I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes

Nicolas Hénin
16 November 2015

In Syria I learned that Islamic State longs to provoke retaliation. We should not fall into the trap

As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart.

Most people only know them from their propaganda material, but I have seen behind that. In my time as their captive, I met perhaps a dozen of them, including Mohammed Emwazi: Jihadi John was one of my jailers. He nicknamed me “Baldy”.

Even now I sometimes chat with them on social media, and can tell you that much of what you think of them results from their brand of marketing and public relations. They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Paris terror attacks highlight a clash of civilisations?

Gideon Rachman
Financial Times
November 16, 2015

Multiculturalism is not a naive liberal aspiration — it is the reality of the modern world

Ever since the late Samuel Huntington predicted that international politics would be dominated by a “clash of civilisations”, his theory, first outlined in 1993, has found some of its keenest adherents among militant Islamists. The terrorists who inflicted mass murder on Paris are part of a movement that sees Islam and the west as locked in inevitable mortal combat.

Leading western politicians, by contrast, have almost always rejected Huntington’s analysis. Even former US President George W Bush said: “There is no clash of civilisations.” And everyday life in multicultural western nations, most of which have large Muslim minorities, offers a daily refutation of the idea that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, that core idea needs to be reaffirmed. And yet a necessary restatement of liberal values should not prevent a sober acknowledgment of some malign global trends. The fact is that hardline Islamism is on the rise — even in some countries, such as Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh, previously regarded as models of moderate Muslim societies. At the same time, the expression of anti-Muslim prejudice is entering the political mainstream in the US, Europe and India.

Taken together, these developments are narrowing the space for those who want to push back against the narrative of a “clash of civilisations”. Read the rest of this entry »

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What to call Islamic State

Nov 15th 2015

The Economist explains

HOURS AFTER France and America pledged to ramp up the war against Islamic State (IS) in response to attacks in Paris that killed 129 and wounded more than 350, French warplanes began pounding the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, in north-eastern Syria.

The operation was conducted in co-ordination with American forces. The French and Americans seemed to be unified over the name they are using for this terrorist scourge, too.

Announcing strikes, the French defence ministry referred to a target “used by Daesh as a command post”.

Barack Obama used the same term when he spoke, at a G20 leaders’ summit in Turkey, of redoubling efforts “to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate Daesh as a force that can create so much pain and suffering for people in Paris, in Ankara, and in other parts of the globe.”

John Kerry, the American secretary of state, also called IS Daesh during a meeting in Vienna. The group has variously been dubbed ISIS, ISIL, IS and SIC too. Why the alphabet soup? Read the rest of this entry »

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A response to the Attorney-General

— G25
Malay Mail Online
November 15, 2015

NOVEMBER 15 — We, members of G25, wish to refer to the interview that the Malaysian Insider had with the Attorney-General as published in the Malaysian Insider on 14 November 2015 under the heading ‘Why the snub, Apandi asks Bar Council’.

We wish to make the following comments.

Firstly, we are perturbed to note that the Attorney-General is reported to have said —

‘G25 consists of those have-been government servants, isn’t it? Have-beens.’

With respect to the learned Attorney-General we consider it arrogant, crude and unnecessarily offensive for him to have referred to us as “Have-beens’.

Secondly, Tan Sri Apandi appears to be under the delusion that since we have retired from Government service therefore we could no longer contribute constructive ideas for the good governance of our country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Raqqa activists reveal details of French airstrikes on Syria

Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Monday 16 November 2015

French warplanes have launched 30 airstrikes on more than a dozen Islamic State targets in Raqqa, activists in the Syrian city have said.

The raids were France’s first retaliation to Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris claimed by Isis, in which at least 129 people were killed.

Residents said the targets bombed in the de facto capital of the militants’ self-proclaimed caliphate included the local Isis political office, the southern entrance to the city and a military camp.

“The French airstrikes were precise and targeted Daesh positions,” said one activist, using an Arabic acronym for Isis. “They hit Isis headquarters and camps that have ammunition warehouses as well as vehicles and [Isis] members.” Read the rest of this entry »

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1MDB May Have Violated US Election Laws

Asia Sentinel
November 16, 2015

Some of the money shoveled into US consultancy may have ended up in US political campaigns

Records compiled by the Sarawak Report, the UK-based news site run by Clare Rewcastle Brown, indicate that the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. investment fund may have violated US Federal Election Law by channeling money to a well-connected US lobbying firm, which subsequently poured money into the 2014 electoral campaigns of at least seven Democrats.

