July - December 2010

Basque militants call permanent Spain cease-fire
10 January 2011 – Washington Post – Daniel Woollss
The militant Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent cease-fire on Monday in what it called a firm step toward ending its bloody decades-long independence fight, but Spain's government quickly dismissed the announcement and demanded ETA disband outright.  Masked ETA members announced the cease-fire in a video distributed to Spanish media, and ETA's statement also appeared on the website of the pro-independence Basque newspaper Gara, which often serves as an ETA mouthpiece.  But the statement made no mention of ETA dissolving or giving up its weapons - key demands from successive Spanish governments. And a previous ceasefire that ETA declared in 2006 and called permanent ended after only nine months.
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Passengers thwart Turkish jet hijack attempt
5 January 2011 – BBC News
Passengers on a Turkish Airlines jet have overpowered a man who tried to hijack their flight from Norway to Istanbul, security sources say.  Turkish media reported that the man put on a mask and tried to force his way into the cockpit, saying he had a bomb.  He is said to have demanded that the plane return to Oslo, before being subdued by passengers.  The man was arrested when the plane landed at Istanbul's Ataturk airport. No-one was hurt.  Turkish media said the suspect was a Turkish citizen from a Kurdish village in the south-eastern region of Anatolia.  The man's motives were unclear.  The Turkish Dogan news agency said the would-be hijacker had tried to force his way into the cockpit saying: "I have a bomb."  Lelya Kilic, one of the 59 passengers on board flight TK1754, said she heard voices from the back of the plane about 30 minutes before it was due to land at Istanbul.
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Turkey: 10 Suspects Held in Attack Plot
31 December 2010 – The New York Times – Sebnem Arsu
Turkish police officers detained 10 people with suspected links to Al Qaeda in operations conducted in Bursa and Istanbul, following tips that the group was plotting attacks ahead of New Year’s Eve, the semiofficial Anatolian Agency reported. During security operations on Wednesday, the anti-terror units in Bursa, a town in the northwest, rounded up eight people, one of whom was the suspected leader of a local Qaeda cell, the report said.
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Bomb Blast Damages Athens Court Building
30 December 2010 – The New York Times – Niki Kitsantonis
A powerful bomb detonated outside a court building near central Athens on Thursday morning, but warning calls allowed the area to be cleared, the police said. There were no injuries, though the building and nearby cars were damaged.  The blast came as European concerns over the possibility of attacks by Islamist extremists is at a high pitch, but counterterrorism officials here remain focused on anarchists, like the Greek group that claimed responsibility for recent parcel bombs sent to foreign embassies in Athens and beyond. One addressed to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, reached her Berlin mailroom.  The authorities said that calls made about 7:40 a.m. to a private television station, Alter, and a daily newspaper, Eleftherotypia, warned that a bomb would go off in 40 minutes.
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French Deal to Sell Ships to Russians Is Criticized
29 December 2010 – The New York Times - Doreen Carvajal
Since a low-key Christmas Eve announcement of a French sale of assault ships to Russia, high-level government deal makers have boasted about the multimillion-euro deal like it was a soccer game triumph. “France wins,” declares the Web site for the Élysée Palace.  A French Navy Mistral amphibious assault ship, docked on the Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2009.  But critics — particularly among Russia’s neighbors including Georgia, Estonia and Lithuania — are raising alarms that France may have pioneered the way for other Western countries to sell Russia whatever they have to offer, from high-technology military equipment to rights for oil pipelines.  “It’s a scandal,” said André Glucksmann, a French philosopher and critic of the deal. He said in an interview on Tuesday that the announcement was timed for the busy Christmas season to bury the “dirty details.”
