Monday, January 16, 2012

Navy captures 13 Somali pirates (+video)

Thirteen Somali pirates were captured on a dhow in the Indian Ocean on Friday by a combination of Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel.

 The capture took place as dawn broke on Friday 13 January 2012 and involved RFA Fort Victoria joining USS Carney to ascertain the business of the dhow, which had been identified as a vessel being operated by pirates in the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean.

A Military Operations news article 

In a combined show of force, both RFA Fort Victoria and USS Carney manoeuvred towards the dhow with the intention of encouraging her to comply with the counter-piracy forces. This should have been intimidating, given the size of the two military vessels, but the pirates were determined to carry on with their activities. RFA Fort Victoria was tasked to take positive action to disrupt the progress of the vessel.
RFA Fort Victoria deployed her Royal Navy Lynx Mk8 helicopter with Royal Marines maritime snipers on board who issued various clear warnings to the suspects to stop.
Despite these measures, the dhow failed to comply with repeated instructions to stop and verify her intentions. Immediately afterwards, Royal Marines in speedboats approached the vessel and successfully boarded it. The pirates surrendered as the Marines took control of the dhow.
13 Somali pirates were found to be on board together with a selection of weapons.

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Taliban leader detained in Maidan Wardak province

According to local officials in central-eastern Maidan Wadak province, Afghan security forces detained a local Taliban commander
in this province.

Provincial Police chief Abdul Baqizoi confirming the report said, the detained Taliban commander was arrested by Afghan security
forces in Salar area at Maidan Wardak province on Monday night.

Mr. Baqizoi further added, another Taliban militant was also detained along with his commander during the operation.

Taliban militants group yet to comment regarding the arrest of Taliban leader in Maidan Wardak province.

In the meantime Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate for Security officials in eastern Ghazni province arrested a Mullah Imam of a mosque a drugs smuggler in this province.

Provincial NDS chief Amirshah Sadat following a press conference said, the Mullah Imam was detained in Qarabagh district of Ghazni province in connection for supporting the militants and plotting insurgency attacks against the Afghan government.

Mr. Sadat further added, the detained Mullah Imam confessed to his crimes and said that he had recently joined the militants group.

He also said, a drugs smuggler was also detained along with 600 kgs of heroin in this province.

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Afghan official: 3 killed in helicopter crash (updated!)

Three American private contractors working for the Defense Department were killed when their helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Monday, their company said. The contractors’ company, AAR Airlift, said that there were no other passengers on the helicopter and that the cause of the crash was not yet known. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the crash, but Marjan Haqmal, the chief of police of the Nad Ali district of Helmand Province, where the crash took place, said the helicopter had technical problems.

A civilian helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing all three people on board, an Afghan official said.

KABUL, Afghanistan —
A civilian helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing all three people on board, an Afghan official said.

Marjan Haqmal, police chief of Nad Ali district in Helmand province, said the Russian-made aircraft probably went down because of a technical malfunction.

NATO confirmed that a civilian helicopter crashed Monday in southern Afghanistan. It said the site of the crash has been secured and that coalition forces are trying to gather more information about what happened.

The alliance did not provide information about casualties.

Later Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi took responsibility for shooting down civilian helicopter in Nad Ali district of Helmand
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Eight Diggers sent home from Afghanistan after being caught drinking

EIGHT Aussie diggers fighting in Afghanistan have been sent home after being caught drinking on the job.

The soldiers were caught drinking alcohol while on a trip to Dubai City last week.

The soldiers, from Mentoring Task Force – Three, then returned to Tarin Kowt where they faced disciplinary action.

They were found guilty and had convictions and punishment imposed under the Defence Force Discipline Act .

They arrived home yesterday.

An ADF media release said the soldiers had been “well briefed” on a no drinking policy.

“The unauthorised consumption of alcohol in the Middle East Area of Operations is not permitted by deployed ADF personnel,” it said.

“Defence does not tolerate unauthorised alcohol consumption by deployed personnel and those found in breach of this policy can face disciplinary and administrative action.

“Defence must also take into account its relationship with our host country and their expectations of the ADF's standards of behaviour.”

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Nine killed in car bomb attack in northern Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Up to nine people were killed on Monday and 20 others wounded in a car bomb attack at a residential area near the Iraqi city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, a local police source told Xinhua.

"The latest reports put the toll at nine people killed and 20 others wounded by the car bomb attack near Mosul," the source said on condition of anonymity.

The attack occurred at about 8:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) when a car bomb went off at al-Ghadier compound, some 20 km east of Mosul, which houses residents from the Iraqi Shabak minority, the source said.

Women and children were among the victims, the source said, adding that the powerful blast damaged several nearby houses, 12 shops and several civilian cars.

Earlier, the source said that five people were killed and 10 others wounded by the car bomb attack.

The Iraqi Shabak people are an ethnic and Shi'ite minority group living in villages around Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, particularly, around the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad.

