.
Investigators don't know if there is more than one perpetrator at large. The new suspect emerged after police found documents in the truck belonging to a 24-year-old Tunisian national identified only as Anis A, the German magazine Spiegel reported on its website.
He was identified from a document relating to asylum that was found in the vehicle's cabin, Spiegel and Allgemeine Zeitung reported. The document said Anis A. was born in the southern Tunisian city of Tataouine in 1992, Spiegel said. It reported that he is also known by two aliases.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that he applied for asylum in April and received a temporary residence permit.
Photographs purporting to be of Anis A. were circulating on social media. 
A previous suspect, a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker, was released Tuesday evening because prosecutors did not find enough evidence linking him to the incident. He denied any involvement in the assault.
Germany is treating the attack as terrorism, which the Islamic State said was carried out by a "soldier." No evidence has emerged establishing a connection to the militant group, which has staged and inspired assaults across Europe and the United States.
Berlin police urged people to be especially alert Wednesday and warned that the person or persons responsible were likely armed and dangerous. As of Tuesday night, police had received more than 500 tips about the attack. Security has been tightened in Berlin and across other European capital cities.
"I am relatively confident that we will perhaps tomorrow or in the near future be able to present a new suspect," Andre Schulz, the chairman of the Federation of German Detectives, told state broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.
One report, by Berlin's RBB news, said the truck's driver may be injured and that police were using DNA recovered from the vehicle to see if the attacker was hiding among the injured in the hospital. A related theory circulating in German media is that the truck's original Polish driver, who was found dead at the scene, may have tried to fight the perpetrator and wrestle him for the steering wheel as the truck was being driven into the market. Police have not commented on that idea.
Six of the dead have been identified as German nationals, according to German news agency DPA, citing police. Another five have not yet been identified. The Polish driver was found dead in the truck's passenger seat. A woman from Italy and another from Israel were missing after the attack, according to DPA.
"We will not let cosmopolitan Berlin be taken by such a cowardly attack, by fear and terror," Berlin Mayor Michael Müller said at a memorial service at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, close to the site of the attack, on Tuesday evening.
The prospect that the perpetrator is a recent migrant is fueling an anti-immigrant backlash in Germany, which has admitted nearly 1 million people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migration policy.

December 20, 2016

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Terror Attack in Berlin

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the truck attack in Berlin on Monday. The attack has left at least 12 dead and dozens more injured.
NBC reports the Pakistani migrant who was arrested Tuesday as a suspect in the deadly truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Germany has been released because of insufficient evidence. 
The man was arrested not far from the scene of Monday night's carnage in the German capital, where 12 people were killed and nearly 50 others wounded. 
But the Federal Prosecutor’s Office released him Tuesday night after investigators said they could not prove he was in the cabin of the truck during the rampage.
Local media identified the suspect as "Naved B.," a 23-year-old who entered Germany via Austria on Dec. 31, 2015. He was reportedly already known to police for minor offenses. Those reports could not immediately be confirmed by NBC News. 
De Maiziere said only a few of the victims had been identified so far, and that 18 of the 48 wounded had suffered severe injuries. 
Among the dead was a Polish man found shot to death inside the cab of the stolen truck. The weapon has not been found. 
Bloodstained clothing was also found inside the cab, but the suspect in custody was wearing clean clothes, Frank said. 
Christmas markets in Berlin were closed Tuesday as a mark of respect for the victims, but the interior ministry said other events around the country would take place with increased security measures.

July 15, 2016

Bastille Day Attacks (Timeline and self updating graph)

The details of the terror attack that occurred late Thursday night are still developing, Graphiq has put together a timeline and map of the events that will update as new developments become available.

July 1, 2016

Obama Made Offer to Putin He Can’t Refuse but Might


The Obama administration has offered to help Russia improve its targeting of terrorist groups in Syria if Moscow will stop bombing civilians and opposition fighters who have signed on to a cease-fire and use its influence to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to do the same.

The offer early this week of what one administration official called “enhanced information sharing” does not include joint military planning, targeting or coordination with U.S. airstrikes or other operations in Syria.

But it would expand cooperation beyond the “deconfliction” talks the U.S. and Russian militaries began last year to ensure their planes do not run into each other in Syria’s increasingly crowded airspace.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who has long opposed any additional cooperation, said Thursday that if Russia would “do the right thing in Syria — that’s an important condition — as in all cases with Russia, we’re willing to work with them.”

“The Russians got off on the wrong foot in Syria,” Carter said. The stated purpose of airstrikes Russia began last fall was “to fight ISIL and . . . assist the political transition in Syria towards a post-Assad government.”

“They haven’t done either of those things,” he said. ISIL, along with ISIS and Daesh, is an alternative term for the Islamic State.

Senior administration officials declined to discuss details of the proposal, saying that publicizing the content of diplomatic talks would undermine their possible success.

“We’ve made no bones about the fact that if the Russians, with their military presence in Syria, proved to be willing to focus those efforts against Daesh, then that’s a conversation we would be willing to have,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

“There have been proposals offered by multiple parties,” he said. “We’re certainly not going to start laying those out publicly.”

The United States and Russia, while backing opposing sides in Syria’s civil war, co-chair an international task force that agreed early this year — along with Assad and the opposition — to support a “cessation of hostilities” and begin negotiations for a political solution that would allow the international community to turn its full attention to the fight against the Islamic State.

