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September 16, 2015

Kuwaiti court sentences seven to death for June mosque bombing

Kuwaiti court sentences seven to death for June mosque bombing

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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Image: Abza.

A court in Kuwait yesterday sentenced fifteen people for involvement in June’s bombing of the Imam Sadiq Mosque. Seven were sentenced to death.

The suicide attack in Kuwait City killed 26 and injured 227. The trial of seven women and 22 men before Judge Mohammad al-Duaij produced fourteen acquittals. All those sentenced to death were men; prison terms from two to fifteen years were imposed on the remaining convicts. A number were tried in absentia.

Sunni militants Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. IS view Shi’ites as enemies. Conducted in the Shi’ite mosque during Friday prayers, the attack came during Ramadan. IS hold a large swathe of Iraq and Syria. Sunnis and Shi’ites live together peacefully in Kuwait. It was amongst the worst attacks to hit the nation in decades.

The accused include Kuwaiti, Saudi, and Pakistani citizens, as well as stateless individuals. Abdul Rahman Sabah Saud, stateless, admitted driving bomber Fahad Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Gabbaa, Saudi, to the mosque. Saud, also accused of handling explosives, denied intending to harm any people.

Cquote1.svg The court draws attention to the dangers of this extremist ideology Cquote2.svg

—Judge Mohammad al-Duaij

Judge al-Duaij found Fahad Farraj Muhareb to be an IS leader and sentenced him to death. Muhareb and Saud are in Kuwaiti custody. Saudi brothers Mohammad and Majed al-Zahrani, who have been detained in their homeland but were tried in absentia, were held to have transported the explosives used out of Saudi Arabia. Two stateless men convicted of being IS soldiers and a man whose identity is unclear were also sentenced to death in their absence.

Of the eight given prison terms, three were men and five women. They were convicted of offences such as assisting the attack, training IS fighters, and withholding knowledge about the bombing. The death row convicts faced more serious charges such as premeditated murder.

Appeals are possible. The prosecution had sought death sentences for eleven defendents.

Amnesty International acknowledged the bombing was “an utterly heinous and callous criminal act” but said the death sentences are “misguided” and “must be overturned”. The group, which is categorically opposed to the death penalty, said Kuwait conducted five executions in 2013 and none at all last year.

Judge al-Duaij said in delivering his judgement “The court draws attention to the dangers of this extremist ideology that resorts to terrorism for its implementation.”



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July 16, 2015

Shootings at two military facilities in Chattanooga

Shootings at two military facilities in Chattanooga

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

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On Thursday, between 10:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. local time, shootings occurred at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Four U.S. marines were killed and three other people, including an officer, were wounded. The gunman was killed at the site of the second shooting. The two sites are a U.S. Navy recruitment center and a Marine Reserve Center.

Map showing the locations of the shootings.
Image: OpenStreetMap.

According to Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the shooter, who was in a car, stopped in front of the facility, shot at the building and drove off. The Sergeant 1st Class Robert Dodge, an army recruiter in Chattanooga, said he was in his office when someone opened fire. He reported he heard about 30 to 50 shots.

Later that day, the gunman was identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24 years old. He resided in Hixson, located a few miles across the river from the city. He was born in Kuwait and was a naturalized U.S. citizen.

The Chattanooga State Community College said in a tweet and on its website that a shooting was confirmed near the campus and everyone should stay inside and close doors. The campus was put on lockdown. Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, told the media that the situation was considered as an “act of domestic terrorism.”


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Man kills five, wounds two in Chattanooga

Man kills five, wounds two in Chattanooga

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

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On Thursday, between 10:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. local time, shootings occurred at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee: a U.S. Navy recruitment center and a Marine Reserve Center. Five people, excluding the gunman, died in the shootings. Four U.S. Marines died at the scene and one U.S. Navy sailor died at a hospital two days later. All of them were shot at the naval reserve center.

The five who died were identified as:[1]

Name Age Hometown Branch Rank
Carson A. Holmquist 25 Grantsburg, Wisconsin USMC Sergeant
Randall Smith 26 Paulding, Ohio USN Logistics Specialist Second Class
Thomas J. Sullivan 40 Springfield, Massachusetts USMC Gunnery Sergeant
Squire K. “Skip” Wells 21 Marietta, Georgia USMC Lance Corporal
David A. Wyatt 37 Russellville, Arkansas USMC Staff Sergeant

In addition, two other people were wounded. They were an unidentified Marine recruiter who was shot in the leg, treated, and released; and Dennis Pedigo, Jr., a police sergeant who was shot in the ankle.[2][3] A third person was wounded too, but died two days later at the hospital.

Map showing the locations of the shootings.
Image: OpenStreetMap.

