CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- Some days it is better to be lucky than good.
For Sgt. Jacob P., a Danish tank commander with Jutland Dragoon Regiment, luck was definitely on his side on two separate occasions in January.
On Jan. 5, Jacob was manning the turret in his Leopard 2 tank while providing overwatch during Operation Shamali Kamarband when he came under enemy fire. Jacob was shot in his right shoulder and fell down inside his tank. He immediately came back up after looking through his optics and located the enemy, engaged him and killed him by returning fire with his machine gun.
Following the firefight, the Holstebro, Denmark native had to be medically evacuated to Bastion Role 3 Hospital, adjacent to Camp Leatherneck, for treatment.
During his stay, Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general Regional Command (Southwest), was making his routine visits through the hospital when he came across the soldier. He came back to his office and told Sgt. Maj. Michael F. Jones, sergeant major RC (SW), he needed to go visit him. During his visit, Jacob clearly recalled his story to Jones.
Then on Jan. 22 during a battle circulation tour, Toolan and Jones visited a Danish task force, operating out of Forward Operating Base Price, to say farewell, congratulate them on their many achievements and the accomplishments in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.
"At that time, the commander pointed out Jacob to the [commanding general] and we had him come up and do a photo session," said Jones. The (commanding general) got inside the tank and Jacob showed him several technical aspects of the tank."
It was just 10 days later that Toolan and Jones once again found themselves in the Bastion Role 3 Hospital visiting Jacob.
While talking with Toolan, Jacob recalled the events surrounding his second medical evacuation in a month.
Jacob and his crew were out on a patrol showing the incoming officer-in-charge the lay of the land.
They were South of Route 611, the main road between Sangin and Kajaki districts, when Jacob noticed something was wrong with one of the tracks on his tank. He stopped the convoy and got out to inspect the track. He noticed that a portion of the track was offset, so he got a hammer and started hitting the track to put it back into place, making the tank more mobile so they could continue their mission.
It was then Jacob had a feeling that someone was watching him. He looked back over his shoulder and saw somebody approximately 500 meters away. The man proceeded to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the tank. The RPG fell short as Jacob dived for protection as far from the tank as possible. He came up unscathed and began inspecting the tank for damage.
After inspecting the tank and deeming it okay, he made an attempt to return to the tank when he was shot in the right shoulder by a sniper. He immediately began yelling to his crew with instructions on the location of the enemy so that they could engage the insurgent.
With sniper fire hitting the ground all around him Jacob made another attempt to return to his tank. It was then he was shot in his left thigh. Once again he was forced to seek cover.
When he thought he could make it to the tank, he tried again. As he was crawling into the tank another round from the sniper shot him in his left leg.
Despite the fact that he had just been shot three times, Jacob instructed his crew from inside the tank on the location of the insurgent. They fired a 120mm round that fell short. However, the second round was a direct hit in the insurgent's abdomen.
Jacob contributes his success and health to his crew of 12 years.
As they headed back to the nearest patrol base, the gunner and loader began to render medical care to Jacob. They cut off his clothes, assessed the wounds and began to bandage them.
The loader plugged the wound in his shoulder with his finger to stop the bleeding.
After the convoy arrived at PB Clifton, Jacob was waiting for the medical evacuation, when the Taliban released the name of the sniper they had lost.
A British commander came up to Jacob and thanked him for killing the sniper. The sniper had killed five of his men.
"I'm so happy I took the guy out, it really meant a lot to me," said Jacob.
"It meant a lot to you last time too," Toolan chuckled in response. "You're not only going to go down in Danish lore, but you're going to go down in USMC lore."
"He was humble," recalled Jones. "Like we read about when people have done great deeds on the battlefield. Even to the point of almost ducking his head and lowering his eyes to say 'I did what anyone else would have done in those circumstances.'"
"I thought that was so profound for me to see this man had been injured twice, on two separate occasions on the battlefield, pretty extensively, conducted himself the way he did, it was pretty humbling," said Jones.
Under such circumstances, NATO should go to WWII-levels of security on Afghan army soldiers.
That is, sequester them in their barracks with no access to outside information. Monitor conversations looking for agitators. Give them reliable Imam chaplains. More than anything else keep them busy training or on mission.
When they capture enemy forces, turn them over immediately to non-NATO prisoner details.
If they rate morans higher than human life perhaps we should threaten to burn down a warehouse full of Korans if they don't ....
