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NKorea capable of building a missile that can hit the US: US intel

(AFP) North Korea is technically capable of building a long-range missile that can hit the United States despite a test failure last year, a senior
US military intelligence official said Tuesday.
Lieutenant General Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said
North Korea has probably learned from the failure of its Taepodong-2 missile during a test in July, and made changes to its other missiles.
“I believe they have the technical capability, as we saw by the Taepodong, but they have not successfully tested it yet,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Asked how long before North Korea would have a missile capable of reaching the
United States, he said, “I would probably estimate it’s not a matter of years.”
Maples made the comments in testimony about global threats that singled out North Korea and
Iran as the two states of greatest concern.
In the case of North Korea it cited proliferation fears heightened by the July missile tests and
North Korea’s nuclear test in October.

North Korea agreed on February 13 on steps toward disabling its nuclear program in return for US supplies of fuel oil or other economic assistance. Michael McConnell, the national director of intelligence, said US intelligence was unable to monitor
North Korea compliance with the agreement “at the level we would like.”
“We can verify many of the conditions from external observation, but not at the level you’re asking about in terms of detail,” he said. “There’s some open questions, but so far the indications are in the positive direction,” he said. North Korea has a known nuclear reactor at Yongbyon but
US intelligence also believes it was secretly pursuing a separate uranium enrichment program, which also would be covered by the agreement.
Another intelligence official, Joseph Detrani, said US intelligence had high confidence in 2002 that
North Korea was acquiring equipment for a uranium enrichment program.

US intelligence still believes the program exists, but its confidence in that assessment is now “mid-level.”

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

CIA: Bin Laden in Pakistan Establishing New Camps

(ABC News) In the most definitive statement in years, America’s top intelligence official said Tuesday Osama bin laden is in
Pakistan actively re-establishing al Qaeda training camps.
The newly appointed Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell made the assertion about bin Laden and his No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.Referring to
Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, McConnell said “to the best of our knowledge that the senior leadership, No. 1 and No. 2, are there, and they are attempting to re-establish and rebuild and to establish training camps.”
Until now, U.S. intelligence officials had declined to publicly identify, with such certainty, the location of bin Laden although he has long been suspected of hiding in Pakistan near the border with
Afghanistan.
McConnell’s testimony came the day after the CIA deputy director, Stephen R. Kappes, flew to
Pakistan to confront President Pervez Musharaff with “compelling” evidence that new al Qaeda training camps were being established on Pakistani territory.
U.S. officials would not describe the evidence in any detail, but people in the intelligence community have speculated recently that the CIA may have obtained surveillance photos of either bin Laden or Zawahri in
Pakistan.
McConnell’s public testimony was followed by a closed, secret session with senators.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

Pakistan denies hosting bin Laden, camps

(AP) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan on Wednesday rejected a claim by the U.S. intelligence chief that Osama bin Laden and his deputy were hiding in northwestern
Pakistan, and that al-Qaida was setting up camps near the Afghan border.
Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, told The Associated Press there were no al-Qaida training camps in his country and
U.S. officials had not provided any intelligence suggesting there were.
“We will act on any such intelligence, but so far they have not” provided any, he said.Sherpao’s comments came a day after Mike McConnell, the new U.S. intelligence chief, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that al-Qaida was trying to set up operations in largely ungoverned parts of Pakistan’s northwest, along Afghanistan’s eastern border.“It’s something we’re very worried about and very concerned about,” McConnell said.
U.S. intelligence officials believe that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were trying to establish an al-Qaida base in the region, he said. McConnell noted the camps are in an area that has never been governed by any state or outside power.
On a visit to
Pakistan on Monday, Vice President
Dick Cheney met with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to seek his aid in foiling an anticipated spring offensive by the Taliban and al-Qaida against coalition forces in
Afghanistan.
Cheney was accompanied by Deputy CIA Director Stephen Kappes, suggesting that the
U.S. officials were prepared to buttress their allegations about al-Qaida operations with intelligence data.
U.S. officials are concerned about a peace deal Pakistan signed with tribal leaders of the
North Waziristan region in September. In that agreement, the tribes promised to respect the authority of the Pakistani government and curtail cross-border attacks by militants.
In return, Musharraf returned some of the tribes’ weapons, released some prisoners and withdrew from posts inside
North Waziristan.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the tribes have not abided by most terms of the agreement. McConnell added
U.S. intelligence believes al-Qaida’s training and related capabilities increased as a result of the deal.
Musharraf’s office confirmed that during the meeting, Cheney expressed concern that al-Qaida was “regrouping” in the tribal areas and that the vice president “called for concerted efforts in countering the threat.”Musharraf, his office said, told Cheney
Pakistan was already doing all it could to fight the militants.
Sherpao insisted Pakistan was “fighting the scourge of terrorism in the best interest of
Pakistan.”
Musharraf is a key ally of the
United States in its fight against Islamic militants.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

