13 years after 9/11: ISIS in Middle East, Muslim Terrorists from Malaysia and China …


US-Sept 11
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


9/11 prompted end of US arrogance

 Was it the day which changed the world? Scholars are still pondering on the impact of the September 11 attacks on US foreign policy.

Those who consider the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 as a turning point mainly attribute the subsequent US military reaction to their trauma.

Others who disagree with this perspective employ a rather different argument. They claim that this catastrophic incident only highlighted Washington’s unilateralism, which had been already apparent during the first months of George W. Bush’s presidency and the last years of Bill Clinton’s administration.

Nonetheless, Washington’s response, and especially the war on Iraq, has changed the world indeed.

Advocates of the war in the US claimed that this military campaign was a necessary decision in the context of the international fight against terrorism and the need of a preemptive action against the usage of weapons of mass destruction by dictators.

But the result of the preventive war against Iraq has been rather dramatic. It left chaos not only in Iraq, but in the wider Middle East. The recent success and advance of the Islamic State (IS) outline that stability is a utopian dream at present.

Terrorist groups give the impression of a modern hydra which grows more heads for each one cut off. Few outside of Iraq could recognize the IS last year. But now it is widely considered as a new international threat jeopardizing security in the Middle East and defying human dignity, as in the brutal and videoed beheadings of journalists.

Instead of spreading democracy in the Middle East, the US is continuously involved in new battles and adventures. Its military victories are Pyrrhic, while the risk for the opening of new fronts in the future is high.

More importantly, the lack of clear political objectives complicates its efforts to deliver at the international level. Washington is not responsible for existing internal tensions, ethnic, religious, or political, in the Arab world, but it often incites them through its interventionism.

The image of the US in the Arab world remains problematic 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, just 10 percent of respondents in Egypt and 12 percent in Jordan hold a favorable view of Washington.

Anti-Americanism has been recently on the rise due to additional issues, such as the monitoring actions of the National Security Agency and the use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Pew Research Center also reveals that China is more popular than the US in the Middle East, with 49 percent of respondents holding favorable views of Beijing and just 30 percent of Washington.

We cannot tell how the map of the Middle East might have been shaped without the war on Iraq. Some Western policymakers insist that the world is safer as a result of US foreign policy in the aftermath of 9/11. Reality, however, challenges this view, and shows that the brief period of US dominance looks to be over.

A new multipolar world has been created in recent years. Washington’s failure in Iraq and the ensuing economic crisis have seriously hit its post-Cold War superiority.

In parallel with this, the rise of new countries such as China has started to alter the balance at the global level. This new environment is perhaps the most significant evolution of the post-9/11 era.

The study of international relations has to closely follow developments. Ironically, in spite of critical changes such as the relevant fall of the US and the rise of China, a basic factor remains constant. This is the success of terrorism. It was Al Qaeda 13 years ago and it is the IS now, as far as the Middle East is concerned.

The new multipolar world requires international cooperation more than ever. Arrogant foreign policy choices can no longer find a place.

By George N. Tzogopoulos Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-10 19:23:01

The author is a research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

To Destroy ISIS in Middle East and Syria! 



From Malaysia ISA to IS – Islamic State Terrorists

ISA_IS
He lived hereMohammad Fadhlan’s family home in Kampung Bukit Kabu, Kulim. The self-proclaimed jihadist was killed during an attack by Syrian warplanes and tanks.
ISA_Terrorists

Fighting for a faraway cause: (top left) Mohd Lofti, Zainuri, Mohd Rafi, (lower left) Samad, Zid Saharani among the five former ISA detainee who had gone to Syria along with Zainan (lower right), who was recently killed.

PETALING JAYA: Five former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees are among 40 Malaysians who have joined up with the Islamic State militants in war-torn Syria where multiple factions are vying for supremacy.

The five are former Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM) members Zainuri Kamaruddin and Rafi Udin along with former Jemaah Islamiah (JI) operative Samad Shukri and Zid Saharani Mohamad Esa.

Former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, 45, rounded up the list.

Sources said that Zainuri, Rafi and Samad had gone to Syria on April 18 along with recently killed Jihadist Zainan Harith, also known as Abu Turob.

The latest Malaysian to be killed in the conflict was Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, from Kedah. He was killed while fleeing an attack by Syrian government forces on Tuesday.

