Home' Greymouth Star : February 2nd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, February 2, 2015 - 5
Taeiman died this week
on a remote Yemeni road,
a casualty of a United
States drone campaign
against the local branch of
al Qaeda that seems to be sliding into
The sixth-grader’s death as he
returned home with a family friend
aroused the kind of anger that has
long helped al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP) to recruit
But in recent months convulsions
in Yemeni politics have pushed
President Barack Obama’s strategy
close to failure as the group, known
locally as Ansar al-Shariah, has
broken out of its mountain bastions
to stage attacks across the country.
While the exact circumstances
of last Monday’s incident remain
unc lear, relatives say the boy was
travelling in a car with the family
friend, Abdullah al-Zindani, to his
village in the central province of
Returning from visiting an
acquaintance in southern Yemen, they
were driving along a 160km road that
threads its way between mountains
and desert. But just after 11am,
cellphones of people in their home
area began beeping with pictures
showing the remains of a black
Suzuki, hit by what appeared to have
been a devastating force.
“Zindani’s name started circulating,
and I knew my brother was with
him,” Mohammed’s 17-year-old
brother, Ezz el-Deen, said. “ My
brother was not armed. Mohammed
was killed, he was a child,” Ezz
el-Deen, who himself sur vived a
drone strike that killed his father and
brother in 2011, said.
“ Bring justice to those who killed
him other wise we will cut off the oil,
we will be saboteurs. We will join
Ansar al-Shariah,” he yelled down the
The drone campaign against
AQAP, Obama’s preferred tactic in
fighting the Sunni Muslim group
that claimed responsibility for the
attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper
in Paris on January 7, has always
caused public anger in Yemen. Critics
say the attacks often kill low-level
militants and sometimes civilians,
not the top plotters Washington says
it goes after.
But AQAP has begun winning
more allies among Yemen’s majority
Sunnis since Shi’ite Houthi rebels
began pushing into the capital Sanaa
and other areas in September.
Last year, a Yemeni army campaign
backed by US drone strikes tried
to dislodge AQAP from the south,
where it had training camps in
mountainous regions, mostly
coexisting with local villagers.
But less than a year later, AQAP
attacks have happened in provinces
across Yemen, partly because
militants were often allowed to leave
their bastions in deals with tribesmen
who did not want the army to fight in
their back yards.
The rapid rise of the Iranian-allied
Houthis as Yemen’s main power
has prompted some Sunni tribes to
join AQAP in fighting the Zaydi
Shi’ites, whom the militants view as
“The Sunni tribes are enemies of the
Houthis but they can’t confront them
alone,” a local journalist who has
contacts with AQAP, Abdulrazzaq
al-Jamal, said. “For al Qaeda that is a
big victory — for the tribes to join it
in one war, that has never happened
Evidence of this alliance is
growing. Ibb and Hodeidah, two
provinces that experienced little
AQAP violence before the Houthis
arrived, now suffer frequent attacks.
In the coastal city of Hodeidah, port
worker Sharaf al-Batool said “big
operations” by al Qaeda had become
a feature of life after the Houthis
The Houthis say they are fighting
AQAP to protect members of their
community, but they are also stirring
April Longley Alley, of the
International Crisis Group, said the
Houthis were winning some victories
against al Qaeda. But if they did
not help to build a legitimate state,
they “are going to unintentionally
strengthen (al Qaeda) recruitment,”
Despite a power vacuum since
President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi
resigned last month in a stand-
off with the Houthis, Monday ’s
drone strike in Marib suggests the
campaign will continue.
Local officials had said three
suspected al Qaeda militants were
killed. It later emerged that one of
them was the schoolboy. One tribal
official has said Mohammed was also
part of AQAP, despite his family’s
The boy’s uncle, also named
Mohammed, said Zindani was a
militant. “Zindani was Ansar al-
Sharia. But he had no enmity towards
anyone,” he said.
This may suggest why the car was
targeted, but Zindani was by no
means regarded as a senior militant.
US officials acknowledge increasing
difficulty in gathering intelligence for
the drone strikes.
Critics say murky intelligence from
informants can lead to disasters.
“America gives the spies a SIM card
. . . theSIMcardisstuckonacar
that has al Qaeda members inside it
and then it’s hit after the spy gives a
signal,” Jamal said. “(America) may
not know who is being targeted
specifically, but knows that there are
people in this car who are al Qaeda.”
Brandon Bryant quit as a US drone
sensor operator in 2011, disillusioned
by his mission. “ We supposedly
knew the ID of who owned the
SIM or cell (phone), not who was
currently in possession of it,” he
said, describing this as “guesswork,
still not enough to justify a targeted
“ Drone strikes just make matters
worse,” he said. “ It insults our ‘enemy ’
because we’re using an extreme
technological advantage while at the
same time keeping those that use
it safe and out of harm’s way.” —
US drone strategy in trouble
PICTURE: Getty Images
A United States Predator drone is prepared for a night mission.