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Mail Bomb Defused at Rome Embassy
28 December 2010 – The New York Times - Rachel Donadio
Italian demolition experts defused a letter bomb at the Greek Embassy in Rome on Monday, just days after two people were seriously wounded when similar parcels exploded at two other embassies here.  The police and the Greek ambassador to Italy, Michael E. Kambanis, said they believed that the package was probably the work of the same anarchist group that claimed responsibility for the parcels that exploded at the Swiss and Chilean Embassies on Thursday.  The authorities also responded on Monday to what turned out to be false bomb alarms at the embassies of Albania, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Monaco, Slovenia, Sweden and Venezuela. All of the parcels found turned out to be holiday packages.
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British Police Charge 9 Men, Arrested in Raids, With Preparing for Terrorist Acts
28 December 2010 – The New York Times – Alan Cowell
A week after coordinated raids in three cities, the British police said Monday that they had charged nine of the 12 men they arrested, in a case that seemed to be a sign that Europe’s concerns over potential terrorist attacks were spreading.  Three of the 12 men were released without charges, the West Midlands Police said in a statement shortly before the other nine appeared in court in London, accused of “engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.”  The nine men, including five who British news reports said were of Bangladeshi origin, were accused of offenses that included reconnoitering targets, conspiring to cause explosions and testing incendiary material. On Monday, Judge Howard Riddle ordered the men held in prison until a further hearing on January 14.
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Parcel Bomb Attacks Strike at Embassies in Rome
23 December 2010 – The New York Times - Rachel Donadio and J. David Goodman
Diplomatic missions in Rome were hit by a coordinated assault of parcel bombs on Thursday, seriously injuring at least one person and injecting Europe with a new atmosphere of anxiety about possible terrorist plots ahead of the Christmas holiday. Police were conducting checks of all embassies in the capital, The Associated Press reported.  The first attack, a parcel bomb at the Swiss Embassy, exploded at midday. Shortly after, a second parcel bomb exploded at the Chilean Embassy here, wounding an employee.  “It’s a wave of terrorism against embassies, something much more worrisome than a single attack,” Mayor Gianni Alemanno told reporters.
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Senate Support Builds for Pact on Arms Control
21 December 2010 – The New York Times - Peter Baker
The Senate moved closer on Monday to approving a new arms control treaty with Russia over the opposition of Republican leaders as lawmakers worked on a side deal to assure skeptics that the arms pact would not inhibit American plans to build missile defense systems.  A Republican senator announced that he would vote for the treaty and two others said they were leaning toward it after a closed-door session on classified aspects of the pact. At the same time, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, produced separate legislation that could reassure fellow Republicans worried about the treaty’s impact on missile defense.  By the end of another tumultuous day, treaty backers said they could count more than the two-thirds majority required for approval in votes that could begin as early as Tuesday.
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British Police Detain 12 on Suspicion of Terrorism
20 December 2010 – New York Times - Alan Cowell and Ravi Somaiya
In the latest of several European terrorism alerts, the British police arrested 12 men before dawn on Monday in raids in three cities under counterterrorism laws — the biggest operation of its kind for months.  Officers waited in an alleyway between two houses being searched in Stoke-on-Trent on Monday.  The action, designed “to ensure public safety,” as the police put it, followed a suicide bombing in Sweden earlier this month and alarms in Germany over the reported threat of a terror attack modeled on the onslaught by gunmen in Mumbai.  But a Scotland Yard spokesman, speaking in return for anonymity under police rules, said the arrests were not linked to an unfolding terrorism investigation in Luton, just north of London, where Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, a 28-year-old Swedish-Iraqi man who killed himself and wounded two others when he detonated two bombs in Stockholm on Dec. 11, is said to have lived and studied.
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Germany Will Begin Afghan Exit Next Year
17 December 2010 – The New York Times - Judy Dempsy and Matthew Saltmarsh
Germany, which has the third largest military force in Afghanistan, will start withdrawing its 4,800 troops as early as next year, ending its mission there by 2014, the foreign minister told Parliament on Thursday.  The move comes as a review of the war strategy in the United States has concluded that American forces can begin withdrawing on schedule in July. It also comes just days after Britain, which has the second largest number of troops in the country after the United States, said it was “possible” that its troops could start leaving next year.  Speaking to the lower house, or Bundestag, the foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said the deployment of German troops had been right because it was about defending Germany’s security. But, he added, “It must not go on without end.”
