Four young American women were attacked with acid Sunday in Marseille France

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

PARIS – Four young American women were attacked with acid Sunday in the French city of Marseille by a woman who has been arrested, the Marseille prosecutor’s office said.

Two of the tourists were injured in the face in the attack in the city’s main Saint Charles train station and one of them has a possible eye injury, a spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press in a phone call.

She said all four of the women, who are in their 20s, have been hospitalized, two of them for shock.

The spokeswoman said the 41-year-old female suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the attack. She said there were no obvious indications that the woman’s actions were terror-related, but added that officials could not be 100 percent sure about ruling out terror links at such an early stage of the investigation.

The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the French judicial system.

She did not release any further details about the suspects or the victims, including where in the United States the tourists were from.

The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department spokeswoman said.

Two of the Americans were “slightly injured” with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokeswoman said. She requested anonymity in keeping with fire department protocol.

A spokesman for the United States embassy in Paris said the U.S. consulate in Marseille was in contact with French authorities about the attack investigation and the condition of the American women.

U.S. authorities in France are not immediately commenting further on what happened to protect the privacy of the American tourists, embassy spokesman Alex Daniels said.

Marseille is a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.

In previous incidents in Marseille, a driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops last month, killing a woman, but officials said it wasn’t terror-related.

In April, French police say they thwarted an imminent “terror attack” and arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first round of France’s presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the two suspects “were getting ready to carry out an imminent, violent action” on French territory.

In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told police he acted in the name of the Islamic State group.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a “huge iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya crisis was being distributed to benefit “terrorists.”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has made her first public comments on the fate of her country’s persecuted Rohingya minority since new violence broke out almost two weeks ago.

Suu Kyi, who as Myanmar’s state counselor is the country’s defacto leader, claimed during a phone conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a “huge iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya crisis was being distributed to benefit “terrorists.”
According to a readout of the call, she added her government was fighting to ensure “terrorism” didn’t spread over the whole of Rakhine state.
Suu Kyi has come under fire in recent days for failing to speak out against the mass killings and displacement of Rohingya by her government, particularly given her previous image as a champion of human rights.
During the call, Suu Kyi said her government was already working to protect the rights of the Rohingya.
“We know very well, more than most, what it means to be deprived of human rights and democratic protection,” Suu Kyi said, according to a readout of the call.
“So we make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as, the right to, and not just political but social and humanitarian defense.”
At least 123,000 Rohingya refugees have poured across the Bangladeshi border in just two weeks after Myanmar’s military crackdown. The violence intensified after coordinated attacks on border posts which the government blamed on “terrorists.”
Refugees brought with them stories of death and destruction from inside the western Myanmar province. Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch allegedly shows entire villages razed to the ground.

International aid heads to Myanmar

Following Erdogan’s call with Suu Kyi, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency announced the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) would be allowed to deliver 1,000 tons of aid to Rakhine State.
“The aid will be delivered to the Maungtaw and Buthi Taung areas in the northern regions of Rakhine … to the hundreds of families displaced from their homes and villages as a result of attacks,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
“The first stage of the aid which will be made to the Rohingya who fled to mountainous areas … includes the food staples of rice and dried fish as well as clothing.”
The spokesman added as the region was still unsafe, aid would be delivered via military helicopters in cooperation with Rakhine authorities.

Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic minority members walk through rice fields after crossing over to the Bangladesh side of the border, Friday, Sept. 1.

Turkey isn’t the only one sending aid to the troubled province either — the Migrant Offshore Aid Station Foundation (MOAS) announced Monday it would relocate to Myanmar to help fleeing refugees.
MOAS is the organization that has been working since April 2014 to rescue migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe on often unsafe vessels.
They claim to have already helped more than 40,000 people, including children.
“Building on MOAS’ long-standing dedication to alleviating the plight of the persecuted Rohingya minority, MOAS is therefore undertaking a strategic shift of its operations to South East Asia,” the organization announced on their website.
“MOAS said they were following a direction from Pope Francis, who on August 27 publicly called for an international response to the Rohingya crisis.”
“From there, MOAS will deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance and aid to the Rohingya people, and will work to provide a platform for transparency, advocacy and accountability in the region.”

