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John Brennan To Visit Sudan, Saudi Arabia and UAE

Posted on 02 June 2011 by hashimilion

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism aide, is visiting Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates this week, the White House said Wednesday.

Brennan met Wednesday in Khartoum with Sudanese government officials to discuss the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended 22 years of civil war between the north and south.

He would then travel to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to discuss “the deteriorating situation in Yemen,” the White House said in a statement, adding the trip was part of consultations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“We strongly condemn the recent clashes in Sanaa and the deplorable use of violence by the government against peaceful demonstrators in Taiz,” it added.

Gunbattles raged Wednesday on the streets of the Yemeni capital, killing 39 people, witnesses said as a truce between security forces and tribesmen collapsed.

“These tragic events underscore the need for President Saleh to sign the GCC-brokered transition proposal and to begin the transfer of power immediately,” the White House said.

“That is the best way to avoid further bloodshed and for the Yemeni people to realize their aspirations for peace, reform, and prosperity.

 

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Saudi Arabia, UAE funded Jihadi Networks in Pakistan

Posted on 22 May 2011 by hashimilion

Islamic charities from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates financed a network in U.S. ally Pakistan that recruited children as young as eight to wage holy war, a local newspaper reported on Sunday, citing Wikileaks.

A U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks said financial support estimated at $100 million a year was making its way from those Gulf Arab states to a jihadist recruitment network in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Dawn newspaper reported.

The November 2008 dispatch by Bryan Hunt, the then principal officer at the U.S. consulate in Lahore, was based on discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during trips to Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

It said those sources claimed that financial aid from Saudi and United Arab Emirates was coming from “missionary” and “Islamic charitable” organizations ostensibly with the direct support of those countries’ governments.

Asked to respond to the report, Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said: “Saudi Arabia issued a statement from day one that we are not going to comment on any WikiLeaks reports because Saudi Arabia is not responsible for these reports and we are not sure about their authenticity.”

Saudi Arabia, the United States and Pakistan heavily supported the Afghan mujahideen against Soviet occupation troops in the 1980s.

Militancy subsequently mushroomed in the region and militants moved to Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, seen as a global hub for militants.

Since then there has been a growing nexus between militant groups there and in Punjab. In recent years militants have been carrying out suicide bombings seemingly at will in Pakistan, despite military offensives against their strongholds.

The discovery that Osama bin Laden was living in a Pakistani town not far from Islamabad until he was killed by U.S. special forces earlier this month has severely damaged ties between Washington and Islamabad.

The United States wants Pakistan to be a more reliable partner in its war on militancy.

CHILDREN SENT TO TRAINING CAMPS

But militancy is deeply rooted in Pakistan. In order to eradicate it, analysts say, the government must improve economic conditions to prevent militants from recruiting young men disillusioned with the state.

The network in Punjab reportedly exploited worsening poverty to indoctrinate children and ultimately send them to training camps, said the cable.

Saudi Arabia, home to the fundamentalist Wahhabi brand of Islam, is seen as funding some of Pakistan’s hardline religious seminaries, or madrassas, which churn out young men eager for holy war, posing a threat to the stability of the region.

“At these madrassas, children are denied contact with the outside world and taught sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslims, and anti-Western/anti-Pakistan government philosophy,” said the cable.

It described how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were being exploited and recruited, Dawn reported.

“The path following recruitment depends upon the age of the child involved. Younger children (between 8 and 12) seem to be favored,” said the cable.

Teachers in seminaries would assess the inclination of children “to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture.”

“The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these areas led to subsequent annual “donations” to these same clerics, originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” the cable stated.

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Saudi Grad Student Admits Killing NY Professor

Posted on 20 May 2011 by hashimilion

A mentally ill graduate student from Saudi Arabia admitted Friday that he stabbed to death a professor he believed was part of a plot against him, a prosecutor in upstate New York said.

Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 48, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the killing of Binghamton University professor Richard Antoun in his office in 2009, said Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen. The plea bargain came after psychiatric experts determined al-Zahrani was schizophrenic but mentally competent to stand trial on an original charge of second-degree murder.

“There was no dispute he had a significant mental illness,” Mollen said, but that didn’t absolve him of responsibility for killing Antoun, 77, an emeritus professor of anthropology and expert on Middle East cultures.

“His belief was that the Saudi secret police were conspiring to ruin his life and have him returned to Saudi Arabia to be killed or tortured,” Mollen said.

He described Antoun as “a gentle, kindly Binghamton University professor who had helped Mr. al-Zahrani for years.”

