UN sanctions Al-Qaeda-linked Mali militants

Updated 07 December 2012
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UN sanctions Al-Qaeda-linked Mali militants

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council ordered sanctions against an Al-Qaeda linked militant group in a new sign of the tougher line being taken with militants who have taken over much of the Mali.
The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) was added to the UN’s list of Al-Qaeda groups and individuals hit with a global assets freeze and travel ban.
The move comes as the UN Security Council debates authorizing an international military operation in Mali against the militants.
The MUJAO, a splinter group of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has battled with Tuareg rebels for control of northern Mali and, with AQIM, is holding at least 13 foreigners hostage. AQIM has been listed for sanctions since 2001.
The MUJAO first appeared after the kidnapping of three humanitarian workers at a Western Sahara refugee camp in October 2011. It is also known to operate in Mauritania and other Sahel countries and in Algeria.
“It grew considerably in its first 12 months of operation,” said a Security Council statement setting out the reasons for the listing.
“MUJAO’s leaders are known to be drug traffickers, involved in the drug trade in the Sahel,” the statement added.
The group has said it is holding seven Algerian diplomats taken from the northern Mali town of Gao and has attacked police stations in Algeria this year.
The UN statement said the group had seized heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, explosives and other military equipment from Mali military arsenals since moving into the country.
Mali on Wednesday appealed to the Security Council to urgently approve an international force against the militants.
France hopes that a Security Council resolution authorizing international military action will be passed this month.
“My delegation wants to stress the urgency of deploying this international force,” Traore Rokiatou Guikine, Mali’s minister for African integration, told a Security Council meeting on the crisis.
“The daily suffering of the occupied Malian people is well known: there are amputation of limbs, summary executions, children forced to become soldiers, rapes, looting and the destruction of cultural and historic sites,” she said.
If the force is approved, UN officials say an operation to reclaim northern Mali could be launched next September.


France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

Updated 6 min 35 sec ago
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France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

  • Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,”
  • French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected

PARIS: Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,” a disclosure that has rocked the country’s intelligence services.
Defense Minister Florence Parly, who oversees the country’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said Friday that she was not in a position to identify the country which recruited the agents, who were discovered and indicted in December.
“Two French agents in our service and probably one of the spouses of these agents are accused of serious acts likely to be considered acts of treason, on suspicions of delivering information to a foreign power,” Parly told CNews television.
“I can’t say much else,” she added.
“France has partners but we live in a dangerous world, and unfortunately these types of things can happen.”
French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected.
Parly said the agents were “quite likely” still in service at the time but investigators were still determining how long they had been passing along intelligence.
She also declined to specify the nature of compromised information, nor to reveal if the two agents were working together.
A judicial source told AFP late Thursday that two of the three suspects are being prosecuted for “delivering to a foreign power information that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation” and “compromising the secrecy of national defense.”
“One of them has also been charged for direct incitement to the crime of treason,” the source added.
The third person — believed to be the wife — has been indicted for “concealment of treasonable crimes” and placed under judicial control, meaning they are subject to certain constraints pending trial, according to the same source.
The armed forces ministry said: “These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”