Philippine security forces detain Abu Sayyaf executioner of Canadian hostages

Philippine security forces detain Abu Sayyaf executioner of Canadian hostages
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Abu Sayyaf militant Ben Quirino surrenders his firearm to the Philippine Army's Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio in Jolo, southern Philippines on June 17, 2022. (Supplied)
Philippine security forces detain Abu Sayyaf executioner of Canadian hostages
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Abu Sayyaf militant Almujer Yadah surrenders his firearm to the Philippine Army's Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio in Jolo, southern Philippines on June 17, 2022. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 June 2022

Philippine security forces detain Abu Sayyaf executioner of Canadian hostages

Philippine security forces detain Abu Sayyaf executioner of Canadian hostages
  • Ben Tattoo and his brother Almujer Yadah surrender to Philippine military 
  • Militant was also involved in the 2012 kidnapping of Arab News Asia bureau chief Baker Atyani

MANILA: Two notorious militants from the Abu Sayyaf Group, including the executioner of Canadian hostages, were detained on Friday after surrendering to the Philippine security forces, the military said.

Ben Quirino, alias Ben Tattoo, 41, and his brother Almujer Yadah, 55, were sub-leaders of the militant outfit that operates in the country’s south, and has gained notoriety for extortion, assassinations and kidnappings for ransom.

Both men have been linked to several killings, including of two Canadian nationals who were abducted from an upscale resort on Samal island in 2015 and taken captive to the group’s stronghold in Jolo, Sulu province.

The Canadians were killed in 2016 after a $6.4 million ransom was not paid. Tattoo filmed himself beheading the captives.

He was also involved in the kidnapping of Arab News Asia bureau chief Baker Atyani in 2012.

Atyani, who was working for Al-Arabiya News Channel at the time, was held captive by ASG for 18 months.

Yadah was responsible for ASG’s logistics and food supplies. 

“We consider these two as the most notorious ASG leaders to have surrendered considering the number of cases that have been filed against them — from kidnapping for ransom, murder and many more,” Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, commander of the 11th Infantry Division designated to fight militancy in Sulu, told Arab News.

“They got tired of running from pursuing military forces. Besides, they no longer have the support of the local populace; their group has been badly decimated and their brothers killed.”

Formed in 1991, ASG emerged as a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front, a movement seeking autonomy for Filipino Muslims in the south of the country. It was initially influenced by Al-Qaeda, but since the early 2000s has been involved mainly in criminal activity. In 2014, some of its factions pledged allegiance to Daesh.

ASG’s strength has been declining since 2018 when the Philippine military stepped up a crackdown on Daesh affiliates. Data from the 11th Infantry Division shows that the number of active militants in the group has fallen from about 300 in 2019 to an estimated 100.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Batara Jr., commander of the 1103rd Infantry Brigade, which has jurisdiction over Tattoo and Yadah’s hometown of Patikul, told Arab News the military has been tracking the pair since last year, with the help of police, intelligence and local governments.
 
“But the key to how we were able to reach out to them was their families and community leaders,” he said. “Apparently, they were already under pressure because of continuous military and police operations, and a series of surrenders of their fellow Abu Sayyaf members.”

Yadah was the first to surrender and convinced Tattoo to follow suit, Batara said. The military handed the pair over to police on Friday, as both are facing a series of criminal charges.

A total of 67 Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu have surrendered to security forces in Jolo so far this year.


Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
Updated 56 min 39 sec ago

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
  • King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe
  • The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio, held a summit meeting on September 28 with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is currently in Japan after attending the state funeral for former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo.
At the outset of the meeting that lasted 10 minutes according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo, Kishida expressed his appreciation for the king’s attendance at the state funeral and expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late former Prime Minister Abe.
King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe, and stated that late former Prime Minister Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.
Prime Minister Kishida extended his congratulations to Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.
The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Prime Minister Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees).
In response, King Abdullah II expressed his gratitude for Japan’s wide-ranging cooperation for Jordan and UNRWA and stated that he would like to cooperate with Japan in advancing projects involving countries in the region.
The two leaders confirmed that they will continue to work closely together for the long-term stability of the region, according to the ministry.
 


EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
Updated 57 min 9 sec ago

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
  • Ursula von der Leyen: ‘We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine ... we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation’
  • Von der Leyen: ‘We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia’

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed fresh sanctions against Russia over its war against Ukraine, including further trade restrictions, individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposal will now go to the bloc’s 27 member countries, which will need to overcome differences on the new sanctions and reach unanimity to implement them.
That may take time despite the EU being spurred into action by Russia’s partial military mobilization, nuclear threats to the West and moving to annex a swath of Ukraine.
“We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine. And we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation,” von der Leyen told reporters.
“We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the EU to further cut money flows to Russia from fossil fuel sales.
The G7 group of industrialized countries — where EU countries Italy, France and Germany are also members — already agreed to put such an oil price cap in place via insurers.
“If you are doing nothing it means you are just prolonging this war with Ukraine, this is just ridiculous, the whole civilized world has to be united on that,” Oleg Ustenko told reporters.
While the EU already agreed to stop importing Russian oil starting later this year, Ustenko said the “blood money” would keep on flowing to Moscow unless European companies are banned from insuring seaborne shipments.


Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
Updated 28 September 2022

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
  • The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday
  • “We have to react before the smugglers react,” said Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner
BERLIN: Austria announced Wednesday that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic, in a move that’s aimed at keeping migrants from entering.
The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday, the Austrian government said.
The Austrian interior ministry said the border controls are a response to the Czech Republic’s announcement, a day earlier, of controls on its border with Slovakia starting Thursday, and aim to ensure that human traffickers do not use Austria as an alternative.
“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told public broadcaster ORF.
Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone where people can normally cross borders without getting checked. However, temporary border controls have repeatedly been reinstated in the past, whether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic or to stop migrants from entering illegally.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters later on Wednesday that he would meet Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week to discuss the issue of migration.
“The states are not doing this for their own sake, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to reduce the pressure from the borders,” Nehammer said in Vienna.
Austria introduced controls along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, when more than 1 million migrants from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan entered the European Union. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended those controls, which remain in place.
Back then, only about 8,500 migrants were detained in the Czech Republic, while this year so far 12,000 migrants have been detained, the Czech interior ministry said, adding that most of them were Syrians. A total of 125 human smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase compared with the previous years.
Most migrants don’t want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, but travel through them to reach wealthier places like Germany, Sweden or Austria.
The Austrian border controls will initially be enforced at 11 crossing to Slovakia for 10 days.

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
Updated 28 September 2022

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
  • Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were stupid, adding that Moscow saw a sharp increase the profits of US companies supplying gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear.
Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea from two Russian gas pipelines at the center of an energy standoff.
Asked about claims Russia might somehow be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”
“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas — the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive... Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
“Before making any claims, we should wait for investigation into these ruptures, whether there was an explosion or not,” Peskov said. Information on the incident could be expected from Denmark and Sweden, he said.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday that three of four offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. All Nord Stream’s pipeline had not delivered gas by the time of the incident.
Nord Stream 1 has reported a significant pressure drop caused by the gas leak on both lines of the gas pipeline, while Nord Stream 2 said that a sharp pressure drop in line A was registered on Monday.


North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
Updated 28 September 2022

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
  • Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test
  • North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday

SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as South Korea and the United States staged joint naval exercises involving an aircraft carrier.
Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test.
The launch came two days after South Korea and US forces launched their military exercise in the waters off South Korea’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Thursday after a visit to Japan.
North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday.
North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006, which the Security Council has steadily — and unanimously — stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea rejects UN resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized military exercises by United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.