Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Members of the European Parliament Highlight Their View About Obama's Increase of Troops in Afghanistan

/PRNewswire/ -- Members of the European Parliament attentively followed the unfolding of the latest surge strategy for Afghanistan by President Barack Obama and issued a letter stating their apprehension about increasing the number of American Troops and sought additional forces from NATO allies. They question how an operation ending in 2011 can achieve to eradicate Al Qaeda, when the current operation, which has so far lasted over eight years, has till date seized to reach this aim.

The most prudent strategy that the US and its allies need to follow is not to set deadlines to withdraw but rather to make it very clear to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that have enjoyed operating from the region, that no withdrawal will take place until these groups and their activities have been completely militarily neutralized. This is the message that must be sent not only to the extremist groups directly but also to those within Pakistan's establishment, who continue to support and sympathize with such radical, islamic organizations. Should NATO leave in 2011, these groups would feel victorious and in their newfound euphoria would once again escalate violent activities. Especially neighbouring India would again be singled out as the primary target.

The urge of those in Europe, who are committed to democracy and human rights and have campaigned against international terrorism are extremely concerned and worried that hasty decisions defined by domestic policies, electoral calculations and set timelines would undo whatever has been achieved so far and at great price in terms of financial cost and, more importantly, loss of life, in the war against terror. They urged the US Government and the Heads of Government of the other involved NATO countries and other world leaders of democratic nations, to re-evaluate the enormous dangers that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would pose for the security and stability of the region surrounding Afghanistan and the rest of the world. They must live up to their commitment to rid the world of international terrorism, irrespective of how long it might take and however unpopular the conflict might be at home.

Signed and Supported by
Dr. Charles Tannock
Member of the European Parliament

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Obama's Missile Defense Plan Does Not Address Middle East

/PRNewswire/ -- Riki Ellison, Founder and Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA),, explains why and how the President's missile defense plan does not address the Middle East. Ellison is one of the foremost lay experts in the field of missile defense. Ellison's comments include the following:

"President Obama's missile defense plan is primarily focused on a four phase timeline approach starting in 2013 and ending in 2020 to protect Europe and US deployed forces needs to adequately address the Middle East Region first as well as increase the urgency to ensure that timelines are met to protect Europe and a significant hedge to deploy missile defenses quicker if required. The Middle East region has not been directly addressed by the President's Plan and would require at least 2 or more forward-based sensors, as well as a complete deployment of a fully layered missile defense of the current systems to be able to handle loft, minimum energy and depressed trajectories of incoming missiles towards the Middle East and Europe."

"There are serious challenges both politically and technically that have to be overcome. The foremost being placement of forward-based sensors whether air, land, space or air around the periphery of Iran and the full integration of their information into the overall missile defense system to enable both engage and intercept by using remote forward-based sensors. If the system cannot see, detect, track and confirm a missile intercept, it doesn't matter how many defensive interceptors you have, they are simply ineffective without sensors. Without this integrated sensor capability, the system cannot provide adequate coverage nor can it handle the volume of missiles which the President's plan is directed to do."

"To date the country of Turkey, which is the ideal location for forward-based sensors, is rebuking any form of missile defense on their soil as reported last week by the local Milliyet. Both Russia and Iran will perceive that [deployment] as a threat ... such technology will turn Turkey into a legitimate target for Iran's medium and shorter range missiles. Turkey opposes the location of US missile defense in its territory. A second resort, to place US Ships deployed in the Black Sea, is restricted by international treaty. Deployment of sensors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Balkan States such as Greece, Romania or Bulgaria will likely result in similar feelings as Turkey, and if deployed in the Balkans, would further reduce valuable time needed to track the missile effectively and reduces the missile coverage of Iran because of the further distance. If deployed only in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or UAE, there would be inadequate coverage of Iranian threats to Europe, as well as possible sharing of the information. Additionally, a mutual agreement with Russia on the use of its sensors near Iran seems nearly impossible to obtain and would not provide the full coverage necessary to protect all of Europe and the Middle East."

Ellison closed his remarks with: "There needs to be a much greater sense of urgency within our government to adequately deploy these current and new systems as well as provide a test bed in Hawaii to prove out the system that looks to be the cornerstone of the President's missile defense plan to protect Europe. The test bed in Hawaii is currently being held for four to six months or more as military requirements have not been set even though funds have been set aside for the test bed."

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Amnesty International Says President Obama Just Changed the Zip Code for Guantanamo

/PRNewswire/ -- Tom Parker, Amnesty International USA policy director for (counter) terrorism and human rights, issued the following statement in response to the Obama administration's decision to relocate some of the detainees in the U.S.-controlled detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the Thomsom Correctional Center in Illinois:

"The detainees who are currently scheduled to be relocated to Thomsom have not been charged with any crime. In seven years, the U.S. government, including the CIA and FBI, have not produced any evidence against these individuals that can be taken to a court of law.

"The only thing that President Obama is doing with this announcement is changing the Zip Code of Guantanamo.