Japan condemns beheading
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has
denounced as “ heinous and despicable”
the apparent beheading of a second
Japanese hostage by the Islamic State
group, as global leaders denounced the
IS claimed in a video released on-line
yesterday that it had killed 47-year-old
Kenji Goto — the second beheading of a
Japanese hostage in a week — but made
no mention of a captured Jordanian pilot
it had also threatened to kill.
Jordan “will do everything it can” to
save the pilot ’s life and secure his release,
government spokesman Mohammed
al-Momeni told the official Petra news
agency in Amman.
Goto, a respected war correspondent,
is seen in an orange outfit — similar to
those worn by Guantanamo Bay inmates
kneeling next to a standing masked
man dressed head-to-toe in black with
his face covered.
The man, who speaks with a British
accent, appears to be the same IS
militant who has featured in previous
He directly addresses Abe, saying
the killing was the result of “reckless”
decisions by the Japanese government
a possible reference to aid money
that Tokyo gave to help refugees fleeing
IS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq
and would mark the beginning of a
“nightmare for Japan”.
The brief video, whose content has not
been verified, ends with the image of a
body and a decapitated head on top of it.
“After an extensive review, we
believe it’s highly probable” the video
is authentic, government spokesman
Yoshihide Suga said.
Japan’s premier, who appeared on the
verge of tears, pledged not to back down
and said his government would increase
humanitarian aid to the Middle East.
“I am extremely angry about these
heinous and despicable terrorist acts. We
will never forgive terrorists,” he told a
crush of reporters at his office.
“ We will co-operate with the
international community to make them
atone for their crimes,” Abe said.
“I can’t find the words to describe how
I feel about my son’s very sad death,” a
sobbing Junko Ishido, Goto’s mother,
His brother Junichi Goto said he had
been holding out hope, “but that ’s not
possible any more”.
Officially pacifist Japan has long
avoided getting embroiled in Middle
East conflicts and is rarely the target of
religious extremism, so the hostage crisis
has been especially shocking for the
Many braved Tokyo’s chilly streets to
pick up the Yomiuri newspaper’s special
supplement about the Goto video.
United States President Barack Obama
led international condemnation of the
“ heinous murder”.
“Through his reporting, Mr Goto
courageously sought to convey the plight
of the Syrian people to the outside
world,” Obama said.
A spokesman for United Nations chief
Ban Ki-moon said the “barbaric murder
underscores the violence that so
many have been subjected to in Iraq and
Paris and London also denounced
the video, with British Prime Minister
David Cameron saying it was “a further
reminder that (IS) is the embodiment of
evil, with no regard for human life”.
The militant group has imposed a
brutal version of Islamic law in territory
it controls in Syria and Iraq. It has
murdered both locals and foreigners,
including two US journalists, an
American aid worker and two British
aid workers. — AFP
An Islamic State fighter stands next to a man kneeling on the ground purported to be Japanese journalist
Kenji Goto in an unknown location in this still image from video released by Islamic State and obtained
from Site Intel Group website.
Jordan said overnight it was still ready
to hand over a jailed Iraqi militant to
Islamic State in a swap deal if a captured
Jordanian pilot was released, even after
a second Japanese hostage was beheaded
by the hardline group.
Jordan’s security and military agencies
were making constant checks to see
whether the pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh,
was still alive, government spokesman
Mohammad al-Momani said.
Kasaesbeh was captured in December
after his F-16 fighter crashed in territory
controlled by the militants in Syria.
“ We are still ready to hand over the
convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for
the return of our son and our hero,”
There has been public pressure on
Jordan to negotiate with Islamic State,
an offshoot of al Qaeda which has seized
territory in Syria and Iraq. Protests
have erupted in Karak, home town of
the pilot, who is from an important
Jordanian tribe that forms the backbone
of support for the Hashemite monarchy.
Jordan’s government also condemned
the purported beheading of Japanese
journalist Kenji Goto, shown in an
Islamic State video released late
yesterday. Goto had been held captive
along with Kasaesbeh but the footage
made no mention of the Jordanian.
A palace statement said King Abdullah
received a phone call from Japanese
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe thanking
him for his efforts to try to secure the
release of Goto “who was killed in cold
blood and without any justification”.
The monarch was also quoted as saying
the “cowardly criminal act ” was rejected
by all laws and had nothing to do with
Islamic State has demanded the release
of Rishawi in exchange for the pilot ’s
life. She was jailed by Jordan for her
role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that
killed 60 people in the capital Amman.