“Zainan was killed in an attack in Syria which left the other three severely injured. The authorities believe all the former ISA detainees are still in Syria fighting for a militant group,” a source said.

It is learnt that the five along with Zainan, were deeply influenced by extremist teachings and would often keep to themselves.

“It can be said that those who went to fight in Syria are very similar to each other. They believe that almost any means justifies the ends thus they are willing to do almost anything to justify their false jihad,” a source said.

In Malaysia, they held meetings dubbed “Usra” in random locations to avoid detection.

“These Usra included planning attacks and heists to fund the extremist movement. Their ultimate goal was to bear arms and fight in Syria,” the source said.

Surveillance by the authorities also resulted in various “Usra” locations being identified in the Klang Valley. Among the locations were Puchong, Shah Alam and Puncak Alam in Klang.

Aside from planning, the Usra was also used to invite “key” speakers, including jailed JI leader Abubakar Basyir. It is learnt that Abu Bakar gave various talks between 1998 and 2000 to further indoctrinate the followers.

Citing the example of Zainan, a former KMM member, the source explained that the 52-year-old man would distance himself from the family.

“If he did talk to his wife or other family members, it was about religious matters,” he said.

It is learnt that Zainan did not finish secondary school and joined the “tabliq” (missionary) movement soon after dropping out.

“He spent most of his time at the mosque in Taman Datuk Harun here. In 2000, while with KMM, Zainan was involved in the Hong Leong Bank heist in Petaling Jaya along with four others. They escaped with RM110,000 in cash,” the source said.

This was followed by a string of robberies, including a weapons raid on the Guar Cempedak police station and Southern Bank in Petaling Jaya.

“Zainan was finally arrested in 2001 and released from prison in 2010,” the source said.

When he left for Syria in April, Zainan did not even tell his wife about it. He just threw the car keys and said he was leaving.

“He only contacted the wife when he was in transit to Syria. They have been in constant contact via Whatsapp since – until their last communication on Aug 15,” the source said.

The source said the wife, who works in a private company, never suspected that Zainan would be involved in illegal activities, let alone extremism.

“She is used to his mysterious nature, having not told the wife when he went to Cambodia for some humanitarian work. The wife also learned not to ask any question as Zainan never brought any friends home,” the source said.

By Farik Zolkepli The Star/Asia News Network

 

Youngest jihadist is second Malaysian to be killed in Syria

ISA_Mohd Fadhlan Shahidi
Mohd Fadhlan youngest Malaysian jihadist in Syria.

PETALING JAYA: As Syrian jet fighters and tanks fired on a militant base in east Hama, Syria, in a daylight attack, the self-proclaimed jihadists, which included several Malaysian volunteers, fled in trucks and other vehicles.

Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, from Kedah, was in one truck when he was hit by shrapnel and fell out of the speeding vehicle during the assault on Tuesday morning.

A tank was firing on the truck so the driver could not stop to enable the other passengers to pick up Mohammad Fadhlan, a fellow Malaysian jihadist Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim revealed.

Militants in another truck managed to pull him into their vehicle shortly after but he was mortally wounded and died minutes later.

“Fadhlan died in the arms of a comrade,” Salman said.

Mohammad Fadhlan is believed to be the youngest Malaysian jihadist and is the second Malaysian to be killed in the ongoing conflict between the militants and the President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The attack also wounded two other Malaysians: former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, 45, and another known only as Abu Agfhan.

Mohammad Fadhlan’s mother Fatimah Md Lazim, 55, identified his body from photographs, according to a source here. His remains were buried in east Hama.

His father Mohammad Khir Ismail, 59, has not been told of his death, reports ROYCE TAN.

“We have yet to break the news to our father because he is bedridden after suffering a stroke.

We don’t think he will take the news well,” said Mohammad Fadhlan’s brother Firdaus, 27, at the family home in Kampung Bukit Kabu in Mahang Karangan, Kulim, yesterday.

Mohammad Fadhlan was the fifth among eight children in the family. He has four sisters and three brothers, aged eight to 29.

He went to Syria on May 13 via Istanbul.

“He sent our mother a text message on May 14 telling her he was going to fight in Syria. We didn’t believe it at first. We only realised he was serious when we saw his Facebook postings,” said Firdaus.

After that, Mohammad Fadhlan did not keep in touch with his family.

“We tried sending him messages on Facebook but he never replied,” Firdaus said.

