Italian court sentences 3 Syrians over Al-Nusra links

Italian court sentences 3 Syrians over Al-Nusra links
Daadoue Anwar, who ran a construction company in Sardinia, is on the run, after escaping from police custody in Denmark. (Twitter Photo)
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Updated 08 June 2021

Italian court sentences 3 Syrians over Al-Nusra links

Italian court sentences 3 Syrians over Al-Nusra links
  • Group ringleader, Daadoue Anwar, remains at large after conviction in absentia
  • Fellow Syrians Chadad Mustafa and Abdulkarim Osman Haj were each sentenced to five and a half years in prison

ROME: A court in Sardinia has sentenced three Syrian citizens for terrorist activities relating to membership of the group Jabhat Al-Nusra, now known as Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda.

The judges presiding over the case in the city of Olbia, in the north of the Mediterranean island, led by Justice Massimo Zaniboni, sentenced Daadoue Anwar, the man accused of leading the cell, to eight years in prison in absentia. 

Anwar, 50, who owned a construction company in Sardinia, is still at large, having escaped from police custody in Denmark after Italian authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest.

It is alleged he and a relative who came to visit him in custody in Copenhagen switched clothes, allowing him to break free incognito. Italian investigators believe Anwar to have also been active in Sweden, Germany and Hungary in the past.

Fellow Syrians Chadad Mustafa and Abdulkarim Osman Haj were each sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

The court found the trio had provided the Syrian terrorist group with information and financial help for several years, until their cell was broken up by Italian anti-terror police in 2018.

“They were all very active in financing the military and terrorist activities of Al-Nusra, which is considered the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda,” prosecutor Danilo Tronci told Arab News. “They were carrying out an abusive activity of provision of payment services carried out through the ‘hawala’ system.”

Tronci explained a long investigation in Italy and abroad confirmed that the cell was moving money from Sardinia “to finance the military activities of … Al-Nusra. Daadoue Anwar had lived for a long time in Olbia, where he had a construction company which had lots of lucrative contracts.”

Anwar’s company worked on, amongst others, the scrapped construction sites for the 35th G8 summit which had been due to be held at the nearby La Maddalena island in 2009, on the new Mater Olbia Hospital, and on redevelopments at the city’s Costa Smeralda Airport.

“We provided clear evidence to the court that the cell was using a good part of the revenues of that activity, along with substantial revenues of other financial activities run in Sardinia and in Italy, (which) were sent to Al-Nusra to fund terrorist activities in Syria and abroad. Some of that money endded up in Raqqa,” Tronci added.


Jordan to reopen key Syria border crossing

Jordan to reopen key Syria border crossing
Updated 18 sec ago

Jordan to reopen key Syria border crossing

Jordan to reopen key Syria border crossing
  • Jaber-Nasib crossing will operate at full capacity as of Wednesday

AMMAN: Jordan will reopen a border crossing with Syria this week after it was closed nearly two months ago due to fighting in Syria’s southern province of Daraa.

Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya said that the Jaber-Nasib crossing would operate at full capacity as of Wednesday after all technical and administrative arrangements were completed with the Syrian side.

In a statement carried by the Jordanian news agency, Petra, Al-Faraya added that the resumption of cargo and passenger movement through the Jaber-Nasib crossing, Jordan’s main gateway for goods from Lebanon and Syria to the Arab Gulf countries, is “aimed at stimulating trade exchange and tourism between the two brotherly countries.”

Jordan’s major trade route, located about 90 km north of Amman, was set to operate at full capacity from Aug. 1, but the decision was put on hold due to a surge in violence in Syria’s Daraa, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising.

In April 2015, Jordan closed its border crossing with Syria as a result of escalating violence in the Syrian bordering town of Nasib, which, at the time, was reportedly captured by the Syrian rebels and fighters from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

Also on Sunday, a high-level Syrian delegation, comprising ministers of foreign affairs, trade water, agriculture and electricity, met with their counterparts in Amman.

The two sides held “extended” talks on bolstering bilateral cooperation between the two countries, Petra reported.   

Jordan, which is home to about 650,000 registered Syrian refugees, has been showing high activism toward Syria recently, with observers arguing that Amman is adopting an “interest-centered” and “pragmatic” approach on war-hit Syria. 

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub, who is also army chief, met in Amman on Sunday with Jordanian Chief of Staff Gen. Yousef Huneiti.

The two sides discussed wide-ranging topics, including border security, the situation in southern Syria, fighting terrorism and confronting narcotics smuggling.

The meeting, which observers described as the “culmination” of Jordan’s diplomacy on Syria, came after Syrian troops recaptured several rebel-held areas in Daraa province, near Jordan’s border, under a cease-fire deal brokered by Russia.

Earlier in September, ministers from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt met in Amman to discuss energy cooperation.

At a news conference after their meeting, ministers said that they discussed technicalities related to the export of Egyptian gas to Lebanon through Jordan and Syria.

In getting closer to Syria, Jordan seeks to protect its interests, political analyst Khaled Qudah said. “A unified and stable Syria lies at the heart of Jordan’s higher interests.”

“Of course Amman seeks increased economic cooperation with Syria and an implementation to the refugee crisis but its strategic goal is to bring Damascus back to the Arab world . . . Jordan wants Syria as a friend and not an enemy.”

Strategic analyst Amer Sabaileh described the Syrian army chief’s recent visit to Amman as the “culmination” of Jordan’s high diplomacy and coordination with Syria.

Sabaileh said that Jordan has been experiencing the consequences of the Syrian crisis, including refugees and security challenges, and so needed to adopt a “pragmatic” approach to protect its interests. 