According to Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky, Abdulazeez was in his car. He stopped in front of the facility, shot at the building and then drove off. The Sergeant 1st Class Robert Dodge, an army recruiter in Chattanooga, said he was in his office when someone opened fire. He reported he heard about 30 to 50 shots. FBI agent Ed Reinhold said Abdulazeez had “numerous weapons”. However, he would not give details.

Later that day, the gunman was identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24 years old. He resided in Hixson, located a few miles across the river from the city. He was born in Kuwait and was a naturalized U.S. citizen. The gunman was killed at the site of the second shooting.

In recent months, he had been regularly attending Friday prayers at a mosque. It was reported that in the days preceding the shooting, Abdulazeez is thought to have written a blog post in which he urges study of the Quran as a meaning to life, and noted that the companions of the Prophet “fought jihad for the sake of Allah.”[4] Abdulazeez’s friends also noted a change in his behavior. Hours before the shootings began, Abdulazeez sent a text message to a friend, which contained a link to an Islamic verse that included the line “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him.”[5]

On July 20, a diary belonging to Abdulazeez and containing entries dating as far back as 2013 was discovered. In it, he wrote about having suicidal thoughts after losing his job due to his drug use and his desire to “becom[e] a martyr”. According to a family representative, Abdulazeez was abusing sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers, and marijuana along with alcohol. He had also been in thousands of dollars of debt and was planning to file for bankruptcy. In addition, when he was twelve or thirteen years old, he had been seeing a child psychiatrist. Several years ago, relatives of Abdulazeez attempted to have him admitted into inpatient care, but were unable to after a health insurer refused to approve the expense.[6]

The Chattanooga State Community College confirmed in a tweet and on its website the shooting near the campus and adviced everyone to stay inside and close doors. The campus was put on lockdown. Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, told the media that the situation was considered as an “act of domestic terrorism.” The organization of Muslim rights advocacy, CAIR, “condamned” this “killing”. There are also other reactions, such as security measures and other reactions from the President Barack Obama[7], Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam[8] and Chattanooga mayor Andy Berkeref.[9]

Currently, the police are still researching the motive. There is no evidence about a potential accomplice in the event.[8]


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August 9, 2011

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait recall ambassadors to Syria

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait recall ambassadors to Syria

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

 
Correction — December 22, 2014
 
This article names Jordanian politician Nasser Judeh as the nation’s Prime Minister. He has never held that role.
 
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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait all recalled their ambassadors to Syria Monday over concerns about the crackdown on protestors by the Syrian government.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced the decision to recall the country’s Syrian ambassador in a statement read on state television, saying that “[t]he Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [demands] the stoppage of the killing machine and bloodshed, and the use of reason before it is too late”.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa of Bahrain said that Syria should “resort to reason” and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah called for an end to military action, saying that “no-one can accept the bloodshed.” al-Sabah also said that officials from several countries in the region plan to meet in the near future to discuss Syria.

In addition to the recall of the ambassadors, diplomatic pressure increased on Syria from other fronts, with Prime Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan making a televised request for talks between the protestors and government, and the Arab League issuing its first statement about the situation in Syria on Sunday, saying it is “alarmed” by events.



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February 22, 2011

Australian Governor-General travels to Kuwait amidst terror threats

Australian Governor-General travels to Kuwait amidst terror threats

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Her Excellency, Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia is set to travel to Kuwait to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of the liberation of the country from Iraqi rule. This comes as terrorist threats and civil unrest begin to spread throughout the region.

In a tour that is set to conclude on February 27th, Ms Bryce will be representing Australia at several ceremonies marking 20 years since the first Gulf War and 50 years since Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom. In addition, she will visit The Australian College of Kuwait and other locations of national interest including sites of Australian wheat imports.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement claiming “Terrorists have demonstrated intent to conduct attacks in Kuwait against a range of targets, including United States military and identifiably Western targets such as hotels, restaurants and symbols and buildings associated with the Kuwaiti government.”

The visit occurs in conjunction with the news of anti-government protests igniting across the Middle East including Kuwait. Despite this, the Governor-General’s secretary told a Senate committee that the trip shall proceed.



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February 19, 2011

Kuwait stateless protest for rights

Kuwait stateless protest for rights – Wikinews, the free news source

Kuwait stateless protest for rights

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

A thousand or more non-citizen residents of Kuwait demonstrated yesterday demanding rights given to Kuwaiti citizens. Police used water cannons in dispersing the protest. There were injuries among both protesters and police, and several protesters were detained.

Citizens of Kuwait receive substantial welfare benefits, including education and health care. There are estimated to be around 100,000 non-citizen residents, called “bidoons” (from bedoun jinsiyya, Arabic meaning without nationality). Many bidoons claim descent from desert nomads who did not apply for citizenship in 1959. Many bidoons live in economic hardship, and cannot get legal recognitions such as birth and death certificates, driver’s licenses, and attested marriage contracts.

