Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sweden Terror Suspects Tied to Somali Islamist Movement
(AFP) -- Four terror suspects arrested in Sweden at the weekend have ties to the Somali Islamist movement Shebab and were plotting an attack using bombs and firearms, a newspaper reported Monday.
Neither Sweden's intelligence agency nor the police have confirmed the report, and have released few details about the arrests.
"Police suspect the men were about to carry out a terrorist attack with firearms and bombs," Gothenburg regional daily GT said in its online edition.
"Police sources have told GT the suspects are linked to the terror network Shebab," the paper said, without disclosing its sources.
The Al-Qaeda linked militia has waged a years-long insurgency against Somalia's weak, Western-backed transitional government and controls much of the south and centre of the Horn of Africa country.
An elite counter-terrorism unit arrested four people in Gothenburg, Sweden's second city, and evacuated hundreds of people from a building hosting an art fair "after concluding that there was a threat that could endanger lives or health or cause serious damage," officials said on Sunday.
Police then searched the building, breaking open several lockers, the paper said.
It is not known why the venue was seen as a target, and art fair organisers have not been given an explanation, GT said.
The paper speculated that it could have been because of a Swedish artist, Lars Vilks, who has received death threats from Shebab for depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a dog.
Vilks had said publicly he planned to attend the event but in the end did not.
He has faced numerous death threats and a suspected assassination plot since his drawing was first published by a Swedish regional newspaper in 2007, illustrating an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.
"Wherever you are, if not today or tomorrow, know that we haven't yet forgotten about you," a Swedish Shebab member, Abu Zaid, said in a video, according to US monitoring group SITE in November 2010.
According to Swedish news agency TT, the four suspects arrested late Saturday are aged 23 to 26 and are residents of Gothenburg.
Three of the men are born in Africa and the fourth in the Middle East, it said. The man born in the Middle East and two of the Africa-born men are Swedish citizens while another holds a Swedish residency permit, it added.
Swedish intelligence agency Saepo issued a short statement on Monday saying all information concerning the ongoing investigation was classified.
"Saepo's assessment is that there is no cause for widespread concern nor any reason to introduce tighter security measures," it said.
Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding-Qvarnstroem must decide by Tuesday whether to ask a court to remand the suspects in custody or release them.

007 12-2011-09 Lessons of September 12
(CNN) -- As our nation comes together to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we find ourselves with a poignant opportunity to reflect on the lives lost and the dramatic changes we have seen around the world over the last decade.
On that tragic day, I was serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the principal military adviser to the President of the United States. I will never forget the personal sense of loss all of us felt as we processed the events of the day -- devastation on a scale that had seemed unimaginable even the day before. But what I will also remember is what happened the day after.
In our first National Security Council meeting after the attacks, our intelligence and law enforcement leaders briefed the President, telling him that the attacks were planned and executed by al Qaeda. In the dramatic pause after this information was presented, all the eyes in the room seemed to turn towards myself and the Secretary of Defense. The silent question that hung in the air was obvious -- what are we going to do about this?
But before we could respond, the President Bush himself interrupted. He said, we'll get to the military tools, but first let's talk about what we can do diplomatically and economically. This was an extraordinary statement, and I believe the first indication of the new, comprehensive national security strategy required in the post-9/11 world. In that moment, we saw for the first time it would take all of the tools in America's foreign policy arsenal working together in order to keep us safe from terrorists and extremists.
As Chairman, I was a strong supporter of this comprehensive strategy, where development and diplomacy work alongside a strong defense to protect our nation. I had seen firsthand planning a previous operation in Haiti that in order to succeed, you need all the pieces working together. For that mission, we knew capturing and killing our enemies wouldn't bring a lasting peace. We had to find a way to restore power to the cities and build up a civilian government with a justice system, a police force and a plan for delivering basic services to its own citizens. These are exactly the challenges we face today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our men and women in uniform are the strongest fighting force in the world, and they know how to win wars. But it takes more than just the military to succeed in the type of environment we find ourselves today. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are trained for battle. They are not trained to be development experts, nor should they be. As the President recognized on September 12 and from that day forward, we would need both military and civilian "boots on the ground" to achieve our national security goals.
Ten years later, our country remains under threat from terrorists and extremists and must contend with the problems of a complex and interconnected world. Weak and failing states, natural disasters, poverty and pandemic disease all feed the beasts that threaten our security. We have to be one step ahead of our enemy and that requires us to have the most effective and efficient civilian and military programs in place.
While budgets are tight, the one percent of the federal budget we invest in our development and diplomacy programs is essential in addressing the threats we face and ensuring America remains a leader in the world. To not provide adequate resources to these vital programs through our International Affairs Budget is to risk forgetting the lessons of September 12, 2001.

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