New York police arrested a suspected bomber on Saturday who was charged with plotting to set off explosives in cars, police stations and post offices, the FT reports. Authorities said Jose Pimentel, a 27-year-old who lives in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of upper Manhattan, was an al-Qaeda sympathiser who converted to Islam and had been plotting attacks for two years. The WSJ reports that the suspect was also allegedly seeking to target returning military personnel. He had been under surveillance by the NYPD since May 2009. Mayor Bloomberg has stated that Mr Pimentel is not part of a larger conspiracy from abroad and had seemingly been acting alone.
New York police arrested a suspected bomber on Saturday who was charged with plotting to set off explosives in cars, police stations and post offices, the FT reports. Authorities said Jose Pimentel, a 27-year-old who lives in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of upper Manhattan, was an al-Qaeda sympathiser who converted to Islam and had been plotting attacks for two years.
Massive cyber-espionage by China and Russia poses “significant and growing threats” to American economic power and national security, US officials have charged in their most direct warning on the issue, the FT writes. In an unusually blunt public document, US intelligence officials said the two geopolitical rivals had launched an onslaught of internet-enabled spying on US companies to win bargaining power and trade secrets. The claims were made in a report to Congress prepared by leading US intelligence agencies. While US officials and private researchers have frequently talked in private about the threat of cyber-espionage, the report is unusual in that it directly names the Chinese and Russian governments as being behind many efforts to steal technology.
Weekend headlines from the FT and other UK media:* From The FT,- Artemis’ Tim Steer is warning of a “rubbish” time for the UK economy if political leaders fail to agree on a binding solution to Europe’s debt crisis- Insurance that is hard to understand, expensive and potentially useless for the customers buying it – these are criticisms of the policies bundled into so-called “packaged” bank accounts- The Pension Protection Fund will be saddled with one of its biggest liabilities in its seven year history, as the scheme at Polestar, the printing company, seeks to wind itself up- Enigmatic Investments, which is making a £9.5 million cash offer for Clarity Commerce Solutions, said that a Financial Times column on the bid made misleading and inaccurate assumptions and calculations- Premier Foods has suffered a further blow after Moody’s, the credit rating agency, downgraded the ailing UK food producer that is negotiating with banks to reset terms- Lufthansa has signalled for the first time that it is willing to break up BMI British Midland, as the German airline seeks to maximise the proceeds from selling its lossmaking UK subsidiary
Libyans poured into the streets of Tripoli to celebrate the death of Muammer Gaddafi and mark the beginning of a new era after more than eight months of bloodshed in the third Arab country to rid itself of a dictator this year, reports the FT. Following a two-month manhunt by Libya’s rebels, Gaddafi, the country’s ruthless ruler for the past 42 years, was killed in the early hours of Thursday near his home town of Sirte, his last stronghold. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammer Gaddafi has been killed,” Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister in the interim government, declared in Tripoli. “It’s time to start a new Libya, a united Libya.” Western leaders joined in the jubilation over the death of a tyrant who had been blamed for terrorist attacks in recent decades, including the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie in Scotland, and denounced as the “mad dog of the Middle East”. He was later rehabilitated after he abandoned his nuclear weapons programme.
British Airways faces a bill of nearly €50m, the highest of any airline, when carriers around the world are brought into the European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme next year, the FT reports. But BA and other large European carriers will face a relatively smaller burden than their rivals in the US and China, because they should get an average of 81 per cent of the carbon allowances needed under the scheme for free. The Chinese and American carriers will only get an average of up to 64 per cent, according to estimates in a report by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon using data from RDC Aviation. The airline industry’s total bill is expected to be €1.1bn ($1.5bn) at today’s carbon prices, the study says. The whole sector may only make a $4bn profit this year, the International Air Transport Association has forecast. The €50m bill BA faces amounts to €1.66 per passenger, much more than the €0.14 expected for Delta, its US rival on the lucrative London-New York route. US airlines have taken legal action against the EU’s move to make airlines flying into and out of the bloc pay for pollution, and Chinese complaints have prompted warnings of a trade war from European aircraft-maker Airbus.
