Home' Greymouth Star : January 29th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Thursday, January 29, 2015
ur vivors tell the same
story: they were taken
from their homes by men
in uniform; heads down
and linked together, then
led in small groups to a
field, made to kneel, and selected to
be shot one by one.
Accounts by five witnesses
inter viewed separately provide a
picture of alleged executions in
the eastern village of Bar wanah
on Monday, which residents and
provincial officials say left at least 72
unarmed Iraqis dead.
The witnesses identified the killers
as a collection of Shi’ite militias and
security force elements.
Iraqi security and government
officials have disputed the accounts,
with some saying radical jihadists
from Islamic State could have
perpetrated the killings.
The government said overnight it
was opening a probe into the killings.
“The prime minister has ordered
an urgent investigation and we are
awaiting the results,” Prime Minister
Haider al-Abadi’s spokesman, Rafid
Jaboori, said. “I don’t want to come
to any conclusions now. When the
results of this investigation come out,
we will have a full picture.”
Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government,
backed by United States-led air
strikes, has been trying to push back
Islamic State since it swept through
northern Iraq in June.
Monday ’s alleged massacre followed
a three-day offensive in which
Shi’ite militias and Iraqi security
forces captured two dozen villages
from Islamic State near the town of
Muqdadiya in Diyala province.
Since September, hundreds of
civilians have fled to Bar wanah’s
relative safety from fighting in Sinsil,
about 5km to the south-west, and
other nearby villages.
Abu Omar, a businessman
displaced from Sinsil, was at home in
Bar wanah on Monday about 3.30pm
when about 10 Humvees arrived
carrying a few dozen men.
Black and brown uniforms
suggested some were affiliated with
Shi’ite militias and government
security forces; others appeared to be
They dragged residents aged up to
70 from their homes, beating and
cursing them with sectarian slurs,
Abu Omar said by phone.
He said the fighters took the men’s
cellphones and ID cards, then bound
their hands, tying Abu Omar to his
12-year-old mentally ill son with
rope. They did the same with his two
older sons and three brothers.
The men were led a few hundred
yards to a field where Abu Omar
said more than 100 others had been
For about two hours, they were
forced to kneel and stare at the
ground as the fighters selected their
targets and led them to a spot behind
a mud wall.
“They took them behind the wall.
Less than a minute, then a gunshot,”
Abu Omar said. “All we could hear
was the gunshots. We couldn’t see. ”
Sur vivors say victims were taken
also to alleyways, houses, behind a
mosque, or an area used to collect
rubbish, and then shot.
Abu Maz’el, 25, a farmer from Sinsil
who was displaced to Bar wanah five
months ago, gave nearly identical
He said some of the fighters wore
green headbands emblazoned with
the name Hussein, a defining figure
in Shi’ite history.
They took him and his cousin from
their home to the field, walking single
file, heads down, with their hands on
the other men’s shoulders.
Kneeling beside his 35-year-old
cousin, Abu Maz’el heard others beg
for their lives as the gunmen dragged
them off and shot them.
“ My cousin raised his head, so
someone slapped him,” he said. “Five
minutes later, they came and took
him away and executed him. ”
Diyala has been plagued by
sectarian violence with Islamic State
and Shi’ite militias fighting for
control of the strategic region north-
east of Baghdad.
Sunni militants carry out frequent
suicide bombings and assassinations.
In turn, Shi’ite militias have been
accused of carrying out killings of
Sunnis, including two other mass
atrocities in Diyala in the last year.
Monday’s alleged massacre
happened in the presence of Iraqi
security forces, compounding Sunni
doubts about Baghdad’s control over
the militias, which took the lead in
battling Islamic State after the Iraqi
army nearly collapsed last summer.
Abdullah al-Jubouri, a 23-year-
old college graduate who fled to
Bar wanah from Sinsil a month ago,
said the army let him go when they
came to his house on Monday. Other
witnesses said soldiers stood by
helplessly, some crying, as the militias
Jubouri said he fled when he saw
Humvees entering Bar wanah and hid
in a pile of garbage. He watched as a
group of soldiers and militiamen near
the school fired at a line of 13 men,
some with their hands bound.
