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Police target top official in Delhi Games probe

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NEW DELHI – Indian police said Thursday they had registered a case against the director-general of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the most senior organiser of the tainted event named in a widening graft probe.


The Games were marred by venue delays and chaotic organisation

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokeswoman Vineeta Thakur told AFP that police had registered a first information report against V.K. Verma, the first step in criminal proceedings against an accused.

Verma was director-general in the organising committee of the October 3-14 Games, headed by its chairman, Suresh Kalmadi, who was quizzed by federal CBI detectives for eight hours on Wednesday.

“Verma is named as the key accused in the case which we have registered against him and four companies,” she said, adding that the four Delhi-based firms were searched on Thursday.

Police said the case against Verma related to contracts, reportedly worth six billion rupees (133.3 million dollars), awarded for the refurbishing of various stadiums of the scandal-hit Games.

Verma and the companies are suspected of cheating, criminal conspiracy and violating India’s tough anti-corruption laws.

In addition to searches at the four companies named in the case, CBI detectives carried out searches at another 10 premises in New Delhi and its suburbs on Thursday, a CBI source told AFP.

Police have so far charged three lower-ranking officials who are now in jail awaiting trial, but attention is turning to top managers, including Kalmadi, for their role.

The Games, which were marred by venue delays and chaotic organisation, were also hit by claims of massive financial irregularities as the budget ballooned three times to an estimated six billion dollars.

The national anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), received complaints alleging up to 1.8 billion dollars of Games money was misappropriated.

A initial report by the CVC into the Games confirmed the use of sub-standard construction materials in a host of Games-related building contracts and deliberate cost overruns.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seen as “Mr Clean” in his corruption-ridden administration, set up a panel after the Games ended to investigate graft claims. It is expected to deliver its preliminary report later this month.

The Games brought together 6,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories, mostly from the former British empire.

The Mystery Behind the Rockets from Sinai

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CNN

First, it was resolute denial. The Egyptian government declared that the two rockets that hit the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba earlier this week, killing a Jordanian taxi driver and injuring four others – as well as the rocket that hit near the Israeli port of Eilat – could not have come from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. Never mind that the rockets were of the regionally popular Grad variety, known to have a flight range of just 25 miles (40 km); that would take the volatile Gaza Strip – 190 miles (300 km) away – off the hook as the source. Egypt also said that its long expanse of desert in Sinai was not relevant to any investigation of where the rockets came from. Never mind that it is inhabited by an often rebellious Bedouin population implicated in previous terrorist attacks. Cairo said Egypt was too well monitored and too secure to be the launchpad for the rockets.


A damaged car sits at the site of a rocket attack in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, Jordan, on Monday, Aug. 2, 2010

Then, two days after its denials, after discovering evidence of a misfired rocket in the Sinai desert, Egypt admitted, grudgingly, that the rockets came from Egyptian territory. But it said Hamas, which rules Gaza, is to blame.

Israel and some Jordanian officials have also pointed the finger at Hamas, the Islamist group that seized control of the Strip in 2007 after routing forces loyal to its rival, Western-backed Fatah faction, which continues to govern the West Bank. It’s an easy accusation to make. Hamas has often been accused by Israel, Fatah and neighboring Arab states of instigating violence to derail peace negotiations.

But with no real evidence beyond the suggested motives, the rocketing of Aqaba and Eilat remains a whodunit. Hamas, ever wary of Israeli retaliation, has vehemently denied responsibility for the attacks. Fringe Islamist groups within Gaza have defied Hamas’ official rocket ban in the past, and it’s likely that Palestinian or Islamist extremists were behind the attack. Some observers have suggested that Bedouin smugglers in Sinai – under pressure from a shrinking Gaza smuggling industry after Israel loosened its blockade – had hoped to reignite tensions in order to buttress their role as intermediaries in the Palestinian enclave’s economy.

In any event, leaders of Sinai’s Bedouin communities say they are on edge, tensely expecting that Bedouin could take some of the blame, as they have for previous terrorist attacks in Egypt. And in Taba, the Sinai border resort town directly adjacent to Eilat and Aqaba, the unease is palpable. “The tourist industry is sleeping right now,” says Mahmoud, a Bedouin taxi driver who declined to give his last name. “There’s a war,” he adds, driving down an empty road past the Taba Hilton, where a 2004 bombing killed more than 30 people. “Everyone says the rockets came from Sinai, but we don’t know who launched them.”

“If it is true [that the attacks originated in Sinai], it will affect the Bedouin of Sinai,” says Abu Mohammed, a sheik from the Sawarka tribe of northern Sinai, near the Gazan border. “The government could arrest 200 to 300 people all because of one person. It could be a big problem.”