More than 400,000 Syrians have died in the civil war, which has also displaced half the population, with millions fleeing to neighboring countries and beyond.

The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, are not parties to the truce. The administration has charged that Russia and Assad’s forces have violated it by continuing to launch airstrikes and other attacks on the anti-Assad opposition and civilians, under the guise of targeting the terrorist groups.

“What has prevented us from being able to more effectively coordinate militarily is that what the Russians have been militarily doing is propping up Assad and not going after ISIL,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Russia has defended its actions, and those of Assad, by saying that U.S.-backed opposition fighters are interwoven with Jabhat al-Nusra forces, especially around the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo.

While violations of the truce have escalated throughout Syria’s populated western third, Aleppo has become the epicenter of fighting. Jabhat al-Nusra forces are principally massed to the south of the city. While the administration has acknowledged some overlap in opposition-held areas to the north, officials charge that Russia’s principal interest in bombing there is to help Assad’s forces close rebel and humanitarian supply lines across the nearby Turkish border.

The advance of Islamic State fighters to areas close to Aleppo and other populated areas has also brought U.S. and Russian aircraft into closer proximity over the complicated Syrian battlefield. The Islamic State has rarely clashed with Assad.

In early May, as the cease-fire and U.N.-shepherded peace talks headed toward collapse, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed to send senior military officers to “sit at the same table” in Geneva, where they set up a center to monitor violations.

Weeks later Russia — which has long sought more coordination with the West in Syria — proposed joint airstrikes against Jabhat-al-Nusra with the U.S.-led coalition that is bombing Islamic State positions.

Although U.S. officials were dismissive, the proposal unsettled U.S.-backed opposition representatives, who feared a backroom U.S.-Russia deal. They have said they will not return to the negotiating table until the violence abates.

Kerry and other U.S. officials have remained in close contact with their Russian counterparts, trying out a series of possible initiatives to revitalize the cease-fire, including the new offer of increased intelligence sharing on terrorist positions. Kerry is “fixated” on the Syria issue, “and he will stay so,” Kirby said.

Kerry has long advocated a more robust U.S. strategy to help the anti-Assad opposition, including additional weapons systems and the possible bombing of Assad’s military assets. Internal unhappiness with the current strategy, and the humanitarian disaster the war has brought to Syria, led 51 U.S. diplomats last month to write an internal “dissent channel” appeal for U.S. military action.

While President Obama has steadily increased U.S. attacks against the Islamic State in Syria, he has rejected entreaties for more direct involvement in the civil war, saying that he does not see how it would improve the situation. 
But Obama has blessed efforts to persuade Russia to change its policies, including the intelligence offer.

Administration officials believe that the Russians have no deep attachment to Assad himself but fear his removal would spark a collapse of Syrian institutions and allow terrorist expansion — something the Obama administration has said will happen if Assad remains.

In an address Thursday to Russian ambassadors gathered in Moscow from across the world, President Vladi­mir Putin said that he was “prepared to work with any future president” and was interested in closer cooperation with the United States in international affairs.

“However, we consider unacceptable the approach on the part of the American establishment, which believes that they can decide in what issues they will cooperate with us,” Putin said.

November 21, 2015

This Morning French and Russian Jets Raid Syrian(Jihadists) Targets


The raids came a day after Moscow said it was a "terrorist attack" that brought down a Russian passenger jet over Egypt last month, killing all 224 people on board. 
Those deaths and the shootings and suicide bombings in Paris were claimed by the Islamic State, which declared a self-styled "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria last year.
Since Sunday, Russian and French raids have struck arms depots, barracks and other areas in Raqa city, the jihadists' bastion in northern Syria. 
"This is where we must hit Daesh, in its lifeblood," said French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, using the Arabic acronym for the group in comments late Wednesday.
A preliminary death toll by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said 72 hours of strikes "have left 33 dead and dozens wounded in IS ranks."
"The limited number of deaths can be explained by the fact that the jihadists had taken precautions," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, who relies on a network of activists, medics and other sources inside Syria.
"There were only guards around the depots and barracks and most of those killed were at the checkpoints," he said.
The families of foreign fighters in IS, which number thousands, had left Raqa for Mosul, IS's relatively "safer" Iraq bastion. 
The Pentagon said Moscow warned Washington of its impending attacks on Raqa. This was to avoid any US planes in the area being endangered, spokesman Peter Cook said, which "wasn't necessary in this case".
- IS based in 'civilian homes' -
Aktham Alwany, a journalist and activist from Raqa, said civilians in the city were "only moving around when necessary."
"No one knows when the next strike is, whichever the nationality -- Russian, regime, coalition," and many are considering moving to the city's outskirts which are bombed less frequently, he said. 
"Unfortunately, it's no secret that IS's bases are inside civilian homes. There are some bases that look like they're for IS, but in reality they're empty fakes, while civilian homes are teeming with them," Alwany told AFP. 
Raqa city was Syria's first provincial capital lost by the government, seized by rebels in 2013 then overrun by IS in January 2014.
When the jihadist group captured Mosul in neighbouring Iraq in June 2014, its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" across Iraq and Syria.
The group's speedy expansion sparked a US-led coalition to begin carrying out air strikes on it in both Iraq and Syria. France began striking the latter as part of the coalition in September. 
And Moscow began its own air war in Syria, in coordination with embattled President Bashar al-Assad, on September 30.
But after the attacks in Paris and the downing of the Russian civilian airliner, France and Russia agreed to coordinate their military and security services to fight IS. 
On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin instructed his military to work with France "as allies," and agreed in a phone call with French President Francois Hollande on "closer contact and coordination" of operations in Syria. 
- Assad a 'lesser evil' -
And US President Barack Obama praised Russia as a "constructive partner" in international talks in Vienna aimed at reaching a solution to Syria's bloody conflict, which has left 250,000 dead. 
The US and France have been firm backers of Syria's uprising, while Russia and Iran have remained staunch allies of Assad. 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday it would be "simply unacceptable" to set Assad's departure as a precondition to "fight against terror." 
Although profound differences in policies remain, IS's attacks have shifted international focus on to the jihadist group. 
Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu said Wednesday Ankara "has plans" for a joint operation with the United States to root out IS's presence along its border with Syria. 
And Spain's foreign minister said engaging with Assad was a "lesser evil." 
"If you want peace, you are going to have get along with Assad at least on a temporary basis," Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said. 
Late Tuesday, Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate and key IS rival, Al-Nusra Front, said it had downed two Russian reconnaissance drones over an airbase it controls in northwestern Syria.
If confirmed, the incident would be the first time the armed opposition down a Russian aircraft in Syria.

