Islamic State Claims Responsibility For London Attack

The Islamic State group says the attack outside the British parliament in London was carried out by one of its “soldiers.”

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said Thursday that the person who carried out the “attack in front of the British parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State.”

It added that the person “carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition.”

IS has called on its supporters to carry out attacks against citizens of the U.S.-led coalition that has been targeting the group since 2014.

IS, who have been responsible for numerous bloody attacks around the globe, have also previously claimed certain attacks in a show of opportunism. Britain’s government has not identified the suspect.

Visible armed police officers were seen outside Sweden’s Parliament and the government’s headquarters following Wednesday’s London attack.

Parliament’s head of security told Expressen daily that safety measures had been taken “in consultation with the police” and Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency “due to the event in London.”

The Sapo agency had not changed the threat assessment against Sweden. In neighboring Denmark, the Security and Intelligence Service said it was following the situation after the events in London.

The agency said Thursday the situation led to no reason to change the assessment of the terror threat against Denmark, “which remains serious.” In Copenhagen, Denmark, heavily armed police also were seen outside the Danish Parliament.

A Romanian diplomat said a woman who plunged into the Thames when a SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge Wednesday has successfully undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from her brain. She remains in a critical state.

Romania’s Ambassador to Britain, Dan Mihalache, told national news agency Agerpres Thursday that the woman had major problems with her lungs.

He said the woman, who has not been named, was transferred early Thursday to another London hospital that is better equipped to deal with her injuries.

Mihalache said her family was traveling to London. The woman and her boyfriend were on vacation in the British capital to celebrate his birthday this week. The boyfriend suffered a foot fracture.

Poland’s prime minister has suggested a link between the European Union’s migration policies and terrorism — and has used the London attack to make her point, even though the identity of the attacker has not been released.

Beata Szydlo spoke just hours before British Prime Minister Theresa May said police know the identity of the attacker, who was British-born.

Szydlo said on TVN24: “I often hear in Europe, in the EU: Let’s not link the migration policy with terrorism, but it’s impossible not to link them.”

The attack before the British Parliament left four people dead, including the attacker, and 29 hospitalized, including one Pole.

Poland’s nationalist government is at odds with the EU on a number of issues including migration.

AP

Updated: Three Killed, Several Others Injured As Terrorists Strike In London

The BBC is reporting that a police officer and two other have been killed in an attack at the Houses of Parliament in central London.

The report says one police woman died from stabs, while two others died and several others critically injured after a car hit people on Westminster Bridge.

The alleged assailant was shot by armed police.

Footage on social media shows people lying in the road.

Metropolitan Police say they are treating it as a terrorist incident and buildings are in lockdown.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has issued a statement, saying “There has been a serious incident near to Parliament Square this afternoon which is being treated as a terrorist attack until the police know otherwise.

“I have spoken to the Acting Commissioner. The Metropolitan Police Service is dealing with the incident and an urgent investigation is underway. My thoughts are with those affected and their families.

“I would like to express my thanks to the police and emergency services who work so hard to keep us safe and show tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

BBC

No Evidence Exiled Turkish Cleric Gulen Behind Anti-Erdogan Coup – German Intel

There is no evidence that self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen is behind the failed 2016 military coup in Turkey, the head of German intelligence said. Ankara claims the comments are a sign of Berlin backing the Gulen movement.

Bruno Kahl, the head of German intelligence (BND), told Der Spiegel the military coup of July 2016 “was probably a welcome pretext” for the Turkish government to unleash a sweeping crackdown on thousands of people suspected of having connections with Fethullah Gulen – a 75-year-old opposition cleric who Ankara says was the mastermind behind the failed putsch.

Kahl stressed that there was no evidence that the Gulen movement was involved in the July plot, saying, “Turkey tried to convince us at every level, but so far they didn’t succeed.”

Likewise, he dismissed Turkey’s claims that Gulen’s movement is an Islamist or even terrorist network: “The Gulenist movement is a civic association whose aim is to provide religious and secular education.”

The chief of intelligence did, however, rule out the idea that the coup was engineered by the Turkish government itself.

“The coup attempt was not initiated by the government. Before July 15 the government had already started a big purge so parts of the military thought they should do a coup quickly before it hit them too,” Kahl said.

Shortly after the interview, which adds to the ongoing flare-up between Turkey and some European countries that banned pro-Erdogan rallies ahead of the landmark vote to expand presidential powers, a brusque response came from Ankara. Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish president’s spokesman, said the BND’s statement proves that Berlin supports the organization claimed to be behind the coup attempt.

