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May 5, 2011

U.S. did not inform Pakistan of bin Laden mission because of suspicions he was being harbored by government

U.S. did not inform Pakistan of bin Laden mission because of suspicions he was being harbored by government

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

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The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, attacked “baseless speculation” that Pakistan was harboring bin Laden.

The U.S. did not inform Pakistan of the operation to kill Osama bin Laden because of fears they were harboring the leader of al-Qaeda and would warn him of the mission, a senior American intelligence official has said. Pakistan has defended itself against allegations it was protecting the world’s most wanted man, and expressed embarrassment after it emerged bin Laden may have been living in the compound in Abbottabad for as many as six years without being intercepted by Pakistan intelligence.

Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, said cooperation between the two countries “could jeopardise the mission” because there were suspicions that elements of the Pakistani government were working with bin Laden. Panetta disclosed U.S. officials had dismissed working with the government of Pakistan early on in the planning of the mission to kill him because of fears that they might “alert” the man named responsible for the September 11 attacks. The revelation will likely raise questions over the level of trust between officials in Washington, D.C. and Islamabad.

‘Deep concerns’

The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has attacked “baseless speculation” that Pakistan was harboring bin Laden. The Pakistani foreign ministry also said in a statement that it has “deep concerns and reservations” over the U.S. fears it is sheltering terrorists, and stressed it shared information openly with Washington. But U.S. officials have raised concerns over how Pakistani authorities allowed bin Laden to remain undetected in the country for as many as six years, and tensions are likely to be further strained after the White House announced it would be throughly investigating claims bin Laden had “benefactors” and a “support system” inside Pakistan. John Brennan, a senior counterterrorism official, said: “We are looking right now at how he was able to hold out there for so long.”

Denying they were providing a shelter for bin Laden, Pakistani officials expressed “embarrassment” over failing to detect his presence so close to the capital; they said a full investigation would be launched. “We will inquire into the causes of what happened but it’s really important not to turn it into any allegation of complicity,” the Pakistani ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, said. But Western politicians have expressed skepticism as to how the Pakistani government did not know bin Laden was in the country, despite him living a short distance from the leading elite military training academy. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham asked: “How could he be in such a compound without being noticed?”

File image of a team of U.S. Navy Seals, the elite unit which carried out the raid on the compound in Pakistan.

Daughter: Osama captured then shot

It emerged yesterday that bin Laden’s daughter had told Pakistani officials that her father had initially been captured by the U.S. forces and then killed. The White House said on Tuesday that bin Laden had been unarmed during the raid, but the U.S. Navy Seals did meet resistance from other people in the building; it is thought as many as 18 people may have been in the compound. The U.S. left several people behind, including six children; afterwards, Pakistani authorities arrested everyone in the compound.

“If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate,” U.S. attorney general Eric Holder said yesterday. But the claim by bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter that U.S. forces captured him and then shot him dead in front of his family appear to contradict this statement. The U.S. has also been forced to defend itself against allegations that the raid was unlawful, and claims that bin Laden was not a legitimate target. Holder told a Senate committee the killing of the al-Qaeda leader was “an act of national self-defence”.

More details have been emerging about how Bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. special forces on a compound not far from Islamabad over the weekend. The U.S. seized computer equipment and mobile telephones from the compound, which will be analysed with the hope they will reveal more information about the workings of al-Qaeda. U.S. president Barack Obama announced the raid on Sunday night. “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said, and confirmed he had been told in August of a lead to the location of the al-Qaeda leader. Four other people were killed in the raid on the compound; the U.S. sustained no casualties. The body of bin Laden was buried at sea.

U.S. will not release corpse images

Cquote1.svg Osama bin Laden is not a trophy—he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until al-Qaeda has been eliminated. Cquote2.svg

—Barack Obama

Last night Obama officially decided the U.S. will not release images of bin Laden’s corpse, which have been described as “very gruesome”. In an interview to be aired on CBS News, Obama will say: “The risks of release outweigh the benefits.” Skeptics have demanded the U.S. release the photographs of the corpse, and officials in the White House have been debating whether to do so for the past several days. But Obama is to add that conspiracy theorists “will just claim the photos are doctored anyway,” and say his decision was partly based on fears that there could be anger in the Middle East if the images were released. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy—he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until al-Qaeda has been eliminated.” The images are reported to show bin Laden shot above the left eye, with parts of his brain exposed.

After it was announced on Sunday night that bin Laden had been killed, many Americans begun gathering in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., Times Square and Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York, to celebrate, singing the national anthem. Reports have indicated the U.S. government is awaiting the release of a “martyr tape”—an audio recording made by bin Laden to be broadcast after his death. Many world leaders have said the killing of bin Laden marks a major turning point on the war on terror. “Osama bin Laden suggested that he was operating in the name of Islam, but in reality he makes a mockery of the fundamental values of his own and every other religion,” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said. But NATO said it would continue the war in Afghanistan to ensure the country “never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security.”

