Sierra Leone: VP Sam Sumana Has His Diplomatic Passport Withdrawn

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘GLOBAL TIMES’ FROM CHINA)

MANJOROKA

The Return Of VP Sam Sumana & The Withdrawal Of His Diplomatic Passport

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By Sorie Fofana………………………..

During his Presidential campaign in the run-up to the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma made series of overseas trips to Europe and the United States of America.

As Leader of the Opposition and APC Member of Parliament, he was entitled to a Service Passport.

During one of his foreign tours, he arrived in London on his way to Freetown. On the day he was due to fly out of London, Mr. Koroma realized that, he needed some consular assistance at the Sierra Leone High Commission in London.

V.P. Sam Sumana

V.P. Sam Sumana

The Consular Section at the Sierra Leone High Commission in London normally closes to the public between 1pm and 3pm. Unfortunately it was during that break period that, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma and some of his supporters in the UK arrived at the Chancery Building at 41 Eagle Street, Holborn, London in 2006.

Normally, no one is allowed in the building (especially in the Consular Section) during that time (1pm and 3pm).

One of his supporters, Alim Bangura (he is now one of his body guards) had accompanied him to the Chancery Building on that day.

Alim was (is) a very good friend of mine. He telephoned me to complain that, they needed access to the Consular Section but they had been denied such access. I came down from my office to meet with them. It was quite a relief when Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma saw me. I never knew that, he was the one that needed consular assistance.

Alim told me that, Mr. Koroma wanted some consular assistance but they had not been allowed into the building because of the break period.

I allowed them in the building and took them to the Consular Section and explained to the Assistant Consular Officer that, Mr. Koroma needed urgent consular assistance as he was due to fly out of the United Kingdom that day. And I introduced him as a Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition in Sierra Leone.

The Assistant Consular Officer said that, he needed to be instructed before he could offer any sort of assistance to Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

I told him that, as a diplomatic staff, I could guaranty that Mr. Koroma was what he said he was.

After I insisted that, he must obey my instruction, the Assistant Consular Officer agreed to render the much-needed assistance to Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

I accompanied them out of the building and advised them to use the tube instead of driving in the crawling London vehicular traffic to Gatwick International Airport.

One year later, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma visited the High Commission in London as the elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

The Assistant Consular Officer did not go to work on the day President Koroma officially visited the Chancery Building at 41 Eagle Street with a retinue of his newly appointed Cabinet Ministers including Alhaji Alpha Kanu (Presidential Affairs Minister), Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay (Minister of Transport and Aviation) and Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura (Minister of Foreign Affairs).

The rest, as they say, is history.

Sam Sumana’s Return

After almost one year in self-imposed exile in Ghana, the elected former Vice President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Chief Samuel Sam Sumana returned home on Thursday April 13, 2017. He received a tumultuous welcome from his supporters, both at Lungi and in Freetown.

VP Sam Sumana was driven in a huge motorcade to his private residence at Hill Station.

Diplomatic Passport

As Vice President, Chief Sam Sumana was a diplomatic passport holder. His spouce is also entitled to a diplomatic passport.

It is understood that, on arrival at Lungi International Airport on Thursday 13th April, 2017 VP Sam Sumana’s diplomatic passport was withdrawn from him by a senior Immigration official apparently acting on orders from State House.

Is This The Way To Treat A Former Vice President?

Why did the government decide to withdraw VP Sam Sumana’s diplomatic passport at the Lungi International Airport? Why didn’t the government authorize the Immigration Department to write to VP Sam Sumana, officially withdrawing from him the privilege of carrying a diplomatic passport?

Why didn’t the government wait until the passport expires and decide not to renew it again? This is not the way to do politics. Absolutely not!

How would President Koroma feel if he leaves office and all his privileges and entitlements are withdrawn from him?

How many sacked Ministers and diplomats have retired their diplomatic passports to the Immigration Department after they left office?

