New York attack puts counterterror measures, immigration under focus

A police officer secures an area near the site of a terror attack in New York, on November 1, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 02 November 2017
0

New York attack puts counterterror measures, immigration under focus

WASHINGTON: The deadliest terrorist attack in New York since 9/11 has once again put the spotlight on US measures in place to prevent such attacks.
The suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, is a citizen of Uzbekistan who entered the US legally in 2010.
On Tuesday afternoon, Saipov drove a rented truck into a busy bike path in lower Manhattan along the Hudson River, killing eight people and injuring at least 11 others. Five of the victims were tourists from Argentina.
US media outlets are reporting that Saipov was under the radar of counterterrorism officials, and might have been previously questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 
It is not clear whether he had raised concerns because of his behavior and activities, or because of his affiliation with possible suspects in other investigations.
Eyewitnesses told police that the attacker allegedly began screaming “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) upon getting out of the truck, which struck a school bus before stopping. Officials investigating the attack are suggesting that literature was found near the crime scene suggesting that Saipov might have pledged allegiance to Daesh.
So far authorities are treating the crime as having been inspired by the terrorist group, but are yet to establish a connection between Saipov and Daesh that suggests it provided him with operational support.
Almost immediately after news of the attack was reported, President Donald Trump began commenting about it on his Twitter account.
On Wednesday morning, he appeared to assign at least partial blame for the attack on immigration laws passed by Democratic lawmakers.
“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Democratic senator.
Frances Townsend, homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to former President George W. Bush, and president of the Counter Extremism Project, said the attack suggests that Daesh continues to inspire attacks in the US and beyond.
“This attack followed the ISIS (Daesh) playbook: Use a truck or car, leave a note attributing it to ISIS, then get out with a knife or gun,” Townsend told Arab News.
He said the timing and location were not coincidental, and were meant to inflict significant damage and have symbolic value, being a few blocks away from the location of the World Trade Center.
The attack is likely to raise questions about whether Uzbekistan is facing a threat to its national security by militant groups. 
John G. Horgan, professor of global studies and psychology at Georgia State University, said challenging political conditions have led to a surge in Uzbeks leaving in search of a better life, and some have joined conflicts in other countries.
“Many Uzbeks joined Daesh, and this isn’t the first time an Uzbek national has been involved in terror attacks in the West,” Horgan told Arab News.
“An Uzbek man was involved in ramming a truck into a crowd of people in Sweden earlier this year.”
Townsend expressed similar concerns, saying: “Uzbekistan has long had an extremism problem.”
As to whether the attack will lead to tougher immigrations policies in the US, Mathew Levitt, director of the Stein Counterterrorism Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, expressed doubts about the effectiveness of such measures.
“Implementing a restrictive immigration policy isn’t going to address this problem,” he told Arab News.
“The most immediate threat today comes from individuals who’ve been radicalized at home. The radicalization didn’t happen abroad, it happened here.”


UN to adopt migration pact at meeting hit by withdrawals

Updated 27 min 16 sec ago
0

UN to adopt migration pact at meeting hit by withdrawals

  • The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalized at the UN in July after 18 months of talks and is due to be formally adopted at the conference
  • US disavowed the negotiations late last year, and since then Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia have pulled out of the process

MARRAKESH, Morocco: Politicians from around the globe will gather Monday in Morocco for a major conference to endorse a United Nations migration pact, despite a string of withdrawals driven by anti-immigrant populism.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalized at the UN in July after 18 months of talks and is due to be formally adopted with the bang of a gavel at the start of the two-day conference in Marrakesh.
The US government disavowed the negotiations late last year, and since then Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia have pulled out of the process.
The US on Friday took a fresh swipe at the pact, labelling it “an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of states.”
But a host of other nations led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel are in Morocco to endorse the deal and the UN remains upbeat that it can help the world better cope with the hot-button issue.
On the eve of the conference, UN special representative for migration Louise Arbour hit back at the pact’s critics, insisting the document is not legally binding.
“It is surprising that there has been so much misinformation about what the compact is and what the text actually says,” she told reporters in Marrakesh.
“It creates no right to migrate. It places no imposition on states,” she said, adding that 159 member countries are due to attend the conference, including “around 100” represented by heads of state, heads of government or ministers.
But rows over the accord have erupted in several European Union nations, hobbling Belgium’s coalition government and pushing Slovakia’s foreign minister to tender his resignation.
From the United States to Europe and beyond, right-wing leaders have taken increasingly draconian measures to shut out migrants in recent years.
US President Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and has focused his recent ire on a migrant caravan from Central America, while a populist coalition government in Italy has clamped down on boats rescuing migrants at sea.
Beyond Merkel, among European nations the leaders of Spain, Greece, Denmark and Portugal are set to attend, although French President Emmanuel Macron is sending his secretary of state for foreign affairs as he deals with the “yellow vest” protests at home.
Belgium’s liberal premier Charles Michel won the support of parliament to head to Morocco and back the accord, but he was left leading a minority government on Sunday after the Flemish nationalist party said it will quit his coalition over the pact.
Belgium is among a group of seven nations described by Arbour as still “engaged in further internal deliberations” over the accord, with Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Israel, Slovenia and Switzerland also falling into this category.
Billed as the first international document on managing migration, the global pact lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and discourage illegal border crossings, as the number of people on the move globally has surged to more than 250 million.
But while welcoming the UN’s attempts to manage migration, activists argue that the pact does not go far enough to secure migrants’ rights.
“Unfortunately, the non-binding nature of the Global Compact on Migration makes its implementation solely based on the goodwill of states supporting it,” Amnesty International’s senior advocate for the Americas, Perseo Quiroz, said in comments emailed to AFP.
After the Marrakesh conference, the UN General Assembly is set to adopt a resolution formally endorsing the deal on Dec. 19.