Terror in Mali

 People run to cover by the Blu Hotel

DAKAR, Senegal — Heavily armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” stormed a Radisson Blu hotel Friday morning in Bamako, the capital of the West African nation of Mali, seizing scores of hostages and leaving bodies strewn across the building. 

The gunmen barreled past the hotel’s light security early in the morning, confusing guards with fake diplomatic license plates, and then burst into its glass-door lobby with their guns blazing.

“They started firing everywhere,” said a receptionist at the hotel who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. “They were shouting, ‘Allahu akbar.’ They cut someone’s throat, a white man. That was awful.”

“I hid in my office,” he said. “I saw four of them, armed to the teeth.”

A senior United Nations official said that as many as 27 people had been killed, with bodies found in the basement and on the second floor, according to a preliminary assessment of the devastating attack.
Police officers blocked the street near La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako, Mali, on Saturday, after five people were shot dead overnight there in a suspected terrorist attack.Gunman Kills Five in Restaurant in MaliMARCH 7, 2015 
By late afternoon, the siege appeared to be ending. No more hostages were being held, said Col. Salif Traore, Mali’s minister of interior security. Two assailants had been killed, he said, but security forces were still sweeping the hotel for other attackers who had holed up in a corner of the hotel.

From early on during the attack, dozens of hostages, many of them crying – including women, children and older people — streamed out of the hotel after hiding in their rooms, said Amadou Sidibé, a local reporter at the scene.

According to the operators of the hotel, 125 guests and 13 employees were inside the hotel after the siege began.

An American Defense official said that 12 to 15 Americans were believed to be at the hotel when the gunmen first arrived. Six American citizens were recovered safely from the hotel, he said. The status of the others is not clear. 

The recent terrorist attacks have reignited a debate on the balance between civil liberties and national security. We would like to hear from you.
American Special Operations forces “are currently assisting hostage recovery efforts,” said Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman with the United States Africa Command. “U.S. forces have helped move civilians to secure locations, as Malian forces work to clear the hotel of hostile gunmen.”

The siege in Mali, a former French colony, came only a week after terrorists with assault rifles and suicide vests killed 129 people in attacks across Paris.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack in Mali. Al Jazeera reported that it had received a recording asserting that a local militant group, Al Mourabitoun, had carried out the siege in conjunction with Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, though the claim could not be independently confirmed.

Qaeda supporters quickly praised the attack, with one even saying that the Islamic State “should learn a thing or two,” reflecting the rivalry between the two groups.
“We don’t want to scare our people, but we have already said that Mali will have to get used to situations like this,” President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, who was on a visit to neighboring Chad, told France 24. “We must all remain humble. No one, nowhere, is safe given the danger of terrorism.”

Northern Mali fell under the control of rebels and Islamist militants in 2012. A French-led offensive ousted them in 2013, but remnants of the militant groups have staged a number of attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian forces. Hundreds of French soldiers remain in the country.

The Radisson Blu hotel is a popular place for foreigners to stay in Bamako, a city with a population approaching two million, and French citizens were among those taken hostage.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that two Germans were among the hostages who had been released from the hotel.

Four Belgians were registered in the hotel, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman in that country. At least one of them, a 39-year-old Belgian working for the Wallonia-Brussels regional parliament, died during the attack. He was in Mali for three days for a meeting.

A diplomat at the Chinese embassy in Bamako said that eight Chinese business people had been trapped in the hotel as well. Embassy officials at the scene were in touch with some of the Chinese hostages by WeChat, a Chinese messaging service, the diplomat said.
Kassim Traoré, a Malian journalist who was in a building about 50 meters, or 160 feet, from the Radisson, said the attackers had told hostages to recite a declaration of Muslim faith as a way separating Muslims from non-Muslims. Those who could recite the declaration, the Shahada, were allowed to leave the hotel. The Shabab, a Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, used a similar approach in the attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013.

The security forces moved through the hotel, floor by floor, freeing hostages as they went, Mr. Traoré added.

Some of the people who fled the hotel were not wearing any clothes as they were taken to a police station. 