Muslim anger grows worldwide

Myanmar has faced a growing chorus of outrage from across the Muslim world following the most recent outbreak of violence inside Rakhine State.

Thousands in Chechnya rally for Rohingya Muslims

Thousands in Chechnya rally for Rohingya Muslims 00:49
Leaders of several Muslim majority countries, including Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan, have issued strong statements calling out the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Monday expressed “deep anguish” at the continuing violence, which he termed “deplorable.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi flew to Myanmar on Monday for talks for state councilor Suu Kyi, after her president Joko Widodo said real action was needed to stop the conflict.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to hold talks with Suu Kyi during a state visit to Myanmar on Wednesday.
Multiple countries have also seen large protests in support of the Rohingya people, including a mass march in the Chechnyan capital of Grozny and outside the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres led Western states in condemning the violence, releasing a statement Tuesday saying he is “deeply concerned about the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.”

It Is Now Past Time For China To Kill Kim Jong Un Of North Korea

 

This morning Kim Jong Un, the idiot who controls North Korea with an iron fist set off a nuclear bomb. China says that they do not want there to be nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula yet they have helped create this lunatic in North Korea. I say this because there is plenty of picture evidence that shows that the missile launchers North Korea uses are Chinese. The very rapid development of their missile and Nuke programs makes it obvious that North Korea is getting ‘State’ help from someone. There are only two choices as to which States, China or Russia. There is also plenty of solid proof that North Korea is helping Iran with their missile and Nuke programs. All of the signs point to China being behind North Korea and China’s President Xi Jinping has stated this past week that China will not tolerate a Regime change in North Korea under any circumstance.

 

China’s President Xi Jinping has proven himself to be almost as flagrant of a liar as President Trump, the difference between those two men is that Xi Jinping is very intelligent and Donald Trump if a complete idiot. China’s government would love nothing more than for the United States military to totally exit the Asian realm so that they can more easily totally dominate every country in Asia. I do not believe that China and I mean by that, Xi Jinping will order a ‘hit’ on Kim Jong Un even though that would be the best solution to this crises. One mans blood being spilled is far better than the blood of thousands or even millions being spilled.

 

Being China is actually helping Kim Jong Un with his Nuclear and military programs the world can not wait on China to do anything to this crazy fool. While the world waits on the UN to produce results with their talks and sanctions North Korea is perfecting their Missile and Nuclear technologies with the help of Beijing. China continues to warn the U.S. and our allies in that region of the world that if North Korea is attacked preemptively that China will militarily join North Korea. So, to me that sounds a lot like the U.S., South Korea or Japan should just sit back and wait to be hit with Nuclear bombs first before they respond. I am not saying that the U.S. should Nuke anyone first but what I am saying is that if Xi Jinping will not kill Kim Jong Un then the U.S. needs to make it very clear to Kim Jong Un that if he tests even one more missile, Nuke of otherwise that the U.S. and our Allies will hunt him down and kill him, no if and or buts about it, he will die.

UN chief in Jerusalem: Calls for Israel’s destruction Are ‘Modern Anti-Semitism’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UN chief in Jerusalem: Calls for Israel’s destruction are ‘modern anti-Semitism’

In meeting with President Rivlin, Antonio Guterres says international body will treat Jewish state with ‘impartiality’

 August 28, 2017, 12:33 pm 9

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that calling for Israel’s destruction is a “form of modern anti-Semitism” and said he would treat Israel with “impartiality” amid vocal complaints by Israeli officials that the world body is biased against the Jewish state.

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“I do believe that in particular when you mention those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism,” Guterres told President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

“But you also understand that I sometimes disagree with positions of the Government of Israel or any other government, and that is absolutely normal in a society where many of your citizens have exactly the same expressions of opinions,” he added.