Jordan still set for prisoner swap
returning to Aust
Al Jazeera reporter Peter
Greste will return home
to Australia after being
released from an Egyptian
jail following a 400-day
A Cairo airport official
confirmed Greste left the
city on an Egypt Air flight
to Larnaca, Cyprus that
took off shortly after 4pm
local time yesterday (11pm
Greste’s brother, Andrew, confirmed
the release in a brief statement and said
on Twitter the ex-BBC reporter was “on
his way home”.
“ We’re ecstatic that Peter has been
released and we now ask if the world
could respect his privacy, to give him
time to appreciate his freedom before he
faces the media,” Andrew Greste said in
Earlier, a senior interior ministry
official said there had been a decision to
deport Greste to his home country.
“There is a presidential decision to
deport Peter Greste to Australia,” the
Greste had been sentenced to seven
years in prison along with a fellow Al
Jazeera reporter, Canadian-Egyptian
Mohamed Fahmy, for allegedly aiding
the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood
Their Egyptian Al Jazeera colleague
Baher Mohamed was also sentenced to
Local reports suggested Fahmy would
be deported to Canada within days but
there was no word on the
fate of Mohamed.
Greste and Fahmy are
eligible for deportation
under a recent law enacted
by President Abdel Fattah
deportation of foreigners
to stand trial or ser ve their
sentences in their home
There is no prospect
Greste or Fahmy would
face trials in their home
Greste was arrested in December 2013
and jailed last June on charges including
spreading false news. He and all of the
defendants denied the charges against
them and said their trial was a sham.
Egypt ’s president said in November
he was considering the possibility of
granting pardons to the two foreign
Al Jazeera journalists.
In January, Egypt’s top court ordered a
retrial of all three men.
Al Jazeera welcomed Greste’s release
and called on Egypt to also release
Fahmy and Mohamed.
“ Peter’s integrity is not just intact,
but has been further enhanced by the
fortitude and sacrifice he has shown for
his profession of informing the public,”
acting director of the Doha-based
network, Mostefa Souag, said.
“ We will not rest until Baher and
Mohamed also regain their freedom.
“The Egyptian authorities have it in
their power to finish this properly today,
and that is exactly what they must do. ”
Counting in five seats will determine
if Labor wins majority government in
Counting was still under way in
many seats across the State, with Labor
projected to win 43 of the 45 seats it
needs to form government in the 89-seat
The Liberal National Party held 39
seats, Katter’s Australia Party held two
and independent Peter Wellington
retained his seat.
Labor needs to win only two more
seats to form majority government in
the Sunshine State.
One of those seats is increasingly likely
to be Maryborough where Labor’s Bruce
Saunders was leading leading the LNP ’s
Anne Maddern by about 1200 votes.
Labor has a distinct chance of picking
up Whitsunday as well where the LNP ’s
Jason Costigan was a mere 84 votes
ahead Bronwyn Taha.
Less than 1000 votes were also
separating Labor and LNP in Mansfield,
in Brisbane’s south, and Glass House in
the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
The seat of Gaven on the Gold Coast
is increasingly likely to be retained by
the LNP, where the party was ahead of
Labor by over 2000 votes.
Queensland (ECQ) says it has directed
more staff to the five seats to speed up
the counts and find out the overall result
more quickly. “ The ECQ is aware that
it ’s crucial to determine the outcome
in those marginal seats quickly so the
wheels of government can begin to turn
again,” a spokesman said.
Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk
told the party faithful she was “very
hopeful” of forming government.
Votes cast on Saturday, as well as pre-
poll and postal votes, would continue
to be counted. The official deadline for
postal votes is 10 days after the election,
but the wait for a victor is unlikely to
drag out that long.
If Labor claims victory, it will be an
extraordinary comeback after the party
was written off three years ago.
The decimated LNP has already lost
its leader, Campbell Newman, who
announced his retirement from politics
on Saturday night when he was ousted
from his Ashgrove electorate. — AAP
Five seats key to
The British coastguard has called off
the search for a man who is missing at
sea after he was caught by a large wave
as he reportedly spread his sister’s ashes.
The 51-year-old, named as Shane
Galliers, was last seen at Port William
on the north Cornwall coast on Saturday.
Two other members of the group he
was with went into the sea in an attempt
to rescue him but were unsuccessful.
Members of his family said he was
scattering his sister’s ashes when he
slipped into the water. — PA
Simon Cowell was left feeling rather
“ruff ” after he was hypnotised during a
Britain’s Got Talent audition — by a dog.
Cowell apparently slumped for ward in
his judge’s seat and on to his desk after
staring into the animal’s eyes.