“It’s an effort to invalidate all the information we have given them on FETO [the Gulen movement]. It’s a sign of their support for FETO,” Kalin told CNN Turk, as quoted by Reuters

While blunt and harshly worded, such remarks are not new. In November last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of harboring various extremist organizations, including the Kurdish insurgency and the Gulen movement.

“We are concerned that Germany, which for years took the [Kurdish organizations] under its wings, has become the backyard of [the Gulen movement],” Erdogan said. “As I have always said, terror groups are like scorpions, sooner or later they will bite whoever carries them on their back.”

Gulen, who leads a popular movement called Hizmet – believed to be funding numerous businesses, think-tanks, private schools, and publishing houses around the world – is now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania after he split from Erdogan in 2013. Last September, after Washington refused to extradite Gulen, citing lack of hard evidence, Erdogan told the US it should “not harbor a terrorist.”

“If the US is our strategic ally and our NATO partner… then they should not let a terrorist like Gulen run his organization,” Erdogan said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, according to Reuters.

After the July putsch, more than 100,000 suspected Gulenists were fired from their jobs and 30,000 were arrested, including teachers, security personnel, army officers, opposition politicians, and journalists.

Meanwhile in Germany, home to a sizable Turkish diaspora, some pro-Erdogan imams from Ditib, the country’s largest association of mosques, were accused of spying on Muslim clerics siding with Gulen.

“Whoever uses Islam as a cover for espionage cannot rely [for protection] on the freedom of religion,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in February. “If the suspicion that some Ditib imams were spying is confirmed, the organization must be seen, at least in part, as a long arm of the Turkish government.”

Revealed: Gulen Did Not Plot Coup In Turkey

The head of the German Secret services (BND), Bruno Kahl, told Der Spiegel magazine that his agency is “not convinced” the Philadelphia-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, organized Turkey’s July 15 coup attempt.

Kahl’s view is that the Gulen movement is not a terrorist organization but a “civic association that aims to provide further religious and secular education.”

“Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level but so far it has not succeeded,” BND head Bruno Kahl said in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel published on Saturday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government accuse Gulen of orchestrating Turkey’s failed coup on July 15 in which more than 240 people were killed when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, attacking parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.

Erdogan and the Turkish government want the United States to extradite Gulen, who denies involvement in the coup attempt.

Asked whether the Gulen movement was extreme Islamist or terrorist, Kahl said it was a “civil association that aims to provide further religious and secular education”.

Kahl also said he did not think the Turkish government was behind the coup, saying: “The coup attempt was not initiated by the government. Before July 15 the government had already started a big purge so parts of the military thought they should do a coup quickly before it hit them too.”

In a similar development, David Nunes, the United State House Intelligence Committee chairman has said it is “hard to believe” that U.S.-based Turkish cleric is behind the military coup attempt last summer, questioning Turkey as a reliable ally.

“I find that hard to believe,” David Nunes told Chris Wallace from Fox News when asked if cleric Fethullah Gulen is the architect of the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Mr. Nunes added that the government of Mr. Erdogan is becoming very authoritarian and that Ankara, as a NATO ally, is “becoming more and more worrisome in terms of actually being a reliable ally.” Mr. Nunes noted that he has not seen the evidence that Mr. Gulen was involved in the coup attempt and that he does not know if the U.S. is going to extradite “somebody like that.”

He added that if there was an evidence linking Mr. Gulen to the coup attempt in Turkey that would be “a different issue.”

Women Allegedly Raped By UN Peacekeepers In Haiti Speak Out

In Haiti By Force: UN Sex Abuse, Fault Lines speaks to Haitian women who say they were raped by UN peacekeepers there. Some of them were under-age at the time; some of them are now single mothers as a result; most described anonymous, violent attacks.

“The United Nations Mission in Haiti – known as MINUSTAH – was established in 2004 to help strengthen the rule of law,” says Fault Lines presenter Femi Oke. “But its legacy has been marred by a pattern of rape – UN personnel preying on the very people they’re supposed to protect… The United Nations cites 85 allegations of sex abuse in Haiti between 2008 and 2015.”

Of the more than a dozen women Fault Lines spoke to, only one had reported her rape. She never heard from MINUSTAH again; UN headquarters confirmed that nothing more was done about her case.

“We found that most women never report their rapes and aren’t counted in that official tally,” says Femi. “Independent estimates suggest more than 500 women have been raped or exploited by UN personnel since 2005.”

Mario Joseph, an attorney at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, is now representing nine women against MINUSTAH. Last summer, he sent legal notices to the UN, asking them to co-operate with the paternity claims the women are trying to file against the soldiers who fathered their children. “They never respond to us,” he says, adding that the UN has no mechanism to deal with situations like this. When pressed, a UN official told Fault Lines that there are less than a dozen children worldwide receiving child support from UN soldiers.

