Putin thanks Trump for help in foiling attack plot

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a break in a session of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam, in this November 11, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Putin thanks Trump for help in foiling attack plot

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked US counterpart Donald Trump Sunday for the CIA’s help in thwarting a planned attack in Saint Petersburg, the second time in a week that the leaders have exchanged praise.
Putin spoke by phone with Trump to convey his gratitude for intelligence supplied by the CIA which allowed Russia’s FSB security service to break up a “terrorist cell” that was planning attacks in Russia’s second city, the Kremlin said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.
“The information received by the CIA was enough to detect, hunt down and arrest the criminals,” the Kremlin said.
Putin also pledged that Russian security agencies would pass on any information received about terrorist threats to the United States and its citizens.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed on Twitter that the Putin and Trump spoke Sunday.
The FSB announced on Friday it had arrested seven members of an Daesh group cell that had been planning a suicide bombing and “the killing of citizens” in crowded areas of Saint Petersburg on December 16.
Police confiscated a large number of explosives used to make homemade bombs, automatic rifles, munitions and extremist literature, it said.

On Tuesday, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said Russia was on alert for the possible return of jihadists from Syria ahead of the World Cup and the presidential election in 2018.
Russia has suffered several attacks this year, including a bombing on the Saint Petersburg metro in April that left 14 people dead.
The threat of attack has increased since Moscow’s military intervention in Syria in September 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s regime, making Russia a priority IS target.
As many as 40,000 fighters traveled from all over the world, including Russia, to join IS in Syria after the 2014 declaration of its self-styled “caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq.
In 2015, Russian security services estimated that 2,900 Russian citizens had joined the jihadist group, as well as several thousand Central Asians.
In a phone call on Thursday, Trump and Putin discussed the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program, and the US leader took the unusual step of thanking his Russian opposite number for hailing the American economy.
The pair have lavished praise on each other in the past, with commentators describing their cosy relationship as a “bromance.”
But diplomatic ties between Washington and Moscow are still fraught, with both expelling some of each other’s diplomats in September and the US designation last month of Russia’s English-language news channel RT as a “foreign agent.”
At his annual press conference this week, Putin said allegations of Russian interference in last year’s US election had been “made up by people who are opposed to Trump so as to delegitimize his work.”
The two leaders met in July on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany, after which Trump said he “accepted” Putin’s assurance that Moscow did not meddle in the vote.
“The Trump that you see on TV is very different than the real Trump,” Putin told reporters at the time. “There is every reason to believe that we will be able to at least partially re-establish the level of cooperation that we need.”


Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

Updated 18 June 2018
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Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

  • Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan lost its chief Mullah Fazlullah along with four guards last week when a US drone fired on his vehicle after he attended an 'iftar' party
  • Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander

ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders have been in hectic consultations over the past few days to appoint their new chief after a US spy aircraft killed the group’s chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, locals and journalists told Arab News.
Fazlullah was killed along with his four guards on June 13 when a drone fired missiles on his vehicle shortly after he attended an “iftar” party at the center of the Taliban militants from Swat valley based in Kunar’s Marora district.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the death of Fazlullah, who had led a violent campaign against security forces in Swat until 2009, and later appeared in Afghanistan, where he had regrouped his fighters. The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, however, has not yet confirmed the leader’s death.
A senior journalist from Waziristan, who extensively reports on the Pakistani Taliban, has confirmed that the Taliban are involved in consultations to appoint a new leader.
Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, an expert on Taliban affairs who writes for international media, said on Monday the Taliban leaders are delaying the announcement of Fazlullah’s death before the appointment of his successor to avoid any internal rift.
“Huge divisions surfaced following the death of previous TTP leader Ameer Hakimulllah Mehsud in a US drone strike. The rift resulted in the killing of dozens of Taliban from the Sajna and Sheharyar Mehsud factions,” Tipu told Arab News.
Hakimullah was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1, 2013. Taliban militants from the Mehsud factions involved in fighting after Hakimullah’s death and infighting had reportedly claimed lives of nearly 200 people from both sides.
Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander but have not yet reached a consensus on who should lead the group.
“Discussions have been held about three candidates — Omar Rehman, known as Ustad Fateh (Swat), Sheikh Khalid Haqqani (Swabi) and Zahid Qari (Bajaur),” another source close to the Taliban told Arab News.
Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, alias Abu Asim, the TTP deputy chief and Mohammed Azeem, alias Maulvi Khatir, who heads the Mehsud faction of the Taliban, are also among the possible candidates. Both are from South Waziristan.
Earlier it was reported that the TTP’s "shoura" elected Fateh, a close confidant of Fazlullah, as their new chief.
A senior journalist in South Waziristan, Ishtiaq Mehsud, disagreed with the reports about the appointment of Ustad Fateh as the TTP new leader and insisted that consultations were still underway.
Ishtiaq said that the delay to name the new chief was not because of TTP’s differences but because the commanders faced difficulties in contacting each other as they live in different areas.
“There are no differences in the TTP’s ranks and according to my information the majority of the commanders are in favor of Mufti Noor Wali to lead the group,” Ishtiaq told Arab News.
Wali, author of “Inquilab Mehsud,” was appointed deputy TTP chief after a US drone killed Khan Said Sajna in February this year. He previously headed the powerful Mehsud Taliban.
Mohammed Khorasani, the TTP spokesman, did not reply to several emails from Arab News about the death and the consultation process to name the new chief.