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39-year-old Sikh Man shot in 3rd Attack on Indians in US in 10 days: “Go back to your own country,” says Gunman

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Gun (representational image), Wikimedia

Washington, March 5, 2017: A Sikh man was injured when a masked gunman opened fire at him in front of his house in Washington after telling him “Go back to your own country.”

The victim, who was hit in the arm, survived the Friday night attack, the third shooting of an Indian national in the last 10 days in the US.

The attacks have claimed two lives and shocked the nation.

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The 39-year-old Sikh, who has not been identified by name, was working on his car in front of his house in Kent city of Washington state when the gunman described as white, who had his face partially covered, opened fire at him, police said.

“We’re early on in our investigation,” the Seattle Times quoted Kent Police chief Ken Thomas as saying on Saturday morning. “We are treating this as a very serious incident.”

According to KING5 TV, the incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime and police had reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for help.

In the recent spate of attacks, Harnish Patel of Lancaster in South Carolina, was killed on Thursday, and Srinivas Kuchibhotla was murdered on February 22 in Olathe, Kansas.

Another Indian, Alok Madasani, who was injured in the Olathe attack, survived.

Satwinder Kaur, a candidate for Kent City Council, said on Facebook that the latest victim “wishes to remain anonymous at this time. So as a community we should respect that”. She said Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke has reached out to him.

“This incident is such a big deal because hate crimes to this extent do not happen in our community,” Kaur said.

Sikh community leader Jasmit Singh told the Times that the 39-year-old was released from the hospital.

“He is just very shaken up, both him and his family,” Singh said. “We’re all kind of at a loss in terms of what’s going on right now. This is just bringing it home. The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone.”

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According to Singh, Sikh men in area around Seattle have experienced “a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past”.

Before the Kent attack, the Sikh Coalition had released an advisory asking the community members to report instances of people “saying hateful things about your Sikh identity”.

In the aftermath of the Kansas attack, the coalition said: “We should not wait until someone gets hurt or killed to report hate incidents.”

Kent is about 30 kms from Seattle and is near the Congressional constituency of Pramila Jayapal, the Indian-origin member of the House of Representatives.

Jayapal tweeted: “Thoughts and prayers to family and entire Sikh community in the wake of horrific shooting. This must be investigated as #HateCrime.”

On Thursday night, Patel was shot outside his house in Lancaster.

Officials do not believe it was a hate crime. “I don’t have any reason to believe that this was racially motivated,” county Sheriff Barry Faile said on Friday.

In the February 22 Kansas incident, an American, Ian Grillot, who tried to stop the shooting, was also shot and injured.

A white Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, was arrested and charged with murder in the killing of Kuchibhotla. Purinton reportedly said that he had shot two Iranians.

The hate crime has been condemned by leaders in both the US and India.

In his address to the joint session of the Congress, Trump last Tuesday said: “Last week’s shooting in Kansas city reminds us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

At a news conference in Washington on Friday, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said he had discussed the Kent incident with administration and Congressional leaders during his visit.

Jaishankar earlier met Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

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“What we heard from very high-level, cabinet level that we should regard this as an act of an individual,” he said.

“The American justice system was at work, it could bring the perpetrators of this act to justice. It is being prosecuted as a hate crime.”

Hate crimes have been a part of the American fabric, including in the liberal state of Washington.

In Auburn in 2012, a Sikh taxi driver was attacked by a man who thought he was Muslim. The attacker was sentenced to three years in prison for the crime.

In 2015, Hindu place of worship in Kent, the Sanatan Dharma Temple, was attacked and had its windows smashed and the word “Fear,” painted on it.

Another Hindu temple in nearby Bothell was also attacked.

Neither of these hate crimes were condemned by former President Barack Obama or the media. (IANS)

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Texas Gunman Practiced Target on Animals Ahead of the Shooting Massacre: Ex Colleague

Jessika Edwards, who worked with Kelley at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2012, said Kelley told her that he was "using the dogs as target practice".

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Texas gunman
Markers are seen at the front f the building as law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (VOA)

Washington, November 10, 2017 : Devin Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 persons inside a church in Texas, had claimed that he bought animals for target practice, according to a former Air Force colleague.

Jessika Edwards, who worked with Kelley at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 to 2012, said Kelley told her that he was “using the dogs as target practice”.

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The morbid admission came in Facebook messages starting in 2014, Edwards told CNN.

Though Edwards was not sure if the Texas gunman was telling the truth, the odd behavior was enough for her to stop communicating with him.

Kelley was accused in 2014 of punching a dog in Colorado. He initially pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, but the case was dismissed after he paid fines.

Edwards said the Texas gunman also displayed a fascination with mass murders while he was enlisted in the Air Force.

“He would make jokes about
wanting to kill somebody…
And we would say,
‘wait, that’s not funny’.”

The obsession was so pronounced, Edwards said, that when Kelley was disciplined for poor performance she told her bosses to “back off or he would shoot the place up”.

“He was always getting into trouble… It was problem after problem,” Edwards said.

A law enforcement source confirmed to CNN that FBI agents interviewed Edwards about her interactions with the gunman.

In 2012, Kelley was court-martialed and convicted for assaulting his wife and stepson.

Edwards said those domestic problems boiled over in the job and Kelley would come in depressed and unfocused.

After the shooting massacre on November 5, the Air Force has been criticised for failing to notify federal law enforcement officials of Kelley’s conviction.

Kelley was dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest when he attacked the church in Sutherland Springs, a quiet town some 45 km southeast of San Antonio.

The victims ranged from under two-years-old to 77. (IANS)

 

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Journalist Behind the Panama Papers Killed in a Car Bomb

Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

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Panama papers
Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. (Representative image) Pixabay

Valletta, October 17, 2017 : A journalist who led the Panama Papers probe into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her residence, the media reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device, reports the Guardian.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.

Her latest revelations accused Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reported.

Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. “In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity.”

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In a statement, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack”.

“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat, adding “Both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

He announced in parliament later on Monday that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for help from the US government.

According to local media reports, Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats.

The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35 p.m. on Monday, and the explosion, which occurred near her home, was reported to police just after 3 p.m.

Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. (IANS)

 

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)