US names Indonesian extremist network a terror group

Indonesian policemen stand guard as accused supporters of Daesh arrive for their trial at the West Jakarta court in Jakarta, in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 12 January 2017
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US names Indonesian extremist network a terror group

JAKARTA: The US has designated the Daesh-linked Indonesian extremist network that carried out a deadly attack in Jakarta last year as a terrorist organization.
The State Department said on Tuesday that Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) is “a terrorist group based in Indonesia that was formed in 2015 and is composed of almost two dozen Indonesian extremist groups” who are followers of Daesh.
The US also announced sanctions against four militants as part of efforts to cut off Daesh’s access to the international financial system.
US officials said militants from JAD carried out a gun and suicide attack in the Indonesian capital in January last year that left four civilians and four attackers dead in the first Daesh attack in Southeast Asia.
The attack was financially supported by an Daesh militant in Syria, they said.
The State Department said the consequences of being designated a terrorist group included a ban on US citizens engaging in business with JAD, and the freezing of any property linked to the group in America.
JAD has been connected to a series of other plots in Indonesia, including a firebomb attack on a church that killed a toddler and a plan to launch a Christmas-time suicide bombing which was foiled when the militants planning the attack were killed.
Among the four militants to be sanctioned are two Indonesians.
Bahrumsyah is an Indonesian fighting with Daesh in Syria who is believed to lead a Southeast Asian unit of radicals, and who has sought to order attacks back home and transferred funds to militants.
The other Indonesian militant is Aman Abdurrahman, a jailed radical who authorized the Jakarta attack and is considered the de facto leader of all Daesh supporters in Indonesia, according to US officials.
Despite being in prison since 2010, he has recruited militants to join Daesh, is thought to have been in communication with leaders of the militant group, and is the main translator for Daesh propaganda in Indonesia.
The Treasury also slapped sanctions on two Australians — Neil Christopher Prakash, Daesh’s most senior Australian recruiter, and Khaled Sharrouf, who has appeared in photographs holding the severed heads of people executed by the militants.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has long struggled with militancy and has been hit by a series of attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombing that left 202 people dead.
A crackdown had weakened the most dangerous networks, but fears have been growing of a resurgence in militancy after hundreds of Indonesians flocked to the Middle East in recent years to join Daesh.


India’s semi high-speed train breaks down a day after its launch

Updated 7 min 6 sec ago
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India’s semi high-speed train breaks down a day after its launch

  • Cattle obstructions on roads and rail tracks are common in India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh state where Saturday’s collision happened
  • Since coming to office, Modi’s nationalist party launched a crackdown on the slaughter of cows — considered sacred by many Hindus — which has led to crisis numbers of stray and unwanted cattle in the state

NEW DELHI: India’s first semi-high speed train broke down Saturday after colliding with a cow on the tracks, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new passenger service.
The Vande Bharat Express, touted as India’s fastest train and built under the Modi government’s flagship “Make in India” program, made its first journey Friday from New Delhi to the Hindu holy city of Varanasi.
But on its return to the capital the next day a collision with a cow disrupted electricity supply to four carriages and damaged the brake system, according to Indian Railways.
“The train later experienced technical issues and was stranded on the way to Delhi,” Indian Railways spokeswoman Smita Vats Sharma told AFP.
The train reached the capital “safely” ahead of its first commercial journey on Sunday, she added.
Cattle obstructions on roads and rail tracks are common in India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh state where Saturday’s collision happened.
Since coming to office, Modi’s nationalist party launched a crackdown on the slaughter of cows — considered sacred by many Hindus — which has led to crisis numbers of stray and unwanted cattle in the state.
India is struggling to upgrade its colonial-era railway system, which relies on creaking and outdated infrastructure to transport 23 million travelers each day.
The locally-made express train has a rated top speed of 180 kilometers (111 miles) an hour, 20 percent quicker than the next fastest train in service.
Railway authorities say the train is expected to reduce the 850-kilometer journey between the two cities from 14 to eight hours.
Saturday’s accident is the latest controversy for the express train — a pet project of Modi’s government, which has vowed to debut India’s first bullet train in 2022.
Last week India’s rail minister Piyush Goyal was left red-faced after he tweeted a digitally altered video of the train zipping by a station at lightning speed.
He was later accused of altering the video to make the train appear faster, triggering widespread social media ridicule.