[U.S. Military Played No Direct Role in Mali Crisis, Official Says]
“We were just evacuated from the hotel by security forces; I know that there are a lot of people inside right now,” one hostage who made it to safety told France24 television. “I saw bodies in the lobby. What is happening right now is really horrible.”

“I was hidden in my room barely a couple minutes, a couple seconds ago, and someone shouted, telling us to get out,” the hostage said. “My door was smashed open, the security forces arrived.”

Another French hostage, who did not want to be identified, told a friend in Bamako that a group of people were trapped on the roof of the hotel, along with the body of one person who had died in the attack. The hostage told the friend that the French Consulate had told hostages by text message to stay put and wait for a military assault. 

Kamissoko Lassine, the chief pastry chef of the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, said that two armed men arrived at the hotel between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Security forces evacuated residents from an area surrounding the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Friday. Credit Habibou Kouyate/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“They were driving a vehicle with diplomatic plates,” he said. “You know how easy that is at the hotel? The guards just lifted the barrier.”

“They opened fire and wounded the guard at the front,” said Mr. Lassine, who said he was able to slip out a back door and make it home safely. “They took the hotel hostage and moved people into a big hall.”

A member of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, who asked not to be identified, said there were many French people in the hotel, including Air France staff members, along with a delegation for the International Organization of French Speakers. Air France later said in a statement that 12 members of its crew had been at the hotel and were freed.

Five Turkish Airlines crew members, including pilots and flight attendants, have also been freed, while two remained inside the hotel, a Turkish government official said.
Mali has been crippled by instability since January, 2012, when rebels and Al Qaeda-linked militants — armed with the remnants of late Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s arsenal — began advancing through the country’s vast desert in the north and capturing towns.

A military coup, stirred in part by anger over the government’s handling of the insurrection, overthrew Mali’s elected government in March 2012. Amid the chaos, Islamist rebels managed to consolidate their hold on the northern part of the country, imposing a harsh version of Islamic law.

In January of 2013, the Islamist forces began advancing south from their northern stronghold, heading in the direction of Mali’s capital. France sent in troops to stop them. A brief military campaign halted the Islamist advance, recaptured towns like Timbuktu that had been under the militants’ control, and chased the remaining Islamist fighters back into the desert.

But in a shocking twist, other militants linked to Al Qaeda stormed a vast gas production facility in the desert of neighboring Algeria, taking dozens of expatriate workers hostage. Some 38 were killed during the siege of the gas plant. 

With hundreds of French troops still present in Mali and the country highly reliant on donors, elections in the summer of 2013 restored a democratic government. But its hold on the north remains weak.

There are frequent attacks by Islamist fighters, particular on United Nations troops, in the northern provinces. A shaky peace deal signed in June has not stopped the attacks, and in August five United Nations workers were killed in an assault on a hotel in central Mali. Five months before, militants killed five at a restaurant in Bamako.

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, the operator of the Radisson Blu Hotel Bamako, said it was in contact with the local authorities, and the United States Embassy said it had issued a warning to staff members and American citizens to shelter in place. 

France has about 800 troops stationed in Mali as part of a larger 3,500-member regional force in West Africa. Only about a dozen or so of those troops are in Bamako itself, however.

There was no formal claim of responsibility for the siege, but supporters of the Islamic State were posting on Twitter in celebration of the attack under the hashtags #IslamicState, #ParisIsBurning and #Mali_Is_Burning.

In the assault in August, jihadists stormed a hotel in Sévaré, north of the capital, where United Nations staff members were staying, seizing hostages and killing at least five Malian soldiers and a United Nations contractor.

Dionne Searcey reported from from Dakar, Senegal, and Adam Nossiter from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Rukmini Callimachi, Lilia Blaise and Nabih Bulos from Paris, Saskia de Rothschild in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Jane Perlez from Beijing, Helene Cooper in Washington and Somini Sengupta at the United Nations.

November 14, 2015

Terror in Paris


The night was chilly but thick with excitement as the big match between France’s national soccer team and archrival Germany was underway at the national stadium in a northern suburb of Paris. President François Hollande watched with the crowd as the French players pushed the ball across midfield.

Then came the sharp, unmistakable crack of an explosion, overwhelming the roar of the crowd. A stunned moment passed. Players and spectators seemed confused, and eventually the awful realization swept through the stadium: Terror, for the second time this year, had struck Paris.
The symmetry could not be more jarring. A Parisian year that began with the bloodshed and chaos of the terrorist attacks at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and later at a Jewish grocery now had an even deadlier coda: With events still fluid and exact details unclear, the authorities said more than 100 people had been killed in a series of attacks across Paris. And dozens of people were taken hostage at a Parisian theater.

A blanket was placed over a body outside the Bataclan theater in Paris on Friday. A rock concert there became the scene of a hostage-taking. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press
The urgent, bleating screech of sirens filled the evening air as police cruisers raced through the streets, uncertain if more mayhem was to come. Taxis ferried people home without charge as the police advised residents to stay inside. Ambulances screamed down the boulevards, as a stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?

“Paris has been hit again by terror tonight,” Deputy Mayor Patrick Klugman said on Twitter.

For three days in January, Paris was gripped with fear as the police searched for Chérif and Saïd Kouachi after the two brothers attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices, a manhunt that ended with the Kouachis dying in a shootout. The terror only deepened when a third terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, attacked a Jewish grocery, killing customers, before the police stormed the building and killed him.