“We will always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region, but we will always be very committed to make sure anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Guterres, who was greeted upon his arrival Sunday with complaints from Israeli officials of the UN’s “anti-Israel bias,” said under his leadership the international body will treat Israel with “impartiality,” as he said it does with every country.

“I want to express to you, Mr. President, that you can be fully confident that in my role as Secretary General, and in relation to the functions of the secretariat that I am supposed to meet, I am very keen in stressing the values of the Charter, and the very important value of the Charter, impartiality,” he told Rivlin.

“And impartiality means treating all states equally, and I am totally committed to that in my action and in everything I can do for the organization I lead.”

The secretary general also mentioned his trip to the Yad Vashem Memorial Holocaust museum earlier Monday and mentioned his home country Portugal’s own history of anti-Semitism in the 16th century.

“Yad Vashem is there to remind us that we need to be in the first line in fighting against antisemitism, but first of all fighting against all other forms of bigotry, be it racism, xenophobia, even anti-Muslim hatred, to promote understanding and to promote dialogue,” he said.

In his remarks at Yad Vashem, Guterres said he was “shocked” by the anti-Semitic and Nazi chants at the violent white supremacist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also warned that anti-Semitism is “alive and well.”

“I was shocked a few [days] ago to listen to the chant of a group of neo Nazis in developed country in the world chanting ‘blood and soil’ – [a] slogan of the Nazis. That is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible and as Secretary General of the United Nations I fully assume that commitment to do everything possible to fight anti-Semitism in all its expressions,” he said.

“As I said I’m truly committed to fight anti-Semitism, as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and all other forms of bigotry that unfortunately we are not yet able to make our world free of.”

In his remarks, Rivlin called on Guterres “to work to end the discrimination against Israel” at the UN, while also thanking him for “brave leadership” on the issue.

“This targeting of Israel, this singling out of the world’s only Jewish state, and even actions and statements that threaten to destroy Israel are unacceptable, and should come at a price. No member state in the UN should be allowed to behave like that,” the president said.

“We appreciate your brave leadership regarding the discrimination against Israel. We hope that working together, we can create a more productive partnership between Israel and the UN, for the sake of our region, and for the sake of all humanity.”

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak to the press prior to their meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak to the press prior to their meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

Guterres arrived in Israel Sunday evening for a three-day visit that will include meetings with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in the West Bank, as well as a stop in the Gaza Strip, where the UN runs a major Palestinian aid program.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN chief, said that the purpose of his trip was “to engage directly with Israeli and Palestinian people and their leaders” about “finding a long overdue peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Guterres is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Monday.

On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that Israel will discuss two key issues with the UN head during the visit: ending “anti-Israel bias” at the 193-nation organization, and changing the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.

“We are seeking a dramatic change in the way the UN treats Israel. It’s time to place the issue squarely on the table and address it head-on,” Hotovely said, threatening funding cuts for the body if changes were not implemented.

The trip came as the UN Security Council is debating renewing the mandate of UNIFIL’s peacekeepers for another year, with a vote expected on August 30.

UN envoy Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Lebanese border, June 8, 2017. (David Azagury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

UN envoy Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Lebanese border, June 8, 2017. (David Azagury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has blasted the commander of UNIFIL, Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

Pointing to Haley’s comments, Hotovely said that “if the UN does not drastically change its behavior it will lose both support and funding” from Israel and other countries.

“It’s no longer just us threatening this,” she said. “The US position has changed. Led by Nikki Haley, they have made clear that they will not tolerate bias against us and will no longer be giving an open check.”

Guterres’s spokesman Dujarric has said in the past that the UN secretary general has “full confidence in (UNIFIL’s commander’s) work.”

Raoul Wootliff and agencies contributed to this report.

King of Spain joins Barcelona march of defiance against terrorism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

King of Spain joins Barcelona march of defiance against terrorism

Media caption Police estimated half a million attended the event

Hundreds of thousands of people in Barcelona have marched against militant Islamists who left 15 people dead in and around the city last week.