“At the heart of the abuse is a unique legal arrangement,” explains Femi. “In exchange for taking the job, peacekeepers are given immunity to any criminal liability in the countries they serve. That means here in Haiti, they are essentially above the law.”

Lieutenant-General Ajax Porto Pinheiro, the UN force commander in Haiti, told Femi that there has not been an allegation of sexual abuse in the last three years, but Fault Lines spoke to a victim, Janelia Jean, whose daughter was born just over a year ago, after she says she was raped by a UN soldier in Port-Au-Prince.  

“The UN claims the number of assaults has gone down, but after almost two decades of impunity, these women told us they just saw no point in reporting the crimes,” says Femi.  

At the time this documentary was filmed, Haiti was still housing 5 000 ‘peacekeepers’ from almost 50 different countries.  But as Femi says, “The stories aren’t just in Haiti; they’re in almost each of the 16 countries the UN has a peacekeeping operation.”

Last year, after yet another scandal, the secretary general appointed a special representative, Jane Holl Lute, tasked solely with fixing the UN’S response to sex abuse. “Why is this unacceptable behavior going on?” she asks. “Well, it turns out, for the women of the world, this is an ever-present danger. There’s nowhere women are safe. There’s no family, no church, no school, no organization, no work place.” 

India Exports 700,000 Nissan To 106 Countries In Seven Years

Between 2010 and 2017, Nissan India exported a total of 700,000 “Made in India” Nissan and Datsun cars to 106 countries.

The company explained that this landmark was accomplished in a record span of seven years since the company began exports from India. The cars, manufactured at the Renault-Nissan Automotive India Ltd. plant in Chennai, have been exported to 106 countries.

“The achievement of this export milestone for Nissan clearly indicates the recognition of Indian production quality and its appeal to customers on the global stage,” said Guillaume Sicard, president, Nissan India Operations.

“We are happy to play our part in promoting ‘Made in India’ cars across the world by exporting 700,000 cars to 106 countries in seven years. Coupled with this exports achievement, in January we were the fastest growing domestic auto company in the country, and overall the second fastest growing OEM this fiscal year so far. The teams at our manufacturing facility and R&D operations in Chennai have worked tirelessly to help us achieve these milestones in our domestic and international markets. With our plans to launch eight new products for the Indian market by 2021 as announced earlier, the future is bright and exciting for Nissan in India.”

India is not only a key hub for completely built-up units (CBU) but also for parts supply. Nissan India exports over 2,500 types of manufactured parts to 25 Nissan and Renault plants in 18 countries, ranking in the top four in volume of parts shipped within Nissan global operations.

Nissan has been exporting vehicles from Kamarajar Port Ltd (formerly Ennore Port Ltd.) in Chennai since 2010 to various regions including Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and other destinations in Asia and Africa. For Nissan, the Micra has been the most-exported model out of India; other export models in the product line-up include Nissan Sunny, Datsun GO, Datsun GO+ and the Datsun redi-GO.

There has been increasing demand for Datsun models from India in international markets. Datsun GO+ found a new market in South Africa with the beginning of exports from July 2016. Datsun redi-GO exports to Sri Lanka started in August 2016, marking the re-entry of the Datsun brand in the country after 60 years.

Ghana’s President Sets Record With Appointment Of 110 Ministers

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has set a record a least in his country for appointing 110 ministers.

Fifty-six of them are full ministers, while 50 are deputy ministers, with the remaining four ministers of state.

In contrast Nigeria has 35 ministers.
Britain has a total of 120 ministers for a population of about 65 million.

Akufo-Addo, who was elected last December, promising to cut expenditure and fight corruption, said the appointments were necessary.

But critics believed that it was an overdo, describing the size of government as “elephant” for a country the size of Ghana.

Truly, the government size is a record for Ghana.

It is the largest government since the country, of about 27 million inhabitants, adopted a democratic constitution in 1992.

“I’m aware that people are concerned about what they see as maybe the cost of this large government,” Akufo-Addo admitted in an interview on national television.

“It is a necessary investment to make for the rapid transformation of this country,” he said and added that ministers “are coming to work, it is not going to be a holiday”.

But the opposition party is less convinced about the benefit of having such a big government.

“We’re confronted with an elephant size of government and Akufo-Addo has proven that he’s a politician rather than a president,” said Haruna Iddrisu, leader of the opposition National Democratic Congress in Parliament.

Following from the new wave of ministerial intake, the agriculture ministry now boasts a minister, a minister of state and three deputies.
Four other ministries also have three deputies and a minister.

Parliamentary sources told Reuters top government appointees receive monthly salaries of about $4,000 (£3,326) in addition to at least two cars, free fuel, a house, free utilities and personal protection.