Those attacks left France reeling for months, dredging up sadness and fury and horror. They also stirred a national debate over freedom of expression and the state of French Islam, a topic that has divided France like few others and seems certain to intensify now.

The attackers’ names, or whether they are linked to radical Islamist groups, are not yet known. But some witnesses described militants shouting “God is great” in Arabic before opening fire. 

France was already in a foul temper, with the economy stagnant and far-right politicians stoking anti-immigrant sentiment, especially Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front. Ms. Le Pen has mocked Mr. Hollande as weak and stirred French nationalism by vowing to close borders. With regional elections scheduled for Dec. 16, Ms. Le Pen seems certain to keep rising in the polls.

“Of course Le Pen is going to capitalize on this,” said Laurence Bagot, 45, a French entrepreneur. “She has already been using rhetoric like closing borders and increasing national security. Now that’s actually happening.”

The French authorities, sharply criticized for failing to monitor the homegrown jihadists who had been known to security officials, vowed to tighten scrutiny of suspected terror cells and protect the country. Ms. Bagot said the attacks seemed to occur after French security was lowered months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

“It feels like we’ve created a monster, where the terrorists know better than our own security forces how to maneuver,” she said. “These people are agile, young, have no morals and no limits.”

On Friday night, the usual Parisian reverie was replaced by chaos.

At the Stade de France, spectators described a sense of panic as the explosions shook the stadium and quickly undermined whatever confidence had returned in the months since the attack on the magazine.

“Of course I’m afraid for the future,” said Tony Vandelle, 31, who attended the France-Germany match with his brother. “With all the strikes in Syria, we’re not safe anymore.”

“Already France was traumatized when Charlie Hebdo happened, including our children, who still talk about it at school,” he added. “This is taking things to another level. To see something like this again so soon is frightening for the future.”

Karim Laruelle and his brother, Smaen, described hearing three explosions. “It sounded like firecrackers,” Karim Laruelle said. “We did not really know what was happening until we started getting texts from our families telling us the shootings had happened elsewhere in Paris.

“They wanted to know if we were safe.” 

It was a question that resonated in every corner of the city. At the junction of Folie-Méricourt and Oberkampf, roughly 150 yards from the Bataclan theater, where a rock concert had become a hostage scene, the sound of shooting echoed from the direction of the theater: single shots followed by automatic fire and a series of loud bangs.

Besides the assaults at the Bataclan and the stadium, the attackers chose several of Paris’s busiest night life streets and intersections, including the Boulevard Voltaire, the Boulevard Beaumarchais and the Rue de Charonne.

A man calling himself Leo, who lives near the Rue de Charonne, told Europe 1, a radio network, that his wife was among the first to help victims near the Petit Cambodge restaurant — describing the scene as a “massacre” and “apocalyptic.”

His wife told him that bodies were “littered on the ground.”

At the Bataclan, a reporter named Julien Pearce told Europe 1 that two men entered the theater with guns blazing.

“The men shot at the audience, which lasted for about 10 minutes, with one shot lasting three or four seconds,” he said. “They shot, recharged their guns, and shot again, even aiming at those already lying on the ground. I saw about 10 bodies lying on the ground, but couldn’t tell whether they were injured or dead.”

The day had begun with ominous warnings: bomb threats at the German soccer team’s hotel and at Gare de Lyon, one of the city’s train stations. Trains coming into the station were halted or rerouted as officers combed the building for explosives. The hotel was also searched. Time passed.

Then the police reopened the station. It was a bomb scare. They happen fairly often in Paris. The city resumed its rhythms, unaware of what was to come.

Liz Alderman reported from Paris, and Jim Yardley from Rome. Andrew Higgins and Adam Nossiter contributed reporting from Paris, and Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura from London.

New York Times

November 6, 2015

Pres.Obama Believes a Bomb Destroyed the Russian Passenger Jet


— President Obama said last night (Thursday eve.) that there was “a possibility” that a terrorist bomb was responsible for the destruction of a Russian passenger plane that broke apart last Saturday over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. 

Mr. Obama said in a radio interview that there may have been a bomb on the plane, but he did not go as far as his counterparts in Britain, who have suggested that the destruction of the plane, and the death of all on board, was most likely the result of a terrorist explosion.

“I don’t think we know yet,” Mr. Obama told the Seattle radio station KIRO during an interview broadcast on Thursday afternoon. “Whenever you’ve got a plane crash, first of all you’ve got the tragedy, you’ve got making sure there’s an investigation on site. I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board. And we are taking that very seriously.” 

Russian emergency services personnel at the site of the Metrojet crash in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.Britain, Concerned About Russian Crash, Halts Sinai FlightsNOV. 4, 2015
Russian crews collected the personal belongings of passengers on the Metrojet flight on Tuesday on the Sinai Peninsula in EgyptFlash Was Detected as Russian Jet Broke Apart, U.S. Military Officials SayNOV. 3, 2015

A tourist watched the sun set over the Red Sea in the resort town of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in June.Sinai Plane Crash Threatens a Bright Spot for Egyptian TourismNOV. 2, 2015
“We are going to spend a lot of time making sure our own investigators and our own intelligence community figures out exactly what’s going on before we make any definitive pronouncements,” Mr. Obama added. “But it is certainly possible that there was a bomb on board.”

