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Women of terror

Posted by arnon_k On October - 28 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

WOMEN terrorists in a “Burkha Brigade” fire off assault rifles — as they train to attack the West.

Film posted by fanatics online shows the all-female unit using a fearsome array of weapons, including machine-guns, grenade rocket launchers and sniper rifles.

The women are thought to have been recruited from the war-torn Russian republic of Chechyna by an al-Qaeda-linked group, with bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Terror experts believe that — because they are less likely to attract suspicion than men — they are being schooled to infiltrate and attack military bases and official buildings.

Two members of punk rock band flee Russia

Posted by arnon_k On August - 27 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Two members of Russia’s anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot have fled the country to avoid prosecution for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin at a church altar, the band said on Sunday.

A Moscow court sentenced three members of the all-female opposition band to two years in prison on August 17 for staging a “punk prayer” at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February and calling on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.

The sentence drew sharp international criticism of the Russian government, while opposition groups at home have portrayed it as part of a Kremlin clampdown on dissent.

Police said earlier this week they were searching for other members of the band.

“In regard to the pursuit, two of our members have successfully fled the country! They are recruiting foreign feminists to prepare new actions!,” a Twitter account called Pussy Riot Group said.

Defence lawyers of the convicted Pussy Riot members – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – are expected to appeal against their sentences next week.

Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told Reuters on Sunday that the two members of the group who have fled Russia had taken part in the cathedral protest along with his wife.

“Since the Moscow police said they are searching for them, they will keep a low profile for now. They are in a safe place beyond the reach of the Russian police,” he said by phone.

Asked if that meant a country which had no extradition agreement with Russia, Verzilov said: “Yes, that suggests that.”

“But you must remember that 12 or even 14 members who are still in Russia actively participate in the band’s work now, it’s a big collective,” he added.

The Kremlin has dismissed criticism by Western governments and prominent musicians including Madonna and Sting as politically motivated.

Putin, back at the Kremlin since May for his third presidential term, said before the three band members were sentenced that they should not be judged too harshly.

Under Russian law the three Pussy Riot members put on trial could have faced as much as seven years’ jail for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, but the prosecutors asked for three years and they were sentenced to two.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Tim Pearce)

Russia warns West over Syria after Obama threats

Posted by arnon_k On August - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Russia warned the West on Tuesday against unilateral action on Syria, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama threatened “enormous consequences” if his Syrian counterpart used chemical or biological arms or even moved them in a menacing way.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking after meeting China’s top diplomat, said Moscow and Beijing were committed to “the need to strictly adhere to the norms of international law … and not to allow their violation”.

The remarks were a reminder of the divisions hampering efforts to end the 17-month old conflict that increasingly sets a mainly Sunni Muslim opposition against President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority.

The United Nations says more than 18,000 people have been killed in a war which is affecting neighbouring states.

In Lebanon, at least five people were killed in sectarian violence linked to the Syria conflict, and Turkey, an opponent of Assad, investigated possible Syrian involvement in a car bomb that killed nine people on Monday.

Russia and China have opposed military intervention in Syria throughout the revolt. They have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions backed by Western and Arab states that would have put more pressure on Damascus to end the violence.

After meeting Lavrov in Moscow, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said Obama’s talk of action against Syria was media fodder.

He said the West was seeking an excuse to intervene, likening the focus on Syria’s chemical weapons with the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led forces and the focus on what proved to be groundless suspicions that Saddam Hussein was concealing weapons of mass destruction.

“Direct military intervention in Syria is impossible because whoever thinks about it … is heading towards a confrontation wider than Syria’s borders,” he told a news conference.

In one of the latest battle zones, troops and tanks overran the Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya on Tuesday, the second day of an offensive to regain control of the area.

Activists said Assad’s forces had killed at least 70 people in Mouadamiya since Monday. They included some two dozen men who had been executed and 16 people killed in a helicopter gunship attack on a funeral for victims of Monday’s violence.

“The mourners set off with 19 bodies and came back with 35,” Hayat, one of the activists said from the suburb.

Another resident, speaking to Reuters by telephone, said he had counted the bodies of some two dozen men who had been executed. “They were not killed by bombardment, their hands were tied and they were burnt and killed by knives,” he said. Bodies were found in basements and looted premises, activists said.

State-imposed curbs on media made it impossible to verify the reports of the violence, which followed another bloody day on Monday, when about 200 people were killed across the country, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“RED LINE”

An opposition group said Syria’s air force had redeployed 30 Sukhoi fighter-bomber jets closer to cities where the army is battling to crush rebels in the north and east of the country.

The Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-22 planes, which can drop 400 kg (881 pound) bombs, flew from the Dumair and Sim air bases north and east of Damascus on Monday to bases in the city of Hama Tabaqa and Deir al-Zor, a senior official in the Higher Leadership Council for the Syrian Revolution said.

“This type of Sukhoi is more geared to bombing missions than aerial combat. They are now within a more manageable range to hit the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Deir al-Zor and areas in Idlib province,” Mohammad Mroueh told Reuters from Amman.

The United States and its allies have shown little appetite for intervention to halt the bloodshed along the lines of last year’s NATO campaign that helped topple Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

But Obama used some of his strongest language yet on Monday to warn Assad not to use unconventional weapons.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is (if) we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” he said. “That would change my calculus.”