Interior Ministry spokesman Adil Al-Hashash said “security forces on the ground talked to the protestors in a nice and civilized way”, telling them “they should go to the legal channels for their demands rather than protesting.” The government says police acted in self-defense after protesters threw rocks.

Independent Kuwaiti Member of Parliament Daifallah Buramia said “[t]he protest of bidoons is legitimate and the government is responsible for this because it has failed to resolve the problem”.



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December 1, 2010

Latest \’CableGate\’ disclosures hint at US diplomatic tactics in Spain and beyond

Latest ‘CableGate’ disclosures hint at US diplomatic tactics in Spain and beyond

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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Yesterday’s release of more US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks covered pressure on governments, Spain’s judiciary, and buying foreign assistance with detentions at Guantanamo Bay. El Pais, one of five mainstream papers partnering with Wikileaks’ release of documents, examined key output from Madrid’s US embassy.

The latest cables focus on US–Spain relations, particularly during the George W. Bush presidency, with Eduardo Aguirre serving as ambassador in Madrid. He is cited as having “personally exerted” pressure on Spain’s government and judiciary; this leading to at least three investigations being dropped.

Of concern to the press is the death of José Couso in 2003. The Spanish cameraman was killed during the battle for Baghdad; the Spanish judiciary intended to prosecute three US servicemen over the fatality.

File photo of Eduardo Aguirre Jr, United States ambassador to Spain.

American use of Spanish air bases for ‘extraordinary rendition‘ was a second concern the US embassy in Madrid pressured the government on. Spanish prosecutors had been keen to pursue 13 CIA officers over the illegal flights.

Repeatedly, concern over Spain’s independent judiciary invoking ‘universal jurisdiction’ appears in leaked cables. Reports at the time showed magistrates considered actions at Guantanamo Bay torture, and seemed keen to pursue ex-US government officials on grounds of “criminal responsibility”.

Cable 06MADRID1914 highlights the cases of Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed and Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien; respectively transferred from Guantanamo Bay, to Spanish custody, in February 2004 and July 2005.

Describing conditions at the Cuban detention centre as “impossible to explain, much less justify”, Hamed — better known as the “Spanish Taliban” — saw a July 2006 ruling by the country’s Supreme Court annul his six-year prison sentence, granting him an immediate release. The ruling cast doubt on the reliability of evidence against Lahcen, who was released on bail.

Hamed and his family, at the time, announced their intent to sue the US government over his suffering in Guantanamo Bay.

File photo of Baltazar Garzón, former Spanish High Court judge.

Later cables illustrate how concerned the Bush administration were over possible prosecution by Baltasar Garzón. Citing an op-ed he penned for a Spanish paper in March 2007, and this subsequently being picked up by Socialist Party secretary José Blanco Lopéz. Pronouncements by the two, and others, on “criminal responsibility” were met with a diplomatically stern response; cable 07MADRID546 states that the government of Spain was “cautioned that continued statements on this issue by senior Spanish figures would be viewed negatively.”

Garzón, best-known for indicting former dictator Augusto Pinochet, seemed to still trouble US diplomats when planning high-level defence talks in March 2007. Mention is made to a possible investigation, and indictment of, Donald Rumsfeld. Spain had informed the US embassy in Madrid the judge in the case was working to dismiss it.

As recently as March last year, Garzón sought to prosecute officials from the Bush administration.

Cquote1.svg […]continued statements on this issue by senior Spanish figures would be viewed negatively. Cquote2.svg

—US embassy ‘caution’ to Spanish government.

Named as potential defendants in a Reuters report, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, William Haynes II, Jay Bybee, and, aide to Vice-President Dick Cheney, David Addington were all being investigated by Garzón.

Come April this year, Garzón himself faced prosecution. A probe into Franco-era war crimes saw him suspended, possibly to be tried for acting contrary to an amnesty extended to Franco supporters. It is alleged he “acted without jurisdiction”.

At present, the former Spanish Supreme Court judge is working at the International Criminal Court. Reports based on El Pais’ investigation around the leaked cables suggest the country’s judiciary has been politicised to suit American interests.

With a price of US$85,000 cited for each former Guantanamo Bay detainee that Spain was to take, recent reports assert other countries have been offered financial incentives to help empty the camp.

Belgium, alongside Spain, was supposedly offered more influence within the European Union in exchange for cooperating with US plans.

Kuwait’s interior minister is said to have refused to take any of their citizens from the camp. Describing inmates as “rotten”, DPA alleges he told the US to “get rid of” detainees in an Afghan war zone.