At the White House earlier in the day, administration officials said that the United States had not yet made a determination about the cause of the crash near the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el Sheikh, but added that the government had not excluded the possibility of a bomb.

“We can’t rule anything out, including the possibility of terrorism,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters in Washington.

In London on Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron said that “more likely than not a terrorist bomb” had brought down the plane as he announced plans to bring British citizens back from Sharm el Sheikh.

Mr. Obama’s comments were the first direct indication by the president that the downing of the Russian airliner might have been something other than a technical malfunction. American officials have repeatedly cautioned that the cause of the crash was still under investigation.

Officials have noted that no American airlines fly to or from the airport in Egypt where the Russian plane began its flight. And they said before the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration had already issued guidance to airlines to fly higher above the region.

Mr. Obama’s comments came during a series of short interviews with five radio stations across the country in which the president urged people to sign up for health insurance at during the current open enrollment period. During one of the interviews, Mr. Obama was asked about the Russian plane.

In recent days, administration officials have noted the differences between the crash of the Russian plane and other airline disasters. Unlike the case last year of the missing Malaysian jetliner, the United States does not have F.B.I. agents working directly on the crash.

“Right now there are not,” Mr. Earnest said Wednesday afternoon. “Right now this is an Egyptian investigation. The Russians are involved in it.”
Officials have said American investigators were “in touch” with their counterparts in other countries who are looking into the crash. But without an American known to be on the flight — a presence that often gives officials a reason to participate in the investigation of a crash — there has been no reason for direct United States involvement, they said.

The Russians and the Egyptians have also not asked for help from the United States in the investigation, officials said.

Mr. Cameron made his remarks about the crash in an appearance at No. 10 Downing Street with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.

New York Times

Could ISIS  have bombed Flight 92668?

When an Islamic State affiliate in Egypt claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian airliner on Saturday, analysts were initially sceptical about the group's ability to bring down a passenger jet.
Speculation focused on an assumption that the group, which calls itself Sinai Province, was claiming to have fired a missile at the plane - almost certainly beyond its technical means.
But five days on from the crash, which killed all 224 people on board shortly after take-off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the UK has grounded flights at the resort and David Cameron has said it is “more likely than not" that a bomb brought down the plane.

UK military officials are now on their way to Egypt and security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport is under intense scrutiny. Julian Bray, an aviation security analyst, says it is "highly probable" that even a relatively unsophisticated terror group could get a bomb on a jet leaving the resort.
"It is unlikely a passenger would be able to stow it on board the aircraft, but it is quite likely it could have been taken into somewhere like the cargo shed and then into a container in the plane," he says.
“All passenger aircraft nowadays carry cargo as well, which often comes as a complete sealed unit, and the concern is that at airports like Sharm security is lax around cargo.

"A lot of the airports in the Far East and Middle East are running on a shoestring and they have to turn round aircraft and cargo as fast as possible.
"That leads to skimping on security procedures."

Egypt has criticized suggestions that a bomb was involved in the crash. Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal said the country's airports all comply with international security standards.
Investigators are yet to reveal any information from the aircraft’s black box recorders and there is no concrete evidence of a bomb attack.

US media reported on Tuesday that a military satellite detected a "heat flash" over Sinai at the time of the crash, suggesting an explosion, but officials said they have not ruled out a technical malfunction.
On Wednesday, Sinai Province, which emerged in 2011, reiterated its claim of responsibility in an audio recording circulated on social media, but refused to give any details about the method used.
"We brought it down by God's help, but we are under no obligation to reveal the mechanism we used," the statement said. "So search the wreckage of the plane, and find your black box and analyse it."
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Media captionDid bomb cause Sinai plane crash?
The data retrieved from the black boxes may reveal whether a bomb was involved. If Sinai Province’s claim is corroborated, it will be the first IS attack against a passenger aircraft - a grisly milestone for the terror organization.

Spectacular attacks against civilian targets - especially planes - have so far been the preserve of IS's much older rival, al-Qaeda, which was behind 9/11.
AQAP, al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, claimed responsibility for two bombs discovered unexploded on cargo planes in 2010 - one in London and one in Dubai. The 300-400g devices - large enough to bring down a plane - were hidden in printer cartridges aboard cargo flights from Yemen.
Both packages were destined for Chicago and timed using mobile phones to detonate over the US mainland.

And in 2010, the CIA said it had foiled a plot by AQAP to smuggle a technically advanced bomb on board an airliner bound for the United States.
By contrast, IS has so far focused on taking land and hostages, and inspiring lone wolf attacks in other parts of the world rather than planning its own sophisticated operations.

Debris from the plane was spread over a wide area, indicating it broke up in mid-air
Many analysts have been waiting for a high-profile terror attack by IS, according to Dr HA Hellyer, a Middle East expert with the Royal United Services Institute. But the scale of the Metrojet attack would nonetheless be a surprise, he says.
“I don't think anybody expected an attack on a plane, maybe on a hotel or a kidnapping ... but nobody expected something this large.

"I don't think it will surprise anyone such a radical and extremist group has targeted civilians, but certainly the nature of this attack is very dramatic," he says.
If the attack is confirmed it would be a significant propaganda coup for IS, says Dr Hellyer. “It would mean that they've taken out a huge number of civilians at once, and struck a blow against two of their enemies at once, Russia and Egypt."