Why don't we blow up a warehouse full of Korans and blame Al Quida.
Why don't we spread rumors that a number of false Morans were created (misprints or intentional, or with poison on pages or whatever) and these are destroyed when found to protect believers from the untruths and dangers within and then next time there is a burning issue we claim they were misprints, not real ones.
At least five Afghans were rubbed out and dozens maimed Wednesday in festivities between police and demonstrators protesting over the burning of the Koran at a U.S.-run military base, officials said.
In the capital Kabul and in provinces to the east, north and south of the capital, furious Afghans erupted into the streets screaming "Death to America™", throwing rocks and setting fire to shops and vehicles as gunshots rang out.
In the eastern city Jalalabad, students set fire to an effigy of President Barack Obama On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today... , while the U.S. embassy in Kabul declared it was on lockdown.
In Kabul, hundreds of people poured onto the Jalalabad road, throwing stones at U.S. military base Camp Phoenix, where troops guarding the base had gun sex and black smoke from burning tyres rose, an Agence La Belle France Presse photographer said.
Afghanistan is a deeply religious country where slights against Islam have frequently provoked violent protests and Afghans were incensed that any Western troops could be so insensitive, 10 years after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
Three protesters were killed in Shinwar district of Parwan province north of Kabul, provincial administration spokeswoman Roshna Khalid told AFP.
"The protests got violent. They attacked police with rocks and in a clash between police and protesters three people were killed and over 10 others are injured," Khalid said.
Kabul demonstrators attacked anti-riot police, forcing them to retreat and shots were fired as they tried to march on the centre of the capital, killing one person and wounding at least 11, according to a health ministry official.
Police front man Ashmat Estanakzai denied police opened fire, but said the demonstration "got violent after they attacked Camp Phoenix" and blocked the key highway leading east towards the Pak border.
The demonstrators were driven back and the protest was over by mid-afternoon, witnesses said.
A second protest erupted in west Kabul, involving about 100 university students and a third was held by dozens more at parliament until they were driven away by riot police.
In Jalalabad, there were also pockets of demonstrations across the city. Gunshots were heard but police did not confirm firing. Crowds threw rocks at cars and they set fires in the streets, an AFP news hound said.
Doctor Ahmed Ali said one person was killed and 10 others had been admitted to Jalalabad hospital with gunshot wounds.
"I saw the body myself. He is a young man from the protesters," Ali said.
More than 1,000 demonstrators, many of them university students, blocked the highway shouting "Death to America™ns, Death to Obama", an AFP news hound said.
Elsewhere in the country, about 800 gathered in district center Baraki Barak in Pashtun-infested Logar province, a flashpoint for Taliban violence south of Kabul, shouting anti-U.S. slogans, said Sayed Wakil Agha, the district chief.
Reports that the Koran had been mistreated emerged on Tuesday, sparking demonstrations in Kabul and at Bagram airbase, but it remains unclear exactly who was responsible.
An interesting point to suddenly appear on the record...
A front man for the U.S.-led NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A collection of multinational and multilingual and multicultural armed forces, all of differing capabilities, working toward a common goal by pulling in different directions... force in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, told AFP he could not confirm that the Korans had been burnt by Americans at the base, saying it was still under investigation.
Even more interesting...
Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP the military removed Korans from the U.S.-run prison at Bagram because inmates were suspected of using the holy book to pass messages to each other.
JALALABAD: Nine schoolgirls were injured in a NATO helicopter attack in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, an Afghan official alleged on Wednesday.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was looking into the allegation but had no immediate information.
"This morning a school was attacked by a NATO helicopter. Nine children, all girls, and the school's janitor have been injured," Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the Nangarhar provincial government spokesman told reporters.
"Some of the girls were discharged after receiving treatment but about five of them are still in the hospital," Abdulzai said, accusing the US-led ISAF force of carrying out the attack.
An ISAF spokesman said the force was aware of the claim but "we don't have operational reporting of it".
TBILISI: Georgia's government says three of its servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan.
The Defence Ministry said on Wednesday the soldiers died when their vehicle was blown up by Taliban in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province while serving with NATO forces. It didn't say when the attack occurred.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who visited Georgian troops in Afghanistan earlier this week, praised the three soldiers' courage and said their deaths are a "heavy blow".