King Felipe VI led the demonstrators, alongside Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The king is the first Spanish sovereign to take part in a demonstration since the monarchy was re-established in the 1970s.

Emergency workers and shop staff who helped during the attack at Las Ramblas also took pride of place.

The procession set off behind a banner bearing the slogan “I’m not afraid”. Other placards denounced Islamophobia.

Some signs read Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Some signs read “No tenim por”, meaning “We are not afraid” in Catalan

During the march, the king and prime minister walked the streets in front of hundreds of Catalan flags – the emblem for the autonomous region’s long-running independence claim.

Some protesters whistled and shouted “out” at the king.

Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, is due to holds its unrecognised independence referendum in October.

Prime Minister Rajoy had encouraged “everyone” to take part to show that “Catalonia and the rest of Spain [are] united against terror”.

Tens of thousands of people marched togetherImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionTens of thousands of people marched together

The 17 August attack – which saw a van deliberately driven into people on the Las Ramblas boulevard – was claimed by the Islamic State group.

The driver later stabbed and killed a man while hijacking his vehicle. Hours later, a car attack in nearby Cambrils killed another woman.

cell of 12 jihadists has been blamed for the attack. Eight are dead, while four have appeared in court in Madrid.

King Felipe has reigned in Spain since 2014, when his father, King Juan Carlos I, abdicated.

Spain’s monarchy was restored after the death of military dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

At Least 20 Dead in Mosque Attack in Afghan Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME WORLD.COM)

 

At Least 20 Dead in Mosque Attack in Afghan Capital

1:45 PM ET

(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Militants stormed a packed Shiite mosque in the Afghan capital during Friday prayers, in an attack that lasted for hours and ended with at least 20 worshippers killed and another 50 seriously wounded, many of them children, an official said.

Two of the assailants blew themselves up and another two were shot to death by Afghan security forces, according to police official Mohammed Sadique Muradi.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest to target Afghanistan’s minority Shiites. The Taliban condemned the violence, with a spokesman for the militants, Zabihullah Mujahid, telling The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the group had nothing to do with it.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the violence and said the militants were turning to attacking places of worship because they were losing on the battlefield. He urged Islamic clerics everywhere to condemn the bloodshed.

The death toll of 20 was expected to rise because many of the victims were seriously wounded, said Mohammad Salim Rasouli, chief of Kabul’s hospitals.

Terrified worshippers endured about four harrowing hours of gunfire and explosions during the afternoon before the four attackers were killed.

The Islamic State said in a statement on the website of its Aamaq news agency that it had deployed two attackers to the mosque. There was no immediate explanation for the contradictory number of attackers.

Security forces had surrounded the mosque in the northern Kabul neighborhood but did not initially enter to prevent further casualties to the many worshippers inside, police official Mohammed Jamil said. Later, as police tried to advance, one of the attackers set off an explosion that forced them to withdraw, Muradi said.

The cleric who was performing the prayers was among the dead, said Mir Hussain Nasiri, a member of Afghanistan’s Shiite clerical council. The gunmen had taken over both the cavernous prayer hall for the men and the separate, second-floor prayer area for the women, he said.

The mosque could accommodate up to 1,000 people, Nasir added.

When police initially tried to get inside, they discovered the militants had blocked the door leading to the second floor, turning the women upstairs into hostages, Nasir said.

“I was trying to escape over the wall when I saw my daughter, who was wounded, also trying to climb the wall,” one man who gave his name only as Bismillah told the AP.

“There was another girl who was shot in the head. I saw the body myself,” he said. “Finally I managed to escape with my daughter and a police escorted us to safety from the back of the mosque.”

Last month, the Sunni-dominated Islamic State group attacked the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul and then warned Shiites in Afghanistan that their mosques would be targeted. Sunni extremists consider Shiites to be heretics.

Within days of that, IS also took responsibility for a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in western Herat province that left 32 people dead.

In southern Kandahar province Friday, Afghan security forces repulsed a Taliban attack on an outpost overnight, according to provincial police chief’s spokesman, Zia Durrani. Four members of the security forces died in the exchange and another seven were wounded, he said.