“ I saw them falling like domino
pieces,” he said.
Jubouri said he heard shots and
screams until about 7pm, when
the vehicles left. He discovered a
neighbour and his two sons among
the bodies by the school.
Women and children emerged to
cover the men’s bodies. Some spent
the night in the streets mourning the
Jubouri said he found the body
of another neighbour outside his
house with bullet wounds to his
head and chest. He saw bodies with
similar wounds in the field and in
five separate streets throughout the
Abu Omar returned home after the
fighters withdrew, and was reunited
with his sons. He later found six
brothers also from Sinsil had been
killed, one at his home and the others
behind the mud wall in the field.
A cosmetics salesman and four
teachers were killed in the field, along
with three other brothers and their
cousin, Abu Omar said.
Haqqi al-Jobouri, a Sunni member
of the Diyala provincial council,
said at least 72 men were killed in
Bar wanah on Monday. He said 35
others were missing and suspected
detained by the militias.
Sajid al-Anbuki, a Shi’ite member
of the same body, urged restraint in
drawing conclusions ahead of the
government ’s investigation.
“ If it revealed that those men
executed were terrorists, then we
don’t have any problem because in
this case they got what they deser ve,”
“ If the findings prove they were
civilians, then justice should be
done and those who did it must be
In the meantime, remaining
residents of Bar wanah fear further
violence. They said the same militias
and security forces encircled the
village late on Monday, preventing
anyone from leaving.
“ We have been surrounded for
days,” said Abu Ahmed, 27, another
sur vivor from Sinsil. “ We have no
food. We have nothing.”
Survivors say Iraqi troops watched massacre
Jordan ready for IS prisoner swap
Jordan says it is willing to free an Iraqi
female jihadist from prison if the Islamic
State group releases a Jordanian pilot
IS, in a video released yesterday,
threatened to kill airman Maaz al-
Kassasbeh and Japanese hostage Kenji
Goto unless would-be suicide bomber
Sajida al-Rishawi is freed within 24
“Jordan is ready to release the prisoner
Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian
pilot is freed unharmed,” Jordanian
state television quoted a government
spokesman as saying on Wednesday.
“From the start, the position of
Jordan was to ensure the safety of our
son, the pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh,” it
It made no mention of Goto.
The Japanese government said it
believed the IS deadline expired about
3am NZ time today.
Tokyo has been urgently seeking
Jordan’s help since an IS video released
at the weekend said another Japanese
hostage, Haruna Yukawa, had been
Japan has sent Deputy Foreign Minister
Yasuhide Nakayama to Amman to head
an emergency response team.
Rishawi has been on death row since
2006 for her part in triple hotel bombings
in Amman that killed 60 people.
Kassasbeh was captured on December
24 after his F-16 fighter-bomber crashed
while on a mission against the jihadists
over northern Syria.
Jordanian officials have noted that
while the IS video threatened Kassasbeh’s
life, it only mentioned freeing Goto in
exchange for Rishawi.
Jordan is among a number of Arab and
Western countries that have joined US-
led air raids against IS, which has seized
large areas in Syria and neighbouring
Iraq. — AFP
A combination picture shows Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, left, and Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be
Italy launches ‘historic
blitz’ against mafia
Italian police have arrested more than
160 alleged members of the ‘Ndrangheta
mafia in what has been hailed as a
historic setback for the group behind
much of Europe’s cocaine trade.
More than 40 arrests were made
overnight in Calabria, the secretive
crime group’s southern homeland.
The bulk of the arrests came in dawn
raids in towns and cities across the
much wealthier north of Italy, where
the group has spread its tentacles in
recent years in order to launder huge
A total of 117 people were arrested in
the region of Emilia Romagna including
six alleged bosses of a semi-autonomous
clan that has spent the last 20 years
infiltrating one of Italy’s richest and
most productive areas, Bologna’s chief
prosecutor Roberto Alfonso told a press
conference in the region’s capital.
