FBI confirms death of top Malaysian militant

Updated 02 April 2015
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FBI confirms death of top Malaysian militant

MANILA: The FBI confirmed Thursday that a senior Malaysian militant believed to have been involved in the 2002 Bali bombings was killed in a January raid in the Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead.
Zulkifli Abdhir, who was on the bureau’s most-wanted list with a $5-million reward on his head, was killed in the January 25 operation that plunged President Benigno Aquino’s administration into crisis and jeopardized efforts to end a decades-long separatist insurgency, the FBI said.
“After a thorough review of forensic data and information obtained from our Philippine law enforcement partners, the FBI has assessed that terrorism subject, Zulkifli Abdhir, also known as “Marwan,” is deceased and has been removed from the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists,” the FBI Los Angeles office said in a statement.
The national police said the confirmation “validates” their earlier insistence that the botched raid, which caused Aquino’s approval rating to tumble to its lowest level since he took office in 2010, was a success despite the huge death toll.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 1 min 31 sec ago
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat will begin on Friday.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.