The deaths raised to 15 the number of Georgian soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan since the ex-Soviet nation, a devoted US ally, first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2009. Georgia now has about 900 troops there. Previously, Georgia contributed soldiers to the US-led war in Iraq and to Kosovo.
Truckloads of Ethiopian and Somali troops on Wednesday captured the strategic Somali city of Baidoa from Al-Qaeda-allied Shebab hard boys, who vowed to avenge the loss.
"We have taken control of Baidoa without a single shot, it is a great day for the people who are now welcoming us warmly," said Muhidin Ali, a Somali government military commander in Baidoa.
Baidoa, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu, is one of the main bases of the hardline Shebab, and its capture deals a major blow to the hard boys, who control large parts of southern and central Somalia.
"The takeover does not mean that the enemy will enjoy the city, there will be more bloodshed," said Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim, a Shebab commander.
"The areas they took will only be the graveyards of the Christian invading forces and their apostate Somali militia."
Sporadic shooting was reported on the outskirts of the town, but residents said the city was largely calm.
"We are at the center now and moving towards every corners of the town, to ensure that we are in full control," Ali added. "The enemy decamped the city before our army has reached the town empty."
Ethiopian troops, who moved into southern and western Somalia in November, began a major push Tuesday towards Baidoa, which hosted the transitional parliament before beturbanned fascisti seized the town in 2009.
"There was no fighting, the Somali troops and the Ethiopian forces entered the town, setting up their base at the cop shoppe and the main crossroads in town," said Abdulahi Hassan, a resident.
"People are out in the streets watching the soldiers who are gradually moving into the different parts of the city."
The rebels are already struggling financially and face increasing pressure from regional armies and pro-government forces. The rebels still control the southern port town of Kismayo, a major source of income.
Witnesses had said earlier that Shebab fighters and their families were seen fleeing Baidoa towards rebel-held Afgoye.
"Many people, most of them Al-Shebab families and supporters, are fleeing Baidoa," said Hussein Ali, a resident. "They are heading towards the Afgoye."
MOGADISHU: Ethiopian and Somali troops captured a key militant stronghold in Somalia on Wednesday, as the rebels left their positions, a regional government official and residents said.
The loss of Baidoa in central Somalia is a major blow for the Al Qaeda-backed Al-Shabab rebel group which is also battling Kenyan troops to hold on to territory in southern Somalia and against African peacekeepers in pockets of the capital.
"We have taken Baidoa. There was no resistance from Al-Shabab," said Abdifatah Mohamed Gesey, a senior commander of the advancing Somali government soldiers.
Al-Shabab said its flight withdrawal from the city had been aimed at avoiding casualties.
"Our fighters left town this morning without fighting. Now we are surrounding the town," said Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabab's spokesman for military operations. "Baidoa will be a cemetery for the Ethiopians."
Shades of Baghdad Bob...
Earlier on Wednesday, a Baidoa resident who gave his name as Farah told Reuters no Al-Shabab fighters were visible in the streets.
"Al-Shabab have run away to the Idaale jungle. Other residents tell me Ethiopian troops have reached the corners of the city," Farah told Reuters by telephone.
Ethiopia's forces launched a push south toward Baidoa through the neighbouring Bay and Bakool regions on Tuesday, making swift progress with the insurgents offering minimal resistance, said officials.
Located about 250 km north west of Mogadishu, Baidoa is considered the most important rebel base after the southern port city of Kismayu. Baidoa hosted Somalia's interim government from early 2006, when another Islamist administration was battling warlords for control of Mogadishu, until the turn of 2008/2009 when Al-Shabab seized the city and expelled the transitional government.
Ethiopia moved troops across the border into Somalia in November to open up a third front against the militants already suffering financial constraints after pulling most of their fighters out of Mogadishu and internal divisions. On Wednesday morning, witnesses said Al-Shabab had also surrendered the town of Berdale about 60 km for Baidoa.
Plenty of time to see which way the wind blows. Muslim Brotherhood should be running things by then.
CAIRO -- The verdict in the landmark murder and corruption trial of ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has been set for June 2, Judge Ahmed Refaat said on Wednesday.
Mubarak, his former security chief Habib al-Adly and six security chiefs could be sent to the gallows if convicted of complicity in the deaths of peaceful protesters during the uprising that overthrew him.