But at some point, al-Zahrani came to believe the professor was part of the conspiracy against him.

In court Friday, al-Zahrani said he was provoked to the violent attack by a smile from Antoun.

“He believed the professor was laughing at him and mocking him,” Mollen said. “I’m not sure there was a single, pure motive. There were a lot of things going on.”

Mentally ill and afraid, al-Zahrani “wasn’t doing well in his studies in the anthropology department,” the prosecutor said.

He was running out of money and facing the possibility he wouldn’t be able to finish his dissertation, an academic failure Mollen said would likely have led to revocation of his student visa and return to his homeland, a deep fear.

Mollen said Antoun’s family was kept informed about the progress of the case and supported the plea deal. Al-Zahrani is expected to be sentenced Sept. 9 to 15 years in prison and then face deportation.

“This assures he never walks in America as a free man,” Mollen said.

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Saudi Women Charged with Hate Crime After Spitting on Wal-Mart Customers

Posted on 18 May 2011 by hashimilion

A 21-year-old woman faces hate-crime charges after she repeatedly spat at a Walmart customer, and later proclaimed that “Americans are pushing us around,” according to police in Florida.

Nuha Mohammed Al-Doaifi, a Saudi Arabian national, faces a charge of battery with a hate-crime enhancement after Palm Bay police were called on Sunday to a Wal-Mart to investigate reports of a disturbance.

The hate-crime enhancement means that the battery charge could be elevated to a felony.

According to CBS affiliate WKMG, police said the incident started when Al-Doaifi attempted to roll a shopping cart into the store and struck the exit door.

A customer told her she was using the wrong door, prompting Al-Doaifi to allegedly spit in the person’s face before turning and walking into the store to go shopping, police said.

“Her actions were directed at random people based on their ethnicity, and that’s according to her own statement,” police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez told WKMG.

Witnesses said Al-Doaifi, accompanied by her 2-year-old son, also spit at another customer who apparently got too close to her. Several officers approached Al-Doaifi to talk in the store and asked her why she spat at customers.

“Americans are pushing us around,” Al-Doaifi stated before officers took her into custody, according to reports.

She was arrested and booked into the Brevard County Detention Center in Sharpes where she remained jailed on Monday.

“She’s also had an incident with one of her Florida Tech professors,” Martinez told the station. “She also spat at the professor. They have initiated procedures to have her sent back to Saudi Arabia.”

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Saudi Diplomat Shot Dead in Pakistan

Posted on 16 May 2011 by hashimilion

 

Motorcycle-riding assassins have gunned down a Saudi diplomat in the Pakistani city of Karachi, four days after a grenade attack on the Saudi consulate there.

The unusual spate of attacks raised questions about whether they were in reprisal for the death of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden or the consequence of regional Sunni-Shia tensions triggered by upheaval in Bahrain.

A senior police officer said the diplomat, named as Hassan al-Khatani and described as a security officer, was shot dead in his car on Monday morning by two men riding a motorbike who fired four shots from a 9mm pistol.

Television pictures showed a luxury sedan with gunshots through its windows. Police said a backup team of assailants rode alongside the killers, indicating a degree of professionalism in the hit.

On Thursday unidentified assailants threw two grenades at the front gate of the consulate, damaging the entrance but injuring nobody.

Attacks on diplomats from Saudi Arabia are rare in Pakistan, thanks to the country’s close relationship with the army and the widespread reverence towards the country as the home of Islam.

“We’ve always had sectarian tensions but rarely an attack on a Saudi diplomat like this,” said defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa.

But decades-old Shia-Sunni tensions in Karachi have been reignited by turmoil across the Arabian sea in Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia deployed troops last March to help quell an uprising by mostly Shia demonstrators.

Pakistani Shias became angry when it emerged that a private security firm was urgently recruiting hundreds of former soldiers to work for the Bahrain security forces and help with the crackdown.

Newspaper advertisements sought Pakistanis with experience in “security” and “riot control”.

A senior police officer in Karachi told the Guardian the Bahrain connection was considered the most likely motive for the two most recent attacks. But they were investigating whether they may have been in reprisal for the US special force raid that killed Bin Laden on 2 May.

Riyadh stripped Bin Laden of his citizenship in 1994 and has since co-operated closely with American efforts to crack down on al-Qaida, even though private Saudi citizens have been accused of sponsoring his network.

US intelligence is currently examining a trove of computer drives snatched from Bin Laden’s hideout, reportedly containing 2.7 terabytes of data, for further information about al-Qaida’s money pipeline.