The first Malaysian militant to die in Syria was Abu Turob, 52, who was killed during an attack by tanks and snipers on Aug 19.

Another militant, Pahang-born Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, died in Iraq when he drove a military vehicle packed with explosives into a SWAT headquarters and detonated it, killing 25 soldiers in May.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

China unlikely to step into IS fray

Washington to extend airstrikes to Syria

China is unlikely to directly join in the current stage of the US-led fight against the radical Islamic State (IS) but will provide moral support instead, analysts said Thursday, following US President Barack Obama’s call to build a broad anti-IS coalition to crush jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

In a broad escalation of the fight against the IS, which occupies large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, Obama said in a televised speech Wednesday night that the US will extend airstrikes to Syria and expand operations in Iraq.

Obama also said he was building a broad anti-IS coalition involving Sunni-led governments in the region and Western allies.

His speech came after reports that US National Security Adviser Susan Rice requested China’s support in forming the coalition during her visit to Beijing earlier this week. The Washington Post quoted an anonymous official as saying that, “The Chinese expressed interest [at the proposal].”

On Thursday, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, didn’t directly respond to the question of whether China will join the coalition, but said “China is ready to abide by the principle of mutual respect, equality and cooperation in strengthening anti-terrorist cooperation with the rest of the international community and maintaining global peace and stability.”

Dong Manyuan, a deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that he does not expect China to directly step into the fray, despite some shared interests between the US and China in combating terrorism.

Last week, Iraq’s defense ministry posted on its Facebook page photos that it said show a captured Chinese man fighting on behalf of the IS, reported the New York Times.

The Chinese government has yet to confirm the report, but various sources previously suggested that jihadists from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are fighting alongside IS fighters in Syria.

Wu Sike, China’s former special envoy to the Middle East, told a press conference in late July that around 100 jihadists from Xinjiang, most of whom are members of the separatist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement, are fighting or being trained in the Middle East.

Turmoil in Iraq, a major source of China’s oil imports, also posed a threat to Chinese businesses operating in the country.

Zhao Weiming, a professor of Middle East Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, said China may support the US in its fight against the IS, but that its support will be limited to the diplomatic level, and “it is not going to participate in any military actions against the IS.”

However, Zhao told the Global Times that support for the US fight against the IS doesn’t mean that China supports all US military actions carried out in the name of fighting terrorism.

“China opposes the US using anti-terrorism as an excuse to serve its own ends,” he said, referring to the US decision to strike Syria.

Obama Wednesday also asked Congress to authorize $500 million to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels outgunned by the IS and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“We hold that in the international struggle against terrorism, international law should be respected, as well as the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries concerned,” Hua told Thursday’s press briefing.

The US plan for airstrikes in Syria drew protest from Ali Haidar, Syria’s Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs, who said any military action without Damascus’ permission is an act of aggression.

“China might give a tacit consent to strikes against IS targets [in Syria], but it has a bottom line – no attack on Syrian government targets or civilian facilities,” Zhang Jiadong, a professor with the Center for American Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Zhang added that China will not allow the US to weaken Assad’s regime or destabilize Syria under the disguise of anti-terrorism.

China’s stated policy is consistently one of non-intervention, which has been criticized by some observers in the West.

In an August interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said China has been a “free rider” for the last 30 years, referring to the crisis in Iraq.

Dong argued that US Middle East policy is the cause for turmoil in the region, and has forced some Chinese companies to pull out of the region. “The US not only failed to give Chinese companies a free ride, but actually made trouble for them.”

Zhao shared similar views, noting that China played a significant role in Iraq and Afghanistan’s reconstruction following US-led wars, and contributed to local economic development.

In the fight against the IS, Zhang noted that China can play a unique role in bridging the differences between Washington and Damascus.

US hostility toward both Assad’s regime and the IS, combined with close ties between Damascus and Baghdad, have made it very difficult for the US to carry out its policy, as its anti-terrorist efforts might be offset by the complex situation, Zhang told the Global Times.

“China should press the US to change its policy toward Damascus, and push for national rebuilding in Syria to ensure its stability and security and weaken the foundation of the IS,” he said.

By Yang Jingjie Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-12 0:53:01

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US may repeat same inept blunders that caused lasting Iraq disaster : ISIS, WMD lies!


US_Iraq dance

The deepening crisis in Iraq is a result of mistakes of US Middle East policy under two presidents. Washington does not learn from mistakes, so tensions inevitably will rise in the already disintegrating region.

