In Other News
Saadi Qaddafi, son of former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Qaddafi was extradited from Niger back to Libya on March 6 to stand trial for crimes allegedly committed during his father's rule. Saadi is the most recent fugitive whom the Libyan government has extradited from Niger. In February Abdallah Mansur, a former top intelligence official and fifteen other former Libyan officials were sent back to Libya after Niger accused them of plotting to overthrow the current Libyan government. In 2011 Interpol issued a "red notice," requiring member countries to arrest him. Niger had previously declined to extradite Saadi due to concerns that he would be executed upon return.
Newly appointed head of the Crimean Security Service, Petr Zima, said March 3 that he plans to take measures against Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist organization with a following among the Crimean Tatars. "Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir is recognized as a terrorist organization," he announced in a televsied statement. "Today there are elements of this organization in Crimea. Corresponding functions are laid on the Crimean Security Service and we will struggle against them. Crimea's Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov added that officials will take measures, including using force, "against those who don't want to cooperate with official power." (InterFax, March 3) Zima's appointment comes just as Aksenov's government has welcomed Russian troops to Crimea, in defiance of authorities in Kiev.
Libya's parliament moved to a Tripoli hotel March 3, a day after protesters stormed the building, killing a guard and wounding six legislators. Protesters swept the parliament chamber while it was in session, firing live rounds, throwing bottles at lawmakers, and setting fire to furniture, while chanting "Resign, resign!" Elected after the 2011 uprising, the parliament has sparked popular anger by extending its mandate, which was meant to have expired on Feb. 7, until the end of December. For weeks, hundreds of protesters have held daily demonstrations demanding the parliament be dissolved. (Al Jazeera, March 3)
A gun and suicide bomb attack March 3 on a court complex in Islamabad, Pakistan, left 11 people dead and 25 injured. Additional Sessions Judge Rafaqat Awan, senior advocate Rao Abdul Rashid, advocate Tanveer Ahmend Shah, and several other members of court staff were among those killed in the first suicide attack in Islamabad since June 2011 and the deadliest since September 2008 when 60 people were killed by a truck bomb at the Marriott Hotel. The incident began around 9:00 AM local time, a time when crowds gather in the area, when gunmen entered the court complex and opened fire before the detonation of two suicide blasts. The attack comes shortly after the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) promised a month-long ceasefire and the government pledged to suspend air strikes against militants. A TTP spokesperson has announced that TTP was not involved. Ahrar-ul-Hind, a small group that told AFP it had no links with TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that they operate independently from TTP and do not favor the ceasefire or peace talks. A spokesperson for the group stated that their main issue with the talks was the lack of mention of the implementation of Sharia law.
Protesters tied up traffic in central Buenos Aires for more than five hours on Feb. 25 to press their demands for the center-left government of Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to increase pay and benefits in government antipoverty programs. Police rerouted traffic around the demonstration, which blocked cars and buses at the Obelisk in the Plaza de la República. The action was organized by several groups, including Barrios de Pie ("Neighborhoods Standing Up"), Polo Obrero ("Workers' Pole"), the Federation of Grassroots Organizations (FOB) and the Labor Association of Self-Managed and Contingent Cooperative Workers (Agtcap). Protest leaders held a meeting with government representatives during the protest, but these were "second-level functionaries," according to Barrios de Pie national coordinator Daniel Menéndez. "[T]he government is turning its back on the complaints of the lowliest people," he said.
The president of the Haitian Senate's Justice and Security Commission, Pierre Francky Exius, announced on Feb. 27 that the commission had summoned Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon and the command of the Haitian National Police (PNH) to testify about a crisis situation on Ile-à-Vache, a small island southeast of the city of Les Cayes in South department. Over the past month the police have beaten and shot at Ile-à-Vache residents protesting plans for a major tourism project on the island. Some protesters have fled the island, and one protest leader, a local police agent, has been arrested.
Fernando González, one of five Cuban agents charged with espionage by the US government in 1998, returned to Cuba on Feb. 28 after serving out a 15-year term in US prisons. Released from the federal correctional center in Safford, Arizona, on Feb. 27, González landed around noon the next day at Havana's José Martí International Airport, where he was met by Cuban president Raúl Castro. The Cuban government insists that its agents, who are widely known as the "Cuban Five," were never spying on the US and that their goal was only to gather information on terrorist plots by right-wing groups based in the Miami area.