Sam Sumana: The Presidential Candidate

A new political party or movement calling itself C4C (Coalition for Change) has chosen VP Sam Sumana as their Presidential candidate for the March 7, 2018 elections. No matter what anybody says, VP Sam Sumana has suddenly become a key stakeholder in the politics of Sierra Leone. Afterall, he is no longer an ordinary Sierra Leonean. He has served as Vice President of Sierra Leone for almost seven years. Such a man cannot be easily dismissed. He is a Politician with a strong political base.

Those people in the APC who are victimizing and even harassing their opponents in other political parties must not forget that, they will not be in power forever.

The outcome of the 2018 elections can go either way. So, people like Albert Logus Koroma and Karamoh Kabba must be very careful the way that they conduct themselves during this election campaign period.

Those victimizing and molesting Ambassador Alimamy Petito Koroma, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu and others in the APC should think twice and remember that, nothing last forever.

May common sense prevail!

Russia’s President Putin Cautions Iran and Syria’s Assad

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS PAPER ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Putin Cautions Iran and Assad

When asked by a reporter if he expected more US missile strikes on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin replied: “We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared … in other parts of Syria, including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons).”

According to Reuters, Putin said Russia would be urgently asking the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the global chemical weapons watchdog, to investigate the incident in Idlib.

Putin said that he realized that Russia will receive criticism for its role in Syria, but he hoped that eventually positions will be eased.

So, what do these statements mean with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due to arrive at Moscow for direct talks?

Surely, no one in his right mind would believe that the US is “planning to plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons).”

As Putin said, if the US wanted to strike Damascus criminal Bashar al-Assad, there are simply several and logical justifications for it. This has been the case since the presidency of Obama and the US does not need to wait for Assad to use chemical weapons to launch strikes.

Therefore, the only reasonable analysis of Putin’s statement is that he is warning Assad and Iran against doing anything that could lead to more US strikes against the regime which would embarrass Russia, who will in turn not take any action that could lead to a military confrontation with the US.

No matter what Russia’s interest in Syria may be, Moscow will not go all the way to defend Assad because its real interests are in Europe. It has now become evident that President Trump is not the ally Russia was hoping for, but he is rather the president who launched a military strike against Assad.

The Russian president sought to assure the West that his country welcomes criticism of its role in Syria because he wants to convince the West that he is still in the political game. In addition, Russia’s position in Syria is not ideological or a matter of life and death, like it is with Iran and the terrorist “Hezbollah” organization, but it is negotiable.

As it stands, Putin will not allow any more embarrassments in Syria. We say “embarrassment” because Russia did not respond militarily to the Turkish downing of the Russian fighter jet, so how will it respond to US strikes against Assad after he used chemical weapons which Moscow pledged to remove in 2013?

Russia is in a tight spot and that is why Putin’s statement is more of a warning to Iran and Assad against doing anything reckless than being an accusation against the US. If Washington is colluding like that, it is better if Moscow halts the negotiations or not be so eager to welcome the Secretary of State.

It seems that Putin’s announcement is directed at Iran and Assad more than it is at the US.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin’s mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor’s degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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Syria… What about Israel?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Syria… What about Israel?

In response to the US missile attack against al-Shayrat airbase – controlled by Assad regime- the so-called joint command center (Russia-Iran-Assad) besides other armed groups including the terrorist “Hezbollah” announced that the US attack has crossed “red lines” and “from now on, we will respond forcefully to any aggression and any crossing of the red lines.”

The statement added that: “America is fully aware of our ability to respond.”

Alright, what about the Israeli strikes in Syria against Assad-regime and “Hezbollah”, assassinating several leaders thereof there including Samir Qantar who was killed in an Israeli raid that targeted a residential building in Jaramana, a suburb in Damascus?

What about the Israeli defense minister’s threat to Damascus criminal and butcher Bashar Assad on March 19, warning from targeting the Israeli warplanes flying in the Syrian skies? “The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our airplanes, we will destroy all of them without thinking twice.”

Are the Israeli strikes and involvement in the Syrian territory as well as targeting “Hezbollah” and its leaders permissible, while the US attack is considered a red line?