Durrani said the Taliban sustained heavy casualties. There was no immediate comment from the militants.

Elsewhere, provincial deputy police chief Nisar Ahmad Abdul Rahimzai said Afghan security forces recaptured a district in eastern Paktia province from the insurgents.

The summer fighting season in Afghanistan has seen relentless Taliban attacks as the insurgents battle to expand their footprint.

On Thursday, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, and Hugo Llorens, the U.S. Embassy’s special chargé d’affaires, told reporters in Kabul that the new U.S. strategy was a promise to Afghans that together they would defeat terrorism and prevent terrorist groups from establishing safe havens.

Nicholson vowed to defeat both the Islamic State group affiliate and the remnants of al-Qaida, and he had the following message to the Taliban: “Stop fighting against your countrymen. Stop killing innocent civilians. Stop bringing hardship and misery to the Afghan people. Lay down your arms and join Afghan society. Help build a better future for this country and your own children.”

President Donald Trump had announced the new plans for Afghanistan on Monday. While he did not give specifics, senior U.S. officials have said that he might send up to 3,900 more troops, with some deployments beginning almost immediately.

Spanish Police Find And Kill The Driver Of Van Used In Barcelona Terrorist Attack

(THIS POST IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

 The driver of a van that careened through throngs of revelers in a tourist zone here last week was shot dead by police on a quiet country road Monday afternoon, capping a four-day manhunt for the last member of a 12-person terrorist cell likely led by a mysterious imam.

After receiving a tip from locals who spotted a suspicious character hiding in the vineyards around the village of Subirats, an hour’s drive west of Barcelona, rural law enforcement officers, accompanied by Catalan police, confronted Younes Abouyaaqoub.

Josep Lluís Trapero, chief of the Catalan National Police, said Abouyaaqoub threw open his shirt to reveal what officers believed was a suicide bomb belt around his waist.

The chief said Moroccan-born Abouyaaqoub then shouted “Allahu akbar,” or God is great in Arabic, and police shot him dead.

Authorities said Monday that forensic evidence, security camera images and a witness led them to conclude that Abouyaaqoub was the driver of the van that plowed through hundreds of pedestrians in a crowded Las Ramblas street on Thursday afternoon.

Spanish authorities said Monday that the death toll had risen to 15. Scores were wounded, some seriously.

Thirteen people were killed by Abouyaaqoub in his vehicular assault on La Rambla, a world-
famous avenue of cafes, shops, and stately old hotels in the heart of Barcelona.

An hour after the van attack, police say Abouyaaqoub killed another man to steal a getaway car. His accomplices, fleeing a police roadblock, ran over a woman.

Of the 15 people killed, two were children. Six were Spaniards, three Italians, two Portuguese. There was also a Belgian, a Canadian and dual citizen of Australia and Britain. One was an American, Jared Tucker, on his honeymoon.

After Abouyaaqoub was shot dead by police, a bomb squad deployed a robot to get near the prone body and discovered that the suicide vest was a fake, officials said.

The terrorist attack was the worst in Spain since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, when 191 people were killed and 1,700 were injured.

The Islamic State asserted responsibility for the Barcelona attack. Catalan police said that it is possible the terrorist cell, composed of Moroccan-born youths and young men, was inspired or steered by Islamic State actors, but that the investigation was ongoing and definitive links have not been established.

Security camera images released Monday by police showed Abouyaaqoub making his escape on foot through Barcelona’s La Boqueria market after the attack.

Those images were given to the public on Monday and probably led to the assailant being identified up in the mountain vineyards.

Catalan Justice Minister Carles Mundo identified Abouyaaqoub’s latest victim as Pau Perez, who was found dead in his Ford Focus several miles from the scene of the van attack. Police said that Abouyaaqoub knifed Perez to death when he stole his car to escape after the van attack. He dumped Perez into the back seat and drove away.

Abouyaaqoub then rammed through the barricades at a police checkpoint as officers fired on the car, authorities said. That vehicle was found abandoned a few miles away with Perez’s body still in the back seat.

