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Tuesday
Nov022010

Deadly Blasts Rip Across Baghdad

Photo Courtesy - Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- UPDATE: A combination of 10 blasts ripped across Baghad killing at least 63 people. The blasts occurred Tuesday evening and occurred in eight different neighborhoods, mostly Shiite. In addition to the deaths, more than 285 people were injured.

This latest violence comes just two days after a bloody seige at a Catholic church in Baghdad.

After months of political wrangling, Iraq has no government in place and these attacks further undermine its security.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Human Rights Groups Accuse Israel of Torture

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Two Israeli human rights groups, B'tzelem and Hamoked, issued a report Tuesday that accuses Israeli security agents of abusing Palestinian detainees with cruel and inhumane treatment and in some cases torture. The Israeli Ministry of Justice rejects the report. 

Based on the testimonies of over 100 palestinian detainees, the report found that most complained of being held in small, windowless one-person cells with constant light that made sleep difficult. Nearly one out of ten detainees accused Israeli agents of physical abuse during interrogations and 30 percent said there was physical abuse during arrest. In its written response, the Israeli Justice Ministry said the report was too general and without foundation and said the interrogations did not break Israeli law.  

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Book Bomb Terror Campaign Spreads From Athens to Berlin

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BERLIN) -- A book bomb under investigation Tuesday at the chancellor’s office in Berlin appears to be possibly linked to a bomb campaign discovered in Athen’s Greece Monday when a small firebomb ignited, injuring a shipping clerk and leading police to the discovery of three more devices as well as the arrest of two bombers.

The incendiary bomb in a hollowed out book went off in the hands of a shipping clerk at Swift Mail in Athens Monday as she was preparing to ship it to a Mexican Embassy and triggered a rapid police response that recovered three unexploded book bombs addressed to embassies and political figures  following the arrest of two individuals there. Tuesday, a similar bomb was under investigation at the chancellor’s office in Berlin, police sources say.

According to a police report from Greece, the rapid police response led to the arrest of two young men about two blocks away from the shipping firm as they were entering a metro station clad in bullet proof vests and wearing wigs. Two nine millimeter Glock pistols and five full magazines were recovered.

According to the report, in addition to the bomb that exploded, the men admitted to attempting to mail other bombs and appeared to have been carrying one in a plastic bag when approached by police. The recovered bombs were addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a Belgian embassy and a Dutch Embassy. The one to Sarkozy was also recovered at Swift Mail. The one to the Beligan Embassy was recovered at a second shipping firm ACS and the one in their possession was addressed to a Dutch Embassy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Baghdad Hosts First International Business Fair Since Before War

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BAGHDAD) -- In the most encouraging sign in months that a sense of normality may be returning to Iraq, more than 1,200 companies from 13 countries traveled to Baghdad for Iraq's first international trade fair since Saddam Hussein's regime.

The 10-day fair comes as Iraq is trying to rebuild its economy, racked by years of sanctions by the West during the last years of Hussein's reign, as well as an invasion by the U.S. and its allies and a vicious insurgency fueled by al Qaeda and ethnic tensions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Noori Maliki opened the exhibitions Monday saying, "Today with such international presence and global companies participation, Baghdad is rising after years of suffering."  He added the fair is a message to the world that "Iraq is standing up and rebuilding and is on the right path."

The biggest exhibition halls were given to the French, the Iranians and the Turks.

A quick tour of the fair, which has the slogan "The World's Opportunity for Trading and Investment in Iraq," showed displays from companies selling products ranging from oil industries needs, high tech technologies, agriculture to companies that sell honey and detergents. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Britain, France Come Together in Defense Cooperation Deal

Photo Courtesy - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) -- New, unprecedented defense cooperation has been announced between Britain and France.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy firmed up the deal on a visit to London, where he met with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The plan has been talked about for years, but now, under these tough economic times, it seems to make even more sense to people like Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

He says, "This is not about inter-dependence, it's about inter-operability.  It's about making sure that we are able to get the maximum use out of the equipment that we have in our, in both of our countries for as much of the time as possible."

Under the plan, the two countries will share various equipment, like aircraft carriers, warhead testing facilities and satellite communications.  The theory is that working together will enhance capabilities, while saving money at the same time.

The two countries will also form a joint expeditionary force -- a pool of around 5,000 -- able to deploy together at short notice on peace keeping, rescue or combat missions.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

European Cities Block Cargo Shipments from Yemen 

Photo Courtesy - Tim Boyle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of last week’s discovery of bombs packed in printer toner cartridges bound for the U.S, the governments of Britain, France and Germany have suspended cargo shipments from Yemen, which American officials say was the source of the explosives.