Certainly, the statement of the so-called joint command center is mere talk and an attempt to save the face of criminal Assad regime, Iranians and “Hezbollah”. That was why Russians did not promote the statement in media and no official Russian authority – such as Kremlin- even wrote an article about it.

On the contrary, the statement issued after the phone call between the Russian president and his Iranian counterpart demanded carrying out an objective probe on the usage of chemical weapons in Idlib. These loose statements, including the statement of the so-called joint command force, are propaganda and an attempt to save one’s face.

Israel devastated – previously – “Hezbollah” in Lebanon and Iran did not defend it not even with one bullet. Gaza was set to fire during an Israeli aggression and neither Iran nor “Hezbollah” acted to rescue it – Assad regime did not respond to all these Israeli attacks against Lebanon and Gaza not even when the Israeli warplane flew over the presidential palace years before the Syrian revolution.

Iran, Hezbollah and Assad statements are worthless after the US strike as today we are facing a new reality. Concerning Russians, everyone will know the true stance of Moscow after the anticipated meeting of the US Secretary of State and his Russian counterpart.

Certainly, the US has various tools to harm Iran and Russia in Syria — Russians are aware of that, that’s why they are calm and they have accepted the latest US blow in Syria.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin’s mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor’s degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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Stockholm Truck Attack Kills 3; Many Seriously Injured: Terrorism Is Suspected

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Photo

Police officers near the site where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday. Credit Jonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A man steered a stolen beer truck into a crowd of people and then rammed it into a department store, killing at least three people in what officials were calling a terrorist attack in the heart of Stockholm on Friday afternoon.

“Sweden has been attacked. All indications are that it was a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in a statement.

The suspect in the attack was still at large. But at a news conference later in the evening, the Swedish police released a photo of a man being sought in connection for questioning.

The authorities said they did not know if it had been an isolated assault, or something bigger. The Swedish intelligence agency said “a large number” of people had been wounded.

Photo

A picture showing a man who is wanted in connection with the truck attack in Stockholm was released by the Swedish police on Friday. Credit Stockholm Police

Mats Löfving, the head of national operative department of the Swedish police, said, “This is now declared a national security event,” adding that officers across the nation were on heightened alert.

The Swedish Parliament was on lockdown, according to news reports. Train service in and out of the city grounded to a halt, and the police, who blocked off the affected area, urged people to stay at home and to avoid the city center.

The police said the first emergency call came in around 2:50 p.m. local time as the attack unfolded in Drottninggatan, Stockholm’s busiest shopping street. Witnesses described a scene of panic and terror.

“I saw hundreds of people running; they ran for their lives” before the truck crashed into the Ahlens department store, a witness identified only as Anna told the newspaper Aftonbladet.

 STOCKHOLM
Drottninggatan
Mäster Samuelsgatan
Crashed here
Ahlens Department Store

Bystanders fled after a truck rammed into a store on a busy shopping street on Friday afternoon.

By TWITTER/JOHNNY CHADDA on Publish Date April 7, 2017. Photo by Twitter/Johnny Chadda.

At first, she said, she thought the noise was people moving things around the store, but then the fire alarm went off and staff members told her and other shoppers to get out of the building.

“We were running, we were crying, everyone was in shock,” Ms. Libert said. “We rushed down the street, and I glanced to the right and saw the truck. People were lying on the ground. They were not moving.”

Ms. Libert, who followed others as they were guided by officials to shelter, added, “My sister in law and some friends are close to the scene and at lockdown, can’t leave their office.”

Photo

The front part of the truck ended up inside the department store.Credit Jonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

She said that she usually avoided busy areas that could be potential terrorist targets, but that she had decided to take the Friday afternoon off to do some shopping.

“Some people felt that this was just a matter of time,” she said. “Paris, Brussels, London and now Stockholm. I just had a feeling something like this would happen.”

After the assailant plowed into people, the front of the truck ended up inside the department store.

A representative of the Spendrups brewery told Radio Sweden that the vehicle had been taken earlier in the day. A spokesman for the company told SVT, a national public broadcaster, that the truck had been stolen while the driver was loading it from the rear.