Franco Roberti, the national anti-
mafia prosecutor, hailed the operation
which led to the arrests as “historic and
“ It is an impressive and decisive step
against the mafia in the north. This is
a deeply implanted and very dangerous
criminal organisation,” he said.
The ‘Ndrangheta is considered the most
powerful crime syndicate in Italy, thanks
to its role as the principal importer and
wholesaler of cocaine produced in Latin
America and smuggled into Europe via
north Africa and southern Italy.
That trade is worth billions and previous
police operations have indicated that
the ‘Ndrangheta has well-established
links with Colombian producer cartels,
Mexican crime gangs and mafia families
in New York and other parts of North
The arrests were the latest in a series
of high-profile operations which have
confirmed the hitherto little-known
expansion of ‘Ndrangheta across Italy
from Calabria, the underdeveloped “toe”
of the boot-shaped country. — AFP
Elderly Britons enjoying active sex lives
British senior citizens are still
enjoying active sex lives, according
to the first major study of sexual
health in the over 80s.
More than half of men, 54%, and
almost a third of women, 31%, over
70, said they were still sexually
active, with a third of those having
“frequent ” sex of at least twice a
More than 7000 older people took
part in the research for the English
Longitudinal Study of Ageing,
led by Dr David Lee, an Age UK
research fellow at the University
of Manchester’s School of Social
“This is the first nationally-
representative study to include
people over the age of 80 when
asking older men and women in
England about their sexual health,”
“ We hope our findings improve
public health by countering
stereotypes and misconceptions
about late-life sexuality, and offer
older people a reference against
which they may relate their own
experiences and expectations.
“Our ongoing research is also
highlighting the diversity of
late-life sexualities, and trying
to impose youthful norms of
sexual health on older people
would be over-simplistic and even
reported by sexually active women
related to becoming sexually
aroused, 32%, and achieving
orgasm, 27%, while for men it was
erectile difficulties, 39%.
Men were also more concerned
about their sexual activities and
function than women were,
and, with increasing age, these
concerns tended to become more
Sexually active women were less
dissatisfied with their overall sex
lives than men, and also reported
decreasing levels of dissatisfaction
with increasing age.
The study also found that many
septuagenarians and octogenarians
were still affectionate towards their
partners, with 31% of men and
20% of women reporting frequent
kissing or petting.
Among those who reported any
sexual activity in the past three
months, 1% of men and 10% of
women reported they felt obligated
to have sex.
The research paper, entitled Sexual
health and well-being among older
men and women in England,
is published in the American
academic journal, Archives of
Sexual Behaviour. — PA
Kim Jong-un to visit Russia
North Korea says Kim Jong-un will
visit Russia in May, his first foreign trip
of the “supreme leader” since coming to
power three years ago.
The heads of State of North Korea
and 19 other countries have already
confirmed their participation in the
commemoration of the 70th anniversary
in May of the World War Two victory
over Nazi Germany, according to South
Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoting a
Russian government spokesman.
The spokesman however, did not
specifically mention Kim’s name, leaving
room for ambiguity as North Korea
also has an honorary head of State in
the form of Presidium of the Supreme
Assembly President Kim Yong-nam .
But it is believed that it will be
supreme leader Kim who will attend
the commemoration in Moscow, since
Russian President Vladimir Putin had
personally sent him an invitation last
Kim’s trip is expected to be a significant
one as he has never met with other
heads of State since coming to power in
December 2011, following the death of
his father Kim Jong-il.
Analysts view the possible visit to
Moscow as another sign of growing
closeness between North Korea and
Russia, which in the last few months
have broadened their ties with several
agreements for joint initiatives, including
an ambitious rail project.
Choe Ryong-hae, considered the No 3
in the North Korean regime, met with
Putin in November in Russia, where
both parties underlined the need to
increase bilateral co-operation.
Analysts have also pointed out that
Kim’s visit to Moscow could, however,
annoy China which is North Korea’s
historic ally and main economic
In contrast to the closeness with Russia,
relations between North Korea and
China have dampened since Pyongyang
conducted its third nuclear test at the
beginning of 2013. — EF E
Glitter in tears
over child porn case
star Gary Glitter broke
down in tears as he tried
to explain to jurors in
London why he had been
in possession of child
in the witness box, the
70-year-old said he had
been in a bad place in his
life, and was struggling
financially, with alcohol
and with drugs.