 WMD lies
The regime change war of the George W. Bush administration against Iraq was arguably the greatest strategic mistake in US history. The consequences continue to unfold.

The Obama administration added fuel to the regional fire by launching the regime change wars against Libya and Syria. The flow of weapons and terrorists links these struggles.

The US public was outraged that the Obama administration considered a direct attack against Syria. The public today is becoming increasingly concerned about US involvement in yet another unnecessary Iraq war.

The present situation in Iraq must be placed in historic context. The British created the country after WWI from three former Ottoman provinces. The British strategic concept involved moving oil from the northern area of Mosul to Haifa in Palestine to be refined and then service the navy in the Mediterranean. Oil from the southern area of Basra was refined to service the navy in the Persian Gulf.

The northern area is one home of the Kurds, who are an ancient non-Arab ethnic group. The central area is traditionally the home of Sunni Arabs while the southern area is traditionally the home of Shiite Arabs.

The possibility of a breakup of this artificial state has always been present as the Kurds seek independence and the Shiite Arabs have religious ties to Iran. An Iraqi national identity was mostly held by secular political forces in the past.

In the aftermath of the war, the US dismantled the ruling Ba’ath political party, which ran the government apparatus. It also destroyed the Iraqi army. These two moves undermined national unity and stability in the post-war period.

The Obama regime change war against Syria has now morphed into a complex mess involving both Syria and Iraq. This explosive situation in turn threatens Jordan and Lebanon.

ISIS_IraqISIS in Iraq
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group with its many foreign fighters is a powerful actor in the present situation. But it must also be said that various Iraqi groups are also involved. These include former Iraqi military, political, and religious networks dissatisfied with the present Shiite-dominated government.

When the US toppled Saddam Hussein, it was inevitable that the next regime would be dominated by the Shiites who are the majority in Iraq. Experts at that time warned against the war, arguing that with Saddam’s fall, Iran would become influential in Iraq through Shiite politicians.

The Shiite-dominated Maliki government has been heavy handed toward Sunni Arabs and Kurds. This counterproductive behavior set the stage for the present crisis which has been exploited by outside forces such as Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. They financially and militarily support the extremist Sunni terrorist organizations attacking the Shiites.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states also support the US regime change war in Syria. Support by these states for Sunni terrorists is part of a larger plan to bring the region under Saudi dominance.

It is no secret in Washington that pro-Israel neoconservatives for decades have been plotting the balkanization of Syria and Iraq. They see this process as good for Israel because it would break up its hostile neighbors into less threatening enclaves.

The results of Washington’s incompetence may well provoke Iran into action to protect the Shiites of Iraq. Washington and Tehran may or may not be able to agree on a path forward.

The disintegrating situation in Iraq puts great pressure on Jordan.

Because Jordan is a key ally in the region one would expect Washington to bolster Amman and this could involve military forces.

US politicians have forced war and chaos on the Middle East and have learned nothing. Will Washington’s Asian pivot lead to similar results?

- By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-26
The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Ini Malaysia Boleh? MH370 was likely on autopilot; new search area announced


Australia said the search for MH370 has shifted further south and the aircraft is now believed to have been on autopilot before it disappeared.

“It is highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot.

“Otherwise, it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings,” said Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss during a press conference in Canberra yesterday.

However, he said the investigators could not, and had not intended to, pinpoint the moment when the aircraft was put on autopilot.

“We know it was on autopilot during the critical phase of our tracking but it will be a matter for the Malaysia-based investigation team to look at precisely when it may have been put on autopilot,” said Truss, who also declined to comment on speculation about the pilot having flown the course on his simulator, pointing out that it was irrelevant to their task of finding the aircraft.

“I don’t really want to comment on areas which will probably be the responsibility of Malaysia and its investigators,” he said.

Truss said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had released a report which outlined the basis for their conclusion that the new search area was the most likely place where the aircraft could be found.

He said the new priority search zone was 60,000sqkm, and was greatly expanded compared to the previous underwater search area of only 860sqkm.

“The new phase of the search will have two elements. Firstly there will be mapping of the sea floor in the area, which is already under way, and a comprehensive search once mapping had been completed,” he said.

Mapping is currently being undertaken by Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen and the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator.

Truss said mapping of the very deep sea floor was expected to take about three months to complete, while the underwater search was expected to commence by August.

