Major Indian Airports on High Alert; Nawzad District in Helmand on Verge of Collapse; Pakistan and Iran Exchange Mortar Fire
Event Notice: "Modern War in Theory and Practice: A discussion with Dr. John Nagl on his new book Knife Fights," Oct. 27, 1:15 PM (New America). India Major Indian airports on high-alert All major Indian airports were on high-alert on Friday after the Kochi airport, located in the southern state of Kerala, received an anonymous ...
Event Notice: "Modern War in Theory and Practice: A discussion with Dr. John Nagl on his new book Knife Fights," Oct. 27, 1:15 PM (New America).
Major Indian airports on high-alert
All major Indian airports were on high-alert on Friday after the Kochi airport, located in the southern state of Kerala, received an anonymous letter warning of terror attacks on two Air India flights (NDTV, Livemint). Bomb disposal squads, anti-hijacking units, and police were keeping constant vigil at the airports. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security issued a letter to airports in connection with the threat, which read: "Air India flight on the midnight of October 24 (early morning of October 25) from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and early morning flight from Mumbai to Kochi on 25th morning at 0500 hrs. Suicide bomber in each flight separately. Please check thoroughly. Secondary security checks may be carried out at Ahmedabad and Mumbai airports for all flights around the concerned dates" (Zee News).
Terror suspects apprehended on the way to Afghanistan
The Indian police in the southern city of Hyderabad, on Thursday, apprehended two terror suspects from the western state of Maharashtra on their way to Afghanistan to get training from al Qaeda for carrying out terror activities in India (The Hindu). The police obtained pen drives containing "jihadi literature," CD’s containing militant training programs, and cash from them. Both terror suspects were in Hyderabad to get visas for Afghanistan. A police release said that: "Both [terror suspects] are adept in using social networks in propagating jihad and both of them have several Facebook accounts" (Times of India).
India joins 20 other Asian nations to set up an infrastructure bank
India joined 20 other countries on Friday to launch the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to aid infrastructure development in the Asian region (Economic Times, NYT). Usha Titus, joint secretary, economic affairs division of the ministry of finance, signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of India. AIIB, is expected to be operational by next year, and will be headquartered in Beijing. The new bank will be capitalized with $50 billion, and India is expected to be the second largest shareholder of the bank after China.
While Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea skipped the launch of AIIB, the United States expressed its concerns about the new rival to Western-dominated multilateral lenders. The Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao spoke about AIIB on Thursday, and said: "I understand it [AIIB], but I don’t welcome it" (NDTV). Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Review reported that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to stay out of the AIIB. The paper reported: "Australia has been under pressure from the U.S. for some time to not become a founding member of the [AIIB] bank and it is understood Mr Kerry put the case directly to the prime minister when the pair met in Jakarta on Monday following the inauguration of Indonesian President Joko Widodo" (Reuters, Australian Financial Review).
— Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan
Bonus Read: "Afghanistan: A Shocking Indictment," Rory Stewart reviews New America Fellow Anand Gopal’s "No Good Men Among the Living" (NYRB).
Nawzad district in Helmand on verge of collapse
Residents and local officials in the Nawzad district of Helmand province raised concerns on Friday that the province would collapse into Taliban control (TOLO News). Sayed Murad Sadaat, the district governor, stated: "It’s no secret that the security situation is really bad," adding, "We only have control over the official district building and some small areas." Residents echoed the governor’s concern. One resident, Lal Gul, said: "We don’t have security. We face danger every day when we leave our houses." Another resident noted that the district’s schools had been closed because of the Taliban’s power.
In Sar-i-Pul province, Asadullah Khurram, the provincial council head, stated on Friday that schools in insurgent-controlled areas of the province were under threat (Pajhwok). Khurram said: "Most of these schools are threatened by the armed opponents. Area people say none of these schools is functioning properly. And local clerics teach students in the ones that remain open." Education Director Abdul Ghafoor, however, painted a less pessimistic picture, noting: "It’s true that some schools are located in insecure areas. But it doesn’t mean these schools are closed. They are supervised by influential people and local councils."
Russian prisoner to be transferred to U.S. to face terrorism charges
The United States is preparing to transfer a prisoner from Afghanistan to face terrorism charges in the United States, according to statements on Thursday by American officials (AP, Reuters, LAT, Post, RFE/RL). National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, stated: "We can confirm that a detainee at the Parwan detention facility in Afghanistan will be transferred to law enforcement custody and will be brought to the United States for trial." The prisoner is reportedly Irek Hamidullan, a Russian who was captured fighting in Afghanistan in 2008. Hamidullan’s transfer would be the first time a military detainee from Afghanistan would face trial in the United States. Previous efforts to bring people to the United States to face trial have been the subject of criticism from Republican lawmakers who oppose civilian trials for military detainees accused of terrorism.
NATO leaves last base in Kunar
NATO forces transferred the last NATO base in eastern Kunar province to Afghan control on Thursday (Pajhwok). Brig. Gen. Abdul Habib Syedkhel told Pajhwok Afghan News that NATO had left equipment at the base and that Afghan forces would be capable of providing security after the withdrawal of NATO forces. Ten new security posts were established in the area to protect the provincial capital following the withdrawal. Residents reportedly expressed happiness with the withdrawal but noted that it left around 500 Afghans who worked on the base unemployed.
Pakistan and Iran exchange mortar fire
Pakistan and Iran exchanged mortar fire on Friday near the Pakistani border town of Mashkail in Balochistan province (BBC, Dawn, ET). Iran reportedly fired six mortars into Pakistan, and Pakistan is believed to have retaliated. The clash follows reports of increasing attacks in Iran by extremists based in Pakistan and another border clash between the two countries last week in which a Frontier Corps soldier was killed by Iranian fire. Representatives from the two countries met on Wednesday in an effort to boost intelligence cooperation and promote calm on the border.
Daniel Pearl murder suspect released
An Anti-Terrorism Court in Hyderabad released Syed Hashim, a suspect in the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, on Friday (ET). Pearl, the Wall Street Journal South Asia bureau chief, was abducted and killed on Jan. 23, 2002. Hashim was arrested and accused of involvement in the murder in 2008. However, Abdul Ghafoor Memon, the newly posted presiding officer of the court, said there was a lack of evidence. Anti-Terrorism Courts have previously sentenced Abdul Ghafoor Memon to death and Salman Saqib, Fahad Naseem, and Shaikh Adil to life in prison for involvement in the murder.
Bhutto: PPP doesn’t need MQM
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson, dismissed the importance of the Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) abandoning the two parties’ political alliance in Sindh province (ET). Speaking before party workers, Bhutto Zardari invited cooperation with other parties, but he added: "If they do not want to accept our invitation, they should clear out of our way." The MQM left the PPP led government in Sindh on Sunday (ET).
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
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