Explosions and gunfire rocked a suburb in northern Nigeria's largest city of Kano early Wednesday where Islamists staged deadly attacks in January, an Agence La Belle France Presse news hound and residents said.
An AFP correspondent heard at least six huge kabooms followed by gunshots, just before Mohammedan dawn prayers, which continued for around an hour.
The causes were still unclear but some residents suggested security forces had raided a suspected hideout of members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram ... not to be confused with Procol Harum, Harum Scarum, possibly to be confused with Helter Skelter. Currently wearing a false nose and moustache and answering to Jama'atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda'Awati Wal Jihad, or Big Louie... in Tinshama area of the city. Tinshama also neighbors the low income suburb of Badawa, which also houses both Christians and Mohammedans.
"The whole area has been cordoned off by armed soldiers and coppers. All we hear is that a house suspected to be a Boko Haram hideout was raided by security agents," said Badawa resident Bala Haruna.
Boko Haram staged coordinated gun and bomb assaults in Kano, killing at least 185 people in what was the group's deadliest ever strike. There have since been several smaller attacks in the city.
For a map, click here For a map of Coahuila state, click here
By Chris Covert
A total of seven unidentified individuals were killed in two separate incidents in the La Laguna region of Coahuila state Wednesday, according to Facebook notifications by the Coahuila state Fiscalia del Estado, or attorney general.
Four individuals were found dead in Torreon at around 2330 hrs late Tuesday night near the intersection of Calle Rumorosa and Avenida Bravo in Villa California colony.
Authorities responded to the scene following reports of shots fired. The four victims all appeared to be in their 20s. Thirty AK-47 spent cartridge casings were found at the scene.
Reports were that individuals travelling aboard two vehicles shot the victims.
Later, at about 1325 hrs Wednesday afternoon in Matamoros, Coahuila, three unidentified individuals were shot and killed by Coahuila state police agents. in a gunfight.
The shootout took place near the intersection of Calzada Cristobal Diaz and Avenida Presidente Carranza where individuals travelling aboard a Chevrolet Malibu sedan opened fire on a police patrol vehicle.
The vehicle had been carjacked a few minutes before the gunfight. One shooter wielding a 9mm pistol managed to flee the scene and escape detention. Police found one .223 caliber rifle, probably an AR-15 assault rifle at the scene.
Matamoros is ten kilometers east of Torreon on Federal Highway 40.
The La Laguna region continues to be under Segura Laguna security operation which combines security elements from federal, state and, local governments under a single command in a comprehensive effort to lower drug and gang related violence in the area.
Indications in the Mexican press and elsewhere are at least one Policia Federal unit left the area six days ago, presumably for Zacatecas state to take up the slack for Mexican Army units deployed from Zacatecas state to Tamaulipas state. To read the last Rantburg.com report on the Segura Laguna security operation, click here.
No announcement of the redeployment, however, has been made by the Mexican Secretaria de Seguridad Publica (SSP), the controlling agency for the Policia Federal.
The La Laguna region includes the cities of Ciudad Lerdo and Gomez Palacio, Durango, and Torreon, Coahuila.The region is astride the most northerly contiguous east-west road in Mexico, Federal Highway 40, which stretches from Mazatlan, Sinaloa on the Pacific coast of Mexico to Reynosa and Matamoros, Tamaulipas near the Atlantic coast.
They're getting rolled up all over the place! What d'you suppose is revealing them to the authorities?
Police in Azerbaijan have incarcerated an unspecified number of people linked to Iran and Hizbullah suspected of planning attacks in the country, Azerbaijan's state television ... and if you can't believe state television who can you believe?
State broadcaster AzTV, quoting the National Security Ministry, said police had jugged people linked to Iranian intelligence services and Hizbullah who intended to stage attacks on foreign citizens in the country.
And now they won't be available for attacks when Iran really needs them. Kind of embarrassing they are so easily found...like they were only playing at being fearsome spies and saboteurs instead of being serious, like Mossad and the CIA. D'you suppose the armies are likewise comparable?
The report said the suspects had gathered intelligence on targets and bought explosives, guns and ammunition, but gave no further details.
The report comes after a car boom last week critically injured an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi while Georgian officials defused a second device in Tbilisi.
A suspected Iranian bomber had his legs blown off as he hurled a grenade at Thai police. Israel blamed Iran for the attacks which came at a time of heightened tensions over Tehran's nuclear program.
