Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen are planning a deadly ricin attack on the US, security officials have warned Obama. (PATRICK BAZ/Staff/AFP/Getty Images)
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has for more than a year tried to procure materials such as castor beans to produce the highly dangerous poison ricin, American counterterrorism officials have told New York Times.
The powdery substance is so deadly that a dose as small as a few grains of salt can kill an adult if it is inhaled or reaches the bloodstream.
Intelligence gathered has concluded that AQAP operatives are trying to procure castor beans, which are used for ricin production, and processing agents and bring them to the tribal province of Shabwa in southern Yemen, an area where Yemeni forces have reportedly been battling AQAP.
The intelligence points to AQAP secretly trying to produce the white powdery ricin, which it is planning to pack around explosives to detonate in contained spaces such as shopping malls, an airport or a subway station.
According to the New York Times, President Barak Obama and top national security aides were briefed on the threat last year and have received periodic updates since then.
A senior Defense Ministry official in Sanaa told GlobalPost the security crisis in Yemen stemming from its political paralysis is helping AQAP expand and experiment with new tactics.
An All Blacks fan enjoys the atmosphere during the Tri-Nations Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on Aug. 6, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand.
(Cameron Spencer/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese, Indian and — wait for it — New Zealand citizens dominate Australia's border control blacklist, newly unearthed documents show.
Chinese citizens make up 10 percent of the total 314,462 people — or 34,189 people — flagged by authorities as a potential threat to national security on the so-called Movement Alert List. Indians were the next most-flagged group, with 21,643 citizens on the watch list.
Then comes the strange part — New Zealanders are the next officially most-feared group, with 18,315 on the watch list, obtained by The Australian newspaper using freedom on information (FOI) laws. That's one step above Indonesians (16,271), despite long-held (and it must be said, unfounded) fears among Australians of the threats posed by its majority Muslim neighbor to the north.
If only the story told us why.
Viewed by the average Aussie, the most threatening trait of the average New Zealander (universally known Down Under as a "Kiwi") would likely be their ability to pass themselves off as Australian to the untrained ear.
Disconcerting to the Australian who doesn't like to be mistaken for a Kiwi, Brit or on rare occasions, South African — but hardly a reason to blacklist them, surely.
Some clarity may come from knowing that the blacklist takes into account not only "national security" considerations, but "health concerns."
While almost half those on the blacklist were reportedly singled out for national security reasons, a good proportion (11.08 percent) posed health concerns, primarily linked to respiratory illnesses like tuberculosis, the document indicates.
However, knowing some basic facts about the quality of life in New Zealand dispels this as a solid theory for why Australia is blacklisting so many Kiwis.
In terms of health, New Zealand performs very well when compared with other developed countries, according to the OECD's Better Life index. Among its achievements in ensuring the overall well-being of citizens:
Life expectancy at birth in New Zealand is 80.4 years, more than one year above the OECD average;
The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 12 micrograms per cubic meter, and is lower than levels found in most OECD countries; and
97 percent of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, higher than the OECD average of 91 percent.
Sure, Australians are the happiest people in the world — overall — according to the index, but New Zealanders seem to be doing better than okay.
Rugby fans may point to next month's Rugby World Cup as a possible source of nervousness for die-hard Aussies everywhere.
New Zealand's fearsome All Blacks on Saturday left no one in doubt they will be one of the favorites for the Cup, after a "clinical" 30-14 victory over Australia's "Wallabies" in a Tri-Nations match.
Last weekend the 17-foot cross, which was found in the rubble of of the World Trade Center site, was given a "ceremonial blessing" by the Rev. Brian Jordan, taken from its temporary home near St. Peter's Church and lowered 70 feet into its permanent home inside the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.
Terrorists connected to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said they were creating the animated film to inspire children to join the jihad, but some users on jihadi websites said the characters were too "scary" for kids
The planned cartoon does not feature depictions of Osama bin Laden. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)
An al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen is planning to release an animated film cartoon aimed at recruiting young people to the militant network.
Terrorists connected to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based affiliate, said they were creating the cartoon to inspire children to join the jihad, a posting on an extremist website said, according to the Daily News.
The summer issue of Inspire promises fascinating reading for budding terrorists, brimming with information of victories on the battlefield and stories about martyrs.
Its cover story, ‘Sadness, Contentment, and Aspiration,’ focuses on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) ongoing battles in Yemen.
“They obliterated the apostate army,” the article says about its soldiers, “took millions of dollars from them, and were able to obtain enormous heaps of ghanimah [booty].” The magazine’s sixth issue also claims AQAP has seized “everything from tanks, hummers, anti-aircraft weaponry, armored vehicles, and all sorts of heavy and light weapons.”
Less grandiosely, Inspire also deals with the killing by US Special Forces of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, lamenting the “loss of a great leader” and congratulating him for achieving martyrdom. Inspire pledges that his death will have little effect on the future of the organization.
“The news,” writes American citizen, Samir Khan, believed to be the editor of Inspire, “brought us a mixed sentiment of sadness, contentment and aspiration.”
Khan, 24, from North Carolina, was on an FBI watch list when he travelled to Yemen three years ago.
In better days. President Saleh giving a speech during an electoral campaign in 2006. Now he is being asked to step down. (CRIS BOURONCLE/Staff/AFP/Getty Images)
White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan is on a mission to do what civil war, secession, rebellion, attempted assassination, an economy in meltdown and week after week of mass protests have so far failed to achieve: Persuade Yemen’s canny, tribesman president of 33 years to step down.
Brennan flew into Saudi Arabia this week to meet long time US ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been receiving medical treatment in the kingdom since a bomb explosion in his palace left him with severe burns.
Brennan asked President Saleh to “expeditiously” agree to a transition deal where he would transfer power to the vice president and step down, in exchange for immunity from prosecution for corruption.
Saleh said he viewed the proposal as a “basis” for a national dialogue, comments sure to be taken by his opponents as proof he will never willingly step down.