The vehicle was DuSable Capital Management, incorporated in Delaware, which features some of the US’s weakest corporate registration laws, on May 9, 2013. DuSable was the brainchild of Frank White Jr., the National vice-chairman of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and co-chair for the president’s 2013 Inauguration Committee, and Shomik Dutta, a former hedge fund executive and fellow political campaigner. In effect, White was formerly the president’s chief fundraiser after having sold his own IT support company to go into political campaigning.

DuSable registered as a foreign agent for the government of Malaysia five months later, on Sept. 9 with its sole registered client 1MDB and the government of Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Abdelhamid Abaaoud named as alleged mastermind of Paris terror attacks

Jon Henley in Paris
16 November 2015

French intelligence officials have named the alleged mastermind of a deadly string of suicide bombings and shootings in Paris as the Belgian extremist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, after French police made more than 20 arrests and seized arms and ammunition in a series of anti-terror raids across the country.

A major raid was also underway in Brussels aimed at arresting Salah Abdeslam, one of the three French brothers living in Belgium alleged to have been involved in the attacks.

As details emerged of an elaborate international terror operation run from Syria and carried out by a sleeper cell based in Belgium, officials told French media Abaaoud, seen as one of Islamic State’s most active operatives, was “investigators’ best bet” as the main organiser of the attacks, which killed at least 129 people on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Serially late – 1MDB’s tale of missed deadlines

Anil Netto
15 Nov 2015

If you are late for school but if you have a good reason, you may be excused.

But if you are habitually late, say, more than three times in a short space time, then your excuses may wear a little thin. You could end up in detention class or whatever they call it these days. In earlier days, it could even have meant the rotan!

According to the Companies Commission of Malaysia, a “company’s financial statement need (sic) to be tabled (at the AGM) within six months after financial year ended.”

And then, Section 165 of the Companies Act 1965 requires all companies to lodge the annual return (which includes the financial statements and the auditor’s report) within one month of the AGM.

Of course, the company can apply for an extension under Section 143(2) and/or section 169(2) of the Act if it has a special reason for not holding the AGM in time. The registrar will then have to assess if the reason is valid.

One experienced company secretary told me, “The registrar is now very strict about these deadlines.”

So, what happens if a firm is habitually late? What happens if it misses the usual deadline for tabling or submission of accounts, not once but five times?

Let’s take a look at a company which has been very much in the news. Read the rest of this entry »

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If Arul can so easily explain away the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal at the UMNO briefing on Saturday, are Cabinet Ministers so intellectually-challenged that none of them could explain it to Parliament for the past month?

In the past two days, the UMNO/BN owned or controlled media and their legion of cybertroopers have been carrying glowing reports about what a superb performance the 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy gave at the briefing for UMNO divisional leaders at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Saturday about the 1MDB scandal, and that the participants, which included representatives from NGOs and government agencies, were satisfied with Arul’s explanations which gave “a better picture of the real situation”.

The immediate question that comes to mind is whether the Cabinet of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is so intellectually-challenged that none of the Ministers could explain the intricacies and complexities of the 1MDB scandal to Parliament for the past month, when Arul could so easily explain away the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal at the UMNO briefing to its divisional leaders and pliable NGOs at PWTC last Saturday – as if Arul is such a superb performer that he is capable of getting birds to eat food from his hands?

Nobody disputes that Najib’s Ministers are intellectually-challenged – otherwise why did a former Prime Minister and a former Finance Minister agreed in unison that the present batch of Ministers are “half-past six” or “deadwood”, but surely they are not so intellectually challenged that they could not do what Arul did so easily!

Arul did put up a virtuoso performance last Saturday, but not as a solid management expert explaining how a government company had landed up with over RM50 billion debts (a figure quoted by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin his last speech as Deputy Prime Minister which Arul, Najib and all Ministers have studiously avoided reference in the past four months), but as a conjurer trying to put up the most convincing illusion tricks like “rabbit disappearing” or “bird flying out of empty hat” in a magician’s repertoire. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anwar can be treated overseas – if the authorities agree!

by P Ramakrishnan
15th Nov 2015

Is it a fact that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim cannot receive medical treatment abroad?

Is it a fact that the law does not allow prison inmates to do so?