Most fingers are pointing to the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula group as the likely culprits, with suspicion falling on Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the terrorist group’s top bomb builder.  U.S. intelligence officials contend al-Asiri also constructed the bomb that Nigerian Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly carried in his underwear in the failed bomb attempt on Northwest Flight 253 that was headed for Detroit last Christmas Day.

German authorities also offered more information about the bomb that passed through Cologne that was eventually detected at the East Midlands Airport in England.  They said the bomb unknowingly transported by UPS contained 14 ounces of the powerful explosive PETN, which is the equivalent of about five sticks of TNT.  One stick of TNT can easily destroy an average house.

The other bomb found by security officials in Dubai contained slightly less PETN but in both cases, there was enough of the explosive in each package to blow the cargo planes out of the sky.

That’s the latest theory that Western intelligence officials are working on.  While the packages were intended to be delivered to synagogues in Chicago, the bomb plotters may have actually been more concerned with destroying the planes in an effort to cripple the air transport industry, which has come under increasing scrutiny because of safety lapses.

In other developments, there was a report that a former al Qaeda insider tipped off Saudi authorities to the scheme two weeks ago.  The man, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was returned to Saudi Arabia four years ago for rehabilitation but escaped and fled to Yemen.

It was Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief who tipped off White House counterterrorism head John Brennan last week to the possibility of bombs aboard cargo planes headed to the U.S.

Authorities in Yemen are also still searching for a woman who apparently brought the explosive-laden packages to freight companies.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Navy Sends Ship to Haiti Ahead of Tropical Storm Tomas

Photo Courtesy - Shanika L. Futrell/US Navy via Getty Images(MIAMI) -- U.S. Southern Command is sending an amphibious assault ship to Haiti in advance of tropical storm Tomas' projected arrival later this week.

According to the U.S. Navy, USS Iwo Jima, along with its 10 helicopters and two landing crafts, will travel from Suriname to Haiti in case humanitarian relief is needed after the storms hits.

By the end of this week, Tomas is expected to veer towards Haiti, where over a million people are still living in tents and under tarps, making them vulnerable to heavy rainfall and wind.  The earthquake-ravaged country has also been battling a recent outbreak of cholera that has sickened thousands of people.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

US Boosts Counterterrorism Funding to Yemen in Recent Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. has boosted counterterrorism funding for Yemen in recent years, in addition to the annual baseline funding provided by the State Department. This year was the highest amount by far, a total of $155 million. Baseline funds will increase from $72.3 million this year, to a requested $106.6 million for fiscal year 2011. In 2008, it was only $17.2 million.

The counterterrorism funding is known as Section 1026 funding -- named for the section in the law that allows the State Dept. and the Pentagon to provide the funding to the countries they choose. International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. David Petraeus made the recommendation earlier this year to boost the counterterrorism funding to Yemen when he was in charge of Yemen as CENTCOM Commander, and both the State Dept. and the Pentagon agreed.

Total assistance to Yemen for FY 2010 -- including security, humanitarian, and bilateral aid, was $296 million.

The State Department says that its FY 2011 request for total aid to Yemen will be around the same level.

While the State Dept. is sending two special agents from its Bureau of Diplomatic Security to Yemen to aid in an FBI-led investigation of last week's plot, officials say the U.S. embassy in Sana'a has not altered its security posture or modified staffing as a result of last week's events. No new travel warnings, alerts, or warden messages are planned.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Nov012010

At Least Four Killed After Attack on Pakistani Police Station

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(SWABI, Pakistan) -- Two police men were killed Monday after four militants tried to break into a police station in northern Pakistan.

According to the police chief of Swabi, one militant blew himself up while trying to get through the station's guarded gate, killing two police officers in the suicide attack.  Another militant was shot and the two others remaining escaped the scene.

There are also reports of injuries from the suicide bomb, but it is unclear how many people were wounded.

Swabi's police chief says a search is ongoing for the two militants who fled.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct312010

Report: Israel's Netanyahu Proposes Interim Peace Deal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is proposing an interim peace agreement instead of a permanent one, according to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

The report cites an unnamed senior Palestinian source who says Netanyahu has presented U.S. mediators with a transitional 10-year peace plan that gives temporary borders to a future Palestinian state and leaves Israel in control of 40 percent of the West Bank. The plan pushes off resolving the issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees until after the transitional 10-year period.

Netanyahu's office has refused to comment on the report.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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