A senior Israeli security official warned on Friday that Iran and Hizbullah were planning to carry out "new" anti-Israeli attacks around the world after the incidents in India, Thailand and Georgia.
Police in mainly Mohammedan but officially secular Azerbaijan last month also incarcerated two men with alleged links to Iranian intelligence on suspicion of plotting to kill prominent Israelis in Azerbaijan.
The allegations infuriated Tehran, which sent a diplomatic note of protest accusing Baku of collaborating with Israel's spy services and helping assassins who have killed Iranian nuclear scientists.
Baku responded with a letter to Tehran calling the claim "absurd, unsubstantiated and false", according to Azerbaijani media reports on Tuesday.
Tehran has been angered by Baku's friendly links with Israel, while Azerbaijan has accused Iran of sponsoring Islamic Orcs and similar vermin on its territory.
Relations between the ex-Soviet state and the Islamic republic are complicated by the presence of a huge ethnic Azeri minority in Iran, which far outnumbers Azerbaijan's own population of 9.2 million.
Hattip Anonymoose. Follow-up on yesterday's story -- a lovely example of Sudden Jihad Syndrome in spades. More details and links to original documents at the link
FEBRUARY 22--The man who repeatedly yelled "Allah is great" as he was removed yesterday from a plane that was forced to make an emergency landing due to his unruly behavior is a 19-year-old Soddy Arabian who was jugged Sunday night after he led Oregon police on a drunken car chase that saw him ram two cop cars and attempt to run over pedestrians, The Smoking Gun has learned.
Okay, I give. How'd he bust out of jail? The cops and prosecutors certainly wouldn't release a foreigner who tried to run over people, would they? Even in Oregon?
According to Sherlocks, Yazeed Mohammed Abunayyan was smoking an electronic cigarette on a Continental Airlines flight traveling from Portland to Houston. When a flight attendant directed Abunayyan to stop smoking (or relinquish the device), he refused and began "yelling profanities and swinging his fist at the flight attendant," according to an indictment filed this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Portland.
Abunayyan, who reportedly has been in the U.S. visiting relatives, was charged with a felony count of interfering with flight crew members.
Male passengers on the Boeing 737 helped a flight attendant subdue Abunayyan, who was removed from the plane in plastic handcuffs and turned over to FBI agents. The Continental flight returned to Portland 20 minutes after departure.
Abunayyan, who is scheduled to appear later this afternoon before a federal magistrate, was jugged Sunday evening by cops after a wild car chase in Medford, an Oregon city 275 miles south of Portland.
WASHINGTON: Three members of the US Congress have received threatening mail containing a suspicious powder later found to be harmless and law enforcement officials on Wednesday warned that more may be coming.
Another US law enforcement official said letters sent to television personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert threatened biological attacks on US senators. Other letters to a number of news organizations and postmarked Oregon warned that 100 letters had been sent to the Washington or home-state offices of US senators and that 10 of those contained a deadly pathogen, a law enforcement source said.
At least two of the letters already received - one to the home-state office of a senator and the other to the district office of a member of the House of Representatives - contained a powdery substance.
Tests found the substance to be harmless, according to a statement by Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer, the chamber's chief law enforcement officer.
In a statement to members of the Senate, Gainer did not say what was found in the third letter. Gainer's notice, "Urgent: Suspicious Mail Alert," warned that the unidentified sender of the letters "indicated that additional letters containing a powdery substance will be arriving at more Senate offices and that some of these letters may contain actual harmful material."
He warned that special attention should be paid to letters postmarked from Portland, Oregon.
The official said the messages to Stewart and Colbert threatened to send letters to all 100 US senators, and that 10 of them would contain a deadly pathogen.
Other law enforcement officials said some of the letters in question contained anti-government and anti-Wall Street rhetoric.
The New York Police Department was made aware of the letters received by some news organizations on Tuesday night and alerted the FBI and the US Capitol Police, a law enforcement source said. The letters to the news organizations did not contain any suspicious substances.
The letters demanded an end to corporate money and lobbying in US politics, an end to corporate personhood and called for a new constitutional convention, the source said. The letters were signed "the MIB."
Oregon has its share of extremists with radical agendas but a Continental flight from Portland to Houston was turned back yesterday after an unruly passenger was subdued by other passengers, who said he was sputtering how great Allan is.....and a Washington state trooper was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. Do we have a western cell or are these all just lone nuts?