Utusan Malaysia has reported quoting Supri Hashim, the Prisons Department deputy director in charge of prison policy, as having stated “that Section 37 (1) of the Prisons Act 1995 clearly stated that a prisoner could only be treated in government hospitals, and not private hospitals, let alone overseas.” (Malaysian Insider, 10 November 2015)

But Section 37(1) does not seem to support his contention. At best, it is only his opinion and it is a matter of his interpretation of Section 37 (1). That is all – and nothing more! Read the rest of this entry »

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Parliament should speak in one voice tomorrow on behalf of 30 million Malaysians to condemn the senseless mass massacre by IS suicide bombers in Paris on Friday night

The Malaysian Parliament should set a world example and speak in one voice tomorrow on behalf of 30 million Malaysians to condemn the senseless massacre in a series of co-ordinated attacks by Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris that left at least 129 people dead and 352 injured.

As Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is already in Turkey for the Group of 20 (G20) Summit, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi should move an emergency motion tomorrow immediately after Question Time, and he can be assured of full support by Pakatan Harapan Members of Parliament.

I do not of course speak on behalf of the PAS Members of Parliament.

However, I think on this issue of the condemnation of the Paris massacre, Members of Parliament, regardless of party, race, religion, gender, age or region, should unite to unanimously adopt an emergency motion in Parliament not only to condemn the killing of innocent lives in Paris on Friday night but also to urge on Parliaments and legislatures in all nations of the world to similarly condemn such dastardly and uncivilized savagery as unmitigated crimes against humanity which cannot be mitigated by any ground or reason. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid should make a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday on his role in vouching for the integrity of Paul Phua, international gambling kingpin when in US custody last year

The ghost of his unilateral and unauthorised letter to the FBI vouching for the character and integrity of Paul Phua, the international gambling kingpin when in United States custody last year, has come back to haunt the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who has since been elevated to be Deputy Prime Minister.

This follows the publication yesterday of the 18-page report by the international sports news agency, ESPN, from a year of interviews with investigators and Phua’s associates across eight countries and sifting through thousands of pages of court documents.

The ESPN report traced the humble beginnings of the “Reputedly the world’s biggest bookmaker, Sarawakian Paul Phua Wei Seng” from “a numbers runner in Borneo” and his graduation from a “ small time player to jet-setting high-stakes roller whose links to high-ranking officials in many countries and a fabulous legal team allowed him to slip the trap” laid by the US authorities and walked free form a Las Vegas court in June this year.

According to the ESPN’s investigative report, Phua made his name in the shadows of a 1997 football match-fixing incident that came to be known as the Floodlights Affair. Read the rest of this entry »

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Congrats to Parti Amanah Negara for having 35,000 members in two-and-a-half months when DAP in our first 15 years have not reached this figure of membership

Firstly, let me congratulate Parti Amanah Negara for its launch in Johor, as part of the determined collective bid by Pakatan Harapan to make Johor the front-line state for political change in Malaysia in the run-up to the 14th General Election.

Parti Amanah Negara has made impressive political headway in less than three months of its launch, gaining some 35,000 members and Parti Amanah Negara Secretary-General Sdr. Anuar Tahir told me just now that he expects the party membership to reach 60,000 by the end of the year in about six weeks time.

This is a most impressive political progress for Parti Amanah Negara in such a short period of four months as DAP did not reach the membership of 35,000 in our first 15 years of political struggle, although we had contested in three general elections in 1969, 1974 and 1978 – winning 13 Parliamentary and 31 State Assembly seats in our first general election outing in 1969, when we secured 11.9 per cent of the popular vote. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terror in Paris

Editorial Board
New York Times
Nov 14, 2015

On Saturday morning, after an evening of incomprehensible barbarism against a free and civilized society by armed terrorists, President François Hollande of France declared the attacks an act of war. More than 125 people were slaughtered in multiple venues in Paris — in a concert hall, at several restaurants, near a sports stadium, on the street. Mr. Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency, imposed checks at all of France’s borders, and called in the army to protect the city.

The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility, and vowed that this was “only the beginning of the storm” to punish France for its airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

This attack, Mr. Hollande said, was “against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: a free country that means something to the entire planet.” He vowed that France would respond, using “all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside, in coordination with our allies, who are, themselves, targeted by this terrorist threat.” Read the rest of this entry »

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To Save Paris, Defeat ISIS

Roger Cohen
New York Times
Nov. 14, 2015

MILAN — The Paris slaughter claimed by the Islamic State constitutes, as President François Hollande of France declared, an “act of war.” As such, it demands of all NATO states a collective response under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This says that, “An armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

Alliance leaders are already debating what that response should be. Hollande has spoken to President Obama. Other NATO countries, including Germany and Canada, have expressed solidarity. Indignation and outrage, while justified, are not enough.

The only adequate measure, after the killing of at least 129 people in Paris, is military, and the only objective commensurate with the ongoing threat is the crushing of ISIS and the elimination of its stronghold in Syria and Iraq. The barbaric terrorists exalting on social media at the blood they have spilled cannot be allowed any longer to control territory on which they are able to organize, finance, direct and plan their savagery. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paris terror attacks were plotted by a small extremist cell in Brussels, investigators suspect

Richard A. Serrano, Henry Chu and Joe Mozingo
Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2015

Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris apparently began with a small extremist cell in Brussels, where French authorities believe the attacks were planned and the operation financed, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials who have been advised about the ongoing French probe.

The sources, speaking confidentially because the investigation is just underway, also emphasized that the attackers probably had a substantial understanding of the history and culture of France — Paris in particular — and said it was “highly possible” some had lived in the capital.

That, the sources said, was evident in how they seamlessly moved about the vast metropolis and set up coordinated attacks at six targets across the city — from a stadium to a theater to a restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »

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What We Know About the Paris Attackers

By Chas Danner
New York Times
14 November 2015

It’s now pretty clear that ISIS-linked terrorists were behind the brutal attacks which killed 129 people and injured another 352 last night in Paris, and now details about the individual attackers and their possible accomplices are beginning to emerge.

As of midday Saturday, eight men are known to have executed the attacks, and those eight were all killed, seven by detonating their explosive suicide vests, and one after being shot by police. According to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, the attacks were conducted by three coordinated teams of assailants: one at the Stade de France, one traveling in a black Seat car which fired on multiple locations, and the third team traveling in a black Volkswagen Polo. One of the cars was registered to a French citizen who was stopped at the Belgian border with two other people. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State has increasingly hit soft targets outside of ‘caliphate’ borders

By Erin Cunningham
Washington Post
November 14 2015

CAIRO – The coordinated attacks on diners and concertgoers across Paris on Friday appear to mark the Islamic State’s first major operation outside the Middle East, and to confirm the group’s adoption of global terror tactics to boost its profile and strike back at its enemies.

The group claimed credit for Friday’s attacks, which killed 129 people. President Francoise Hollande called the violence “an act of war” organized by Islamic State.

Until recently, the extremist movement was focused almost entirely on seizing territory on which to build its so-called caliphate, including in Iraq and Syria, where violent civil wars have left destabilizing security vacuums. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Teams of Coordinated Attackers Carried Out Assault on Paris, Officials Say; Hollande Blames ISIS

New York Times
NOV. 14, 2015

Three teams of Islamic State attackers acting in unison carried out the terrorist assault in Paris on Friday night, officials said Saturday, including one gunman who may have traveled to Europe on a Syrian passport along with the flow of migrants.

“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France,” President François Hollande told the nation from the Élysée Palace, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.”

As the death toll rose to 129 victims — with 352 others injured, 99 of them critically — a basic timeline of the attacks came into view. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why has Husni disappeared from the radar after two months as Cabinet spokesman for 1MDB, destroying his credibility and integrity which he had painstakingly built up for over two decades?

Yesterday, 1MDB was the top issue at Bank Negara’s third-quarter economic briefing where Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz was asked whether the central bank had made any mistake in the investigation on 1MDB’s investment abroad.

When Zeti replied with an emphatic “No”, it must have deepened the question on everybody’s mind why in his first wide-ranging press interview, where the new Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali talked on a wide variety of subjects including why the sedition charge against Tinju Ali was dropped and the unfettered exercise of his discretionary powers as Public Prosecutor, he failed to explain the reasons why he rejected Bank Negara’s recommendations for prosecution against 1MDB for violation of financial laws.

This morning, there was an overwhelming crowd at the briefing for UMNO divisional leaders at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) where 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy proved to be a greater crowd-puller on the subject of 1MDB than UMNO heavyweights scheduled to speak for the day, like Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamad on the Transpacific Partnership Agreement and the Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanazlah on the 2016 Budget.

In fact, the crowd-puller today should have been Husni as at the Cabinet meeting in the last week of May, Husni was appointed the Cabinet spokesman for 1MDB, but he disappeared from the public scene as Cabinet spokeman on the 1MDB after two months. Read the rest of this entry »

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