Syria last month acknowledged for the first time that it had chemical or biological weapons and said it could use them if foreign countries attacked it.

“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama said, perhaps referring to Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah group, an Iranian-backed ally of Assad, or to Islamist militants.

The U.S.-based Global Security website says there are four suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria producing the nerve agents VX, sarin and tabun. It does not cite its sources.

Israel, still formally at war with Syria, has also debated whether to attack the unconventional arms sites which it views as the gravest peril from the conflict next door.

Obama has been reluctant to embroil the United States in another war in the Middle East and refuses to arm Syrian rebels, partly for fear that some of those fighting the Iranian-backed president are Islamist radicals equally hostile to the West.

Rebels have seized swathes of territory in northern Syria near Turkey, which now hosts 70,000 Syrian refugees and which has suggested that the United Nations might need to create a “safe zone” in Syria if that total topped 10,000.

But setting up a safe haven would require imposing a no-fly zone, an idea which U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week was not a “front-burner” issue for Washington.

The Alawite-Sunni sectarian fault line flared in neighbouring Lebanon, where five people were killed and more than 60 wounded in the northern port city of Tripoli, a mainly Sunni city with a staunchly pro-Assad Alawite minority.

Gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and their Alawite rivals in Jebel Mohsen exchanged gun and grenade fire in sporadic fighting overnight and into the day, despite action by Lebanese army troops deployed in the port city, residents said.

The wounded included 10 soldiers, the army said.

(Additional reporting by Nazih Siddiq in Tripoli, Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Tom Perry in Beirut, Steve Gutterman in Moscow and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Writing by Dominic Evans/Tom Perry; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Andrew Osborn)

(CNN) — The highly-fancied Russia team and co-hosts Poland crashed out of Euro 2012 on Saturday as the Czech Republic and Greece became the first nations to secure quarterfinal berths.

Russia led Group A going into the third and final round of matches, needing just a draw against Greece to progress into the last eight.

However, a superb strike from veteran Greece captain Giorgis Karagounis just before halftime proved enough to send Dick Advocaat’s side home.

“When we left Greece, we all said, ‘We will give everything when our compatriots aren’t having the best of times,’ said Karagounis, referring to Greece’s economic problems.

“I believe that this tonight puts a smile on their faces. We’re happy we managed to do this for Greece, for our country, for Greeks all over the world.”
The Russians had a better goal difference than the Greeks, who won the tournament in a huge shock in 2004, but went out on head-to-head record.

Poland needed to win to go through, but a 72nd-minute strike from Petr Jiracek sent the Czechs top of the table and facing a quarterfinal against the runner-up from Group B — which will be decided on Sunday.

Greece 1-0 Russia

Karagounis experienced the high of sending his country through to the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time in eight years, but the 35-year-old may not get the chance to break his country’s appearance record at Euro 2012.

The midfielder will miss the quarterfinal after receiving his second yellow card of the group stages, having been controversially booked for diving when it appeared that he had been fouled in the penalty area in the second half.

With Greece leading 1-0, a second goal would have killed off Russia’s hopes — but instead a furious Karagounis missed a nailbiting climax to the match after demanding to be substituted before he was sent off for further remonstrating with Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson.

Karagounis, who matched 2004 captain Theodoros Zagorakis’ mark of 120 caps for Greece, repeated his act of scoring at the European Championship, having done so in the opening match against Portugal eight years ago.

He surged through the Russian defense after Sergei Ignashevich failed to deal with a throw-in and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev in time added on at the end of the first half.

Giorgos Tzavellas almost made it 2-0 with 20 minutes to play, but his curling left-foot free kick bounced to safety off the post.

After that it was all Russia, but Igor Denisov was twice denied by goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis.

It marked a disappointing end to the two-year reign of Advocaat, who will now return to his homeland with a post at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
“The other team just defended. With all due respect, it was hard to play against them. But it’s not that we didn’t play well,” Advocaat said.

“We were undefeated for 16 games but we didn’t win today. That’s football. All compliments to Greece.”

Czech Republic 1-0 Poland

Poland had high hopes of making the most of home advantage in Wroclaw, but could not beat a Czech team that bounced back from their opening 4-1 crushing by Russia to top the group with six points.

Jiracek followed up his opening goal from the 2-1 win over Poland with another vital strike.

The 26-year-old midfielder, who plays for German club Wolfsburg, cut inside to beat goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton after being fed by veteran striker Milan Baros on the counter attack following good work by Tomas Hubschman.

Poland poured forward in search of an equalizer, which by itself would not have been enough, but Michal Kadlec cleared a late effort off the line.

“We started badly and let the occasion get to us a little bit, the home side capitalized on our mistakes,” Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech said.

“But with time we got better, we created chances and then scored a deserved goal.”

The Czechs will next go to Warsaw on June 21, where their opponents will likely be Portugal, Denmark or Holland. The Greeks are likely to face unbeaten Germany in Gdansk.

Poland coach Franciszek Smuda is now expected to be replaced, as his contract has ended.

“We know we had the chance to win but they (the Czech) played excellent football and they scored a goal,” he told reporters.

“We had several opportunities in the first half but we didn’t take our chances.”

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