"A fundamental principle of the rule of law is that people cannot be held without charge or trial. The founding fathers knew it, the greatest generation fought for it, candidate Obama campaigned for it and the President needs to remember it."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Terrorism Defendants Sentenced

/PRNewswire/ -- Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, of Roswell, Ga., and Syed Haris Ahmed, 25, of Atlanta, were sentenced today in federal court following their convictions earlier this year in separate but related criminal trials, the Justice Department announced.

"With their words and their actions, these defendants supported the wrongheaded but very dangerous idea that armed violence aimed at American interests will force our Government and our people to change our policies. That is terrorism, and it will not succeed," said Sally Quillian Yates, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. "The risk posed by men such as these defendants continues, both here and abroad. Hopefully, meaningful sentences such as these will make our citizens and our soldiers safer around the world as the message is sent that we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who would ally themselves with terrorists."

In Washington, D.C., David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, said, "This case serves as another reminder of the global nature of the terrorism threat and the importance of international and domestic cooperation in addressing it. These defendants, who conducted surveillance of potential terror targets at home and pursued terrorist training overseas, were part of an online network that connected extremists in North America, Europe and South Asia. I commend all those who were involved in this prosecution and the related investigations around the world."

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, "The radicalization of U.S. citizens by jihadist recruiters abroad is a very real and growing concern that the FBI and the U.S. Government as a whole must deal with. The FBI is charged with preventing terrorist attacks before they occur and we are committed to this task. Individuals engaged in such activities as these two individuals cannot successfully argue that such activities are constitutionally protected."

U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., sentenced Sadequee to a term of 17 years in prison, to be followed by 30 years of supervised release. Judge Duffey sentenced Ahmed to 13 years in prison, also to be followed by 30 years of supervised release.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Yates and the evidence presented during the trial: Sadequee was born in Fairfax, Va., in 1986. He attended school in the United States, Canada and Bangladesh. In December 2001, while living in Bangladesh, he sought to join the Taliban, to help them in their fight against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Ahmed, a naturalized citizen born in Pakistan in 1984, came to the United States in the mid-1990s. He attended high school in Roswell and Dawsonville, Ga., followed by college studies at North Georgia College and Georgia Tech.

Sadequee and Ahmed began discussing their obligation to support jihad in late 2004. By this time, both Sadequee and Ahmed had become active on several web forums known to support the cause of violent jihad. These discussions quickly grew into an active conspiracy with others to provide material support to terrorists engaged in violent jihad. The evidence indicated that the material support consisted of (1) Sadequee, Ahmed, and other individuals who intended to provide themselves as personnel to engage in violent jihad, and (2) property, namely, video clips of symbolic and infrastructure targets for potential terrorist attacks in the Washington, D.C., area, including the U.S. Capitol, the World Bank headquarters, the Masonic Temple, and a fuel tank farm -- all of which were taken by Sadequee and Ahmed to be sent to "the jihadi brothers" abroad.

At trial, the government presented evidence that Sadequee, Ahmed, and their co-conspirators used the Internet to develop relationships and maintain contact with each other and with other supporters of violent jihad in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and elsewhere. In support of the conspiracy, in March 2005 Sadequee and Ahmed traveled to Toronto to meet with other co-conspirators, including Fahim Ahmad, one of the "Toronto 18" suspects awaiting a terrorism trial in Canada. While in Canada, Sadequee, Ahmed, and their co-conspirators discussed their plans to travel to Pakistan in an effort to attend a paramilitary training camp operated by a terrorist organization, as well as potential targets for terrorist attacks in the United States.

In April 2005, Sadequee and Ahmed drove to the Washington, D.C., area to take the casing videos, which the government's evidence showed they made to establish their credentials with other violent jihad supporters as well as for use in violent jihad propaganda and planning. Sadequee later sent several of the video clips to Younis Tsouli, aka "Irhabi007" (Arabic for "Terrorist 007"), a propagandist and recruiter for the terrorist organization Al Qaeda in Iraq, and to Aabid Hussein Khan, aka "Abu Umar," a facilitator for the Pakistan-based terrorist organizations "Lashkar-e-Tayyiba" and "Jaish-e-Mohammed." Both Tsouli and Khan have since been convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the United Kingdom and are imprisoned there.

The government's evidence additionally showed that Sadequee and Aabid Hussein Khan, the convicted U.K.-based terrorist, using a members-only violent jihadist web forum known as "At-Tibyan Publications," recruited at least two individuals to participate in violent jihad. One, a self-identified 17-year-old American convert, was praised by Sadequee for his "capacity of fulfilling [his] largest obligations in [his] native land."

The government also presented evidence at trial that in July 2005, Ahmed traveled from Atlanta to Pakistan in an unsuccessful attempt to enter a paramilitary terrorist training camp and ultimately engage in violent jihad. While in Pakistan, Ahmed met with Aabid Hussein Khan, and the two discussed Ahmed's intention of joining a camp. The day before Ahmed returned to Atlanta, Sadequee departed Atlanta for Bangladesh, carrying with him, hidden in the lining of his suitcase, an encrypted CD; a map of Washington, D.C., that covered all of the areas he and Ahmed had cased; and a scrap of paper with Aabid Hussein Khan's mobile phone number in Pakistan.