College professor spied for Cuba

(BBC) A Cuban-born university professor and his wife who pleaded guilty to spying for Cuba have been jailed in the
US.
Carlos Alvarez, 61, and his 56-year-old wife, Elsa, received a five and three-year term respectively for exchanging coded messages with
Cuba.
Both said they took responsibility for their actions but had wanted to establish an open dialogue with
Cuba.
But a Miami district judge said that their behaviour had undermined
US foreign policy towards the country.
“As we know, a good motive is never an excuse for criminal conduct,” Miami Judge Michael Moore said before he sentenced the couple. The pair were accused of sending coded messages about fellow Cuban-American exiles living in Miami back to
Cuba.
Carlos Alvarez was accused of being in contact with Cuban intelligence agencies since 1977. ‘Innocuous information’ The psychology professor, based at

Florida
International
University, disguised his identity using the codename David. His wife also communicated with Cuban agents under the name Deborah but to a lesser extent than her husband. Before being sentenced, Carlos Alvarez told the court he had once been part of an underground movement that sought to oust Castro’s regime but that he later became “an advocate of dialogue.” “I decided to engage in a relation that would require sharing what I consider innocuous information and analysis for access,” he said, adding, “The method and channel that I used were unfortunately wrong.” Carlos Alvarez’s lawyer claimed that the messages included no secret, classified or defence material and often amounted to no more than “simple gossip”. But
US lawyer Matthew Axelord said that the pair had gone to great lengths to conceal their actions.
“This was not idle chit-chat,” he said, “Carlos Alvarez was tasked directly by the Cuban intelligence service to provide certain information and he provided that information.”

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

E.Timor rebel vows fight to death

DILI (AFP) – The international force in
East Timor closed in Wednesday on wanted rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado, but the renegade has vowed a fight to the death.
“Australian troops are closing in with tanks and breaking barricades,” lawmaker Leandro Isaac, who is with Reinado, told AFP by telephone.“They also use Black Hawks,” Isaac said, referring to military helicopters.The rebel leader, holed up with his men in Same city, about 50 kilometres (25 miles) south of the capital Dili, vowed in an interview with Radio
Australia that he would “fight back to the last blood of myself.”
“I know that at the moment they are about 800 metres from me, where I’m staying,” Reinado told the broadcaster, adding no shots had been fired yet.“They close all the exits, entrances, to everybody, and the city is like a frozen city, you can’t come in and you can’t go out,” he said.Isaac said more than 2,000 people supporting Reinado were trying to block the path of the international force’s tanks.“The Australians keep moving forward but people and youths block the troops by lying on the street to stop the Australian tanks,” he said, warning a gunfight could break out at any time.“Reinado is prepared to die to fulfill his promise to give service to the people and the country. He’s not backing off,” Isaac said.The Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) confirmed it was closing in on Reinado and was “considering all possible options,” according to the Australian Associated Press in a report from
Jakarta.
“The ISF, together with the Timor-Leste (
East Timor) government and the United Nations, call upon Reinado to hand himself in to the authorities and allow the Timorese people to continue to resolve their differences democratically and peacefully,” the force said in a statement.
Reinado has been a thorn in the side of the government in East Timor, one of the world’s newest independent nations, which was occupied by neighbouring
Indonesia between 1975 and 1999.
President Xanana Gusmao accused him of stealing 25 firearms Sunday from police posts on the border with
Indonesia and then gave the international force the green light to capture the rebel.
The government had previously been trying to negotiate with Reinado, but appears to have lost patience with him.The renegade soldier, who has been partly blamed for deadly unrest last year that prompted the dispatch of international troops, reportedly said he took the weapons to stop them being misused by
East Timor’s ruling Fretilin party.
“I was only borrowing them to safeguard them from the evil intentions of the Fretilin leaders, who want to use those weapons for their political interests,” Reinado was quoted by the Suara Timor Lorosae newspaper as saying.He was arrested in August on charges of weapons possession despite promising that his group had surrendered all their arms to the international peacekeeping force. He soon escaped from jail with more than 50 other inmates.Reinado also led a band of breakaway soldiers in April and May when battles between security factions degenerated into rampant gang violence in the streets. Around 37 people were killed and more than 150,000 fled their homes. The government then asked for international help and Australian-led peacekeepers were dispatched. Indonesia sealed the border with
East Timor at Dili’s request following Reinado’s raids on the police posts.