The brewery’s driver told the police that a masked man stole the vehicle, and that he was injured trying to stop him, the authorities said.

Photo

The police outside Stockholm’s central train station. Security was increased on Friday after the attack at a department store nearby. Credit News Agency/Reuters

At the news conference, officials released a photo of a man wearing a hoodie. They did not name him as a suspect, saying only that they wanted to question him in connection with the attack.

The national police chief, Dan Eliasson, said, “We have the truck and the driver who usually drives it, but we do not have contact with the person or persons who drove it.”

Mr. Löfving, also of the police, asked for the public’s help in sharing the photo: “We want to get in touch with this man.”

The authorities also said that they could not confirm the number of dead or injured until they received more information from the hospitals.

Photo

People reacted after the attack at a department store in Stockholm. Credit News Agency/Reuters

The chief medical doctor at Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital, Nelson Follin, told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the hospital was treating “a handful” of people.

“The injuries are quite serious, but for now I cannot give further comments on conditions,” Dr. Follin said.

Previous accounts of shots being fired in parts of Stockholm were unfounded, the police said, adding that officers across Sweden were protecting high-risk sites.

The attack reverberated as far away as Norway, where the police said on Twitter that officers in that nation’s largest cities and at the airport in Oslo would be armed until further notice following the attack in Stockholm.

Photo

Some of the wounded in a street near the site of the attack. Credit Per Haljestam/Reuters

The assault came after several other episodes in Europe in the past year in which a vehicle was used to attack people.

The Islamic State group revived the idea of using cars as weapons after it broke with Al Qaeda in 2014. In the past year, ISIS militants have claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 100 people in Europe.

In France, a man drove into a crowd on a busy seaside promenade during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice.

Another attacker plowed a truck into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin.

And last month, an assailant drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge near Parliament in London.

Other attempts, including an episode in which a man tried to drive over pedestrians in Antwerp, Belgium, claimed no victims, but have contributed to a sense of dread across the Continent.

Although some Swedes have expressed concern that immigration has led to a crime wave in the country — and President Trump seemed to suggest in a speech on Feb. 18 that there had been an attack in Sweden, when in fact nothing had occurred — the country and the region remain largely peaceful and safe.

The most notable exception came in 2010, when an assailant killed himself and wounded two others after detonating two bombs in central Stockholm, on a side street not far from where the attack on Friday took place.

The attack in 2010 was said to be the first suicide bombing in Scandinavia, and it caused consternation in Sweden. It was linked to an Iraqi-born Swede who had attended college in Britain.

On Friday, the police said they were well-trained for these types of episodes. “Last week we rehearsed a similar scenario,” said Anders Thornberg, chief of national intelligence.

Continue reading the main story

Hate: Is It Ignorance Being Fulfilled?

 

This afternoon in London England there was another ‘terrorist incident’, this time just outside the entrance to their Parliament Building. The last I heard before I started this commentary there are four dead and about 20 wounded. One of the dead is the attacker, another is a Police Officer.  The other two dead people were killed by being driven over by the attacker. What a typical  example of ones hate being forced upon others lives. Folks, when a person chooses to murder someone, do you think they are doing this because they are ‘happy’ with the one they decide to kill? I tend to think, no, how about you? Killing other people, outside of contract obligations such as when you are in your Nation’s Military, or in the case of self-defence, murder is usually done through or because of hate. So, today the actions of one man ended the lives of three others and harmed and scarred many others. One man’s actions caused a lot of chain reactions not just in heroic goodness of some, but in the actions of the Press there in London informing we the people of the events, step by step. Yes they did a rather good job of informing me of the steps that (England’s) has in place that security protocol is designed to function within. In this case a person filled with hate could best figure out where to form a multi-tiered attack. Think of the pure hate concept of bringing an ambulance to a bomb or mass shooting location, filled with C-4 just so you can kill as many First Responders as you possibly can. Folks, this is not the way of a rational mind, nor of a God! It is not a mind filled with any form of morality, it is a mind filled with Evil, hate. When we humans decide to degrade other human beings to a ‘less than’ human status it becomes easier and easier to degrade, hurt or even kill them.