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Government to seek approval for new Afghan mission
17 December 2010 – The Washington Post – The Associated Press
Prime Minister Mark Rutte says his government will seek approval from Parliament in the new year to send "dozens" of police trainers to Afghanistan.  Rutte tells Dutch daily De Telegraaf in comments published Friday he has "no guarantees," however, that the lower house will give the mission the green light.  Rutte has been negotiating with opposition parties for weeks to get approval for a training mission to Afghanistan, but it remains unclear if he has the support of enough lawmakers.  Rutte's minority conservative coalition came to power this year after ex-Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's previous administration collapsed amid disagreement on whether to extend a military mission in southern Afghanistan.
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New Turkish coup trial begins
16 December – Yahoo! News – Selcan Hacaoglu
About 200 active and retired Turkish military officers, including former chiefs of the air force as well as dozens of generals and admirals, went on trial Thursday on charges of plotting to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government in 2003.  The trial is held at a special court house in the town of Silivri, near Istanbul, and marks the government's increasing confidence in confronting a military that once held sway over Turkish political life. All 196 suspects, who are free pending trial, face between 15 and 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of "attempting to topple the government by force," according to the indictment, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.  Prosecutors have not made public any evidence or details of the accusations, but the Taraf newspaper has published what it calls leaked copies of documents pertaining to an alleged conspiracy dubbed "Sledgehammer."
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NATO Push Deals Taliban a Setback in Kandahar
16 December – New York Times – Garlotta Gall
As the Obama administration reviews its strategy in Afghanistan, residents and even a Taliban commander say the surge of American troops this year has begun to set back the Taliban in parts of their southern heartland and to turn people against the insurgency — at least for now.  On Thursday, the Pentagon will release a year-end review of the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan.  While the review seems certain to emphasize progress that has been made around the important southern city of Kandahar, security in other critical areas of the country continues to deteriorate.  The uneven picture in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether the United States military is gambling too heavily on a strategy aimed at breaking the back of the Taliban in their southern stronghold, at the expense of securing the country over all. The stepped-up operations in Kandahar Province have left many in the Taliban demoralized, reluctant to fight and struggling to recruit, a Taliban commander said in an interview this week.
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Raid on Islamic Groups in Germany
15 December 2010 – The New York Times – Alan Cowell and Michael Slackman
The German Interior Ministry ordered simultaneous raids in three states on Tuesday against what it called Salafist networks suspected of seeking the imposition of an Islamic state. The action signaled growing concern over the radical messages of some Islamic groups.  The raids, in Bremen, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, were not linked to a recent terrorism alert reportedly inspired by phone calls from a man who said he wanted to quit working with terrorists and who warned of a pending Mumbai-style attack, the Interior Ministry said.  The ministry statement said the raids were directed at two groups: Invitation to Paradise in the cities of Brunswick and Mönchengladbach, and the Islamic Culture Center of Bremen, on the North Sea coast. The two groups work closely together and share the same ideology. The authorities are seeking to outlaw both groups.
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Swedish Bombing Suspect’s Drift to Extremism
14 December – The New York Times – Ravi Somaiya
Those who knew the prime suspect in the Stockholm bombings described him as highly intelligent as a child in Sweden, but stubborn and often in trouble. Those who prayed and studied with him in England, where he attended college from 2001 to 2004 and reportedly lived until weeks before the attack, spoke of a friendly associate who fervently sought an audience for increasingly extremist views but was quick to anger and slow to forgive.  His own words, sent in statements to the Swedish news media and the police minutes before he detonated the crude bombs that would kill him, and wound two others, on a busy shopping street in Stockholm, show him as a loving husband and father, as well as a vehement Islamic extremist able to talk tenderly of his children and determinedly of killing in the same breath.
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