Egyptian media and wire reports, quoting unnamed security sources, said Egyptian security forces were combing the mountainous desert around Taba and had enlisted the help of 100 Bedouin to conduct the search. It’s not the first time Bedouin cooperation has been utilized for such a mission; following a series of terrorist bombings of Sinai resort areas from 2004 to 2006, the government says, Bedouin tribesmen helped track down dozens of locals it believed to be implicated in the attacks. But thousands of Bedouin were arrested in the process. And despite several highly publicized goodwill gestures by the Cairo regime in the past few months – including the release of hundreds of jailed Bedouin and the announcement of new job initiatives in the area – the police brutality and discrimination of recent years continue to dominate the consciousness of many in Egypt’s desert border zone. Says Abu Mohammed: “Until today, the government has released 180 people who were imprisoned. But there are still 200 to 300 who are in jail.”

But Beshir Abdel Fattah, a security analyst and Sinai expert at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, believes that the Egyptian government knows better than to repress the Sinai Bedouin. “There is a new era in the relationship between the police and the Bedouin,” he says. “[State authorities] know that not all Bedouin are responsible for this.”

Nevertheless, there is still nervousness. To the southwest of Abu Mohammed’s village, a road connects northern Sinai to the south at the sleepy town of Nakhl, continuing from there through rocky desert and rose-hued craggy mountains to Taba. It’s a few hours’ drive along a route that is mostly empty – and often breathtaking. But it’s a road that for years, and despite the recent talk, no foreigner has been allowed to follow. It’s too dangerous, explain some of the drivers who ply Sinai’s desert roads. They cite Bedouin-government tensions for their reluctance. To get to the area where Egypt meets Gaza, the drivers insist on a circuitous alternative: a seven-hour route that takes you out of Sinai and bypasses the center of the peninsula before heading back in to reach the troublesome border with the Hamas-ruled strip.

British special forces caught dressed as Arab ‘terrorists’

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Paksiasat.com

British soldiers have been caught posing as Arabs and shooting Iraqis in the occupied city of Basra in southern Iraq. A group of them was caught yesterday by Iraqi police. They were driving an Iraqi car, wearing Arab clothing, and carrying weapons and explosives.

The Iraqi police were patrolling the area looking for suspected “terrorists” or “insurgents”, and they noticed that the men were acting suspiciously. Suddenly, without warning, the suspicious men started shooting at people, but the new Iraqi security forces managed to capture some of them before they could escape. Obviously, if these men had not been caught, the mass media would now be reporting the incident as just another attempt by evil “terrorists” to create civil war in Iraq.

There have been a number of incidents in this area and throughout Iraq in which police and civilians have been targeted and killed by “terrorists” or “insurgents”. But this is the first time that any of those responsible have been caught in the act, and it is now clear that at least some of them are working directly for the occupying forces, as many Iraqis have openly suspected all along.

A few days ago, in a statement unreported in the corporate mass media, Iran’s most senior military official specifically linked the instability in Iraq with agents of the US and its allies: “we have information that the insecurity has its roots in the activities of American and Israeli spies.”

The post-war violence in Iraq is always been blamed on “Islamic extremists” or “rival ethnic factions”. Yet in the history of the country, nothing like this has ever happened before. The problems began precisely when the US and UK seized control.

The Iraqi police arrested the men and put them in prison. Unfortunately the police never had a chance to question the men and find out exactly what they were doing, because within minutes the UK sent in six tanks and an elite SAS unit to break their terrorists out of jail.

During the illegal prison break Iraqi officials were held at gunpoint, much of the jail was demolished, and all of the other criminals and insurgents were set free. The US and UK do not hesitate to use violence and terror to achieve their objectives, no matter what the consequences.

The official explanation for the illegal jail break is that somebody thought the British men might be taken away by a gang of Iraqi resistance fighters and never seen again. This is blatantly nonsense, of course, because the entire prison was entirely surrounded by British tanks and troops. With the full force of the British military at hand, the terrorists were rescued quickly and easily.

As further details emerge, the Western media increasingly presents conflicting reports about the nature and sequence of events, and the official British sources cited without question in mainstream news coverage are indicative of a classic disinformation exercise.

When local people saw what was happening the area began to erupt with angry anti-British protests.

SOURCE

The Guardian, “British tanks storm Basra jail to free undercover soldiers”, front page, 20 September 2005.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1573933,00.html
British tanks storm Basra jail to free undercover soldiers
British troops used tanks last night to break down the walls of a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and free two undercover British soldiers who were seized earlier in the day by local police.
An official from the Iraqi interior ministry said half a dozen tanks had broken down the walls of the jail and troops had then stormed it to free the two British soldiers. The governor of Basra last night condemned the “barbaric aggression” of British forces in storming the jail.
Aquil Jabbar, an Iraqi television cameraman who lives across the street from the jail, said dozens of Iraqi prisoners also fled in the confusion.

In a day of dramatic incidents in the heart of the British-controlled area of Iraq, the two undercover soldiers – almost certainly special forces – were held by Iraqi security forces after clashes that reportedly left two people dead and threatened to escalate into a diplomatic incident between London and Baghdad.
The soldiers, who were said to have been wearing Arab headdress, were accused of firing at Iraqi police when stopped at a road block.

Muhammad al-Abadi, an official in the Basra governorate, told journalists the two undercover soldiers had looked suspicious to police. “A policeman approached them and then one of these guys fired at him. Then the police managed to capture them.”