“It’s a case of jobs for the boys,” said politics lecturer, Geoffrey Molu, whose comment was echoed on social media and by commentators on Ghana’s radio and TV channels.

Government spokesman, Nana Akomea, said criticism would stop if the government delivers on its ambitious agenda.

Brazilian President, Temer Abandons Official Residence, Blames Evil Spirit

President Michel Temer of Brazil has blamed bad vibes and even ghosts for driving him out of Alvorada Palace, his official residence.

According to Brazilian News Weekly, Temer surprised many people when he announced that he has left the presidential palace.

Alongside his former beauty queen wife and seven-year-old son, he relocated down the road to the residence of the vice-president.

The modernist Alvorada, which means Dawn and was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, would be a dream home for many.

It has a huge pool, football field, chapel, medical centre and vast lawn.

But Temer,76, and his 33-year-old wife Marcela, find the cavernous, glass-fronted building spooky.

“I felt something strange there. I wasn’t able to sleep right from the first night,” he was quoted as saying.

“The energy wasn’t good.”

The newspaper said Marcela felt the same thing, but only Michelzinho (their son), who went running from one end to the other, liked it.

“We even started to wonder: could there be ghosts?” he reportedly quipped to a newspaper.

According to a report in Globo newspaper, Marcela brought in a priest to attempt to drive out any evil spirits, but to no avail.

The Temers then moved to the still luxurious but smaller Jaburu Palace nearby.

Temer moved into the presidential quarters after succeeding Dilma Rousseff, the immediate past president, who was impeached for breaking budget accounting laws.

Before then, he was staying in the place he has just moved into.

The house moving comes in the middle of a severe political crisis for Brazil, with many of Temer’s allies likely to face corruption probes.

The president himself is battling a case in the electoral court where he is accused of having benefited from illegal donations when he and Rousseff ran together in 2014.

The ‘Mother’ Of South Sudan Calls For President Kiir To Stand Down

South Sudanese politician Rebecca Garang, widow of SPLM founder John Garang, tells Upfront on Al Jazeera:
• President Kiir has caused a “manmade famine”

• “All of us, as the leaders of South Sudan, we did not lead our people properly.”

• “Our leaders are using the name of their tribes in order for them to cling to power.”

• “We are calling for a dialogue where the whole people of South Sudan are brought on the table.”

Last week, the U.N. declared a famine in two counties of South Sudan, affecting more than 100,000 people, with a further million people on the brink of famine in the country.

On Upfront on Al Jazeera this weekend, host Mehdi Hasan asked South Sudanese politician Rebecca Garang who is to blame. “Of course it’s the leader,” she replied. “…because it is a manmade famine… He did not…ah, all of us, as the leaders of South Sudan, we did not lead our people properly.”

Garang is the widow of John Garang, the founder of the SPLM, and is widely considered to be the ‘mother’ of South Sudan. After fighting in the second Sudanese civil war, she went on to serve in Kiir’s cabinet but has since become one of his leading critics.

Garang warned recently that “a genocide is looming” in South Sudan. On Upfront, she put the blame on both President Kiir and his former vice president, Dr Riek Machar. “Our leaders are using the name of their tribes in order for them to cling to power,” she said.

The 2015 ceasefire between Kiir and Machar hasn’t held, even though there are now 11 000 UN troops in South Sudan. “So what do you do?” Hasan asked Garang. “Do you have a new peace process? Do you try recycling a ceasefire? Are you calling for some kind of foreign military intervention?”

“We are calling for a dialogue where the whole people of South Sudan are brought on the table so that they discuss the issues concerning them because their government is not doing anything,” she replied. President Kiir had similarly called for a dialogue, but she said, “He appointed himself to be the patron of the dialogue when he’s a party to the problem.”

 “Are you calling for him to stand down: President Kiir?” Hasan clarified.

“Yes. He has to,” she said.

Hasan also grilled Garang on reports her late husband recruited thousands of child soldiers to fight for him; whether or not she had any regrets over pushing for an independent South Sudan, considering the subsequent fallout; and over her record as human rights advisor to Kiir, during a time when Human Rights Watch reported that government forces were responsible for extrajudicial killings and torture.

White House Bars CNN, Others From Covering Press Briefing

Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of Sean Spicer, press secretary of President Donald Trump, on Friday.

Spicer reportedly told security aides to allow reporters from only a handpicked group of news organisations.

Organisations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in to the briefing, chose not to attend in protest of the White House’s actions.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement.

“We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the press corps, quickly rebuked the White House’s actions.

“The W.H.C.A. board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” the association president, Jeff Mason, said in a statement.

“We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press