US intelligence has received information about “specific and credible” threats of a terrorist act planned for 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FT reports, citing White House officials. However, the White House also said that the information was “unconfirmed”. Some outlets reported that the information came from overseas and related to a car bomb in New York or Washington. Reuters says officials used strong caveats when discussing the threat information privately, with a national security official cautioning that experts thought the threat would ultimately not check out. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also stressed that the threat had not been corroborated, even as he announced heightened security measures “some of which you may notice, some of which you may not notice.”
India’s capital city suffered the worst terrorist attack in three years on Wednesday when a bomb blast killed at least 11 people outside Delhi High Court and injured more than 70, reports the FT. The attack came amid fears across south Asia that strikes would be launched by terrorist groups to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the US by the al-Qaeda network. The region is considered by many security experts to face the severest risk of terrorist attacks. The target of Wednesday’s powerful explosion is at the heart of New Delhi’s administrative complex, a short distance from the India Gate memorial and parliament. The bombing at the reception area of the court was timed to inflict maximum human casualties as hundreds of lawyers and litigants entered the court in the mid-morning. The New York Times report features moving on the ground reportage.
A clash at a police station in China’s restive western region of Xinjiang on Monday has been labelled an “organised terrorist attack” by Beijing, but an exiled political group said the incident began when police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, the FT reports. Official Chinese media reports said “rioters” carrying “explosive devices and grenades” stormed a local government office and police station in the remote Silk Road oasis town of Hotan on Monday, killing two security personnel and two hostages. State media reports said police “gunned down several rioters” after they stormed the police station, took hostages and set fire to the station. But the World Uyghur Congress, an exiled Germany-based political group that advocates independence from China for the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, said the incident began after police opened fire on more than 100 peaceful Uighur demonstrators.
Investigators probing Wednesday’s bomb blasts in Mumbai which killed at least 18 people are focusing in on the likely involvement of the Indian Mujahideen, a domestic terrorist group that has been responsible for attacks in other Indian cities in recent years, reports the FT. Initial findings suggested that the use of improvised explosive devices could have been the work of a homegrown group such as the Indian Mujahideen, which is believed to be an offshoot of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India. The group, which struck in Pune in February last year and Delhi in 2008, tends to strike on the 13th or 26th of the month – a pattern that dates back to May 13 2008 when the group targeted Jaipur. But P. Chidambaram, the home minister, said that so far nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which left at least 130 injured. He stressed that investigation teams and police were not making any assumptions or singling out any one group as being responsible for the attacks, adding that all groups “hostile to India” were potential suspects.
India was put on high alert after three explosions rocked Mumbai, killing at least 21 people, injuring more than 140 and sending the country’s financial capital into chaos, the FT reports. The Mumbai police said that the synchronised explosions appeared to be the work of terrorists and confirmed that there had been three bomb blasts at separate sites across the city. The National Investigation Agency was rushed to the scene and officials from Delhi were reported to be flying to Mumbai.
India was put on high alert after three explosions rocked Mumbai, killing at least 21 people, injuring more than 140 and sending the country’s financial capital into chaos, reports the FT. The Mumbai police said that the synchronised explosions appeared to be the work of terrorists and confirmed that there had been three bomb blasts at separate sites across the city. The National Investigation Agency was rushed to the scene and officials from Delhi were reported to be flying to Mumbai.
Comment, analysis and other offerings from Thursday’s FT, John Gapper: The price of Wall Street’s black boxJPMorgan Chase this week became the second Wall Street bank after Goldman Sachs to face a large fine and a stiff warning over its sales of mortgage-backed bonds in the last days of the housing bubble in spring 2007, writes the FT columnist. Others are to come, perhaps including Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. It is no coincidence that the Wall Street banks have lobbied with such energy against efforts to force trading of more derivatives on to exchanges and through clearing houses. They do not want the black box of fixed income and derivatives trading, which has provided so much of their profits for so long, to be exposed to plain view.John Reid: Our salt risks draining into cyberspaceThe news was dominated on Wednesday by reports of the arrest of a suspected British teenage computer hacker, in connection with a range of security breaches including attacks on the website of the CIA and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, writes Reid, a former British cabinet minister. We can expect many more such events as our security agencies struggle to address the challenges of cyberspace. In a matter of days we have seen a huge data theft from the International Monetary Fund, reports that the Pentagon is reclassifying cyberattacks as “acts of war”, and Liang Guanglie, China’s defence minister, saying his country and the US must work together to deal with the cyber “problem.”