“To put new equipment into the area without a clear knowledge of what the sea floor is like will certainly put at risk the capacity of that equipment to operate safely,” he said.

Truss added that the search effort would include equipment provided by Malaysia, including vessels equipped with towed sonar systems.

Despite acknowledging the enormity of the task, Truss remains optimistic.

“The search is still going to be painstaking. Of course, we could be fortunate and find it in the first hour or the first day, but it could take another 12 months.”

The Star/Asia News Network

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Missing Malaysian airliner ‘likely on autopilot’ as new search area announced

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss points the new search area for MH370 to reporters at a press conference at Australian Parliament House in Canberra, June 26, 2014.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss points the new search area for MH370 to reporters at a press conference at Australian Parliament House in Canberra, June 26, 2014. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday that it is “highly likely” the missing Malaysian airliner flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean. (Xinhua/Xu Haijing)

CANBERRA, June 26 (Xinhua) — Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday that it is “highly likely” the missing Malaysian airliner flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Truss made the comment on Thursday when announcing the joint search operation involving Australia, Malaysia and China would shift its focus in the southern Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The revised search area is based on the findings of an international satellite working group.
The group has reviewed all existing information to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometers along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.

Truss said the refined search area would still be focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite.

But the search would shift to an area slightly further south along the arc, based on the calculations of the international experts.

“Specialists have analyzed satellite communications information- – information which was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft — and performed extremely complex calculations,” Truss said.

“This site is the best available and most likely place where the aircraft is resting.”

“It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot, otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings,” Truss said.

He said the search for MH370 was ongoing. A three-month mapping of the ocean floor in the search area is in progress and would be followed by a comprehensive search of the sea floor that is expected to begin in August and take up to 12 months to complete.

“The bathymetric survey has already commenced, with the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen and the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator conducting operations in the areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau,” Truss said.

“The underwater search will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence to assist with the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370.”

“This area has never been comprehensively mapped previously and so to put new equipment down into that area without having clear knowledge of what the sea floor is like certainly risks the operation and the capacity of that equipment to operate safely.”

He warned that the search will still be painstaking. “Of course we could be fortunate and find it in the first hour, or the first day, or it could take the next 12 months.”

Australia, Malaysia and China have reaffirmed their commitment to continue to search for MH370 and to keep families informed of developments.

Truss said search nations owed it to “the passengers and the crew and everyone associated with MH370 to bring this mystery to a conclusion.”

“I can assure all the families and those with an interest that Australia remains dedicated to the task of solving this greatest aviation mystery.”

Flight MH370 vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

 

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Ini Malaysia Boleh? Fighting for Syrian jihadist! People reject regime change


Video shows man speaking Bahasa Malaysia about going ‘to the battlefield’ 

KUALA LUMPUR: A chilling video of a Malaysian riding in a truck with a group of militants fighting in the Syrian jihadist movement has surfaced on the Internet.Malaysian Jihadist_terrorist

He is one of the 20 Malaysians confirmed by Bukit Aman to have taken part in the uprising in Syria.

The one-and-a-half minute video, which appeared to have been shot by the man who spoke mostly in Bahasa Malaysia with a northern accent, described his joy as they drove off “to the battlefield”.

The authenticity of the video, which had been viewed more than 5,000 times since it was uploaded to syriantube.net on June 7, was verified by Bukit Aman.

“Yes, they are among 20 Malaysi­ans who are identified as having joined the uprising in Syria. We will announce the names of all the Malaysians involved soon,” said spokesman ACP Datin Asmawati Ahmad.

Syriantube.net founder Maher Ra claimed that the video was shot in Allepo, Syria, by a Mohd Lotfi Ariffin from Kuala Ketil, Kedah.

Syriantube has been showing video footage depicting the behind the scene shots of terrorists activities and atrocities commited by militants in Syria.

Checks on Mohd Lotfi’s Facebook showed that the video did originate from his page on June 3, which had been liked and shared by many Malaysians, some of whom offered words of encouragement.

In a story first broken by Mstar Online and Star Online, the video opened with a shot of a tank from inside a truck. The tank then rolled away in a bushland with several Middle Eastern looking men, dressed in army fatigue sitting on it. The men were also heavily armed.

“Yes, the tank is moving, making its way to its destination – the battlefield. Allahu Akbar (God is great)! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” said the cameraman in Bahasa Malaysia.

