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France Terrorist Attack: how a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) bomb-maker just missed Joining the Attack with ISIS

LeT operative Muhammed Usman failed to reach the French capital in time for the terrorist attack that killed 130 people because Greece had detained him

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Fans comfort each other after descending onto the playing field in Stade de France stadium at the end of the friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Nov. 13, 2015, the night of the terror attacks (VOA)
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  • Paris terrorist attack happened in November, 2015
  • A person named Usman identified as a LeT bomb-maker was suspected to join the attack
  • Two suicide bombers blew themselves in the National stadium in Paris, also targetting other places
  • Usman and fellow had plans for another terrorist strike

An alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) bomb-maker with a penchant for pornography was to have participated in the Islamic State (IS) terrorist strike on Paris in November, 2015, CNN reported on Monday.

But Muhammed Usman failed to reach the French capital in time for the terrorist attack that killed 130 people because Greece had detained him, it said.

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Usman was part of a terror cell controlled by an IS leader called Abu Ahmed that joined the stream of refugees going to Europe in order to launch attacks there, CNN reported.

Investigators in Europe identified Urdu-speaking Usman as a suspected LeT bomb-maker, according to CNN.

The report did not say if there was a direct connection between LeT and IS or if Usman had joined IS on his own. LeT has reportedly been caught in the cross-fire of IS and al-Qaida, with IS criticising LeT as one of the anti-India groups acting on orders of “apostate” Pakistani army.

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LeT created the text-book model for multi-pronged urban terrorist attacks using a very small number of attackers when it carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The IS attack followed a similar strategy using only nine operatives to take huge toll and plunge a metropolis into fear.

Two men from Usman’s group, Ahmad al-Mohammad and Mohamad al-Mahmod, reached Paris and blew themselves up outside the National Stadium during the attacks that also targeted a theatre and a restaurant.

However, Greek authorities found that Usman, who had started out from the IS caliphate-controlled city of Raqqa in Syria, and another terror cell member, Algerian-born Adel Haddadihad, carried forged passports and detained them for a month before setting them free to join the refugee trail.

CNN reported that according to its sources, “Investigators believe that delay was significant; as a result, they would not have a chance to become part of the Paris attacks.”

On their release, Usman and Haddadihad received money arranged by Ahmed and joining the refugee trail eventually reached Salzburg, Austria, where they applied for asylum on Nov 14, a day after the Paris attacks.

According to CNN, “European investigators concluded that Haddadi and Usman were part of the same terror cell as the Paris bombers and, having failed to participate in that bloody day, were planning another strike.”

But before that they could carry out any other attacks, they were arrested at a refugee centre on Dec 10 and eventually extradited to France.

CNN reported that senior European counterterrorism sources said that Haddadi and Usman face terrorism charges.

An examination of Usman’s phone by authorities showed that when not contacting terror leaders and affiliates, he was using his phone to visit about two dozen pornographic sites, including “sexxx lahur” and “Pakistani Lahore college girls … ImakeSex”, CNN said. (IANS)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Laskar-e-taiba is a well connected terror organisation which is planning attacks against India and south-asian countries and now it has reached Europe. The West should realise that LeT are puppets and Pakistan its puppeteer.

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)