 

Friends this type of hate that we witnessed this afternoon in London is not just a hiccup in human history that we are living in, this is the reality for humans for ever more. Europe is being forced to deal with this hatred toward their own people and toward their own cultures. Here in the U.S. we have suffered several examples of hatred also toward our people and our chosen ways of life. Yet Europe and her people are a tender underbelly to a region full of hatred, for you and your way of life. I believe that the U.S. and all of the ‘America’s’ are just starting to see the damage caused by hatred. The olden days (our version of the good old days), they’re gone, they are not going to return, but why not? The answer is hatred folks. Hatred has a great helpmate which also causes so much heartache and that is ignorance. No one on this planet will ever have a totally unmonitored lifestyle again, nor will we ever be free of people hating you/us. Welcome to the new world everyone, the one filled with unending security measures brought on because of threats that are real or imagined. You see, fear caused by hatred can easily be  duplicated in the one who fears as a way to grow into another hate filled, ignorant, Satan serving beast. A person who is hate filled creates and early grave for themselves and those around them, and a footstool in Hell.

SWIFT Messaging System Cuts Off Remaining North Korean Banks

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

SWIFT messaging system cuts off remaining North Korean banks

By Tom Bergin | LONDON

SWIFT, the inter-bank messaging network which is the backbone of international finance, said it planned to cut off the remaining North Korean banks still connected to its system, as concerns about the country’s nuclear program and missile tests grow.

SWIFT said the four remaining banks on the network would be disconnected for failing to meet its operating criteria.

The bank-owned co-operative declined to specify what the banks’ shortcomings were or if it had received representations from any governments.

Experts said the decision to cut off banks which were not subject to European Union sanctions was unusual and a possible sign of diplomatic pressure on SWIFT.

Belgium-based SWIFT has previously refused to cut off Burmese, Russian or Syrian banks which were subject to sanctions by other countries, such as the United States, citing a policy of remaining politically neutral.

SWIFT ignored years of pressure linked to Iran’s nuclear program, and only cut off Iranian banks in 2012 after the EU passed specifically tailored sanctions. SWIFT is overseen by the central bank of Belgium which is subject to EU law.

“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) banks remaining on the network are no longer compliant with SWIFT’s membership criteria,” SWIFT spokeswoman Natasha de Teran said in a statement.

“As a result, these entities will no longer have access to the SWIFT financial messaging service. Given the increased ongoing international attention on the DPRK, SWIFT has informed the Belgian and EU authorities,” she added.

Last week, the Belgian authorities said they would no longer allow SWIFT to provide services to North Korean banks which were under U.N. sanctions.

That followed a U.N. report in February that said North Korea was relying on continued access to the international banking system to flout sanctions imposed in relation to its nuclear program.

Former SWIFT chief executive Leonard Schrank said the only previous occasions he could remember when SWIFT had cut off banks not subject to EU sanctions was when the banks had lost their banking license or a country’s central bank had ceased functioning.

“This is a very, very serious action,” he said, adding it could open SWIFT up to pressure in respect of other countries.

A spokesman for the European Commission denied leaning on SWIFT: “This is a commercial matter for SWIFT. We do not interfere in the business decisions of any such company,” he said.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Belgian Foreign Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Amaq – 24/7 News Agency Run by ISIS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

Latest News, Middle East, World

Amaq – 24/7 News Agency Run by ISIS

Al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden, had used in the past recorded video and audio messages in far-off hideaway and sent them to international television networks by the aid of his supporters, in order to claim responsibility for the 11 September attacks, 2001.

Today, ISIS which plays the role of a well-known terrorist threat to the West, sponsors its very own Amaq news agency, issuing dispatches on a 24-hour news cycle by the use of mobile technology. ISIS claimed responsibility on Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels through the agency itself, stationing reports in two languages, consequently, in English and then Arabic in a detached journalistic style without images or statements from its leader.