East Timor is scheduled to hold a presidential election on April 9 and there were concerns security could deteriorate ahead of the vote.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

Foreign Secretary says no one doing enough against Taliban

(AFP) Beckett arrived in
Kabul Tuesday just hours after US Vice President Dick Cheney flew out following a visit marred by a suicide attack at Bagram Air Base outside the capital where he had spent the night.
At least 20 people including three foreigners were killed in the blast, according to the Afghan government.“I would say in all sincerity that no one is doing enough to tackle the security problems,” said Beckett, referring to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Britain, when asked if
Islamabad was doing enough against rebels on its soil.
Beckett, who also said during a visit to
Pakistan that Al-Qaeda and other terror groups must be tackled jointly, was addressing reporters after meeting President Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta.
“If we were doing enough then we would have had a great deal more success than we have had so far,” she told reporters.“It is very important for us to do more together and to cooperate together to tackle these problems because they cause such harm whether it be in Pakistan itself or in
Afghanistan,” she said.
Beckett and Karzai discussed the “war on terror” and British-backed counternarcotics efforts, a statement from Karzai’s office said.Karzai told the minister that drug money was “fueling terrorism” and said his government was committed to fighting the trade in opium.
Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world’s opium.
Karzai Tuesday welcomed Britain’s pledge to contribute 1,400 more troops to the international effort to defeat the Taliban and its Islamist allies as a sign of “commitment to the stability of
Afghanistan.”
The extra forces will take the number of British troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from 6,300 to 7,700.Asked if the increase meant
Britain felt there was a stronger Taliban threat, Beckett said “there is a slightly different approach than we had necessarily assumed from the Taliban.”
Britain is also the second-largest aid donor to
Afghanistan and has spent two billion dollars here since 2001, when the hardline Taliban government was toppled.
NATO commanders have been calling for more troops and equipment for the 35,000-strong force, with warnings of hard fighting this year even though the Taliban suffered heavy losses in 2006.The extremist movement claimed responsibility for the Bagram suicide blast at an outer security gate manned by
US soldiers checking Afghan labourers wanting to enter the facility.
There were conflicting reports of the death toll. The interior ministry said Wednesday 20 were dead, 16 of them Afghan workers. But the US-led coalition based at Bagram said two
US nationals and a South Korean were killed, along with six civilians.
ISAF said Wednesday it had prior intelligence that bombing cells were operating near the base but it was unclear if the Taliban had planned Tuesday’s bombing to coincide with Cheney’s trip.“We know for a fact that there has been recent intelligence to suggest that there was a threat of a bombing in the Bagram area,” ISAF spokesman Colonel Tom Collins said at a weekly media briefing. But he added: “It would be clearly wrong to say that we knew (in advance) about this attack.”

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

Taliban says bomb at Afghan base intended for Cheney

(AP) BAGRAM, Afghanistan: A suicide bomber killed and wounded some two dozen people outside the main U.S. military base in
Afghanistan on Tuesday, during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said that Cheney was the target.
The blast occurred outside the air base at Bagram, north of the capital,
Kabul. Cheney’s spokeswoman said that he was fine, and the U.S. Embassy said that the vice president later met with President Hamid Karzai in
Kabul.
There were conflicting reports on the death toll. Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the governor of Parwan Province, said that 20 people were killed, but NATO said initial reports indicated only three were killed, including an American soldier, a South Korean coalition soldier and a U.S. government contractor whose nationality was not immediately known. NATO said that 27 people were also wounded.Reporters at the scene said that they had seen at least eight dead bodies from the base area into the market area, where hundreds of Afghans had gathered to mourn. It was unclear why there was such a large discrepancy in the reports.Major William Mitchell, a spokesman at the base, said that the explosion did not seem to be intended as a threat to the vice president.“He wasn’t near the site of the explosion,” Mitchell said. “He was safely within the base at the time of the explosion.”However, someone claiming to be a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said that Cheney was the target of the attack.“We knew that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base,” Ahmadi said by telephone from an undisclosed location. “The attacker was trying to reach Cheney.” Ahmadi said that the attack was carried out by an Afghan, Mullah Abdul Rahim, from

