Thursday, 31 December 2015
Belgian prosecutors said on Thursday they have arrested a 10th suspect over the attacks in Paris last month and charged him with terror offences.
The Belgian national, identified only as Ayoub B, was detained on Wednesday during a raid on a house in the troubled Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, a statement from the federal prosecutor's office said. He has been charged with "terrorist murder" and involvement in the activities of a terrorist group, it said.
The suspect will appear in court again for a custody hearing within five days, it added. Molenbeek is home to the Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam and has emerged as a European hotbed of Islamist extremism.
Belgian authorities on Wednesday cancelled annual New Year's Eve celebrations and fireworks in the heart of Brussels after revealing an alleged jihadist plot to attack the capital during the festivities.
A Bangladesh court on Thursday sentenced two students to death and awarded various jail terms to six persons including outlawed Ansarullah Bangla Team chief for killing activist Ahmed Rajib Haider, the first of a string of brutal murders of secular bloggers. "They (the two convicts) shall be hanged by neck until they are dead," Special Trial Tribunal-3 Judge Sayeed Ahmed said, delivering the first verdict in over a series of murders of "atheists" in the Muslim-majority nation. The judge sentenced former private university students Md Faisal Bin Nayem alias Dweep and absconding Redwanul Azad Rana to death. They were also fined 10,000 Taka each.
Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Over one million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2015, nearly half of them Syrians, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday.
The milestone marks an almost five-fold increase over 2014 figures, when UNHCR recorded 219,000 arrivals via the perilous sea crossing. "The vast majority of those attempting this dangerous crossing are in need of international protection," the agency said.
The massive movement of people this year in Europe, most of them seeking refuge from conflict, has exposed deep divisions among EU leaders on how to deal with the influx. In total, 1,000,573 made their way across the Mediterranean since January 1, while 3,735 people who attempted the journey died or went missing, the UN agency said.
Greece was by far the top landing spot with 844,176 arrivals, followed by Italy, a distant second with 152,700 migrants landing on its shores. The figures underscore the enormous impact that Syria's nearly five-year civil war has had on changing migration patterns.
The conflict has forced more than four million people to flee the country, but until this year, an overwhelming majority of them were spread among Syria's neighbours. While Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey continue to host massive numbers of Syrians displaced by war, the UN figures show that beginning in the spring increasingly large numbers of Syrians resolved to reach Europe.
In June, more than 50,000 people crossed the sea, a number that shot up to over 150,000 by September, culminating in a record 218,000 crossings in October. After Syrians, Afghans were the second largest group at 21 percent of arrivals this year, followed by Iraqis at eight percent and Eritreans at four.
Other migrants originated in Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia and Mali, but in relatively small numbers. The UN has warned that there may be no let up in sea crossings next year, especially if efforts to end the conflict in Syria continue to falter.
Meanwhile, rising anti-migrant rhetoric continues in parts of Europe, with Czech President Milos Zeman called the current wave of refugees "an organised invasion" in remarks at the weekend.
Hungary too has taken a hardline stance on migrants.
Last week, UNHCR and the Council of Europe accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of portraying those fleeing conflict as "criminals, invaders and terrorists based on their religious beliefs and places of origin".
Charaffe al Mouadan, one of 10 Islamic State leaders killed by US-led air strikes in the past month, was close to Paris attacker Samy Amimour and paved the way for him to leave France for Syria, the mayor of the French city where both grew up said.
An air strike in Syria on December 24 killed al Mouadan, US US Army Colonel Steve Warren said, adding that he was directly associated with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris shootings and bombings that killed 130 people.
Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the mayor of Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris, said al Mouadan was also connected to Amimour, a 28-year-old former bus driver who blew himself up in Paris's Bataclan concert hall.
"They were arrested in 2012 when they planned to leave for Yemen and were placed under judicial supervision," Lagarde told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that a third man was part of their group.
"He (al Mouadan) was the first to leave for Syria, in June or July 2013. The other two left about two months later. He paved the way. What I don't understand is that (al Mouadan) missed police check-ins for two months and no one reacted, no one went after the other two."