Noting that the news agency is named after a Syrian town mentioned in an ancient prophecy; as the site for an apocalyptic victory over non-believers.

Very much aware of the propaganda value of outlining itself as a militant in an uneven struggle, Amaq stated that the attacks were part of a broader war with an international coalition.

Charlie Winter, a senior research associate at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said that Amaq is an effort to grab “information dominance” over enemies. The latter stated by phone, that the agency is being used as a part of a wider propaganda strategy in the first place, and also used for tactical and strategic gains, in the second place. Winter added that the group is “very keen on having a very centralized message.”

Initially, Amaq uses WordPress blogging platform to send out press releases and reports, however today the agency is willing to implement encrypted technology to evade ever-tighter monitoring of social media.

The agency, first appeared in late 2014 when ISIS was making an effort to take over the northern Syrian city of Kobani from its Kurdish defenders, part of an offensive that also saw the group establish a presence in large swaths of neighboring Iraq. Amaq also was the tool ISIS used to claim power over the couple responsible for the shootings last year in San Bernardino, California.

It can be said that he agency has played a leading role in rapidly moving the ISIS propaganda machine beyond the barrage of comments provided by supporters on social media.

News from different world target countries are covered by Amaq, for instance the agency carries reports on events from Libya and Iraq to the Philippines, in 4 languages covering Arabic, English, French and Russian. However, it abstains from publishing videos of beheadings and other graphic images of ISIS actions, which in other words deliver more intelligent messages, such as in its labeling of suicide bombings as “martyrdom operations.”

It’s referred to within the ISIS administration as an “auxiliary” media unit, said Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum based in Philadelphia. It tracks conflict and the provision of services in provinces the group rules, but isn’t branded with ISIS symbols.

“They’re a part of ISIS, a full part of the media strategy,” he said by phone, adding that it’s unclear who heads the operation and from where. An application developed by Amaq called Arawi, which means a storyteller or narrator in Arabic.

There are many others ways that are being adopted by ISIS to communicate with those who are supporters, including encrypted Telegram Messenger Service, prompting Telegram to remove multi-user “channels” that members complained were promoting the terrorist group.

ISIS adoption of new platforms could be a consequence of a crackdown by tech companies. Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis at Austin, Texas-based strategic advisory firm Stratfor, said that ISIS had a very strong presence on twitter until the site moved to reduce its presence.

Certain ISIS attempts to invent media portals have not been successful to attract big numbers of followers, as in the case of an attempted social-media network called Kilafahbook. However, its drive toward the latest technology did not stop. Following Brussels attacks the group called for “brothers in Belgium” to use encryption and “stay away from social media.”

It seems like ISIS has strong confident ambition that can go the encrypted route, and ironically so far it seems to be working, said Tricia Bacon, a professor of public affairs at American University in Washington and former State Department counter-terrorism official. As for Intelligence agencies, they don’t appear to have failed at some point and not had much success detecting electronic communications as ISIS plotted the attacks in Belgium or the earlier assault on Paris, she said.

“There’s going to be a lot of variation in who’s able to keep up and who’s not,” Bacon said. “Belgium has not been able to keep up, as evidenced by the attacks.”

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Queen Elizabeth Was Almost Shot By Her Own Guard During A 3 A.M. Walk

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PEOPLE ‘ROYAL’ MAGAZINE)

How Queen Elizabeth Was Almost Shot by Her Own Guard During a 3 A.M. Walk

POSTED ON JANUARY 5, 2017 AT 9:17AM EST

ANDY RAIN/EPA

Watch out, Your Majesty!

Queen Elizabeth once had a close call with a guard at Buckingham Palace who could have shot her after confusing her for an intruder during a late night walk, The Times of London reported on Wednesday.

When she is struggling to sleep, the 90-year-old royal will occasionally head outside and go for a stroll, according to the outlet. During one such 3 a.m. outing within the Palace walls, the patrolman came across a “figure in the darkness” and assumed the worst, according to the newspaper.

However, when he called out to see who was there, it turned out to be the Queen herself.

“Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you,” the guard reportedly told her after realizing his mistake.

“That’s quite all right,” she responded. “Next time I’ll ring through beforehand so you don’t have to shoot me.”

The Times did not specify when the incident took place and Buckingham Palace had no comment on the report.

 

Prince William and Harry‘s grandmother has been struggling with a cold for the past few weeks. The illness caused her to miss annual church services on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Queen Elizabeth has not been seen in public since the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace on Dec. 8. She then hosted the royal family at a special pre-Christmas parties at the palace, and her helicopter was spotted leaving for Sandringham on Dec. 22, one day after canceling her annual train trip to her winter retreat.

Although there are currently no official future engagements listed for the Queen, she could make an appearance as early as Sunday, if she is feeling well enough.

Gunman Identified In Istanbul Nightclub Attack, Turkish Authorities Say

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Gunman identified in Istanbul nightclub attack, Turkish authorities say

Story highlights

  • Authorities detain 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday’s attack
  • ISIS claimed responsibility on Twitter, but CNN can’t independently verify it

Istanbul (CNN)Turkish authorities said Wednesday they have identified the gunman who killed 39 people in the New Year’s nightclub terror attack in Istanbul.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu announced the development but did not name the suspect or provide his nationality.
Nightclub attack: Full coverage
  • Victims from 14 countries
  • Dozens killed when gunman opens fire
  • Authorities have also detained 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday morning’s attack at the Reina nightclub, state-run news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.
    Counterterrorism officers arrested the suspected militants at four addresses in the Bornova and Buca districts of the Aegean province of Izmir, according to Anadolu. Eleven women were among those arrested.
    Anadolu said those detained are thought to have lived with the attacker in the central Anatolian city of Konya.
    Anadolu also reported that an array of military hardware was discovered during the raids, including night-vision equipment, a sniper scope, an ammunition belt and other items. Twenty children found at the addresses were taken into temporary care.
    Altogether, at least 36 people are being held in connection with the nightclub shooting, though the gunman who carried it out remains at large.
    ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to Twitter, but CNN cannot independently verify it. The terror group boasted of carrying out the first major terrorist attack of 2017.

    Suspect seen in selfie video

    On Monday, police released a video that the suspected gunman apparently took of himself in a market near the nightclub.
    The “selfie video” featuring the man in Istanbul’s Taksim Square was first posted on a pro-ISIS Telegram account before Turkish media broadcast it, said Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, an American business risk intelligence company tracking terrorist and cyber threats.
    Alkhouri told CNN that such a release suggests the attacker was part of a network supportive of or linked to ISIS, and that he had shared the selfie footage with the terror group before or after the attack.

    Growing threats

    On Tuesday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told lawmakers that Turkish security forces had prevented 339 major terror incidents in 2016 — 80 of which came in the final three months of the year.
    In his speech to parliament, Soylu cited attacks launched by the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as those by Daesh, the Arabic term for ISIS.
    Anadolu quoted Soylu as saying that “313 of the incidents were planned by PKK, 22 by Daesh and four by radical leftist groups.”
    He said that 247 improvised explosives and 61 bomb vehicles had been seized in 12 months.
    He also revealed the capture of 23 suicide bomber suspects as well as 42 terrorist group members who were preparing for attacks.
    Both ISIS and Kurdish militants have launched attacks in Turkey, which is reeling from a failed military coup in July.
    On Wednesday, Anadolu reported that authorities arrested four people, including a woman, in connection with a December 17 car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded dozens in the central city of Kayseri.

    Victims from 14 countries

    At least 11 victims in this week’s attack on the upscale nightclub were from Turkey, according to Anadolu, while at least 27 victims hailed from 13 other countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Canada.
    Dozens of people were hospitalized. A handful of the injured were in critical condition.

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman 02:23
    Witnesses described how the New Year’s Eve celebration turned into a bloodbath.
    “We were having fun. At first we thought it was a fight, then there was a lot of gunfire,” Yunus Turk told CNN.
    “After the gunfire, everyone started to run toward the terrace. We ran as well. There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas.”