Logar
Province.The explosion happened near the first of at least three gated checkpoints that vehicles must pass before gaining access to Bagram, meaning the attacker did not get near Cheney’s location.“We maintain a high level of security here at all times,” said Lieutenant Colonel James Bonner, the base operations commander. “Our security measures were in place and the killer never had access to the base. When he realized he would not be able to get onto the base he attacked the local population.”It was not the first attack apparently aimed at a top U.S. official in
Afghanistan. In January 2006, a militant blew himself up in
Uruzgan
Province during a supposedly secret visit by the
U.S. ambassador, killing 10 Afghans.
A shopkeeper, Ajmall said that the “huge” explosion shook a small market about half a kilometer, or a third of a mile, from the Bagram base.Ajmall, who goes by one name, said that those wounded in the blast were taken into the base for treatment.The South Korean Defense Ministry said that one of its soldiers stationed in Bagram, Private Yoon Jang Ho, who was 27, was killed in the explosion.
South Korea has about 200 engineers and medics in Bagram.
Cheney, who spent the night at Bagram, left the base about two hours after the 10 a.m. blast. The explosion sent up a plume of smoke visible by reporters inside the base who had been traveling with Cheney, and American military officials declared a “red alert” inside the base.“The vice president is fine,” said Cheney’s spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride.Cheney later flew to
Kabul, about 50 kilometers south of Bagram, to meet with Karzai, after a meeting between the two that had been planned for Monday in the capital was canceled because of bad weather that prevented the vice president from making the trip.
Cheney was met by armed guards on the tarmac and rushed by ground convoy to the presidential palace.Cheney and Karzai were expected to discuss the surge in violence in
Afghanistan. Five years after their fundamentalist regime was toppled, Taliban-led militants have stepped up attacks and forces from Afghanistan, the
United States and NATO are bracing for a fresh wave of violence in the spring.
There were 139 suicide bombings last year, five times the number in 2005, and Major General David Rodriguez, a U.S. commander in
Afghanistan, has said that he expected the number of suicide bombs to rise even further in 2007.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 1 Comment

Taliban ‘knew of Cheney visit’

(AFP) Islamabad – A suicide attack at an Afghan air base where US vice-president Dick Cheney was staying shows that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have penetrated local intelligence agencies, analysts and officials said. The blast early on Tuesday at Bagram air base near
Kabul also highlights the increasing sophistication of the extremist outfits as they prepare for a feared spring offensive against Western troops, they said.
The day before the explosion Cheney warned President Pervez Musharraf of neighbouring Pakistan to crack down on militants regrouping in
Pakistan’s tribal areas to mount attacks across the border and further afield.
“This shows how much the militants have penetrated the intelligence of the Afghan security forces. It is a most shocking attack,” retired Pakistani general turned analyst Talat Masood told AFP. Visit unannounced Cheney’s visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan were unannounced and shrouded in even tighter secrecy than when
US President George W Bush travelled to the two countries in March 2006.
Author Ahmed Rashid, who has written a book on the Taliban, said the bombing was a “very provocative” move by the Taliban. “They were waiting for a high-level visit to carry out an attack. This visit, although highly secretive, was known in circles in Kabul and
Islamabad,” he said.
A senior Pakistani counter-terrorism official said the “sophisticated” attack “indicates the militants’ preparedness and the quality of their intelligence collection in the run-up to the so-called spring offensive”. He added: “They must have had information (a) few days before that the
US vice-president would be in town and stay at Bagram. This is not something you can plan with 12 hours notice.”

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

New York: Targeted By Tehran?

(NewsWeek) March 5, 2007 issue – Increasing tensions between Washington and
Tehran have revived New York Police Department concerns that Iranian agents may already have targeted the city for terror attacks. Such attacks could be aimed at bridges and tunnels, Jewish organizations and Wall Street, NYPD briefers told security execs last fall, according to a person with access to the briefing materials who asked for anonymity because of the sensitive subject matter.
NYPD officials have worried about possible Iranian-sponsored attacks since a series of incidents involving officials of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations. In November 2003, Ahmad Safari and Alireaza Safi, described as Iranian Mission “security” personnel, were detained by transit cops when they were seen videotaping subway tracks from Queens to
Manhattan at 1:10 in the morning. The men later left
New York. “We’re concerned that Iranian agents were engaged in reconnaissance that might be used in an attack against
New York City at some future date,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told NEWSWEEK. A spokesman for the Iranian Mission in
New York said he was aware of the allegations but had no immediate comment.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 1 Comment

US doubts Iranian space launch claim

(AFP) The US military has no evidence to corroborate an Iranian claim that it fired a rocket into space and suspects that the event never happened, a
US defense official said Monday.
Iranian space officials said Sunday they launched a “sounding rocket” into space for research purposes, reaching an altitude of 150 kilometers (93 miles). They said the rocket did not go into orbit. “We have no indication that that’s true,” a
US defense official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Nothing we’ve come up with would indicate that’s happened.”
The official said it was highly unlikely that such a space shot would have gone undetected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which monitors missile launches worldwide. “Even our training launches are recorded,” the official said. “There was nothing on this one.” “The intelligence assessments points to that the event didn’t happen,” the official said. Iran‘s state television announced what it said was
Iran’s first successful space launch.
“The rocket was carrying material intended for research created by the ministries of science and defense,” Mohsen Bahrami, the head of
Iran’s aerospace research center, told the channel.
The
Fars news agency quoted Ali Akbar Golrou, deputy head of the center, as saying the “sounding rocket” reached an altitude of 150 kilometers (93 miles) but fell back to earth without going into orbit.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment