Iranian diplomat suspected of plotting attack in France

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 13 July 2018

BERLIN — An Iranian diplomat is suspected of involvement in a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France. Assadollah Assadi was charged in Germany on Wednesday with activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder.

France Iran
Activists of the National Council of Resistance of Iran hold placards reading “Deliver the Iranian ‘diplomat’-terrorist to Belgium” during a demonstration calling for the extradition of Assadollah Assadi, an alleged Iranian intelligence officer, to Belgium in front of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on July 11, 2018.
 
 TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Assadi, a Vienna-based diplomat, is suspected of contracting a couple in Belgium to attack an annual meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in Villepinte, near Paris, German federal prosecutors said.

He allegedly gave the Antwerp-based couple a device containing 500 grams of the explosive TATP during a meeting in Luxembourg in late June, prosecutors said in a written statement.

Assadi was detained earlier this month near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after the couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.

In their statement, German prosecutors allege that Assadi, who has been registered as a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna since 2014, was a member of the Iranian intelligence service “Ministry of Intelligence and Security,” whose tasks “primarily include the intensive observation and combatting of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran.”

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using its embassies to plot extremist attacks in Europe and warned Tehran that its actions have “a real high cost” after it threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.

“Just this past week there were Iranians arrested in Europe who were preparing to conduct a terror plot in Paris, France. We have seen this malign behavior in Europe,” Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview with Sky News Arabia during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called the allegations of a foiled extremist plot a ploy.

Belgian authorities also accuse Assadi of being part of the alleged plot reportedly aimed at setting off explosives at a huge annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, or MEK, in neighboring France, and want him extradited.

German prosecutors said their investigation wouldn’t hinder Belgium’s extradition request for the suspect.

Meanwhile, an Iranian who resides in Belgium and was detained in France agreed on Wednesday to be turned over to Belgian authorities, who had issued a European arrest warrant, a French judicial official told the Associated Press.

The suspect, identified as Mehrdad Arefani, 54, will be handed over within 10 days, and go before an investigating magistrate there, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly in an ongoing case and asked not to be identified.

The MEK is an exiled Iranian opposition group based near Paris with some members, in particular, in Albania. The formerly armed group was removed from European Union and U.S. terrorism lists several years ago after denouncing violence and getting western politicians to lobby on its behalf.

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US Secretary of State Rides in Gun-Toting “Embassy Air” Helicopter In Afghanistan

Marine Walking to Helicopters

WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Monday to see what progress has been made nearly one year after President Trump announced his new “South Asia strategy.”

While he touted successes and said the strategy “is indeed working,” much of the evidence points to the contrary – a continued stalemate nearly 17 years after the U.S. war there began.

Just days before his visit, an American soldier was killed in an insider attack, the third fatality in Afghanistan this year. The Taliban are said to contest control of a majority of Afghan districts, according to analysts. And even Pompeo himself was limited in his travel during his brief time on the ground out of safety concerns.

“My conclusion from this visit is that the president’s strategy is indeed working,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Kabul alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, arguing it “has sent a clear message too to the Taliban: They cannot wait us out. And we are beginning to see the results both on the battlefield where the Taliban’s momentum is slowing and in the prospects for peace with them.”

Trump announced last August he was increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, empowering field commanders to make more decisions, and ending the Obama administration’s timeline for withdrawal in favor of a “conditions-based” approach. There are now about 14,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, training and advising the Afghan military to fight the Taliban and ISIS and occasionally participating in their own counterterror operations.

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But even after that injection of American military power, the shape of the battlefield has not changed. According to the latest report by the government’s own special inspector general for Afghanistan, the Afghan government only controlled about 56 percent of the country’s districts, with nearly 15 percent under Taliban control. The Long War Journal at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, a Washington think tank, puts that number even higher, with the Taliban controlling or contesting as much as 61 percent of the country’s districts.

The opium cultivation also jumped to a record high in 2017 of approximately 328,000 hectares — 63 percent higher than 2016, according to that special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR. That growth fuels the terrorism the U.S. has spent nearly two decades fighting, as the majority of terror groups’ funding comes from the drug trade.

At a NATO summit in Brussels this week, the U.S. is expected to urge member nations to contribute more money for security forces, according to U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison, because “the terrorist network that has grown in Afghanistan has been exported to many of our countries,” she warned. That threat hit the U.S. again on Saturday when an American soldier was killed and two others wounded in an attack by an Afghan soldier they were training. He was the third American killed this year after a soldier was shot by the Taliban in April and by ISIS in January.

“Make no mistake, there’s still a great deal of work to do,” Pompeo said. But he pointed to the growth in size and capability of Afghan security forces, upcoming elections this fall after a two-year delay, and reforms within the Afghan government as signs of the strategy working.

He added, “An element of the progress is the capacity that we now have to believe that there is hope that many of the Taliban now see that they can’t win on the ground militarily.”

But the Taliban continue to publicly eschew peace talks, launch attacks on Afghan and U.S. forces, and campaign to win over Afghan territory militarily and Afghan minds politically. President Ghani’s recent overture for negotiations has gone unanswered, even after a successful, but short-lived ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid in June that saw Afghan and Taliban soldiers taking selfies together.

There may be secret talks ongoing between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson told reporters in May there was a “robust dialogue” with “tremendous potential,” but State Department officials would not confirm any talks were underway.

“I’m not going to speak to specific diplomacy because, obviously, its potential success is dependent in part on a degree of confidentiality of that type of process,” a senior State Department official told ABC News in June.

Either way, the Taliban has demanded that the U.S. engage it directly in peace talks, but the U.S. has consistently dismissed that idea.

“We can’t run the peace talks. We can’t settle this from the outside. This will be settled by the Afghan people coming together,” Pompeo reiterated Monday.

But Pompeo’s statement that the Taliban realize “the continuation of fighting will lead them to a bad outcome” doesn’t seem to have materialized. As Long War Journal’s Bill Roggio and Thomas Jocelyn wrote in June, the U.S. and Afghan governments have “not beaten back the jihadists in the months since the Trump administration announced its new strategy last August. They have, at best, prevented them from conquering even more ground. Why would the Taliban, which is not close to being defeated, give up now?”

Pompeo’s visit was also overshadowed by his own security concerns. It was not announced in advance, and journalists traveling with him could not report that he was there for hours – a sign of how poor the security situation is at this moment.

He landed not at Kabul International Airport, where the Taliban launched a rocket attack after Defense Secretary James Mattis landed there hours earlier, but at the U.S.’s Bagram Air Base about 30 miles north of Kabul. From there, he took a small plane to Kabul, to catch a helicopter to the U.S. embassy and avoid the streets. After meetings at the embassy, he was driven in a convoy of armored vehicles a few hundred yards to the presidential palace, according to reporters traveling with him.

Upon landing in Kabul, Pompeo was offered a flak jacket and took off his suit jacket to put it on, before U.S. Ambassador John Bass declined one and Pompeo did, too.

When Pompeo’s predecessor Rex Tillerson visited last October, he and his delegation never even left Bagram Air Base. But the U.S. embassy put out a press release about his visit to “Kabul,” and the Afghan president’s office released a photo of Tillerson and Ghani meeting that had digitally altered it to remove a clock with military time and a red fire alarm — two signs the picture was taken at a U.S. facility. The State Department later said the embassy’s error was “a simple mistake.”

After a little over six hours on the ground, Pompeo was out of the country and onward to the United Arab Emirates.

Trackback:

http://sandhillsexpress.com/abc_world/in-face-of-security-concerns-recent-attacks-pompeo-claims-progress-in-afghanistan-abcid36088323/

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The Bullet of Impunity

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: El País

By: Javier Garza Ramos, Torreón, Coahuila.
June 18, 2018

The bullet that killed Fernando Purón Johnston , PRI candidate for federal deputy in Piedras Negras, Coahuila on Friday, June 8, was the same one used six days earlier, on June 2, that killed Pamela Terán Pineda, candidate for councilor El Juchitán , Oaxaca, and Juana Maldonado Infante, candidate for local deputy in Jopala, Puebla .
The same bullet was used the next day, on Saturday June 9, which wounded Rosely Magaña, candidate for councilor in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, who died 72 hours later. And it was the same bullet that killed Alejandro Chávez, candidate for mayor of Taretan, Michoacán on Thursday, June 14th.
This same bullet  has killed 44 pre-candidates and candidates for election and other 70 officials and political figures in this election process. No ballistic proof is needed to sustain the claim, just follow the path of the bullet of impunity.

Fernando Purón Johnston, PRI Candidate and former Mayor of Piedras Negras, Coahuila

The person who ordered Purón’s murder probably knew that nothing was going to happen to him, because nothing happened to Terán’s murderer , and he knew that Salado’s murderer had nothing happen to him and so goes back in time the long thread of impunity.

I get the impression that we already saw this movie. The sequence of candidates killed in the current electoral process in Mexico is very similar to the list of dozens of journalists killed in Mexico in the last decade. A succession of crimes that alarm at first, but have become normalized.
Candidates and journalists are two high-risk groups in Mexico. Of course, they are not the only ones, they are only two subgroups of rampant unabated  violence that last year averaged 20 victims a day  and of which there is no end in sight.
While the motive of each murder is particular, in the case of journalists and candidates, a common thread unites them in that the victims may have touched powerful interests that prefer to use violence to end threats because they live in a country with a broken rule of law. Violence is a cheap, fast and easy remedy to perceived threats to institutions.
Throughout this succession of crimes there are those who warn about the gestation of an epidemic but their voices are drowned because nothing ever happens, until a high-profile case arrives that causes greater impact, which raises the volume of the complaints, although the increasing demand for sentencing does not end up solving anything.
The “strong condemnation” that we hear from the authorities is just a placebo that shows its inefficiency. Worse yet, when those high-profile cases are registered in the highest spheres of authority, after having ignored dozens of other cases, things are only  likely to get worse.
Fernando Purón was the highest-profile candidate killed in the current electoral process, as he was the first candidate to hold a federal election position, while the previous candidates had been candidates for local positions in small municipalities.

Secretary of Labor Roberto Campa

His death was the first that merited the presence of a member of the cabinet of President Enrique Peña Nieto at the funeral. The Secretary of Labor, Roberto Campa, traveled to Piedras Negras as the presidential representative, but also with the same common promises to deliver justice.

Something similar happened with the case of Javier Valdez, the highest profile journalist killed in Mexico in recent years.

Javier Valdez, award winning and internationally known Journalist and Author of several books

 A year ago, when Javier Valdez was gunned down in Culiacán, Peña Nieto spoke for the first time about the murder of a journalist, after having ignored 35 previous crimes committed during his six-year term . The president brought together the security cabinet and the governors, issued instructions to strengthen the protection of journalists and promised that the killing would not go unpunished.
A year later, two of the three men who attacked Valdez on May 15, 2017 have been detained, but accused only of the material authorship of the crime, because until now the intellectual authors enjoy the same impunity enjoyed by those responsible for dozens of previous murders.
It is easy to conclude that if the murder of a nationally and internationally recognized journalist provoked the reaction of the same President of the Republic but the crime still goes unpunished, anyone who is thinking of killing a lesser-known journalist than Javier Valdez can reasonably think he or she will get away with it.
In fact, there were already some who thought about it: in 2017 six more journalists were killed after Javier Valdez and at least four so far in 2018.
Mexican police Mexican Citizens take to the streets to demand Justice and Freedom of the Press after their beloved brave truth-telling journalists continue to be murdered.
That is why Roberto Campa’s presence at Purón’s funeral involves a challenge in itself: if the murder of a candidate that merited this level of attention is unpunished the fate of others is already cast.
The impunity in the homicide of Purón also carries another risk because it threatens to throw overboard the pacification that the State of Coahuila has had in the last years and in particular the northern zone of the state,  in Piedras Negras, ie, where Purón  was mayor from 2014 to 2017, a period in which state and federal operatives managed to dismantle the power of Los Zetas, who waged a reign of terror in the area during the previous decade .
The infamous prison near Piedras Negras, Coahuila that Los Zetas turned into a Base of Operations and many call a death camp. The death toll will probably never be known.
Unlike previous municipal administrations, that of Purón did not succumb to the control of Los Zetas. That had been one of the focal points of his speech and it is now one of the lines of investigation into his murder.
It was during the years that Purón was mayor when Piedras Negras managed to overcome the trauma of the massacres and disappearances that have been documented with horrifying detail by El Colegio de México, the government of Coahuila and the Executive Commission for Victim Assistance.
 Piedras Negras has made such a remarkable recovery that in the latest surveys of urban security by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics, Piedras Negras appeared among the cities with a better perception of security, data that resulted from the mayoral work of the now dead candidate.
Just a week ago, Pablo Ferri published in this newspaper the chronicle of a trip through Coahuila that ended precisely in Piedras Negras. Noting the horror of recent years, the story also showed a semblance of quiet normalcy within political campaigns.
Two days after the text was published, the story completely changed to one that we already know all too well.
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Arrest Warrants Issued in the Murder of Congressional Candidate Purón.

Authorities issue arrest warrants in the murder of candidate Purón..his widow announces pregnancy

Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat ,,,Big thanks to mi Amiga Lacy

Ignacio, ‘El Putrambula’, served as director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, and has more than 81 complaints of homicide, kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority.

Purón was 112th candidate murdered in the past 14 months of Mexico’s bloody election campaign

 

The young widow announced through her personal Facebook account and confirmed it later in an exclusive interview with Periódico Zócalo. “I feel a lot of happiness, I am eight weeks pregnant and I know in this way that Fernando is giving me the strength to keep going despite his absence,” she said.

This is the second child of Villarreal and her husband, who was killed minutes after leaving a political debate on Friday June 8th.  Puron, was running for deputy, (similar to a congressman) of the 11th district of Coahuila.

“Since Fernando became the father of María Constanza, I could see how his life changed, and with the anticipation of our second child, we were very excited, we were already making many plans, like decorating a second room, (… ) I have at the same time nostalgia, but it fills me with illusion to know that a part of Fernando grows inside me,” she said.

In a news conference yesterday, authorities announced they have issued arrest warrants for two men believed to be the authors of the murder, not necessarily the trigger-man.

The names were not revealed yesterday  but later revealed by Governor Miguel Riquelme, along with a wanted poster.

The wanted men are brothers Erick and Ignacio Arámbula Viveros, there is a 10 million MP reward offered.

Ignacio was director of public security in Tabasco

Erick was part of the Equitation team of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sena), and even participated in the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara.  Ignacio, ‘El Putrambula’, served as director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, and has more than 81 complaints of homicide, kidnapping, torture, abuse of authority.  They are from Michoacan.

This kidnapping attributed to Ignacio was caught on video….

From video notes:

2011: The kidnapping of Gino Gritilli by the then chief of public security of tabasco, Ignacio Arambula Viveros.  All involved are policemen and are hooded. “A dozen of municipal police officers and the corrupt, legalized professional criminal (a former lieutenant, former military chef) Ignacio Arambula Viveros (el putrambula), director of public security in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mex.”

During his candidacy Puron highlighted how Los Zaetas cartel were “ran out of Piedras Negras” and mentioned the same during the debate.  Puron was a popular mayor of Piedras Negras before running for the federal office seat. Piedras Negras is a border city adjacent to Eagle Pass Texas

The candidate’s killing was captured on security video footage, as he was taking a selfie with a supporter, outside the university where the debate was held.

 

Puron was the 112th candidate assassinated since September, 2017.

Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis Posted at 12:31 PM

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Suicide attack close to Indian consulate in Afghanistan kills 14

Jalalabad, Afghanistan: A suicide attack in restive eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed at least 14 people and wounded 45, an official said, the second attack in as many days to mar an unprecedented ceasefire.

Kabul Bombing 2

The explosion happened outside the Nangarhar provincial governor´s office in the capital Jalalabad, his spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

It was also close to the Indian consulate.

Khogyani said 14 people had been killed and 45 wounded. An Afghan security source confirmed the suicide attack but gave a lower death toll of at least 10.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Khogyani said a suicide bomber on foot had targeted Taliban, local elders and civilians as they left the governor´s compound where they had attended a special event for the Eid holiday.

On Saturday, a suicide attack on a gathering of Taliban, security forces and civilians in a district of the same eastern province of Nangarhar killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others, provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal told AFP.

Daesh group´s Afghanistan franchise claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Sounding the alarm on ‘directed energy’ attacks Could an ‘energised device’ have been the smoking gun injuring US diplomats in China and Cuba?

It’s time for Western policymakers to develop a playbook for countermeasures against potential ‘directed energy’ attacks, Robert Bunker writes.

recent health alert posted on the US Department of State website related to an incident in Guangzhou, China, in which an employee of the US embassy suffered certain ‘bio-effects’. The event can be viewed in the context of earlier incidents, such as that in which US – as well as one or more Canadian – diplomatic staff members serving in Havana, Cuba were similarly affected.

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This is an image of the SIGINT Signature of an S400 Surface to Air Missile and it has Nothing to do with the Story.  But it is one of the most beautiful SIGINT Signatures. 

These traumatic brain and bodily injuries to diplomatic personnel have raised concerns over the possibility that an ongoing series of clandestine directed energy attacks have been taking place, and are increasingly drawing news and social media attention.

Three primary reasons exist why a clandestine state entity may intentionally project directed energy at US and allied embassies.

First, such energies can be utilized for sensing and spying activities in an attempt to obtain restricted and secret information either being discussed or transmitted. For instance, listening devices exist that can bounce energy frequencies off the window glass of an office, thus allowing the hearing of a private conversation inside.

Second, directed energy can be deployed in a jamming and harassment role to degrade embassy and staff functioning. This would be akin to disrupting cell phone reception, local area networks (for example from a computer to a printer), or even other more secure forms of communication.

Third, certain electromagnetic frequencies may be utilised in order to injure personnel and destroy specific forms of military equipment. As national militaries increasingly weaponise the electromagnetic spectrum, the use of infra- and ultra-sonic devices, high-powered microwaves (HPM), and lasers are becoming more common

Such advanced technologies are well suited for clandestine use because some of them – particularly certain sonic and HPM technologies – can bypass physical walls and structures. They directly injure targeted individuals with virtually none of the conventional forensic evidence a firearm or explosive would leave behind. China is well aware of these advanced weaponry capabilities and is actively pursuing them developmentally and in field-testing.

Various narratives and counter-narratives, however, have been proposed about these incidents in attempts to dismiss them as non-events. They have been portrayed as a figment of employee imagination, the product of mass hysteria, and more recently – given the preponderance of medical evidence that diplomatic personnel have suffered actual physical damage – as the malfunctioning of electronic eavesdropping equipment.

Within the context of these narratives, disinformation campaigns are actively being waged by Chinese, Russian, and allied authoritarian regimes as a component of their foreign policies, which are directly at odds with liberal democratic governance and individual human rights.

Viewing the incidents as some form of ongoing series of attacks, however, appears more plausible and more in line with US governmental perspectives, especially considering the types and circumstances of the injuries suffered, as well as the concurrent audible noises and other sensory events reported.

Recommendations for policymakers concerning the mysterious incidents in Havana and Guangzhou exist at varying levels of action.

On the declaratory level, restraint must be exercised because no ‘smoking gun’ (or, in this instance, ‘energised device’) exists which directly links any of these incidents to a specific entity or national backing.

With this said, an increasing evidential pattern of incidents and anomalies have taken place within Chinese military activities to warrant concern over the likelihood that the embassy attacks may represent a new component of Chinese clandestine operations carried out against the Western liberal democracies. These include the counter-optical lasing of multiple US military aircraft from the new Chinese base in Djibouti and the use of commercial fishing fleets to harass US warships.

While Western nations are attempting to engage with China, the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping – now its leader for life – has essentially seized the South China Sea, militarised it, and slowly begun to build up the capacity to globally project its military power.

Western political leaders – including those in Australia – should now be on guard for Chinese attempts to fracture democratically based defence agreements and coalitions. It can be expected that such a strategy will be supported by ongoing clandestine measures directed against democratic states for disruptive and propaganda purposes.