A third possibility was that the attacks were linked to local criminal groups, the officer said. In recent years, he said, “some low-level officials at the consulate had been found to be involved in minor criminal activities with local mafias”.

The difficulty of investigating the killing is underscored by the general insecurity in the sprawling port city of 16 million people, where ethnic, political and Islamist militant groups hold sway in pockets of the city that are virtually out-of-bounds to the security services.

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Two Grenades Thrown at Saudi Consulate in Karachi

Posted on 11 May 2011 by hashimilion

Leaked Photo of Bin Laden

 

Drive-by attackers lobbed two grenades at the Saudi consulate in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi on Wednesday, in a first possible violent reaction to the US killing of Osama bin Laden.

Officials reported no damage and no casualties after two men on a motorcycle threw the explosives at the heavily fortified building in Clifton, the smartest neighbourhood of Karachi, nine days after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan.

“This was an attack on the Saudi consulate. Two motorcycle riders threw two grenades and fled,” provincial government official Sharfuddin Memon told AFP.

“One exploded and hit the outer wall. The second landed inside and fortunately didn’t explode. It was later defused by bomb disposal,” he said.

“There were no casualties. We are seeing this incident in the present context. It could be a reaction of the Osama incident.” Pakistan has been in the grip of domestic and international crisis since US Navy SEALS flew in, seemingly undetected, from Afghanistan to identify and kill the Saudi-born Al-Qaeda terror mastermind at a suburban compound on May 2.

Pakistanis have expressed horror at the perceived impunity of the raid, furiously asking if their military was too incompetent to know he was living in a garrison city near the capital, or, even worse, conspired to protect him.

But while the killing has not ignited mass protests in the Muslim country, where more than 4,240 people have died in bomb attacks blamed on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the last four years, small gatherings have vowed revenge.

“We fear that desperate elements are planning to launch a big attack. We are taking precautionary measures in this regard,” Memon said.

Saudi Arabia expelled bin Laden in 1991 and later revoked his nationality. The government in Riyadh, which is allied to the authorities in Islamabad, last week welcomed his killing as a boost to international anti-terror efforts.

An AFP photographer said ambulances, police and paramilitary Rangers swarmed outside the Saudi consulate after the attack, where small shrapnel marks could be seen on the outer wall of the building.

Mohammed Safdar, a police official at the scene, said security guards at the diplomatic mission had opened fire on the attackers but they escaped.

“Two security men at the gate opened fire on them, but they managed to flee,” he told AFP.

“The security guards informed us and we reached the spot immediately. The bomb disposal squad are here. Other police and Rangers have surrounded the area,” he added.

Pakistan is holding in protective custody three of bin Laden’s widows, who come from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and 13 of their children.

The foreign ministry says it has yet to receive a formal request from the United States for access to the relatives or requests from their home countries for their repatriation.

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Has Dawood Ibrahim Fled to Saudi Arabia?

Posted on 10 May 2011 by hashimilion

It is rumoured that Dawood Ibrahim, arguably the most wanted terrorist in the world now, has fled from his safe haven in Pakistani city of Karachi. Dawood, who had masterminded the 1993 Mumbai blasts, had been evading arrest with the help of Pakistan for years. Information has surfaced that he has fled from his home along with his close associate, Chhota Shakeel. In all likelihood he may seek refuge in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan is under immense pressure to clear itself of the tag of being a harbourer of terrorists after the American soldiers killed Osama Bin Laden.

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Iranian Police Disperse Anti-Saudi Demo

Posted on 04 May 2011 by hashimilion

Iranian police dispersed hundreds of youths Tuesday at an Asian Champions League match between Iranian and Saudi sides protesting Saudi military aid to Bahrain in crushing a pro-democracy movement.

At the match between Iran’s Persepolis and the Saudi team Al-Ittihad, some 300-400 youths dressed in black and carrying Bahraini flags began protesting. They were first rounded up and isolated in a section of the stands before being expelled from the stadium shortly after the second half began.

The protesters, some of whom were arrested, shouted “Death to the Al-Sauds” and “Death to the Al-Khalifas” in reference to the ruling dynasties in Saudi Arabia and its tiny neighbour Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia had already unsuccessfully sought to have the match, won 3-2 by Persepolis, to be played in another country for security reasons.

Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country that repeatedly expressed its solidarity with protesters in Bahrain, a Shiite majority country, as they demanded reforms from the Sunni Muslim dynasty ruling them.

In mid-March, a Saudi-led Gulf military force entered Bahrain at its government’s request. That freed up Bahraini security forces to crush the protest movement.

Manama, for its part, accused Tehran of supporting the demonstrations.

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