Pakistan has arrested five suspected informants who worked with the US’s Central Intelligence Agency before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, western officials said, in a move that will further strain relations between the two countries, says the FT. The five detainees included a Pakistani army major who had noted down the licence plates of vehicles entering Bin Laden’s compound in the army town of Abbottabad, officials told The New York Times, which first reported the arrests.
*The name’s Daly. Frank Daly. And I, representing the Irish National Asset Management Agency, will be attending the Second Annual Global Intelligence Forum, to be held in Dungarvan, Ireland on July 11-13, where I will be giving a keynote speech … on matters that are of no concern to you (and which will never be disclosed publicly anyway). We’ll end with the Frank Daly impersonation there.
Osama bin Laden was plotting an attack on the US rail system, a plot uncovered by the raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader in his hideout in Pakistan, US officials say. On Thursday night, the Department of Homeland Security said it had issued a message to authorities throughout the US about a potential al-Qaeda scheme against the rail sector, the FT reports. A US official confirmed that the plot, which involved derailing a train on a bridge, was detailed in handwritten notes from February 2010 discovered among bin Laden’s effects in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The Wall Street Journal adds that al-Qaeda and other terror groups have long aspired to blow up commuter trains and subways in the U.S.
Barack Obama, US president, has decided not to release photographs of the corpse of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader killed by US special forces, amid warnings that such a step could inflame opinion in the Middle East and beyond, the FT reports. As scattered protests took place in Pakistan against the weekend killing of bin Laden, who was shot unarmed, the White House said Obama had decided not to publish the photos, which it has described as “gruesome”. Bloomberg adds that Obama later told CBS the US should not exploit such images as ‘trophies’, warning they could be used by extremists for propaganda purposes. But lawmakers were divided on the questoin.
Barack Obama, US president, has decided not to release photographs of the corpse of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader killed by US special forces, amid warnings that such a step could inflame opinion in the Middle East and beyond, the FT reports. As scattered protests took place in Pakistan against the killing of bin Laden, who was shot unarmed, the White House said Obama had decided not to publish the photos, which it has described as “gruesome”. Bloomberg adds that Obama later told CBS that the photos should not be used as ‘trophies’
Relations between the US and Pakistan came under new strain as US officials admitted they feared Islamabad would have warned Osama bin Laden of the US operation that killed the al-Qaeda leader on the weekend, the FT reports. As Pakistani officials contested accusations that they knew of bin Laden’s hiding place near a key military academy, the US laid bare its mistrust of Islamabad, which was not notified of Sunday’s raid in Abbottabad. “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission,” Leon Panetta, CIA director, told Time magazine. Such charges highlight deep US doubts over Pakistan – which US officials deem as strategically vital but also deeply unreliable. The WSJ reports that the US gained a “treasure trove” of intelligence from bin Laden’s compound.
Relations between the US and Pakistan came under new strain as Washington officials said they feared that Islamabad would have warned Osama bin Laden of the US operation that killed the al-Qaeda leader, the FT reports. As Pakistani officials contested accusations on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that they must have known about bin Laden’s hiding place near a prestigious military academy, the US laid bare its mistrust of Islamabad, which was not informed in advance of Sunday’s raid on the compound in Abbottabad. “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission,” Leon Panetta, CIA director, said in an interview with Time magazine. “They might alert the targets.” Such allegations illustrate the extraordinary tensions between the US and Pakistan – a country US government officials deem as strategically vital but also deeply unreliable.
As happens so often in markets, optimism generated by one event can be quickly off-set by associated downside risks. Initial cheer on Sunday night in the US over news that US forces had killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan stronghold was overtaken by concerns about retaliatory action and longer-term challenges. Stocks went up, then down, commodities fluctuated and ‘safe-haven’ currencies eventually benefited. Accordingly, the “Bin Laden death rally” — as it was dubbed in equity markets — fizzled nearly as rapidly as it began in thin trading on a Monday when key markets including Japan and the UK were closed for holidays.