Where Abouyaaqoub spent the last four days is unknown.

Trapero, the Catalan National Police chief, told reporters that authorities found DNA remains of at least two people killed in an explosion the day before the attack.

Trapero said it was likely that one of the bodies found at the explosion site was Abdelbaki Essati, a Muslim cleric who is suspected of radicalizing young men in the mountain town of Ripoll and organizing the terrorist cell.

Essati, a Moroccan national who lived in Ripoll for the last two years, served as imam in a mosque, where he taught the Koran and the Arabic language. Police revealed Monday that he was a convicted drug trafficker who had served time in the Castellon prison outside Valencia from 2010 to 2014.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia, told The Washington Post that police here were not given timely information by the Spanish federal government and were in the dark — until now — about the imam’s time in prison.

While serving his sentence in prison, Spanish media reported that Essati may have met Rachid Aglif, known as “the Rabbit,” one of the main plotters of the 2004 Madrid bomb attacks.

Ali Yassine, the director of the mosque in Ripoll, said that Essati was paid about $1,000 a month to serve as imam. Local benefactors paid his rent and helped with groceries.

Yassine told The Washington Post that he had given Essati’s name to local police more than a year ago as part of standard security protocol to keep a closer eye on Muslim preachers. But authorities did not flag Essati on a watch list even though he had a conviction for trafficking drugs.

If only authorities had alerted the Muslim elders in Ripoll that Essati was a convicted drug smuggler, the Moroccan families say, he would have been fired as imam and would never have had the chance to radicalize their sons.

“We have trusted the mosque and the authorities and send our children to learn about Islam and Arabic. How could they allow such a criminal and monster to get involved with our children?” said the aunt of Moussa Oukabir, one of the cell members. The aunt spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared a backlash for what her relatives did.

“We must find out what has happened to them, so we can make sure not to loose the next generation of our children as well,” she said.

Police had another chance to stop the terrorist cell members before they struck — after a large explosion occurred Wednesday.

For almost 24 hours, until the van attack, police assumed the explosion was caused by criminals manufacturing methamphetamine.

Authorities said they investigated the blast site as quickly as possible. On Monday, police said they found 120 propane canisters at the site in Alcanar, about a two-hour drive south of Barcelona, alongside explosive material that has been employed in bombs.

Police concluded that the material and propane tanks were to be used in the attack on Barcelona’s crowded La Rambla promenade or at another site in the city.

At the bomb house, police said they also found remote-controlled detonators.

Raul Gallego Abellan in Subirats and Angel García in Barcelona contributed to this report.

Barcelona and Cambrils attacks: What we know so far

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Barcelona and Cambrils attacks: What we know so far

People wait to enter the area after a van crashed into pedestrians near the Las Ramblas avenue in central Barcelona, Spain August 17, 2017Image copyright REUTERS
Image caption Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular cities for tourists

There have been two attacks in Spain’s Catalonia region involving people driving cars at crowds at high-speeds.

Here is what we know so far.

What happened?

On Thursday afternoon at 16:50 local time (14:50 GMT) a white van smashed into people on Las Ramblas, a famous boulevard in central Barcelona that runs 1.2km (0.75 miles) and was packed with tourists.

The van driver is said to have zig-zagged to try and hit as many people as possible along the pedestrianised area, knocking many to the floor and sending others fleeing for cover in shops and cafes.

He killed 13 people and injured more than 100, and managed to flee the scene.

Spanish police have described it as a terror attack.

Barcelona map

What was the second attack?

About eight hours later, an Audi A3 car ploughed into pedestrians in the popular seaside resort town of Cambrils, 110km (68 miles) south-west of Barcelona.

Six civilians were injured, one critically, and a police officer was hurt too.

Five attackers, some of whom appeared to be wearing suicide belts, were then shot by police. Four died at the scene and one later died of his injuries.

Controlled explosions were carried out and authorities later said the explosive belts were fake.

Both the Las Ramblas and Cambrils attacks are believed to be linked.