“Amman’s closeness to Damascus has to do with its weariness of the international community’s inaction on the Syrian war. Jordan wants a political solution to the more than ten years of war, or at least calm and security in its northern borders with Syria.”


UN Security Council calls on Lebanon’s new government to enact swift reforms

UN Security Council calls on Lebanon’s new government to enact swift reforms
Updated 19 min 18 sec ago

UN Security Council calls on Lebanon’s new government to enact swift reforms

UN Security Council calls on Lebanon’s new government to enact swift reforms

LONDON: The UN Security Council on Monday welcomed the formation of a new government in Lebanon.

The administration led by Prime Minister Najib Mikati was announced earlier this month after more than a year of political stalemate.

In that time, Lebanon has plunged deeper into economic collapse with widespread blackouts and fuel shortages.

The Security Council statement “urged Lebanon’s new government to swiftly and transparently implement the well‑known, necessary and tangible reforms.” 

The changes are needed to deal with “the urgent security, economic, social and humanitarian challenges facing the country,” the statement said.

The council said it was important to hold free, fair and inclusive elections next year and an independent transparent investigation into the Beirut port explosions that decimated the city last year.


Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein contracts COVID-19

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein contracts COVID-19
Updated 27 September 2021

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein contracts COVID-19

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein contracts COVID-19
  • King Abdullah II and Queen Rania will self isolate for five days
  • Crown prince showing only mild symptoms

AMMAN: Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein has tested positive for COVID-19, the Jordanian Royal Court said Monday, requiring the king and the queen to self-isolate.

The Royal Court said Prince Hussein bin Abdullah tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday evening after undergoing a routine examination.

The statement said the prince showed only mild symptoms and remains in "very good health."

The Royal Court added that King Abdullah II and Queen Rania both tested negative on Monday and will self-isolate for five days.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Jordan has remained steady over the last few months and  nearly all containment measures have been lifted, including a curfew.

The kingdom on Monday registered 17 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,015 virus cases, increasing the overall number to have contracted the disease to 820,798 and the death toll to 10,697.


At UN, Israeli PM Bennett says Iran has crossed nuclear ‘red lines’

At UN, Israeli PM Bennett says Iran has crossed nuclear ‘red lines’
Updated 27 September 2021

At UN, Israeli PM Bennett says Iran has crossed nuclear ‘red lines’

At UN, Israeli PM Bennett says Iran has crossed nuclear ‘red lines’

NEW YORK: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that Iran had crossed “all red lines” in its nuclear program and vowed that Israel would not allow Tehran to acquire a nuclear weapon.
In his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Bennett said Iran sought to dominate the Middle East under a “nuclear umbrella” and urged a more concerted international effort to halt Iran’s nuclear activities.
But he also hinted at the potential for Israel to act on its own against Iran, something it has repeatedly threatened in the past.
“Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance,” Bennett said. “Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning.”
Bennett, a far-right politician who ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister in June, wants US President Joe Biden to harden his stance against Iran, Israel’s regional arch-foe. He opposes the new US administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Biden’s White House predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned in 2018.
Indirect US-Iran talks in Vienna have stalled as Washington awaits the next move by Iran’s new hard-line president, Ebrahim Raisi.
Bennett struck a less combative tone before the United Nations than Netanyahu, who often relied on props and visual aids to dramatize his accusations against Iran, an approach that critics derided as political stunts.
But Bennett has been just as adamant as Netanyahu was in pledging to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran, which Israel views as an existential threat, from building a nuclear weapon. Iran consistently denies it is seeking a bomb.
“Iran’s nuclear weapons program is at a critical point. All red lines have been crossed, inspections ignored,” Bennett said. “They’re getting away with it.”


Iran says UN nuclear watchdog’s claim ‘not accurate’

Iran says UN nuclear watchdog’s claim ‘not accurate’
Updated 27 September 2021

Iran says UN nuclear watchdog’s claim ‘not accurate’

Iran says UN nuclear watchdog’s claim ‘not accurate’
  • Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi on Monday rejected the charge on Twitter

TEHRAN: Iran on Monday rejected a complaint by the UN nuclear watchdog that it was blocked from a nuclear site, arguing that the facility was exempt from a recent agreement.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday it had been denied “indispensable” access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop near Tehran contrary to a September 12 agreement with Iran.
Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi on Monday rejected the charge on Twitter.
“During the discussions in Tehran and Vienna, Iran indicated that... equipment related to this Complex are not included for servicing,” he wrote, referring to IAEA work on its surveillance equipment.
Sunday’s IAEA statement “isn’t accurate and goes beyond the agreed terms,” he added.
This month’s agreement between the IAEA and Iran came days after the nuclear watchdog had decried a lack of cooperation from Tehran.
Agency inspectors had been allowed to service monitoring and surveillance equipment and to replace storage media at “all necessary locations” except the TESA Karaj workshop, the IAEA said on Sunday.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi in his latest report on Iran informed member states that the Islamic republic had granted all other access from September 20-22.
The IAEA’s latest report comes amid stalled negotiations to revive a 2015 landmark agreement scaling back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
That deal started to fall apart in 2018 when the US withdrew from it and reinstated sanctions. Iran in turn again started to ramp up its nuclear activities.
Talks began in April in Vienna between Tehran and the remaining five parties to the 2015 deal aimed at bringing Washington back into the agreement.
But that dialogue has been stalled since June, when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election.
Iran’s foreign minister said Friday that talks would restart “very soon,” but the US has called for a clear timetable.