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Posts tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

Obama to Congress: Let Us Try Gitmo Prisoners in US.


President Barack Obama on Thursday gave credit to Congress for relaxing restrictions on transferring detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the custody of foreign governments but said lawmakers need to go further.

After signing the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014, Obama noted that Congress retained regulations that prevent the transfer of prisoners to American soil, where they could be tried in federal court.

“The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees,” Obama said in a signing statement released during his Hawaiian vacation.

Prosecuting alleged terrorists in U.S. federal court is “a legitimate, effective, and powerful tool in our efforts to protect the nation,” Obama said.

The United States also needs “flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers,” Obama said.

The regulations could remain an obstacle to the administration’s years-long bid to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, where 158 detainees from various countries remain after years of detention without trial at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. The prison has been condemned internationally.

While lawmakers of both political parties refused to yield on the ban against bringing prisoners to the United States, they were willing to relax rules for sending prisoners to their home countries.

Among the earlier restrictions was that the administration had to certify that the country where an inmate was being sent was not “facing a threat that is likely to substantially affect its ability to exercise control over the individual.” This had all but ruled out politically chaotic Yemen, which is home to the largest group of Guantanamo detainees.

Transfers had also been banned to countries that Washington designated “state sponsors of terrorism,” which made it difficult to move Syrian inmates. And prisoners in the past also could not be sent back to any country where previously released Guantanamo detainees had returned to “terrorist activity.”

Such rules will be lifted or significantly relaxed under the new law.

Even before the legislation was enacted, the administration had become more active in making transfers, sending two detainees each to Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians.


Image: Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians

VATICAN CITYPope Francis on Thursday denounced discrimination against Christians, including in countries where religious freedom is in theory guaranteed by law.

He delivered his traditional noon prayer and address to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. Stephen, its first martyr.

The 77-year-old Argentine pope asked the crowd for a moment of silent prayer for “Christians who are unjustly accused and are subjected to every type of violence.”

Francis, celebrating his first Christmas season as pope, said “limitations and discrimination” against Christians was taking place not only in countries that do not grant full religious freedom but also where “on paper, freedom and human rights are protected.”

“This injustice should be denounced and eliminated,” he said.

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Francis did not name any countries but the Vatican has long urged Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam’s holiest places, to lift a ban on Christians worshiping in public.This year there have been a number of incidents of intolerance and attacks against minority Christians in Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, and other countries where their rights are guaranteed by law.

Francis, departing from his prepared text, said he was sure that Christians suffering from either discrimination or violence were “more numerous today than in he early times of the Church.”

In the past, the Vatican has also expressed concern over what former Pope Benedict called “sophisticated forms of hostility” against Christians in rich countries, such as restricting use of religious symbols in public places.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

The Saudis Denies Its Cargo Plane That Closed Abuja Airport for 18 Hours Was Carrying Weapons.


Saudis plane

LEADERSHIP – It has been confirmed that the contents of the Saudi Arabian Airline that ran into some construction equipment at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Wednesday, December 04, 2013, were security hardware.

The plane landed at about 9:19pm that day and blocked the only major runway at the airport, delaying takeoff and landing of flights in the airport for over 20 hours.

LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported that the Saudi cargo plane was carrying 15 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) made in Russia, which compounded its immediate evacuation from the runway.

In a reaction to LEADERSHIP story, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia agreed that the plane originated from Saudi Arabia and was carrying bullet-proof cars made in South Africa.

In a letter, dated December 20 to LEADERSHIP, the Saudi Embassy clarified that the Boeing 747 plane marked K 74798 “was chartered by Saudi Arabia Airline, carrying bullet-proof cars and its final destination is Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

The detailed description of the content of the plane is as follows: a set of bullet-proof cars weighing 58 tonnes. Another set of five bullet-proof cars weighing 42 tonnes.

“The goods were a portion of a supply contract for 10 bullet-proof cars to a government agency in Nigeria, which were to be conveyed from Sharjah (UAE) via Abuja, through Fast Forward Cargo US UAC, to Defence Industries of Nigeria (DICON), 45 Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, through the company’s contact person: Mr Nwajpudu Livinston/CCC. The goods were manufactured in South Africa.”

The Saudis wanted the impression that the cargo plane was carrying weapons be corrected since the goods aboard the plane “were neither those considered as dangerous nor prohibited.”

The Nigerian aviation and military authorities had kept mum over the contents of the Saudi cargo plane despite reports of security hardware aboard it.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Food Supplier to US Afghan Troops Under Pentagon Probe.