The sputtering passenger was a Saudi visitor, Omoluque Hapsburg8162, whose relatives are no doubt both furious and a good deal lighter in the purse, so no blame can attach to Oregon for that. The story is now posted on page 1 under Home Front: War on Terror.
Washington state trooper was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop.
This type of incident has been happening for decades. Over a century ago a would-be lynch mob burnt down the county court house in Akron, Ohio. Several of the rioters died, their would-be victim did not, the state militia was there to enforce order in the court room. The leaders of the mob were arrested, tried & convicted in what was left of the court house.
Looking at US history overall, this is not a big deal. The undermining of the legal process with respect to the FIRE industry, the tolerance of the biggest theft in world history by state & federal attorneys general, and assorted shenanigans going on with the Great Recession - now that, IMHO, is a very big deal and gets insufficient attention, even as it continues to damage what remains of our once great Republic.
Iraqi security forces on Wednesday tossed in the calaboose the head of Ansar al-Sunna, a Sunni bad turban group said to be linked to Al-Qaeda, the counter-terrorism chief for Anbar province said.
"Iraqi forces today tossed in the calaboose the leader of Ansar al-Sunna, Walid Khaled Ali, as he tried to illegally infiltrate into Iraqi territory from Syria," Brigadier General Khaled al-Dulaimi told Agence La Belle France Presse.
He "tried to cross on foot near Al-Walid border post" into Anbar province in western Iraq, Dulaimi said.
He "was one of the most prominent suspects for terrorism cases," Dulaimi said, adding that "he killed many of the sons of Anbar and decamped to Syria after the announcement of the tribal fight against Al-Qaeda in 2007."
Sunni rustics joined forces with the U.S. military against Al-Qaeda from late 2006, helping to turn the tide of the insurgency.
Ansar al-Sunna is an ultra-conservative Sunni Salafist group that has claimed several attacks against US and Iraqi security forces. It is an offshoot of the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam.
Dulaimi said the group is part of the Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Qaeda's front organization here.
Iraq's interior ministry meanwhile said on Monday its forces had fended off "smugglers and infiltrators" trying to cross the border from Syria.
"Border guards were able to fend off groups of smugglers and infiltrators who were trying to cross the border from Syria into Iraq," a statement on the ministry's website said, without specifying when this occurred.
The Iraqi premier's office said on Saturday that Iraq is taking measures to secure its border with Syria against weapons smuggling and the unauthorized movement of people.
US spy chief James Clapper said last week that Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq was probably behind recent suicide kabooms in Damascus ...The City of Jasmin is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world. It has not always been inhabited by the same set of fascisti... and Aleppo ...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins... , Syria's second city.
His comments confirmed earlier reports that US officials suspected the terror network's hand in the bombings, and supported repeated claims by Damascus about Al-Qaeda's involvement in the uprising 11-month uprising.
ANBAR / Aswat al-Iraq: Police forces on Wednesday arrested the leader of Ansar al-Sunna army armed group while he was attempting to infiltrate into Iraq from Syria in the west of Anbar, the chief of the anti-terror department said.
"Acting on intelligence information, anti-terror forces arrested Walied Khaled Ali, leader of Ansar al-Sunna army in Iraq, while he was attempting to sneak into Iraq from the Syrian territories," Brigadier Khaled al-Dalemi told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
"The forces seized papers and documents, which includes names of senior police and army officer, to assassinate them," he added. "The man is wanted for being involvement in killing, kidnapping and blackmailing hundreds of civilians."
A former terrorist insurgent in the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) was gunned down in a rubber plantation in Narathiwat province hours after a village leader was killed in the neighbouring province of Pattani.
The bullet-ridden body of Tore Jewaemueror, 53, was found on Tuesday morning. Police thought the motive for the killing was to silence him after he refused to join the Runda Kumputlan Kecil (RKK) terrorist insurgent movement. The victim was invited to join the group after several leading RKK members lost their lives in extrajudicial killings.
Last night in Pattani province, a village leader was gunned down while he was returning home. Ma Jeha was ambushed 500 meters from his home by a gunman with an AK47 assault rifle.
Jeha, a developer who worked in the civil society network, had cooperated with the authorities.
A village defense volunteer was shot and seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting in Pattani province.