Who has been arrested?

On Thursday, one person from Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla was arrested in Alcanar and a Moroccan was arrested in Ripoll. Both are towns in Catalonia – the same region as Barcelona.

Police say neither of the pair arrested was the driver.

Documents belonging to the Moroccan, 28-year-old Driss Oubakir, were allegedly used to rent the van used in the Las Ramblas attack but local media report he says his papers were stolen and used without his knowledge.

He arrived in Barcelona from Morocco on 13 August, the El Pais newspaper reports, citing police sources.

On Friday, police announced another arrest in Ripoll. It remains unclear how many people were involved in the plots.

Weren’t there other incidents too?

On Thursday evening at 19:30 local time, a car was driven into officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barcelona.

The car was later found with a dead man inside it, but the interior ministry has denied earlier reports he was killed by police gunfire. He is not believed to be linked to the Las Ramblas attack, officials say, but investigations are ongoing

On Wednesday night, an explosion completely destroyed a house in Alcanar, 200km south of Barcelona, killing one person and wounding seven.

Media caption What was it like to be caught up in the Barcelona attack?

The house was filled with bottles of propane and butane, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported (in Spanish).

That incident is believed to be connected to Thursday’s events.

Who are the victims?

They come from all over the world, with at least 24 nationalities represented.

People from Ireland, France, Australia, China, Pakistan, Venezuela, Algeria, Peru, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines are all reported to be among the victims.

Aftermath of Barcelona attack in pictures

Belgium said one of its citizens was killed and France said 26 of its nationals were injured, 11 seriously. The Australian government said at least four citizens were injured.

Who is responsible?

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind the Las Ramblas attack and that IS “soldiers” carried it out. But it did not provide any evidence or details to back up the claim.

Why Spain?

The country is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations but in recent years has not seen the kind of jihadist violence that has rocked France, the UK, Belgium and Germany.

Still, Spain has been targeted before – several trains in Madrid, the capital, were bombed by al-Qaeda inspired militants in 2004, killing 191 people.

The IS news agency, Amaq, said the attack was carried out as part of efforts to target states fighting in the US-led anti-IS coalition.

A few hundred Spanish soldiers are in Iraq, training local forces fighting the Sunni militant group.

How much jihadist activity is there in the country?

The number of operations carried out against jihadists has increased significantly since Spain raised its terror alert level to four out of five in June 2015, meaning there was “high risk” of a terror attack.

Before these attacks, 51 suspected jihadists had already been detained in the country this year, while 69 were detained last year, and 75 were detained in 2015, according to El Pais.

Security and surveillance was stepped up in the wake of truck attacks in the French city of Nice in July 2016 and the German capital Berlin in December.

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“Russia Has Never Denied Israels Rights To Jerusalem, The Temple Mount Or The Western Wall”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JERUSALEM POST)    (THIS IS A RE-POST FROM 11-06-2016 HAS ANYTHING REALLY CHANGED)

Moscow has never denied Israel’s rights to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev said in advance of his visit to the Jewish state later this week.

“These rights are clear and it would be absurd to deny them,” he told Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levy.

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He spoke warmly of Russia’s ties with Israel, despite Moscow’s votes against the Jewish state at the United Nations and its delivery of the S-300 missiles to Iran.


Benjamin Netanyahu Dimitry Medvedev. (Photo credit: RIA NOVOSTI / REUTERS)

Levy quizzed him about those controversial issues as well as his support for Syrian President Basher Assad and charges that his country had intervened in the US elections.

How does Russia explain its support of the UNESCO vote “to disregard the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Levy asked Medvedev.

The issue had been blown out of proportion, he responded speaking in Russian, with a Hebrew translation by Channel 2.

There have been some ten votes by UNESCO Boards and Committees on such Jerusalem resolutions, Medvedev said.

“There is nothing new here,” he said, as he dismissed the significance of UNESCO texts that refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al Haram Al Sharif.

“Our country has never denied the rights of Israel or the Jewish people to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall,” Medvedev said.