Once in Bangladesh, Sadequee began to conspire more closely with Younis Tsouli and Mirsad Bektasevic, a Swedish national of Serbian origins. Specifically, Tsouli, Bektasevic, Sadequee and others formed a violent jihadist organization known as "Al Qaeda in Northern Europe." The group was to be based in Sweden. The evidence at trial showed that in October 2005, Sadequee sought a visa that would allow him to relocate from Bangladesh to Sweden. Bektasevic was arrested in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Oct. 19, 2005. He and a co-conspirator were found in possession of over 20 pounds of plastic explosives, a suicide belt with detonator, a firearm with a silencer and a video recorded by Bektasevic demonstrating how to make detonators; showing an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, grenades, explosives and other arms; and depicting Bektasevic and others placing a grenade booby-trap in a forest near Sarajevo. Sadequee had been in electronic and telephonic contact with Bektasevic as recently as three days before Bektasevic's arrest, discussing the silencer and explosives Bektasevic had acquired for the group. Bektasevic has since been convicted of terrorism offenses in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Meanwhile, after returning to Atlanta to resume his studies at Georgia Tech in August 2005, Ahmed remained in contact with Sadequee, expressed regret at his failure to join violent jihadists, conducted internet research on topics such as high explosives and defeating Special Operations troops, and discussed his intent to make another attempt to enter a violent jihad training camp. In March 2006, Ahmed was approached by FBI agents and agreed to a series of voluntary, non-custodial interviews over the course of eight days. Amid efforts to deny his illegal activities and mislead the agents, Ahmed made increasingly incriminating statements. Efforts by the FBI to obtain Ahmed's cooperation in the ongoing international terrorism investigation ended after the FBI discovered that Ahmed was surreptitiously contacting Sadequee, who was still in Bangladesh, to advise him of the FBI investigation and to warn him not to return to the United States.

Ahmed was arrested on March 23, 2006, in Atlanta, on material support of terrorism charges. He has been in custody ever since.

Sadequee was arrested on April 20, 2006, in Bangladesh, on charges arising out of false statements he made in an August 2005 interview with the FBI in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). Sadequee was indicted in the Northern District of Georgia on July 19, 2006, and transferred to Atlanta in August of that year, after the charges in EDNY were dismissed at the Government's request.

This case was investigated by agents and officers of the Atlanta Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which is led by the FBI, Atlanta Division.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christian Leaders Convene in Baghdad to Determine Their Future in Iraq

/PRNewswire/ -- "Do Christians have a Future in Iraq?" Over 100 Iraqi Christian leaders convened yesterday in Baghdad to address the possible extinction of their ancient community at Iraq's 1st Christian Leadership Conference on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Since the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, nearly half of Iraq's one million Christians have fled for refuge abroad, while many of the remnants live as destitute IDPs. 518 Christians have been killed as a result of politically-inspired violence during the past six years, while 48 churches have been destroyed, according to a report submitted by the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO) - a co-sponsor of the Conference.

In her keynote speech, Annette Walder, International President of Christian Solidarity International (CSI) warned that the survival of both the Iraqi state and the Christian community are inextricably linked. She furthermore urged Christian leaders throughout the world to break their "eerie silence" surrounding this crisis of survival.

William Warda, President of the HHRO, stressed that Iraq's ancient Christian community, together with the indigenous Yezidi and Mandean minorities, constitute the deepest roots of the Iraqi nation. If Iraq's Christian roots are severed, he continued, the Iraqi nation and state will shrivel and die.

Habib Ephrem, President of the Syriac League in Lebanon, urged Western powers to help secure the survival of Christians in Iraq by refraining from the pursuit of economic and strategic interests without due regard for principles of democracy and human rights.

In a written message, Dr. Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Vice-President of Iraq and patron of the Christian Leadership Conference, declared that "those who kill Christians and bomb churches are enemies of Iraq", and pledged that the Iraqi state will "facilitate the return of refugees and provide generous assistance to those who have lost their homes, their jobs and their loved ones."

Mark Storella, the U.S. Embassy's Senior Coordinator for Refugee and IDP Affairs, reported that the U.S. government had spent $387 million for Iraqi refugees and IDPs in 2009, and cited President Barack Obama's February 2009 Iraq pledge to "provide more assistance and take steps to increase international support for countries already hosting refugees."

Christian refugees and IDPs provided testimony of the violent persecution - including death threats and the murder of loved ones - that forced them to flee their homes. They also highlighted the failure of the Iraqi Government and its international partners to provide the assistance they required for a safe, dignified and sustainable return to their homes. Returning female refugees reported having to wear the Islamic hijab for security on the streets in some Iraqi cities.

The Iraqi Christian Leadership Conference will close today with the presentation of policy recommendations to the Iraqi and American governments, and to the rest of the international community.

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