He issued a tearful
apology to his fans saying: “I lost my
own dignity, and I am so sorry. I am very
“I am sorry today and every day of my
life ever since. I am sorry to my fans.”
In November 1997, when Glitter went
to pick up a Toshiba laptop he had given
for ser vicing at a Bristol PC World, he
was arrested, Southwark Crown Court
in London heard.
The engineer who examined the
machine had discovered images on it
related to child pornography.
admitted responsibility for
a “ large number” of images
— depicting a full range of
sexual activity taking place
between men and very
young children — being on
Glitter — real name Paul
Gadd — is accused of one
count of attempted rape
and another of indecent
assault on a girl under the
age of 13 in 1975.
Glitter is also accused
of two counts of indecent
assault with regard to another fan he
is said to have assaulted after inviting
her to his dressing room after a concert
between October 1979 and December
In connection with a third complainant,
who was under the age of 16, he is
charged with two counts of indecent
assault between October 1979 and
The singer, from Marylebone in central
London, denies all the charges against
him. — PA
War against IS spreads to Twitter
The fight against Islamic State
jihadists is taking place on-line as
well on the battlefield, with 18,000
Twitter accounts linked to the
group suspended in recent months,
according to a United States expert.
significant pressure, with the most
active and viral users taking the
brunt of the suspensions,” J M
Berger, a fellow at the Brookings
Institution who tracks militants
on social media, told lawmakers
Twitter has suspended nearly 800
confirmed IS accounts since the fall
of last year but this “may be the tip
of the iceberg,” as almost 18,000
accounts “related” to the jihadist
network were suspended over the
same time period, according to a
forthcoming sur vey by Berger and
another expert, Jonathon Morgan.
Although tens of thousands
of Twitter accounts remain on-
line, advocates for the IS group
on-line have called the suspensions
“devastating,” Berger told the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The IS group had been able
to operate on social media with
relative ease until recently.
But — after IS released a grisly
video in August of the beheading
of American journalist James Foley
Twitter, Facebook and You
Tube have instituted stricter rules
to ferret out posts that support
“terrorism,” he said.
The suspensions have targeted
the most active Twitter accounts,
hampering the IS group’s
propaganda efforts, but has left
intact less active accounts —
enabling spy agencies to monitor the
group’s backers, according to Berger.
“ I believe the current environment
is approaching the right balance
of pressure on Isis networks,
degrading its ability to achieve its
goals while still allowing the US
to exploit open source intelligence
from the network of members and
supporters on-line,” he said.
There are at least 45,000 Twitter
accounts used by IS supporters,
including those created and
suspended in recent months, he
said. — AFP
Internet giant Google said overnight
its video-sharing website You Tube is
so inundated that staff cannot filter all
terror related content, complicating
the struggle to halt the publication of
terrorist propaganda and hostage videos.
Google public policy manager Verity
Harding said that about 300 hours of
video material is being uploaded to You
Tube every minute, making it virtually
impossible for the company to filter all
Harding spoke at a European
Parliament meeting of the ALDE
liberal group on a counter-terrorism
She said that “to pre-screen those
videos before they are uploaded would
be like screening a phone call before it’s
The European Union’s counter-
terror chief believes it is time to help
companies to contain the security risk
by having experts from member states
flagging terror-related content.
“ We have to help them, and refer to
them, and signal content,” Gilles de
Kerchove said. “Each member State
should have a unit with people trained
to do that. ”
On You Tube, users can highlight
problem videos and have them reviewed
by a member of staff.
When a Scotland Yard unit recently
told Google about material that did
not comply with the company ’s own
guidelines, de Kerchove said 93% of
that content was removed. But when
individuals flag up problems only a third
of it is taken down.
Detecting violent, extreme and racist
material is a mammoth task. But
concerted, targeted warnings from
organised groups work best.