Comment, analysis and other offerings from Tuesday’s FT, Ahmed Rashid: Now to break al-Qaeda’s franchise The colonial conquests of Muslim societies by the west were followed by freedom struggles and, in turn, stagnation and repression, writes Rashid, author of ‘Descent into Chaos’ and ‘The Taliban’. Osama bin Laden rose to prominence as Muslims sought a way out, and he tried to take us back many centuries. Now, after confirmation of his death, Muslims must escape this extremist cul de sac. Extremism’s heroes are dead or dying and its ideology bankrupt. But leaders of Muslim civil society must now give it a bold final push into the margins. This is a watershed moment. The question is, can the west and the Muslim world grasp it?
The killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistan, triggered jubilation among the US population and its national security establishment but has prompted warnings about potential revenge attacks by extremist supporters of the Saudi-born terrorist, the FT reports. At the same time, adds the FT, the fact that bin Laden’s stronghold was in Abbottabad, 50km from the capital, Islamabad, and site of the country’s top military academy, raised questions about the US ally’s commitment to combating international terrrorism. US president Barack Obama emphasised Pakistan’s co-operation in Sunday’s strike but questions grew about Pakistan’s reliability. Reuters adds that Asian stocks fell on Tuesday morning as the ‘bin Laden effect’ that led to an earlier bounce faded.
The killing of Osama bin Laden triggered jubilation among the US population and its national security establishment but has prompted warnings about potential revenge attacks by extremist supporters of the Saudi-born terrorist, the FT reports. The storming of bin Laden’s compound by US special forces in Abbottabad, 50km from the Pakistan capital, raised questions about the US ally’s commitment to combating international terrrorism. Some western commentators have called for the winding down of military operations in Afghanistan.
Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive and co-chief investment officer at investment fund PIMCO responds to Sunday’s news that Osama bin Laden, was killed near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad following a “targeted operation” by US forces. __________
Yemen continues to crumble on Tuesday, Reuters reports: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule seems near collapse. His exit would spell uncertainty for his broken country and discomfiture for U.S. and Saudi friends, still backing their “ally” against al Qaeda.
Russia is bracing itself for a renewed terror campaign by Islamist militants after an explosion ripped through the international arrivals hall of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, killing 40 people and injuring up to 170, reports the FT. Police put the city’s transport hubs on high alert after the second big terrorist attack to strike the capital in a year after last year’s subway bombing. There were no immediate claims of responsibility on Monday. But prosecutors said the attack was “most likely” carried out by a suicide bomber, while analysts blamed militants battling to create an Islamist state in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus. Domodedovo, which handled a record 22m passengers last year, services 75 airlines.
Moscow is bracing itself for a renewed terror campaign by Islamist militants after an explosion ripped through the international arrivals hall of the city’s Domodedovo airport, killing 35 people and injuring up to 170, reports the FT. Police put the city’s transport hubs on high alert after the second major terrorist attack to strike the capital in a year. There were no immediate claims of responsibility on Monday. But prosecutors said they were investigating a terrorist attack “most likely” carried out by a suicide bomber, while analysts said the attack bore the hallmarks of a campaign by militants battling to create an Islamist state in the Russia’s volatile North Caucasus.
Sweden’s prime minister on Sunday urged the country to “stand up for tolerance” after a botched terrorist attack in central Stockholm on Saturday highlighted growing Islamic extremism across the usually peaceful Scandinavian region, reports the FT. Fredrik Reinfeldt condemned the attack, in which a suspected suicide bomber was killed, as an assault that risked inflaming racial tensions in a society with a large Muslim population. The incident followed warnings from Sweden’s security service of the growing threat from Islamic extremists and came amid a Norwegian probe into a suspected terrorist plot aimed at neighbouring Denmark
The US is now at greater risk of terrorist attack because of a shift by al-Qaeda and its affiliates towards plots such as the recent attempt to blow up cargo aircraft, the Obama administration has said. Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, said there had been “a metamorphosis of the tactics and techniques … from the large-scale conspiracy to smaller-scale smaller events that are more difficult by their nature to infiltrate”, the FT reports. Meanwhile Reuters reports that a district judge will today hear arguments from civil liberties groups seeking an injunction against the programme to capture or kill US citizens who have joined militant groups, such as al Qaeda, as well as rebuttal from the administration who want the case to be dismissed.