Monday, October 03, 2005

War on Terror - Bombs in Bali, attacks in Iraq...

The War on Terror and the terror attacks continued throughout the globe this week. Bali again hit the headlines after at least 3 suicide bombers hit tourist spots in Indonesia. They killed some 26 and injured many others in a repeat of a similar attack in October 2002 which killed 202 people and injured 209. The target was the same, Kuta, a popular tourist resort. But the death toll was significantly lower. And fewer tourists from developed countries were caught in the explosions, one of which hit the nearby resort of Jimbaran. Early reports stated that 1 Japanese tourist and 2 New Zealanders had been killed, but some British tabloids reported some British citizens also amongst the dead. Footage emerged later of one of the explosions and a possible suspect being caught on the tape. The investigation continues, but all eyes are on the group Jemaah Islamiyah. JI are believed to be linked with al Qaeda by many terror experts.
The war in Iraq brought another US death bringing the toll to 1,939. CNN reported that he was killed in Ramadi in the western Anbar province. The soldier was killed in the latest of many anti-insurgent operations, Operation Iron Fist. The renewed clampdown on insurgents comes ahead of the referendum on the new Iraqi Constitution. Many believe the constitution will fail and further undermine the new government.
In Afghanistan there are reports that recent operations by Afghan troops saw the deaths of 31 insurgents. CNN reported that no US troops were involved in the four hour battle near the Pakistani border.
In the Britain, authorities arrested 5 individuals “whose presence in the UK” was “not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security”. Ten had already been detained under new powers in August, and a further 7 in September. The number detained under the new law now stands at 22 according to the BBC. One man not amongst them is Zayead Christopher Hajaig. The Ilford Recorder in east London, this week reported that the man was “Wanted by the FBI…but set free by court to return to his home”. The paper reported that he had ‘fled back to the UK’ after the ‘FBI launched a manhunt after finding the 35 year old was living illegally in the US and owned 3 high power rifles, one of which was later found dumped in a river.’
The paper had failed to contact Mr Hajaig, who was born in Nigeria, and further deatails were not revealed from the ‘secret 20-minute hearing’ at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday 23rd September. Reports from earlier this year paint a more detailed picture. According to a WXIA-TV report, Hajaig was the subject of an alert issued by the Joint Terrorist Task Force earlier this year after allegedly attempting to have his flying rating upgraded when he was not qualified. Hajaig was also indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he was an illegal alien with the possession of three assault-style rifles. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Hajaig fled the country before they could question him. Agents said he allegedly dumped weapons he owned in the Chattahoochee River before he left the country. But Hajaig blamed many of his problems on his own passion for flying in correspondence with Leonard Harris, who runs a pilot supply store at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. “I left town in a hurry for fear of being deported,” Hajaig says in an e-mail. “The next thing I know the feds think I’m a blinking terrorist...I love the U.S. and am loyal to the UK and America,” he told WXIA in April 2005.
“He came in here and wanted to learn how to fly and we taught him how to fly,” Harris told 11Alive News. “He was a jovial guy, he was a lot of fun, he was very intelligent.” Harris said he was shocked when the task force issued the alert bulletin. “I thought it was a joke to start with,” he said. “I thought they've got him mixed up with somebody else.”
In an email to Harris, Hajaig admits to overstaying his visa and to throwing away the guns that the authorities found in the Chattahoochee River. “He said he panicked and threw away the guns on somebody else’s advice,” Harris said. And he also protested his innocence. "I am not a bloody terrorist," Hajaig wrote. "All I am guilty of is overstaying my visa and that has mushroomed to something that is frankly quite embarrassing." Hajaig's name first surfaced on April 7, when an Atlanta Joint Terrorism Task Force bulletin leaked to the press. The bulletin said Hajaig became aggressive after being denied the chance to upgrade his pilot rating while taking flight lessons in Georgia, his home at the time. To add to the suspicions, he was an illegal alien who trained at the same airport where 9/11 terrorists Muhammad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi once rented a plane. Hajaig says that's all "bollocks" and that a "disgruntled friend" put the finger on him after a falling-out. The Feds admit they have no evidence of a "link to terrorism." But in the war on terror, law-enforcement officials don't take chances. Hajaig remains free until at least 14th October when he is due for sentencing after pleading guilty to “stealing a man’s identity to obtain a bogus British passport”. He had use the name of Barry John Felton a name also on the original FBI indictment as one of his aliases, dated 20th April. The passport had been used by Hajaig to flee the US. [sources - UPI, Newsweek, WXIA-TV, FBI]
[23:19 GMT 03/10/2005]

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