The Pentagon is investigating whether the main food and water supplier to U.S. forces in Afghanistan illegally moved provisions bound for U.S. service members through an Iranian port, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Anham FZCO was awarded a contract by the United States Defense Logistics Agency in the summer of 2012 — worth an estimated $8.1 billion — to provide food, water, and produce to American forces throughout Afghanistan.
According to the Journal, Anham shipped equipment it needed to establish the infrastructure for its food supply system in Afghanistan — steel, tractors, and refrigeration panels — through the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
After Journal inquiries, the company notified U.S. government authorities that some supplies had been moved by its foreign subcontractors through Iran and that it was trying to determine what had happened.
While Iran is the least expensive and most straightforward route for moving supplies into Afghanistan, U.S. law prohibits conducting business with Iran as a way to pressure that country into curbing enrichment of uranium which the United States and its allies believe is part of Teheran’s push for nuclear weapons.
Two Republican senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte had called on the Pentagon’s Inspector General to probe whether Anham had done business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which has economic control over the Bandar Abbas port, according to the Journal.
Supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan is immensely complicated logistically.
While the U.S. troop presence is winding down, in 2012 the Pentagon needed to supply 250 locations and some 100,000 troops around Afghanistan. This required each week moving 22 million pounds of food, water, and produce.
Supplies need to be moved into the landlocked country, surrounded by Iran and Pakistan and in the north by Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Shipping through the former Soviet republics is said to be too expensive.

Pakistan has occasionally blocked U.S. shipments to protest drone strikes within its country.

Anham, headquartered in Dubai, was founded in 2004. Its principals have ties to predecessor companies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The company holds other lucrative contracts with the Pentagon elsewhere in the Middle East.
Anham’s Afghanistan bid was more than $1 billion lower than its main competitor, the Journal reported.
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© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

Saudi Arabia Must Face 9/11 Victims in Revived US Lawsuits.


NEW YORK — Lawsuits claiming Saudi Arabia aided al-Qaida and should be held liable for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack were revived by a U.S. appeals court in a decision that allows victims and their families another chance to seek compensation from the kingdom.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York Thursday said a lower-court judge “rested on an error of law” in rejecting a request to reopen the cases against the country’s government and an affiliated charity.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina won a ruling dismissing them from the lawsuits on the grounds that a foreign government is immune from suit.

Subsequently, the appeals court made inconsistent rulings on whether the terrorism claims made in the case fall under sovereign-immunity rule, according to yesterday’s opinion.

The lower-court judge should have granted a request to re- open the cases to allow the inconsistency to be addressed, the appeals court said.

The inconsistent rulings caused “a disparity” between two cases “where none should ever have existed,” the appeals court said.

“We conclude that the circumstances of this case are extraordinary,” warranting its re-opening the three-judge panel said in the ruling. The case will be returned to the lower-court judge for consideration as to whether it should move forward.

Michael Kellogg, a lawyer for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday seeking comment on the ruling.

Jerry S. Goldman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the decision is “soundly grounded and restores this case to the proper procedural posture.”

“This is a big step forward in the process of obtaining fair justice for the victims of this tragedy,” he said.

Goldman’s clients include family members of John O’Neill, a former federal counter-terrorism agent who had led investigations of Osama bin Laden and was working as the chief of security for New York’s World Trade Center when the attacks occurred.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest source of funds for militant Islamic groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a 2009 cable obtained by Wikileaks.

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Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most “significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” according to the cable.

Drew C. Bailey, a spokesman for the state department, declined to comment on the cable.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Sends 2 High-Risk Gitmo Prisoners to Saudi Arabia.


Two Guantanamo Bay prisoners have been transferred to Saudi Arabia as part of a renewed effort to close the offshore U.S. prison.

U.S. officials say the two Saudis have been transferred to the custody of their own government after a security review. The men are 35-year-old Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and 48-year-old Hamood Abdulla Hamood.

Neither man had been charged with a crime. U.S. records show both were suspected members of al-Qaida and were considered to be at high risk of rejoining the terror group if released. Dozens of prisoners have been transferred to Saudi Arabia and later released after going through a rehabilitation program.

The Pentagon said Monday the transfer brings the Guantanamo population to 160 prisoners. Two Algerians were released earlier this month and additional releases are expected.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Saudi Royal Family Member Blasts Obama’s Iran, Mideast Policy.


By Greg Richter

A member of the Saudi royal family told The Wall Street Journal his country should have a seat at the Iran nuclear negotiations.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, brother of Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, told The Journal that the Obama administration worked behind his country’s back to secure the recent deal allowing a lifting of sanctions for six months as talks continue.

Saudi Arabia and Israel, America‘s two closest allies in the region, both complained about the deal, saying it took them by surprise. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany were involved in the talks with Iran.

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In an interview The Journal characterized as rare in its bluntness, Prince Turki also talked about U.S. policy in Syria, which he characterized as bordering on “criminal negligence.”

President Barack Obama failed to take action against the Syrian government after warning that use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” demanding reprisals.

According to The New York Times, Prince Turki, said: “We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white.”

“The U.S. gave us the impression that they were going to do things in Syria that they finally didn’t,” Prince Turki said outside the World Policy Conference in Monaco. “The aid they’re giving to the Free Syrian Army is irrelevant. Now they say they’re going to stop the aid: OK, stop it. It’s not doing anything anyway.”

Prince Turki repeated the concerns of Israel and some members of Congress, who say the Iranian sanctions don’t go far enough to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“It’s important for us to sit down at the same table,” Prince Turki said. “We have been absent.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

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