And it will remain a success of sorts for IS even if investigators rule that the plane was brought down by a technical fault, he says.
"If it turns out that they didn't do it, that is still a victory in a sense. We are having this conversation now. They have managed to dominate the discussion, and that in itself is a communications victory."

January 22, 2015

Unlikely friendship between two Japanese men at the crossroad of death

 Kenji Goto’s Twitter picture

It is an unlikely friendship that ties the fates of war correspondent Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa, the two Japanese hostages for which Islamic Statemilitants demanded a $200 million ransom this week.
Yukawa was captured in August outside Aleppo. Goto, who had returned to Syria in late October to try to help his friend, had been missing since then.
For Yukawa, who dreamed of becoming a military contractor, traveling to Syria had been part of an effort to turn his life around after going bankrupt, losing his wife to cancer and attempting suicide, according to associates and his own accounts. 

  • A unit at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been seeking information on him since August, people involved in that effort said. Goto’s disappearance had not been reported until Tuesday’s video apparently showing him and Yukawa kneeling in orange t-shirts next to a masked Islamic State militant wielding a knife.
Yukawa first met Goto in Syria in April and asked him to take him to Iraq. He wanted to know how to operate in a conflict zone. They went together in June.
“He was hapless and didn’t know what he was doing. He needed someone with experience to help him,” Goto told Reuters.
Yukawa then returned to Syria in July on his own. Goto (47), returned to Japan. Yukawa’s subsequent abduction haunted Goto, who felt he had to do something to help the man, a few years his junior.
“I need to go there at least once and see my fixers and ask them what the current situation is. I need to talk to them face to face. I think that’s necessary,” Goto told Reuters in August, referring to locals who work freelance for foreign correspondents, setting up meetings and helping with the language.
Goto began working as a full-time war correspondent in 1996 and had established a reputation as a careful and reliable operator for Japanese broadcasters, including NHK.
“He understood what he had to do and he was cautious,” said Naomi Toyoda, who reported with him from Jordan in the 1990s.
Goto, who converted to Christianity in 1997, also spoke of his faith in the context of his job. “I have seen horrible places and have risked my life, but I know that somehow God will always save me,” he said in a May article for the Japanese publication Christian Today. But he told the same publication that he never risked anything dangerous, citing a passage in the Bible, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
In October, Goto’s wife had a baby, the couple’s second child. He has an older daughter from a previous marriage, people who know the family said.
About the same time, he made plans to leave for Syria and uploaded several short video clips to his Twitter feed, one showing him with media credentials issued by anti-government rebels in Aleppo.
On October 22nd, he emailed an acquaintance, a high school teacher, to say he planned to be back in Japan at the end of the month.
Friends say he travelled from Tokyo to Istanbul and travelled from there to Syria, sending a message on October 25th that he had crossed the border and was safe.
“Whatever happens, this is my responsibility,” Goto said on a video recorded shortly before he set out for Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State.
That was the last time he was seen before the IS video this week.

January 13, 2015

Defiant Charlie will go on the Cover with Muhammad //PEGIDA in Germany Mobilizes 25k