    Actress Carrie Fisher Has Died

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PEOPLE MAGAZINE)

    Carrie Fisher, the actress best known as Star Wars‘ Princess Leia Organa, has died after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.

    Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement to PEOPLE on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd:

    “It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” reads the statement.

    “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” says Lourd, 24. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

    Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital.

    The daughter of renowned entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Fisher was brought up in the sometimes tumultuous world of film, theater and television.

    Escaping Hollywood in 1973, the star enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where she spent over a year studying acting.

    GETTY IMAGES
    COURTESY DEBBIE REYNOLDS

    Just two years later, though, the bright lights of Hollywood drew her back, and Fisher made her film debut in the Warren Beatty-led Shampoo.

    Her role in Star Wars would follow in 1977 – and she detailed the experience, including her on-set affair with costar Harrison Ford, in her  latest memoir, The Princess Diarist. She was only 19 when the first installment of the beloved sci-fi franchise was filmed.

    LUCASFILM/20TH CENTURY FOX/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

    In addition to the second and third Star Wars films – and last year’s The Force Awakens – Fisher starred in 1980’s The Blues Brothers, The Man with One Red Shoe, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986 and, later, When Harry Met Sally.

    STEVE LARSON/THE DENVER POST VIA GETTY

    Fisher wed musician Paul Simon in 1983. It was an explosive marriage, according to Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon author Peter Ames Carlin, and was cut short by swinging stages of depression, the actress’s drug use and an array of personal insecurities. The relationship continued, though, on-and-off for several years after the pair divorced in 1984.

    PAUL SIMON AND CARRIE FISHER (CREDIT: RON GALELLA/WIREIMAGE)

    Fisher was candid about her substance abuse issues over the decades, starting at only age 13 when she began smoking marijuana. She said she later dabbled in drugs like cocaine and LSD. Fisher explored her own issues with addiction in her 1987 bestselling, semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, which was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep.

    “I never could take alcohol. I always said I was allergic to alcohol, and that’s actually a definition to alcoholism — an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind,” Fisher told the Herald-Tribune in 2013. “So I didn’t do other kinds of drugs until I was about 20. Then, by the time I was 21 it was LSD. I didn’t love cocaine, but I wanted to feel any way other than the way I did, so I’d do anything.”

    In 1985, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she subsequently became an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.

    Throughout much of the ’90s, Fisher focused on her writing career, publishing Surrender the Pink and Delusions of Grandma. In addition, Fisher helped craft the scripts for numerous Hollywood films, going uncredited, for films like The Wedding Singer, Hook and Sister Act.

    Billie Lourd, Fisher’s only child, was born in July 1992. The Scream Queens star’s father, talent agent Bryan Lourd, dated Fisher for three years and is now married to Bruce Bozzi.

    GETTY

    In 2005, Fisher was recognized with the Women of Vision Award by the Women in Film & Video – DC. Three years later, Fisher’s Wishful Drinking autobiography was turned into a one-woman stage show and eventually an HBO documentary.

    Of returning to the role that launched her career – Leia – for The Force Awakens, Fisher told PEOPLE in 2015, “I knew that something enormous was likely going to impact my life from this film and that there was absolutely no way of understanding what that was or was likely to be.”

    The film – which brought Fisher back into the spotlight – earned  her a nomination for the 2016 Saturn Award for best supporting actress.

    Just last month, Fisher also revealed her surprising on-set affair with Star Wars costar Harrison Ford in The Princess Diarist, telling PEOPLE of the three-month fling, “It was so intense.” The memoir, which drew from Fisher’s old diaries and notebooks, brought up mixed feelings for the actress.

    “I had forgotten that I’d written them, and I’ve never written diaries sort of like that,” she said. “I write when I’m upset … it was about two or three months of upset.”

    Fisher added, “It was sad because I was so insecure, and it’s very raw and obviously I didn’t expect anyone — including myself, I suppose later on — to read it.”

    She is survived by her mom Reynolds, daughter Lourd and beloved French bulldog, Gary.

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