Boonya Boonsrang was attacked on a local road at 2 p.m. while driving his motorcycle to downtown Pattani. He was followed by two men on a motorcycle. The pillion rider fired four shots at him and fled the scene.
In Yala province, a combined team of police and soldiers yesterday raided a hideout of suspected terrorists insurgents and found many sets of survival gear.
The officers searched a cave at Khao Yala mountain. No one was inside the cave, which police believe served as a terrorist insurgent hideout.Dried food, instant noodles, tents, clothes and solar panels were all found there.
The raid followed information given by Hamdee Torlubor, an terrorist insurgent who was arrested earlier. The suspect was responsible for a series of violent attacks in Yala.
A Thai court on Wednesday allowed police to continue to detain one of five Iranian suspects in an alleged terror plot that was exposed by an accidental blast in a residential Bangkok neighborhood.
Police Maj. Gen. Piya Uthayo said Mohammad Kharzei, 42, will be held at a Bangkok prison for at least 12 more days. He was incarcerated on charges of being an accomplice to possession of unlawful explosives and causing kabooms that damaged property and harmed other people.
Three men identified as Iranians decamped the house where the blast occurred Feb. 14. Police found bombs in the house, but are still not clear about the suspects' intentions.
There is speculation that they planned to attack Israeli targets in the Thai capital as part of a covert battle being waged over Iran's alleged quest to develop nuclear weapons.
The kabooms Feb. 14 came one day after two other incidents in India and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in which bombers tried to hit Israeli targets with so-called "sticky" bombs that attach magnetically to vehicles.
In Thailand, 43 coppers, including senior-ranking commissioners, have been assigned to work on the case and have found "quite a bit of evidence," Piya said.
He said Kharzei is the first suspect whose case has proceeded under criminal law. He was incarcerated at Bangkok's airport on the day of the blast as he was waiting for a flight to Malaysia. With court approval, a suspect can be jugged without formal charges for up to 84 days.
Another suspect, Saeid Moradi, 28, is so far being held for violating immigration law. He was jugged soon after the blast after he attempted to hurl explosives at coppers, blowing off part of his legs in the process.
Arrest warrants have been issued for three other suspects, all Iranians: Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, 31, who was jugged by Malaysian authorities last week; Leila Rohani, 31; and Norouzi Shayan Ali Akbar, 57. Thai authorities are seeking Sedaghatzadeh's extradition and believe Rohani and Akbar have returned to their home country.
Piya said Sherlocks have not found any links between the suspects and dozens of stickers bearing the word "SEJEAL" -- possibly a reference to a passage from the Koran -- that were pasted at various locations in Bangkok. The stickers were identical to ones found under the seat of the Iranians' cycle of violence as well as in an apartment rented by one of the suspects.
"The officers will base their investigation only on the evidence and witnesses, and will use neither speculation, nor imagination in solving this case," Piya said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday assigned two deputy prime ministers to oversee intelligence meetings and prepare security measures. She also asked the Transport Ministry to ensure the safety of travelers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Blathering about it achieves nothing. As does waiting for the government to do something.
Instead, create a "futures" contract.
That is, find some mercenary company and make them a deal. If they transport arms to the rebels, then once we are in power, they are guaranteed a long-term, non-controversial project worth a LOT of scratch.
So, on the surface, it seems like they are acting on their own to support the rebels. No USG involvement at all.
Later, come what may, if Republicans win the presidency, the mercenaries are given a juicy federal contract to make an approximate count of seashells near Caribbean resorts. And if the rebels overthrow Assad, those seashells will need to be counted twice.
Syria's main opposition group on Wednesday urged the international community to create "safe havens" in the country and called on Russia to force the regime to allow access for humanitarian convoys.
At a news conference in Gay Paree, the Syrian National Council said it would attend a summit of the countries known as the "Friends of Syria" and ask for safe zones to protect civilians and allow the opposition to organize.
SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani unveiled a statement to be given to Friday's meeting, demanding "international assistance to respond to facts on the ground, specifically humanitarian assistance and a safe haven inside Syria."
"We seek immediate supply of humanitarian assistance to the most affected areas by creating safe passages for humanitarian convoys," it said.
"Safe passages can be guaranteed by a commitment from Russia to force the regime to respect safe access for convoys, thus reducing the need to militarize the passages," the statement said.