Iraqi security forces cordoned off the scene, while police experts defused another car bomb found in the same area, the source added.

Iraqi cities have been plagued by several attacks, including suicide bombings, since the U.S. troops pulled out of the country earlier last month.
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Civilian killed, 10 wounded in car bomb attack in south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- At least a civilian was killed on Monday and 10 others wounded in a car bomb attack in the Iraqi city of Hilla, the capital of Babil province, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.

The blast took place around noon when a booby-trapped car detonated at Nadir district in central Hilla, some 100 km south of Baghdad, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi security forces sealed off the scene, while ambulances evacuated the victims to the city hospitals, the source said.

Earlier in the day, another car bomb ripped through the residential compound of al-Ghadier near the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, killing nine people and wounding 20 others.

Mosul's attack targeted the Iraqi minority of Shabak who are an ethnic and Shi'ite group living in villages around in Nineveh province, particularly, around the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad.

Iraqi cities have been plagued by several attacks, including suicide bombings, since the U.S. troops pulled out of the country earlier last month.
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7 Insurgents, Included 2 Policemen, Captured in Herat

Seven insurgents were captured on Sunday by Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, the provincial spokesman for Herat said.

Two of the insurgents were police officers, spokesman Mahiuddin Noori said.

The insurgents had been providing intelligence to the Taliban. They were captured from Shindand and Adraskan districts and Herat city, Mr Noori added.

Local reports suggest one of the policemen had been working at Herat airport and the other was working at Pashtun Zarghon's district police headquarters.

One of the arrested policemen is a resident of Maidan Wardak province, the other is from Herat.

Concern is mounting in Afghanistan about the extent to which the Taliban has been able to infiltrate the Afghan security forces.

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Jan.16., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 16) — An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban facilitator in Kajaki district, Helmand province, today.
The facilitator operates and funds an insurgent cell in Musa Qal’ah district. He also distributes weapons and explosives for use in attacks against coalition forces.

During the operation, an insurgent armed with an AK-47 and multiple grenades displayed hostile intent. Responding to the immediate threat, the security force engaged and killed the insurgent.

Multiple weapons were confiscated and several suspected insurgents were detained during the operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:

A combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered an improvised explosive device cache during a routine patrol in Maiwand district, Kandahar province, Friday. The cache consisted of multiple IEDs and approximately 165 pounds (75 kilograms) of homemade explosives. The security force destroyed the IED cache without incident. No civilians were harmed during the operation.
A combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered a weapons cache during a routine patrol in Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, yesterday. The cache consisted of multiple firearms, grenades, and approximately 850 rounds of ammunition. The security force confiscated the weapons cache and will destroy it at a later date.

In Jalalabad district, Nangarhar province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered an improvised explosive device cache during a routine patrol Friday. The cache consisted of approximately 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of ammonium nitrate. The cache was confiscated and will be destroyed at a later date.
In Nawah district, Ghazni province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered multiple improvised explosive devices during a routine operation yesterday. The IEDs contained a total of approximately 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of explosive materials. All IEDs were destroyed on site.
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Hakeemullah Mehsud rumored killed in recent drone strike

Hakeemullah Mehsud, left. AFP photo.
Pakistani intelligence officials believe that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and a close ally of al Qaeda, has been killed in the latest drone strike in North Waziristan. The report has not been confirmed by US officials.

Radio intercepts of discussions between Taliban fighters indicate that Hakeemullah was killed in the Jan. 12 airstrike that took place in the village of Dogga on the outskirts of Miramsham, the main town in North Waziristan. Six "militants," including several "foreigners," a term used to describe members of al Qaeda and allied terror groups, were reported killed in the strike.
"Some militants confirmed Mehsud was dead, and one criticized others for talking about the issue over the radio," according to The Associated Press.

Two US intelligence officials involved in the program that targets al Qaeda and allied terror groups in Pakistan's tribal areas said they were aware of the reports and are investigating.
Asimullah Mehsud, a spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, has denied the reports of Hakeemullah's death, The Associated Press reported.

Pakistani officials have claimed that Hakeemullah has been killed numerous times in the past several years. The most embarrassing claim took place in early 2010, when Pakistani officials, including the Interior Minister, claimed he was killed in a drone strike [for a timeline on the reporting of his 'death,' see LWJ report, Hakeemullah Mehsud -- not dead yet]. A US military spokesman even said they believed Hakeemullah was either dead or incapacitated. Many Taliban leaders denied he was killed. Hakeemullah granted several phone interviews to deny the reports of his death, but the Pakistani government and the media ignored the information. The Long War Journal reported several times during the winter and spring of 2010 that the evidence of his death was inconsistent and he was very likely alive.