The White House also confirmed they expect al-Qaeda may launch a retaliatory attack after bin Laden’s death. “We have anticipated a backlash, a desire, if not the ability, to exact some sort of revenge,” a spokesperson said. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has threatened to launch attacks in Pakistan and the U.S. in revenge for the death of bin Laden. Panetta said: “Though bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda is not. The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must—and will—remain vigilant and resolute.” The U.S. has issued notices advising travelers to avoid large crowds in foreign countries.



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Flight recorders from Air France Flight 447 found

Flight recorders from Air France Flight 447 found

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

The cockpit voice recorder of Air France Flight 447.
Image: BEA/ECAPD.

Officials from France’s aviation accident investigation agency, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), announced on Tuesday that they had recovered the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of Air France Flight 447. It was located and brought to the surface by a Remora 6000 unmanned submarine, then taken aboard the Île de Sein, one of the vessels taking part in the recovery and salvage efforts.

This came two days after an announcement on Sunday that the crash-survivable memory unit of the flight data recorder (FDR) of the aircraft had been located and brought to the surface. The chassis of the FDR was located on April 27, with the memory unit missing. It was found a short distance from the chassis. It was also brought to the surface by the Remora 6000.

With the recovery of both recorders, which are reported to be “in good condition”, French officials hope to determine what caused the Airbus A330-200 to crash into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, when it departed Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport before it was lost 600 miles (965 km) off the coast of Brazil en route to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport with 228 passengers and crew on board.

Cquote1.svg If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split and you have the corrosive effects of seawater and the depths involved. Cquote2.svg

—Phil Seymour, International Bureau of Aviation

The leading theory at the moment is that the crew received incorrect air speed readings from the aircraft’s pitot tubes, devices which measure how fast the aircraft is traveling. Experts say the tubes may have become iced over, causing the crash. The plane’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) sent out 24 messages over a four-minute long period stating numerous problems and warnings, including incorrect air speed warnings occurring aboard the aircraft, just prior to it going down.

However, chief operating officer of the International Bureau of Aviation, Phil Seymour, speaking to CNN, believes the memory unit will not be of much use to investigators saying because of the depth it was located at, “If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split and you have the corrosive effects of seawater and the depths involved.” Seymour believes the wreckage will help reveal what happened as more is recovered.

File photo of the Airbus A330-200 (F-GZCP) involved in the accident
Image: Pawel Kierzkowski.

“It may be that the more wreckage they find will help them to piece it all together, which bit by bit could help them build a picture of what caused the plane to come down,” he added.

A BEA spokesperson had agreed with that possibility a few days earlier when speaking to the Associated Press about the recovery of the flight data recorder. “We can’t say in advance that we’re going to be able to read it until it’s been opened,” the spokesperson said. As

The wreckage of the Airbus A330-200, was found back on April 8 at a depth of 3,800 and 4,000 meters (2,070 to 2,190 fathoms or 12,467 feet and 13,123 feet), by a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, using a Remus robotic submarine and its side-scan sonar. After the wreckage was found, another Remus robot submarine with cameras was sent down to the site, where it filmed bodies in the wreckage. The location of the recorders were localized within 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) of the flight’s last position last year.

In March, a French judge placed the European aircraft maker Airbus and Air France under investigation for possible involuntary manslaughter charges in the 2009 crash. Both are paying the cost of the search which is estimated to be $12.7 million (nine million euro). The crash is the deadliest in Air France’s history.



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DR Congo transport minister sacked after numerous boat accidents

DR Congo transport minister sacked after numerous boat accidents

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

DR Congo has a high number of fatal boat accidents

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Marie-Laure Kawanda, the transport minister for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been sacked by the government after a series of boat accidents in the country. Kawanda was dismissed after a boat sank on Monday while sailing on the Kasai River left around 100 people missing.

A spokesman for the government released a statement saying that Kawanda had failed to “ensure that regulations related to navigation are respected.” Information minister Lambert Mende commented on Ms Kawanda’s sacking, saying, “She should have introduced rules to prevent boats travelling at night and to stop cargo boats from carrying passengers. We don’t have the exact number [of victims] but we think it is probably considerably higher than what has already been reported.”

He added that the government will be paying for the funerals of the victims.

Fatal boat accidents are a common occurrence in DR Congo. On the same river where Monday’s accident happened, up to 200 people died last year when a boat capsized. According to the Red Cross, 40 people died when an overcrowded boat sank on Lake Kivu last week.



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