“Therefore there is no need to politicize this decision,” Medvedev said, adding that such resolutions, were “not directed against Israel.”

Similarly, he said, there was nothing contradictory in Russia’s sale and shipment of the advanced S-300 advanced surface to air missile defense system to Iran.

Israel had opposed such sales because they significantly upgrade Iran’s ability to defend its nuclear sites against any attacks. It is particularly concerned because it does not believe that the Iran deal, put in place in 2015, will limit Tehran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

Medvedev told Channel 2 that prior to the Iran deal, Russia respected the sanctions against Tehran and refrained from delivering the S-300. Now that the deal is in place and the sanctions were lifted, there was no reason not to complete the sale, he said.

Moving over to Syria, he referred to President Bashar Assad as the country’s only legitimate leader and added that Israel’s leadership preferred his rule to the prospect of a divided country under terrorist leadership.

“I know him (Assad) personally. There are those who love him and those who don’t. At present Assad is the only legitimate authority operating in Syria. Any regime change would have to occur legitimately,” Medvedev said.

“I remember that during my meetings with Israeli leaders, they told me they were not completely for Assad, but that there has to be someone in charge of the situation, rather than an uncontrolled break up of the country into enclaves ruled by terrorists,” Medvedev said.

Middle East terrorism, he said, is threatening his country from within.

“There are thousands of Russians fighting on behalf of ISIS and other Islamic Jihadist groups,” Medvedev said. “When they return they are experienced murders and terrorists. After their time fighting in Syria we don’t want them to organize something similar [within Russia],” he said.

Levy asked how the presence of the Russian air force in Syria impacted Israel’s ability to prevent the flow of weapons to Hezbollah.

Medvedev said that it was operating from the assumption that “all sides would not take steps to aggravate the conflict.”

With regard to the United States, he charged that it had not kept its commitments in Syria and that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at a very low point.

Medvedev chuckled when Levy asked him if Russia had interfered with the US elections.

He quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he stated that “the United States is not a banana republic.”

The US, he said, was a large and strong country and could not be influenced in that way. “It doesn’t matter who will be elected, but what policy they will execute,” he said.

“Its clear [that either candidate] will act in the best national interest of the US,” Medvedev said.

He called Republican candidate Donald Trump brilliant and said he had never met him. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said, was professional and known to him from the times he met with her when she was US Secretary of State from 2009-2012.

Russia expects to have a “normal” and “productive” relationship with whichever of the two candidates wins the White House, Medvedev said.

With regard to the Russian initiative to hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Presdient Mahmoud Abbas, Medvedev said that Moscow was not looking to replace the United States or anyone else when it comes to the peace process.

On the other hand, he said, there are very discouraging signs with regard to that conflict and there have been no advancements to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian track over the last few years.

“It’s very sad,” he said.

Knife Attack In Hamburg Germany Supermarket: One Dead At Least four Seriously Injured

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Knife attack in Hamburg supermarket leaves one person dead

Police cordoned off the area around the supermarket in Hamburg on Friday.

(CNN) One person was killed and four injured in a stabbing attack Friday at a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, police said.

Authorities identified the attacker as a 26-year-old man who was born in the United Arab Emirates, but they did not provide his name or citizenship status.
Police spokesman Timo Zill told local media the investigation was in its early stages and that no possible motive was being excluded, including terrorism.
He said the suspect was armed with a kitchen knife when he entered the supermarket and started stabbing customers. A 50-year-old man was killed in the attack, police said. Four others were injured inside the store before the suspect fled the scene and attacked a passerby, Zill said.
The injured include a 54-year-old woman and four men, ages 64, 57, 56 and 19. Some of the victims’ wounds are severe, and they are being treated in local hospitals.
Witnesses followed the man and managed to restrain him until police arrived and arrested him.
Hamburg police tweeted that the suspect was “definitely a lone attacker.”
The stabbing happened Friday afternoon local time at a supermarket in the Barmbek area to the north of the city. Hamburg is in northern Germany.

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