Yemen, in exchange for agreeing to take Guantanamo detainees, is said to have asked for US$11 million for the construction of a centre to rehabilitate Muslim extremists.

So far, only a tiny fraction of the documents in Wikileaks possession have been made public.



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May 26, 2010

Iraqi Airways drops flights to United Kingdom and Sweden

Iraqi Airways drops flights to United Kingdom and Sweden

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Iraqi Airways have announced that they are to drop all flights to the United Kingdom and Sweden. The announcement comes after a row with Kuwait over war reparations.

Iraq and Kuwait are in dispute over billions of dollars of reparations; this includes around $1.2bn in aircraft and parts seized beginning in 1990 by Saddam Hussein. The airline’s director general was stranded in the United Kingdom on the basis of a High Court court order obtained by Kuwait Airways last month, but his passport was returned and he was allowed to leave after he informed the court of all the airline’s assets in the UK.

Amer Abdul-Jabbar, the Iraqi Transport Minister released a statement saying that “We will announce whether or not we will dissolve the company.” The cancellations were announced by the director general of Iraqi Airways, Kifah Jabar Hassan.

Hassan spoke about the plans to dissolve the company, saying that “[w]e can establish another airline company and put an end to this case. With this, the Kuwaitis will get nothing”.

On April 25, Iraqi Airways sent its first jet to the United Kingdom in twenty years. The flight had been delayed for over a year and was met with further restrictions for nine days after the volcanic ash crisis in Europe. The aircraft was impounded by London High Court and no further flights to the UK have been made.



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February 2, 2010

U.S. improving Persian Gulf missile defense

U.S. improving Persian Gulf missile defense

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The United States has begun improving the missile defense system for their Persian Gulf alliances. Military officials stated that the Obama administration is increasing the capability of land and sea missile defense in hopes of further security in the face of Iran’s perceived increasing nuclear missile threat.

File photo of the Aegis Cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) sailing in the Baltic Sea.
Image: Michael Sandberg.

General David Petraeus of U.S. Central Command made a statement saying eight new missile batteries have been placed in four separate countries in the Persian Gulf, now speculated to be Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar along with new Navy ships in the Mediterranean. The White House plans to send a review of the changes towards the missile defense strategy to the Congress on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010.

The expansion had begun under the Bush administration, now continuing with the Obama administration who wishes to take extra precautions against Iran’s growing Nuclear Program. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated in December that the Pentagon is taking these protective measures in case the Obama administration later issues orders for defense against Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama had also released a statement in 2009 saying that he wanted a strategic plan in which Aegis ships would be able to defend Persian Gulf allies in Europe from any threats.

The Obama administration said that these changes in land and sea defense are capable of defending the U.S. and it’s Persian Gulf allies from mid-range nuclear threats from Iran. The Pentagon also stated that ships containing SM-3 interceptors would enable the U.S. to re-locate the capabilities of the new missiles as needed, and that Aegis interceptor systems are capable of tracking upwards of 100 targets, and the the system can blow up missiles above the atmosphere.

The U.S. arms sales had surpassed the sales from Saudi Arabia by approximately $4.6 billion in 2009.



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September 28, 2008

Wikileaks claims news organisations pressured to remove articles on billionaire fraudster

Wikileaks claims news organisations pressured to remove articles on billionaire fraudster

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

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Documents recently made public by the Internet site Wikileaks reveal that several large newspapers have removed or censored content related to the Iraqi-British fraudster Nadhmi Auchi, who has been publicly linked to Barack Obama via payments to former fundraiser, Antino “Tony” Rezko . A Guardian article, which no longer exists, stated that Auchi is also linked to senior members of the UK Labour Party.

Wikinews has confirmed that at least some of the articles involved definitely previously existed but have now been removed, including from newspapers that usually keep all of their articles online.

A New Statesman article included the Wikileaks documents confirms that “Mr Auchi’s lawyers have written to ask us to remove the names of the articles concerned”, and that this is what lead them to remove the content. The New Statesman removed a list of censored articles regarding the incident after receiving complaints.

The articles were taken down following letters from the Carter-Ruck law firm, which points out on its website that “A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed.”

One of the removed articles was published by The Guardian. It pointed out Auchi’s “past links to Saddam Hussein’s regime.” It also said, “[a]ttempts by a French investigating magistrate to have Mr Auchi arrested during corruption inquiries had been blocked by Britain since July 2001.” The article also claimed that Auchi may have had a role in the channeling of GBP 28 million to a Kuwaiti oil refinery.

Several articles published by The Observer, the sister paper of the Guardian, were also removed after reporting similar facts to the above.

In addition, an article published by The Daily Telegraph was deleted. It reported on “France’s longest-running political and corporate corruption scandal,” which resulted on a two year suspended sentence for Auchi.


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