At the more specific level of protecting embassies and their staff, this pattern of incidents warrants the creation of a directed energy weapons playbook for incident deterrence, detection, mitigation, response, emergency services, investigation and recovery purposes.

Such playbooks – generally utilised within counter-terrorism programs – are created for countermeasure purposes against known and recognised threats such as active shooters, suicide bombers or weaponised drones. They proactively lay out the identified threat, and detail plans and actions to address that threat before, during and after an incident has taken place. Examples of potential countermeasures include detectors to provide early warning of electromagnetic use, the ability to triangulate back to the point of origin of a suspected attack, and energy frequency dampeners (for example projected anti-frequency fields).

While none of these policy recommendations will immediately end what could be additional, albeit likely sporadic, future directed energy attacks on US embassy personnel, they will begin to help in responding to these incidents along the continuum of deterrence through to recovery. They should be viewed as prudent measures to be used alongside those actions now being undertaken by US intelligence and federal investigative agencies, which are attempting to determine the actual perpetrators of these incidents and if any definitive links to China’s clandestine services exist.

The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

 

Trackback:

https://www.policyforum.net/sounding-alarm-directed-energy-attacks/

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Moroccan Consulate Staff receives a poisoned letter in Germany.

On Monday morning, May 28, an employee at the Moroccan Consulate in Düsseldorf, Germany, received a letter that contained suspicious powder. The latter gave the employee an unpleasant-looking rash, reports German online newspaper Westdeutsche Zeitung.

morrocan Consulate

According to the same source, the police went to the consulate to «determine the nature of the powder». Moreover, WDR rejects the hypothesis, suggesting that the powder was poisonous, indicating that «the tingling was probably due to a heart attack».

According to the same source, the letter also contained a CD. The information was confirmed by the police, without giving further details.

More : https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/65389/germany-employee-moroccan-consulate-receives.html

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CCTV images released of men police want to speak to after arson attack at Iraqi Consulate

A fire was deliberately started at the Consulate of Iraq in Manchester city centre in October last year, GMP say

CCTV images have been released of men police want to speak to following an arson attack in the city centre.

Police believe the men could help with their investigation into the blaze at the Consulate of Iraq in October last year.

An accelerant was set alight and thrown against the building, before the offenders fled toward Bridgewater Hall.

Luckily no one was in the government building at the time, ‘as people could have been seriously injured or worse’, police said.

Officers were called to the scene, on Oxford Court, at about 2am on Tuesday, October 17.

An investigation was launched, and detectives identified four men they want to speak to as part of their enquiries.

The images of the men were circulated on a national image database as part of the joint fire and CSI investigation, but that proved unsuccessful.

iraqi-arson-comp

Det Sgt Rick Anderton of GMP’s City of Manchester team, said: “I’m thankful that no one was inside when this happened, as people could have been seriously injured or worse.

 

Oxford-Court-4

“This happened at one of the busiest junctions in the city and although it was a while ago now, I’d ask anyone who saw something that stood out from the ordinary that night, to contact police.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 6065 or 101, quoting incident number 128 of October 17, 2017. Reports can also be made anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 

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Is China Really Targeting US Diplomats With a ‘Sonic Attack’?

Diplomatic Security Situation Report 05/26/2018

On May 23, the U.S. embassy in China released a health alert, claiming that a U.S. government employee in China “recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure.”

Diplomatic Security Situation Report

Although the statement clarified that the United States did not know “what caused the reported symptoms” nor was aware of “any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community,” the U.S. government sent a warning message to all its citizens in China in the health alert:

[I]f you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present.

An embassy spokeswoman also told CNN that this U.S. employee was diagnosed with a “mild traumatic brain injury.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later claimed that this incident in China was “very similar” to and “entirely consistent” with those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana, Cuba. Last year U.S. State Department sent most of its diplomats in Cuba home after accusing the Cuban government of conducting “sonic attacks” on employees of the American embassy.

Unsurprisingly, after Pompeo’s remarks the U.S. media then widely referred to this incident as a Chinese “sonic attack.”

However, many researchers believe that the symptoms these U.S. diplomats suffered are unlikely to be caused by “sonic attacks.”

Jürgen Altmann, a physics professor at Technischen Universität Dortmund in Berlin, told CNN, “I know of no acoustic effect that would produce concussion-like symptoms; according to my research, strong effects on humans require loudness levels that would be perceived as very loud noise while exposed.”

In line with Altmann, Wang Ning, chief physician of the Department of Neurosurgery in Beijing Xuanwu Hospital, who has specialized in the field of neurosurgery for many years, also told Chinese media that “To cause a ‘traumatic brain injury,’ the intensity of sound waves should be as strong as an explosive level.”

As for the earlier Cuba incident, many U.S. experts also ruled out the possibility of  “sonic attacks.” For example, after examining the 21 embassy workers in Havana, a team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania published a report on February 15 in the journal JAMA, suggesting that none of the proposed causes for these mass brain symptoms (including sonic weapons) really make sense, according to Live Science.

In fact, even the FBI made it clear that “there has been no evidence to support the theory of sonic waves being used to harm Americans in Havana.”

Instead, a group of scientists published an academic article, arguing that the Cuba incident was more likely the “accidental side effect of attempted eavesdropping.”

Kevin Fu, a researcher at the University of Michigan, together with Wenyuan Xu, a professor at Zhejiang University, in Hangzhou, China, and her Ph.D. student Chen Yan, published a report, titled “On Cuba, Diplomats, Ultrasound, and Intermodulation Distortion,” giving a more plausible explanation.

Through experiments, this team showed that ultrasonic signals from eavesdropping devices can “combine to produce audible and potentially dangerous tones similar to the undulating, high-pitched chirping that the diplomats described,” as Michigan News put it.

“We’ve demonstrated a scenario in which the harm might have been unintentional, a byproduct of a poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter that was meant to be covert,” Fu told Michigan News. “A malfunctioning device that was supposed to inaudibly steal information or eavesdrop on conversation with ultrasonic transmission seems more plausible than a sonic weapon.”

IEEE Spectrum, a magazine edited by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, believes that Fu’s report is “finally a likely explanation.” While Fu was quick to point out this is still just a theory, he suggested the harmful sound could be the unintentional result of an ultrasonic transmitter — an eavesdropping device — reacting with an ultrasonic jammer meant to safeguard against such bugs.

“Each device might have been placed there by a different party, completely unaware of the other,” Fu said.

Notably, this report was published in March, before the latest China incident.

So far, China’s attitude toward this incident has been quite calm.

On May 24, China’s Foreign Ministry responded:

China has always protected the safety of foreign diplomatic missions in China, including that of the U.S. diplomatic staff, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Regarding what was said in those reports, China has carried out an investigation seriously and given an initial feedback to the U.S. By far, we have found no reason or clue for what was reported by the U.S.  

In Fu’s mind, “bad engineering just seems much more likely than a sonic weapon.” If the China incident was “entirely consistent” with the Cuba “sonic attacks,” then it may be that a “poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter” — or jammer, or both — was being used in both cases.

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Security officials at Israeli Consulate in New York forbids Ministry Reps in Participating in Anniversary Celebration for fear of attack.

Security officials at the Israeli consulate in New York have forbidden representatives of the Foreign Ministry and official Israeli emissaries from New York to attend a festive event marking Israel’s 70th anniversary, which will take place next week at Times Square, News 2 reported.

According to the news report, security officials fear that the presence of the representatives at the event will increase the security risk, and that they could be targets for terrorist attacks or violent protests.

The security officer of the Israeli Consulate in New York wrote to diplomats and other Israeli emissaries that “this is a very sensitive incident at a very sensitive time. The security team has no security responsibility for the external event.

“We prohibit any participation and any presence of the emissaries and employees at this event, which is a very sensitive event with no adequate security response, and the NYPD, including the highest echelons, stresses that this is a very high risk event,” wrote the security officer.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed the details: “We received a clear directive not to be on the street or in the square itself, and the emissaries will be at the same event that takes place in the hall at the Renaissance Hotel.”

 

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Situation Report for Diplomats & Diplomatic Security Personnel. Fear is a Choice, but Danger is Real!

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