Hakeemullah resurfaced on May 2, 2010 in a video that was sent by a Taliban spokesman to The Long War Journal just hours after the failed Times Square bombing. In the video, Hakeemullah claimed credit for the attempted attack in the heart of New York City, and promised further attacks. His deputy, Qari Hussain Mehsud, who was also reported killed, also released an audiotape that confirmed he was alive.

Pakistani officials also claimed Hakeemullah was killed while clashing with Waliur Rahman Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in South Waziristan, in August 2009. The two were said to have killed each other in a gunfight while arguing over who should take control of the Taliban after Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a Predator strike on Aug. 5, 2009. The reports of the "battle at the shura" were proven to be false when the two leaders later appeared in the media.
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Senior Taliban leader killed in Eastern Afghanistan

According to local authorities in eastern Afghanistan, a senior Taliban commander was killed following clashes with the Afghan police forces in eastern Tagab province.

The officials further added, the Taliban commander in Tagab district of eastern Kapisa province.

Tagab security chief Shah Agha confirming the report said, the Taliban commander who was killed in clashes with the Afghan police was recognized as Mobarez.

Local officials did not provide further details regarding exact date of the incident.

Taliban militants group, the main militants group fighting the Afghan government and NATO-led coalition forces yet to comment regarding report.

In the meantime Afghan Interior Affairs Ministry following a press release on Sunday said, at least 2 armed militants were killed and as much as 30 others were detained following joint military operations by Afghan and NaTO-led coalition forces.

The source further added, the operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Kandahar, Helmand, Maidan Wardak, Logar and Ghazni provinces.

According to Afghan Interior Ministry officials, Afghan and NATO forces also seized various types of weapons and ammunitions during the military operations.

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Bomb Targets Shiite Muslims at Service in Pakistan

A man was transported to a hospital after being injured in a bomb attack on a Shiite gathering on Sunday in Khanpur, Pakistan.(Reuters)
ISLAMBAD, Pakistan — An explosion ripped through a crowd of Shiite Muslims in central Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 17 people in one of the largest such attacks in recent times in Pakistan’s most populous province.

The police said a bomb in Khanpur, a town in the southern part of the province, killed Shiite worshipers as they streamed out of a mosque after a religious ceremony. The local police chief, Sohail Zaffar Chatta, said the device appeared to have been detonated by remote control.

By early evening, 17 people had been confirmed killed and 25 wounded, with the death toll expected to rise. Television pictures from the scene showed black-clad women mourning over a body in the street while men angrily remonstrated before the cameras, beating their chests.

The victims were engaged in a ceremony commemorating the 40th day after the death anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein, a highly revered figure in Shiite Islam.

Sunni extremist groups, who view Shiites as heretics, have been implicated in a rising number of a sectarian attacks, according to human rights monitors.


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UN adds 2 Haqqani Network leaders to terrorist list

Five suspected militants are being posed to me...
Image via Wikipedia
The United Nations Security Council has added two senior Haqqani Network leaders to its list of individuals who are associated with the Taliban. One of the Haqqani Network leaders was appointed by al Qaeda to lead operations in a southeastern province in Afghanistan.
Ahmed Jan Wazir and Fazl Rabi were added to the UN list on Jan. 6 for holding senior leadership positions in the Haqqani Network. The UN designation, under UNSC resolution 1988, freezes the assets of those on the list and and imposes a travel ban on them. The two Haqqani Network leaders were added by the US Treasury Department to its list of specially designated global terrorists in June 2011, but their designation was not widely publicized.

Ahmed Jan Wazir
According to the UN, Wazir is "a key commander" in the Haqqani Network. He "acts as a deputy, advisor, and spokesperson" for Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the network. Wazir has represented the Haqqani Network at the Quetta Shura, the Taliban's top leadership council. Additionally, he holds meetings for the Haqqani Network and has traveled to the Persian Gulf with other "senior Haqqani Network members."
Wazir has been instrumental in helping the Haqqani Network expand its operations from its traditional base of power in the provinces of Paktia, Paktika, and Khost into Ghazni. He "served as a conduit between the Haqqani Network and the Taliban in Ghazni," the UN said. Ghazni is also a known hotbed of al Qaeda activity. [See LWJ report, 'Foreign trainers' active in southeastern Afghan province, for more information on al Qaeda's presence in Ghazni.]
Wazir has the support of al Qaeda fighters operating in Ghanzi. In 2008, he was named by both Taliban and al Qaeda units as a commander in the province. In that role he "has provided other Taliban commanders in Ghazni Province with money and supplies, including weapons and communications equipment."

Fazl Rabi
Rabi is a key financial official for both the Taliban and the Haqqani Network who has also aided the terror group in executing suicide attacks in Afghanistan, according to the UN.
The UN said Rabi is "a member of the Taliban's financial shura and has dispersed funds to Taliban commanders and officials." He has traveled to the Persian Gulf several times to raise funds for Jalaluddin Haqqani, the network's patriarch, and his son Siraj.
Additionally, Rabi "has coordinated the Haqqani Network's relationship with other militant groups."
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