French police patrol near the Louvre museum. Photo: 12 January 2015 
This week's edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will show a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad holding a "Je suis Charlie" sign.
Above the cartoon are the words "All is forgiven". This comes after Islamist gunmen last week raided the magazine's Paris office, killing 12 people.
Meanwhile, French MPs will gather for the first time since the attack.
In Israel, the funerals will be held of four Jewish victims of a separate Paris shooting by an Islamist gunman.
A total of 17 people were killed in three days of terror attacks in the French capital last week.
About 10,000 troops are being deployed across France after the attacks, and a huge unity rally was held in Paris on Sunday.
'Not giving in'
The latest cover of Charlie Hebdo has been published in advance by French media.
People hold signs reading "Je suis Charlie" during a unity rally in Paris. Photo: 11 January 2015 On Sunday, about 1.5 million people rallied in Paris in a show of solidarity with the victims
Members of the Zaka emergency response team pray beside the coffins of four victims of an attack at a kosher supermarket on Friday, before their transport from Paris to Israel for burial, 12 January 2015The four men killed in Friday's supermarket attack will be buried in Jerusalem
The slogan in French "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") was widely used following the 7 January attack on the magazine, as people sought to show their support.
Three million copies of Wednesday's edition are being printed. Normally only 60,000 are sold each week.
Charlie Hebdo's lawyer Richard Malka told France Info radio: "We will not give in. The spirit of 'I am Charlie' means the right to blaspheme."
Survivors of the massacre have been working on the magazine from the offices of the French daily newspaper Liberation.
Five of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists - including the editor - were killed in the attack.
The new edition will be created "only by people from Charlie Hebdo", its financial director, Eric Portheault, told AFP news agency.
Contributions from other cartoonists were declined.
New footage
The violence began after brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi attacked the magazine's office. Witnesses said they shouted "we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" after the shootings.
The brothers were later killed by French security services after a stand-off north of Paris.
Separately, Amedy Coulibaly - whom investigators have linked to the brothers - had killed four people at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday before police stormed the building. 
Coulibaly is also believed to have shot dead a policewoman the day before.
His partner Hayat Boumeddiene is now believed to be in Syria. She has been identified as a suspect by French police, although she left France before the attacks.
Newly-released CCTV footage appears to show her arriving at an Istanbul airport in Turkey on 2 January.
The four Jewish victims of the supermarket attack will be buried at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem later on Tuesday.
The victims' relatives will recite a traditional prayer and read eulogies. 
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also speak at the funerals - a measure of the connection Israel feels with events in Paris, the BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem reports.
Their challenge is to find words to address the sense in Israel that the dead were victims of a mood of anti-semitism as well as an act of Islamist extremism, our correspondent adds.
Boumeddiene's route
2 Jan: Flew from Madrid to Istanbul, accompanied by French citizen Mehdi Sabry Belhoucine. The pair attracted the suspicions of Turkish authorities, who put them under surveillance. They stayed at a hotel in the city for two days, where Boumeddiene is reported to have bought a mobile phone and SIM card
4 Jan: Domestic flight to Sanliurfa near Syrian border. She is reported to have made a number of calls to France from Turkey. The pair did not use their return tickets to Madrid, dated 9 January
8 Jan: Crossed into Syria. On the same day, her partner Amedy Coulibaly shoots dead a policewoman, using Boumeddiene's car in the attack. The French authorities announce they are looking for her
10 Jan: Last recorded phone call, reportedly from the Syrian town of Tel Abyad - not far from the border
A record 25,000 people have joined an anti-Islamisation rally in Dresden, Germany, called in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
The protesters defied calls from German politicians to stay away from the Pegida organisation's rally.
Elsewhere across Germany, tens of thousands of people joined anti-Pegida rallies.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will attend a protest organised by Muslim groups in Berlin on Tuesday.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas was one of several leading politicians to urge the Pegida march organisers in Dresden not to "misuse" the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket. 
However, the rally in the eastern city went ahead, drawing a record 25,000.
Marchers carried banners expressing solidarity with the French cartoonists, killed by Islamists in Paris.
A minute's silence in memory of the dead was also expected to be held.
A protestor holds a poster showing German Chancellor Angela Merkel wearing a head scarf in front of the Reichtstags building with a crescent on top and the writing "Mrs Merkel here is the people" during a rally of the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, in Dresden, Germany, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015.Some 25,000 attended the Pegida demonstration in Dresden
DRESDEN, GERMANY - JANUARY 12: Supporters of the Pegida movement march to show their solidarity with the victims of the recent Paris terror attacks during their weekly march on January 12, 2015 in Dresden, GermanyThe anti-Islamisation group has organised several Dresden marches in recent weeks
Pegida - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West - has organised a number of Dresden rallies, and drew 18,000 a week ago.
The anti-Pegida rallies on Monday drew 7,000 in Dresden, 30,000 in Leipzig, 20,000 in Munich and 19,000 in Hanover.
People gather to take part in a protest against anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) at the Jewish synagogue in DresdenAnti-Pegida protesters outside a synagogue in Dresden on Monday
At the scene: BBC's Jenny Hill in Dresden
They marched in silence - at first at least. Normally Pegida's demonstrations in Dresden are rowdy affairs but this, organisers emphasised, was a "Trauermarsch" (a mourning march) dedicated to the victims of the Paris shootings. 
Pegida's been accused of trying to capitalise on the terror attacks, and Angela Merkel warned Germans not to support them.
But tonight thousands of people ignored her, some wearing black ribbons as they marched. 
Pegida officials expressed their sorrow at what happened in France. But they also took the opportunity to unveil a streamlined manifesto. A response, perhaps, to critics who point to a lack of cohesion, a difference of ideology among their supporters. 
Take Karl, a pensioner who clapped me on the shoulder and smiled amiably as he pointed up at his banner: "Asylum seekers go home!"
Compare him to a man standing close by who wants Germany to stop weapons exports. Or the woman who fears that the country cannot cope with the current rate of immigration. But something unites these people - and that's a growing dissatisfaction with - and even a distrust of - the political establishment.
In a series of interviews, Mr Maas accused the anti-Islamist group of hypocrisy.
"In Dresden people want to remember with a black ribbon the victims in Paris - those same people whom a week ago they were calling the 'lying press'," he said.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also criticised the organisers while Bavarian leader Horst Seehofer called on them to stop the marches for the foreseeable future.
The chancellor, who was meeting Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday, was set to take part in a demonstration against the French murders in Berlin planned by Muslim groups on Tuesday, her spokesman said.
"Islam is part of Germany," said Mrs Merkel on Monday. "I am the chancellor of all Germans."
Hamburger Morgenpost damaged by incendiary device (11 Jan 2015)Files were damaged in a weekend arson attack on the Hamburger Morgenpost 
The growth of the anti-Islamisation marches over recent weeks has worried Germany's political leadership. 
Tensions were further raised at the weekend when arsonists attacked a Hamburg newspaper that republished controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which had originally been printed by Charlie Hebdo in 2006.
The men who attacked Charlie Hebdo last week were said to have shouted out that they had avenged the Prophet for the cartoons.
What is Pegida?
  • Founded in Dresden by activist Lutz Bachmann in October 2014
  • Acronym for Patriotische Europaer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West)
  • Umbrella group for German right wing, attracting support from mainstream conservatives to neo-Nazi factions and football hooligans
  • Holds street protests against what it sees as a dangerous rise in the influence of Islam over European countries
  • Claims not to be racist or xenophobic
  • 19-point manifesto says the movement opposes extremism and calls for protection of Germany's Judeo-Christian culture

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