Five people were killed under contested circumstances March 2 during elections in Nicaragua's two Caribbean autonomous regions. The incident occurred shortly before polling stations opened in Tortuguero, in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS). The Constitutionalist Liberal Party said the victims—all PLC adherents—were abducted from their homes and killed by unidentified assailants. Some were shot, others hacked with machetes, and at least one tortured before being killed, according to the PLC. Roberto Rivas, president of Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council, pointed to leaders of the Yatama (Mother Earth) indigenous party and local radio stations, accusing them of "calls for violence and disorder." When the National Police weighed in on the attacks, they said the victims were all members of a single family who were targeted by a criminal gang known as "Walpapina"—with no political motive mentioned. Nicaragua's ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) appears to have won a majority of seats on the regional councils of the RAAS and RAAN, followed by Yatama and the PLC. (AFP, TeleSur, March 3; La Prensa, Notimex, March 2)
Moscow police on March 2 arrested hundreds protesting against military intervention in Ukraine, a rights group said, after President Vladimir Putin won approval from senators to send troops into the neighboring country. Ovdinfo, a rights group that tracks arrests at demonstrations, said 352 were detained at two anti-war protests in central Moscow. Police gave a much lower figure of 50 people detained for "attempts to violate public order," according to Interfax news agency. Anti-war protesters gathered near the defence ministry in central Moscow, and at Manezhnaya square near the Kremlin. Demonstrators held up peace signs and posters saying "No to war," while some also held Ukrainian flags and ribbons in the national colors of yellow and light blue.
Local authorities in Kunming, capital of China's Yunnan province, said March 2 that a deadly mass knife attack at the city's main rail station that morning was "orchestrated by Xinjiang separatist forces," the official news agency Xinhua reported. At least 29 were killed and more than 130 injured as a group of black-clad men chased down and stabbed commuters in the early-morning rush hour. Five suspects were shot by police, and it is unclear how many may have escaped. President Xi Jinping pldged to respond "with all-out efforts and punish the terrorists in accordance with the law." (Xinhua, Xinhua, Xinhua, March 2)
A worker was wounded Feb. 17, when presumed Sendero Luminoso guerillas fired on a camp of the Camisea pipeline consortium at the remote jungle settlement of Cigakiato, Echarate district, La Convención province, Cuzco region. (AP, InfoRegión, Feb. 17) In seemingly coordinated attacks three days later, presumed Senderistas opened fire on two military outposts in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). The first attack at Counter-terrorist Base Unión Mantaro, Canaire district, Huanta province, Ayacucho region, apparently claimed no casualties or damage. In the second, at nearby Consorcio Vila Quinua, material damage to the outspot was reported. (La Voz de Huamangam, Feb. 20)
A startling report on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Feb. 28 tells of a "Jewish-led militia force" that participated in the Ukrainian revolution—called the the "Blue Helmets of Maidan" even though their helmets are (tellingly) brown, and under the command of a Ukraine-born veteran of the Israel Defense Forces who goes by the nom de guerre "Delta." In an interview, Delta boasted how he used combat skills gained in the Shu'alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the IDF's Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev's street fighters. He now heads a force of 40 men and women—including several fellow IDF veterans—that clashed with government troops in the street-fighting that brought down Viktor Yanukovich. Most bizarrely, Delta said he takes orders from activists linked to Svoboda, the ultra-nationalist party that is widely accused of anti-Semitism. "I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team," he said. "They know I'm Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me 'brother.' What they're saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact."
Militants from the Qaeda-aligned insurgent group ISIS destroyed a Sufi Muslim shrine as they advanced on Tal Maaruf village in Syria's Kurdish-majority Hassakeh province, residents said Feb. 27. ISIS militants "blew up the shrine, and burned a mosque and a police station," said Massoud Akko, a Kurdish journalist and native of Hassakeh province, told Lebanon's Daily Star. ISIS also came under fire in their stronghold of Raqqa, as even rival jihadists criticized the group’s intention to impose a special "jizya" tax on Chrsitians and other religious minorities in their areas of control—including the provincial capital.
A group of some 50 gunmen seized control of parliament and government buildings in Simferopol, capital of the Ukrainian region of Crimea, raising Russian flags above them Feb. 27—just as the US warned Russia that military exercises planned near the border of Ukraine could "lead to miscalculation." With the top floor of the building occupied by the gunmen, Crimea's parliament voted to hold a referendum on the region's future—whether to remain in Ukraine or join Russia. Earlier, in his first statement since being voted out of office by MPs last week, Ukraine's fugitive ex-president Viktor Yanukovich said he had been "compelled to ask the Russian Federation to ensure my personal security from the actions of extremists," and that he still considered himself the legitimate president of Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament in Kiev meanwhile voted to send Yanukovich to The Hague to be tried over the violence that led to at least 82 deaths in Kiev last week. (AFP, The Guardian, BBC News, Globe & Mail, Feb. 27; The Guardian, Feb. 25)
British police counter-terrorism forces announced on Feb. 25 the arrest of Moazzam Begg in his hometown of Birmingham, England, along with three other individuals on suspicion of terrorism offenses related to the war in Syria. Begg was a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, and he was one of the last detainees from the UK to be returned. British authorities have expressed concern about their citizens fighting in jihadist groups in Syria, and Begg is the most high profile arrestee in connection with the UK's attempt to minimize influence in the Syrian conflict. The police reported Begg is suspected of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas. According to British counter-terrorism laws, the police are authorized to detain Begg for up to 14 days, and police will conduct a search of the arrestee's vehicles and electronic devices.