“There are community groups and
others who do this on a larger scale and
they ’re incredibly helpful to us,” Harding
Despite the serious threat posed by
extreme and violent videos, neither
the big internet companies nor the
European Union appear willing to take
on a legal battle to enforce their removal.
“ We can contemplate legislation
but I suspect it would be an awfully
monumental exercise,” de Kerchove said.
You Tube so overloaded
staff cannot filter content
The post-mortem examination
on the body of poisoned Russian
former spy Alexander Litvinenko
was described as one of the most
dangerous ever on day two of an
inquiry into his death.
Litvinenko died in a London
hospital on November 23, 2006,
three weeks after drinking tea
infused with deadly polonium-210
at a luxury hotel in the city’s
Medical staff had to don two
white safety suits, protective gloves
and special hoods to conduct the
examination a week later which
determined how he died.
They found that the 43-year-old
had orally ingested a large quantity
Dr Nathaniel Cary, the pathologist
who led the examination, told the
public inquiry into Litvinenko’s
death overnight: “It has been
described as the most dangerous
post-mortem examination ever
undertaken in the western world
and I think that is probably right ”.
Hours after drinking the tea,
Litvinenko suffered from sickness
and stomach pains. He later lost
all his hair and died 22 days after
the meeting from a cardiac arrest
caused by organ malfunction.
Cary said that the polonium-210
was the “smoking gun in the case
— it shows you what happened”.
British police have named two
chief suspects they want to question
in connection with Litvinenko’s
death — Andrei Lugovoi and
Dmitri Kovtun — but Russia
refuses to extradite them.
The inquiry also heard from the
first of a string of witnesses expected
to give evidence in secret due to the
sensitivity of their testimony.
The witness, a specialist in
nuclear science, confirmed that
a teapot from the hotel which
had been found to have traces of
polonium-210 was likely the source
of the contamination. She added it
was impossible to know where the
substance had come from.
The expert estimated some 100g
of polonium-210 were produced
globally each year, the vast majority
in Russia. — AFP
Autopsy on Russian ex-spy ‘most dangerous’
A treasure hunter who allegedly
defrauded investors after recovering
tens of millions of dollars worth of gold
from a shipwreck was arrested in south
Florida after years on the run and was
due to appear in federal court there
Tommy Thompson was detained
yesterday at a Hilton hotel in Palm Beach
County, Barry Golden, spokesman for
the US Marshals Ser vice in the southern
district of Florida, said.
US marshals in Ohio said Thompson
would be extradited in a matter of days
to that State, where he was charged in
2012 with criminal contempt for failing
to appear in federal court to reveal the
location of gold and funds from his
Thompson was arrested with a woman,
Alison Antekeier, who also has an
outstanding arrest warrant in Ohio,
according to Golden. They appeared to
have been living in the hotel for about
Thompson is a defendant in federal
and state civil lawsuits that accuse him of
cheating investors who put money into
his expedition, according to a criminal
complaint in the southern district of
Ohio that was unsealed overnight.
Thompson used sonar and robotic
technology to discover the shipwrecked
SS Central America in a 1988
expedition. The ship carried as much as
21 tonnes of gold from the California
mines when it sank in 1857 off the coast
of South Carolina.
More than 400 people drowned and
the loss of the gold contributed to a US
According to the criminal complaint,
Exploration, brought up gold coins
and bars worth up to $400 million. But
previous reports have estimated the
recovery at more than $40 million.
In 2012, federal agents came close
to tracking down Thompson and
Antekeier in Vero Beach, Florida, where
they had lived in a multi-million-dollar
mansion under false names and had led
a cash-only existence for at least eight
According to the criminal complaint
they paid rent with damp bills that
they had buried underground, and
used 12 different cellphones to talk to
Thompson’s children and to lawyers.
gold from the wreck of the Central
Marine Exploration said last May that
it had recovered some $1.3m of gold
from the site after it was hired by the
court-appointed receiver that took over
Thompson’s company during his legal
battles with creditors and investors.
Fugitive US treasure
Links Archive January 28th 2015 January 30th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page