Lagarde said he did not personally know al Mouadan but that he knew Amimour's family. "What Amimour's family told me is that he (al Mouadan) seemed to be the leader of their group of three people," he said, and the family had said al Mouadan rose in Islamic State ranks more than the other two.
While some French media have said they were childhood friends, Lagarde said he had heard that al Mouadan and Amimour did not meet before becoming radicalised in 2011. Al Mouadan lived in a middle-class, residential district, midway between Drancy city centre and the train station, Lagarde said, insisting that this was not an underprivileged area. His family was originally from Morocco, Lagarde added.
The mayor's remarks helped to flesh out a picture of who was killed in the US-led strikes and their links to the Paris attacks. Another of those killed in the air strikes was Abdul Qader Hakim, who facilitated Islamic State's external operations and had links to the Paris attack network, Warren said. Hakim was killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 26.
Amimour himself missed at least four weekly check-ins with French police who were investigating him on suspicion of terrorism-related activity. After nearly a month, French authorities put out the warrant for his arrest but he was already in Syria.
At least eight of the Paris attackers are dead, with seven killed on November 13 and one, the alleged ringleader Abaaoud, a few days later in a police raid in Brussels. The number involved in the attacks may have been 10 or higher and at least four people continue to be sought.
Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Burkina Faso's constitutional court swore in Roch Marc Kabore as president on Tuesday, making the former prime minister the country's first new leader in decades following his election last month.
The ceremony conducted at a stadium in the capital marks a pivotal moment in a democratic transition in the West African country after veteran leader Blaise Compaore was overthrown in a popular uprising in October 2014.
Monday, 28 December 2015
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Hyderabad became the first airport in India to go live on e-boarding for all domestic passengers. On Monday, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju inaugurated seamless E-boarding facility, built in-house by GMR Hyderabad Airport Limited (GHIAL).
After getting the approval from Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) in August 2015, GHIAL implemented the E-boarding process for all domestic passengers at RGIA. With this, the airport has embarked on providing a whole new experience to the domestic passengers. The innovative end-to-end E-boarding process has triggered a paradigm shift in air passenger handling process in the country.
E-boarding solution at RGIA fully eliminates the need to manual stamping of boarding cards even for physical boarding cards issued by CUSS (Common Use Self Service) machines or the check-in counters. Further, it covers end-to-end all the key passenger processes at the airport viz. starting from entry to terminal and including check-in, security check, boarding gate and finally the boarding bridge check before entering the aircraft.
With the implementation of E-boarding at RGIA, now a domestic passenger flying from the airport will need only a mobile E-boarding card and his Aadhaar Card Number to gain entry into the airport. However, the system is equally compatible with other conventional modes as well and one can use the boarding card issued by CUSS machine or check-in counters also. Further, fliers would have flexibility to follow the traditional process of showing a photo-ID to gain entry into the airport in case the Aadhaar number is not available.
The process leads to ‘Enhanced Security’ where in passenger details are checked online with Airline DCS (Departure Control System) at Main Entry and Security Hold area for Authenticity thereby avoiding fake entries. Availability of High Definition CCTV cameras at strategic locations ensures a high level of security. This automated facility promises a better environment as it is paperless and requires lesser manual interface.
From entry into the terminal, to boarding the aircraft, a passenger needs to only use E-boarding card. Movement through this channels ensures that the passenger’s movements are tracked electronically (with timestamp) and through dedicated HD CCTV cameras at each of these checkpoints. This enhances the security at the airport by adding an extra layer of technologically advanced tracking to the existing security apparatus.
The process of E-boarding is seamless and integrated with the passengers’ name list from the airline. This also makes it very easy to check whether the passenger is actually at the airport or not. Timings of the entry to the airport and the other touch points are recorded, which help RGIA to continuously enhance its operational efficiency. Since the entry through E-boarding is time bound and guided as per regulations, the E-Boarding Reader machine does not allow the passengers inside the terminal before the stipulated time, thus reducing congestion inside the airport.