Russia is a traditional ally of Bashir al-Assad's regime in Syria and, with China, last month vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution to sanction Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... for its brutal crackdown on a year-old popular revolt.
Two Western journalists were among 26 people killed on Wednesday as Syrian forces pounded the rebel city of Homs, activists said, while calls mounted for a truce to allow in humanitarian aid.
The latest barrage came a day after security forces killed at least 68 across the country, adding to an overall toll of 7,636 since anti-regime protests erupted last March, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The toll includes 5,542 civilians, the head of the Britannia-based monitoring group, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
At least 24 non-combatants were killed in shelling of the Baba Amr district of Homs on Wednesday, the 19th straight day that the city in central Syria was being pounded, the Observatory said.
American journalist Marie Colvin, who reported for London's Sunday Times, and French freelance photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in the bombing of Baba Amr, French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said.
From inside the quarter, activist Omar Shaker told AFP that two were killed and three others maimed as a shell crashed into a makeshift media centre set up by anti-regime bad boys.
The area remained the target of random shelling, blocking attempts to remove the bodies, Shaker said.
Syrian citizen journalist Rami al-Sayyed, who provided live footage on the Internet from Baba Amr, was killed late Tuesday when a rocket hit a car in which he was travelling, activist Hadi Abdullah told AFP.
A call by the International Committee for the Red Thingy for a two-hour truce daily to deliver aid to afflicted areas has gained support from the United Nations ...what started out as a a diplomatic initiative, now trying to edge its way into legislative, judicial, and executive areas... , as well as from the United States and Russia.
Tuesday's call came a day after the ICRC said it was in talks with Syrian authorities and rebels to halt the violence.
Meanwhile, ...back at the laboratory the fumes had dispersed, to reveal an ominous sight... Syria's main opposition group demanded the international community create "safe havens" in the country and called on Russia to force the regime to allow access for humanitarian convoys.
At a news conference in Gay Paree, the Syrian National Council said it would attend a summit of the countries known as the "Friends of Syria" and ask for safe zones to protect civilians and allow the opposition to organize.
Syrian authorities, meanwhile, blamed economic sanctions imposed by the West and Arab states, for the deterioration in health care service in the country.
And the U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, called on Syria to allow aid groups unimpeded access to the country.
"This is a major human rights One man's rights are another man's existential threat. crisis that is now moving into significant humanitarian consequences," Amos said.
In Washington, White House press secretary Jay Carney said "we support calls for ceasefires to allow for the provision of humanitarian supplies to Syrians who desperately need it."
"Reprehensible actions taken by the Assad regime have led us to a situation where basic supplies, humanitarian supplies are very scarce."
The United Nations ...aka the Oyster Bay Chowder and Marching Society... on Wednesday extended special tribunal investigating the 2005 liquidation of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The tribunal faces strong opposition from the Hezbullies party in Leb, but in announcing the three-year extension of the inquiry, U.N. leader the ephemeral Ban Ki-moon ... of whom it can be said to his credit that he is not Kofi Annan... said he was determined to "send a message that impunity will not be tolerated."
The work of the Special Tribunal for Leb has now been extended for three years from March 1, UN front man Martin Nesirky said in a statement.
The tribunal was set up by the U.N. Security Council in 2007 and has announced that it will put four Hezbullies members on trial even though they have not yet been jugged.
The four -- Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Anaissi and Assad Sabra -- have been charged for the February 14, 2005 car booming in Beirut that killed Hariri and 22 others, including a jacket wallah.
Warrants have been issued for the four, but authorities in Leb, where the government is dominated by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbullies, have failed to arrest them.
The United Nations is preparing to announce a replacement for the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Daniel Bellamare, who will leave at the end of the month.
But Ban visited the court in Leb last month in one sign of support.
And the announcement of the mandate extension included a new signal of support from the UN leader.
"The secretary general reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to the efforts of the Special Tribunal for Leb to uncover the truth regarding the terrorist attack" that killed Hariri "so as to bring those responsible to justice and send a message that impunity will not be tolerated," said the U.N. statement.
Natalia Verbeke (Argentine) aka Naty in "El hijo de la novia (Son of the Bride)(2001)" aka Carmen Collazo in "Dot the I (2003)" aka Paula in "El otro lado de la cama (The Other Side of the Bed) (2002)" aka María Gonzalez in "Les femmes du 6ème étage (The Women on the 6th Floor)(2010)" (age 37)
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.