The 55-year-old was holding auditions
at Manchester’s Lowry Theatre when
he fell under the spell of “Hypnodog”,
a black German Spitz called Princess,
owned by performer Krystyna Lennon.
A spokesman for the show said he had
recovered after his episode.
“It happened on Friday and he returned
to auditions yesterday. He was fine. ”
Hypnodog is a canine stage hypnotist
based in Leeds, west Yorkshire, and
has performed at universities around
Britain, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival,
music festivals such as the V Festival and
at Reading, as well as on cruise ships,
at hotels and in casinos, according its
website. — PA
Simon Cowell hypnotised by dog
Man washed away scattering sister’s ashes
The fate of a Jordanian pilot held
by Islamic State has raised public
pressure on King Abdullah over his
country’s role in the United States-
led military campaign against the
hardline group in Syria, fuelling the
risk of broader discontent in the US
After his capture in December,
militants released pictures of the
young pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh
being led out of the water by
fighters. His F-16 fighter had
crashed on to the bank of the
Euphrates River in Islamic State’s
stronghold in northern Syria.
The images of the young, newly-
wed pilot shocked Jordanians and
brought home the stakes of the
US-ally’s involvement the war.
King Abdullah has defended the
campaign, saying that moderate
Muslims need to combat a group
whose ideology and brutality have
insulted the spirit of Islam.
But in Kasaesbeh’s hometown
of Karak dozens of young people
protested, chanting anti-coalition
slogans and calling on the King to
pull out of the campaign.
“ We will not be a sacrificial cow
for America!” angry youths chanted
last month in a city whose tribes
have long been a bulwark of support
for the Hashemite monarchy.
Although few believe the crisis
will compel Jordan to withdraw
completely from the campaign, it
may take a more low-key role like
in the past, analysts and diplomats
King Abdullah’s father, King
Hussein, did not take part in a
US-led military campaign against
former Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussein after his invasion of
Kuwait in 1990, going along with
public opinion which was against
By contrast, his son has taken
a bolder role in this campaign by
sending its combat aircraft to Syria
the first time Jordan took part
on bombing missions abroad rather
than just providing intelligence and
King Abdullah’s stance stems
from his concern about the
heightened threat of jihadis to his
kingdom. Al Qaeda launched a
series of deadly attacks in Jordan
including a bombing on a hotel in
Amman in 2005, killing 60 people.
Islamic State has called for the
release of Sajida al-Rishawi, one
of the hotel attackers who was
convicted after her explosive belt
failed to detonate. It has said it will
spare Kasaesbeh’s life if she is let go
but has not said it will release the
Seeking to rally his people, King
Abdullah has said concern about the
pilot ’s plight united all Jordanians
and his capture proved the war
must be won. But as he comforted
Kasaesbeh’s parents and wife in the
royal palace, demonstrations took
“There is not a hour in the day
that me and the armed forces are
not working on this, our hero the
pilot. Unfortunately the war today
is one within the Islamic world and
it ’s our war,” the king told a group
of tribal elders in a visit 10 days
The case has polarised Jordanians.
Nationalists say it is not time for
recriminations and have called for
rallying behind the throne while
others say they will lay the blame
on the country’s political rulers if
the pilot is killed.
“People will blame the Jordanian
regime and they will say why
did you send him to this war. No
one will blame Islamic State if it
executes him, it will only increase
support for them,” Ali Dalaen,
a former deputy from the pilot ’s
home town, said.
He led a demonstration on Friday
calling for an end to military
involvement and accusing the
government of not negotiating
seriously with Islamic State.
Some Jordanians have even raised
fears that Jordan would send land
troops to battle Islamic State,
which is also known by the Arabic
“ We insist this is not our war and
if Daesh unfortunately sacrifices
our son, we hope the wisdom
of the government and the king
would be furthest away from
participating in a land campaign,”
Hind al-Fayez, a deputy from the
powerful Bani Sakhr tribe, said.
Her comments provoked a strong
Islamic State has released three
emotive videos in response to
repeated appeals by the family.
The group says their son’s bombing
missions had been responsible for
the deaths of women and children.
Obser vers say Islamic State is
trying to deepen domestic rifts in
a country whose security forces
are growing increasingly alarmed
by the appeal of jihadist ideology,
especially in impoverished cities
across the kingdom.
Dozens of youths even from the
pilot ’s home town have travelled
over the border to fight alongside
hardline groups in Syria and as far
away as Afghanistan.
“ It ’s an impossible situation for
( Jordan). They don’t have a decent
hand,” a western diplomat in
“ It ’s clear that Daesh (Islamic
State) is looking to manipulate the
political space with Jordan, and
unfortunately they are very adept at
that.” — Reuters
Captured pilot poses
dilemma for Jordan
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