Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Man with links to al-Qaeda preacher arrested

Dylan Welch

September 28, 2011

A SYDNEY man with ''demonstrated connections'' to one of the world's most wanted terrorist preachers has been arrested by police over allegations he broke into a cash machine.

Milad bin Ahmad-Shah al-Ahmadzai was arrested after three other men were prevented from robbing a cash van at gunpoint in western Sydney yesterday.

Mr al-Ahmadzai, 21, is alleged by ASIO to have had contact with the Yemen-based al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki is of great concern to intelligence agencies due to his ability to use the internet to radicalise young Muslim men in Western countries. He is seen as such a threat that last year he was placed on a CIA ''catch or kill'' list.

Last year Mr al-Ahmadzai was one of 23 Australian residents whom ASIO judged of such concern that it alerted US authorities to them. But yesterday morning Mr al-Ahmadzai was in a different type of trouble, arrested by detectives from the NSW police robbery squad at his home in Ermington.

He was arrested shortly after three other men, aged between 24 and 29, were found by police in a Cecil Hills carpark. The three men were in two stolen cars and police allege they found a rifle, two handguns and several balaclavas. An armoured cash van was in the carpark. The three were charged with robbery and firearms offences.

Policesearched Mr al-Ahmadzai's home and five other locations, seizing a Subaru WRX, a pistol, ammunition, Australian and US currency, a pill press, anabolic steroids, two-way radios, laptop computers, mobile phones and passports. All four are due to face Sydney courts today.

Minister says Yemen opposition seeks 'civil war'

September 28, 2011
Yemen's foreign minister accused the opposition on Tuesday of fomenting the strife that has left thousands dead by not accepting the election of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Abubakr al-Qirbi told the United Nations that protests against Saleh since January had cost the country ê2 billion in damage to roads, oil pipelines, power lines and other infrastructure.
Saleh, who is under international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country last week, sparking violence in which scores more have died.
Qirbi told the UN General Assembly the anti-Saleh protests threatened to unleash "civil war and devastating conflict."
The minister insisted that the Saleh government had defended democracy and was "protecting human rights".
He said opposition groups had been unable to accept Saleh's 2006 election and had carried out "subversive actions to seize power." The groups had "manipulated" youth protests about the lack of jobs.
Saleh is under increasing pressure to relinquish power from the Gulf Cooperation Council, which has sought to broker a peace deal, as well as the United Nations and the United States.
Qirbi said Saleh was committed to a GCC initiative under which he should hand over power to a transitional government. The minister said Yemen would be a "model for change."
His comments were dismissed by rights groups.
"If they are serious about upholding human rights, the Yemeni authorities should stop security forces from shooting peaceful protesters, allow an international inquiry into the bloodshed, and let the United Nations establish a human rights monitoring office," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch.

Tribesmen shoot down Yemen fighter jet

Sep 28, 2011 | AFP | Sanaa

Tribesmen fighting Yemeni troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh shot down on Wednesday an army fighter jet, as a sea of protesters demanded the under-fire leader's ouster and trial.

A Sukhoi SU-22 ‘fell during a regular mission’ and opposition leaders were ‘responsible for the incident,’ said a military spokesman quoted by Saba state news agency.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated near Sanaa's Change Square, the focal point of anti-regime protests in the violence-wracked Arabian Peninsula country, a correspondent reported.

"We shall not rest until the butcher is executed," the demonstrators chanted as they marched in a neighbourhood of the capital controlled by dissident General Ali Muhsen al-Ahmar's First Armoured Division.

Security forces loyal to Saleh blocked the road leading to government offices beyond the Qiyadah roundabout, forcing the protest to stay within the area controlled by the defected division.

Other demonstrations were staged in the cities of Taez, Hudayda and Ibb, but all ended peacefully, witnesses said.

The fighter jet was downed by anti-aircraft guns near Arhab, 40 kilometres (26 miles) north of Sanaa, where armed tribesmen have been locked in combat with the elite Republican Guard, led by Saleh's son Ahmed, witnesses said.

"We saw the downed plane in flames on the ground," one witness said.

Tribesmen captured the pilot after he ejected when the plane crashed in the village of Beit Azar, tribal sources said.

The tribal area of Arhab has been targeted by heavy air strikes since a general and six other soldiers were killed Sunday in clashes between tribesmen and the Republican Guard.

General Abdullah al-Kulaibi, head of the 63rd brigade of the elite Republican Guard unit, died in the attack by tribesman opposed to Saleh's rule in the strategic town of Nihm, the defence ministry said.

Four of the attackers were killed during the assault on the military base, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the Yemeni capital, it said.

Tribal sources claimed on Monday that 33 troops were captured in the confrontation.

Meanwhile, three more gunmen were killed in overnight clashes with the guard, tribal sources said.

Nihm is one of several villages and towns that collectively make up the strategic northern gateway into Sanaa and is site of at least five Republican Guard bases.

The elite unit has so far prevented dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who now controls part of the capital, from calling in reinforcements from Yemen's northern provinces where parts of his division are deployed.

The tribesmen who carried out the assault on the military base late Sunday are allied with General Ahmar and have been battling government troops for control of the area.

Saleh, who is under international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country last week, sparking violence in which scores have died.

The 69-year-old president has repeatedly refused to sign a power transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council under which he would hand power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

Yemen’s Saleh, Opposition May Be Close to Accord, Diplomat Says

September 28, 2011

By Donna Abu-Nasr

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s government and opposition are making progress in talks on a power transfer to end escalating violence, and could resolve outstanding disagreements within a week, a senior Western diplomat said.

The two sides have advanced beyond a proposal put forward by Gulf Arab nations in April for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power, adding detail to areas that had been left vague, and are now holding direct talks rather than negotiations mediated by third parties, the diplomat said in an interview yesterday, on condition of anonymity.

Mohammed al-Mutawakkil, a member of the main opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, said in an interview from Sana’a today he is “optimistic” that a solution is near. The two sides have a practical blueprint for how to proceed, the Western diplomat said.

Violence in Yemen has escalated in the past two weeks, leaving more than 100 people dead, as fighters from tribes that support the opposition clashed with government troops. Saleh returned to the country on Sept. 24 following more than three months of recuperation in Saudi Arabia after he was injured in an attack on his compound. The president has called for revival of the Gulf Cooperation Council peace proposals, as protests demanding Saleh’s immediate ouster continue daily in the capital, Sana’a, and other cities.

Plane Shot Down

Saleh has three times come to the brink of signing the Gulf Cooperation Accord. He pulled back from signing it on May 22, when the opposition refused to attend a signing ceremony at his palace. Saleh has since given Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi the power to sign the agreement on his behalf.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on its website today that a military aircraft crashed after it was attacked while on a routine mission in Arhab in the north of Sana’a. The ministry said Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a former military commander who defected to join the protesters, and other opposition leaders were behind the attack.

The opposition Al-Sahwa website said the plane was shot down by tribal fighters who have been battling Saleh’s troops for several months.