“These are our friends,” he continued, panning over to show several men – all dressed in combat gear, bulletproof vests, helmets and black bandanas, and with riffles slung around their necks.

Some of the men even smiled and showed the “V” victory sign with their fingers as the camera closed up on them.

Without the weapons and war gear, they would have appeared like a group of friends, taking pictures with their smartphones, seemingly happy about going on a drive.

The camera then rested on a bearded Middle Eastern-looking man wearing combat uniform and a blue ski cap, who shouted Allahu Akbar! as the group of about 20 men in the truck chanted along.

“Our friends, working happily!” said the cameraman in Bahasa Malaysia, who then focused his shot on a bespectacled young man wearing a black headband and holding a smartphone, who, ironically, made a peace sign.

“Yes, our friends, we are all ready to go to the fight at the battlefield. We don’t feel scared. We don’t feel nervous!” The voice was heard saying, the camera shaking as the truck engine revved up.

“We are moving! Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,” the group chanted.

Maher claimed that the Malaysians had been in Syria for over a year.

“There aren’t 15. There are over 200 of them. Some, even as old as 60. They came with their wives and children. They stay in Aleppo and Ar-Raqqah.

“They have killed people. They have beheaded innocent civilians,” he claimed, describing himself as a pro-government Syrian who started syriantube.net to expose the atrocities committed by militant groups in the conflict-ridden country.

The Syrian government recently claimed that 15 Malaysians, purportedly involved in terrorism and jihadist activities with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil) network, had been killed.

Contributed by Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asia News Network

The people reject regime change

Syrians defeated an attempt at regime change which has a plan to ensure Western hegemony

IF one is sincere about resolving the bloody three-year-old conflict in Syria, one would regard the outcome of the presidential election held on June 3 as an opportunity for working out a viable solution.

The election was a genuine endorsement of the leadership of Bashar al-Assad.

A total 73% of eligible voters cast their ballots in the first ever multi-candidate direct presidential election in Syria.

Assad secured 88.7% of the votes. There were no allegations of electoral fraud or manipulation.

It is significant that Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan – hosts to the majority of refugees from the on-going war in Syria – voted overwhelmingly for Assad.

It is of course true that those parts of the country which are still in rebel hands could not vote. This would be mainly some parts of rural Syria and one medium-sized city. But all the other cities – and they account for the majority of the population – went to the ballot box.

US officials and the Western media have dismissed the election result contemptuously because a portion of the electorate could not vote, ignoring the fact that the vast majority participated enthusiastically in the polls.

They have conveniently forgotten that in the presidential election in Ukraine on May 25, millions of Russian speaking voters in the eastern part of the country refused to participate and yet the verdict was endorsed by the centres of power in the West.

This is another example of blatant double standards. Instead of rubbishing the election result, Western leaders and commentators should try to find out why the Syrian people showed so much enthusiasm for the election and why they gave so much support to Assad.

One, for the vast majority of Syrians, the election was their repudiation of the war and the killings that have claimed tens of thousands of lives since March 2011.

It was their way of affirming their commitment to peace and stability.

Two, the Syrians know that the only leader who can bring peace and stability to their land is Bashar al-Assad since he has always commanded the support of the majority of his people.

Three, there is also a great deal of appreciation among the people for the way in which the Assad government has managed to ensure that essential goods and services are available to a broad cross-section of the people in spite of the terrible devastation and destruction caused by the war.

Four, the election result is also a show of appreciation of the role played by the armed forces which has lost at least 61,000 men in the war and which, in the eyes of the people, has succeeded in protecting the innocent and preventing some brazen massacres.

It in no way justifies, it should be emphasised, some of the excesses committed by the armed forces which a number of us have condemned from the outset.

Five, if Assad won so convincingly, it is also partly because the opposition is hopelessly divided. The different armed groups are pitted against each other. There is no common platform. They were not even able to put forward a common candidate in the election.

Six, more than the opposition’s utter disarray it is the barbaric brutality of some of the armed groups revealed in so many episodes in the war that turned a lot of Syrians against them and indirectly increased support for Assad.

What has caused even greater revulsion among the people is the claim of these groups that they are the true representatives of Islam.

Seven, since some of these groups are foreign and the foreign hands behind the war are so obvious to most Syrians, rallying around Assad in the election was the people’s response to what they perceive as a massive foreign conspiracy to break Syria’s principled resistance to US helmed hegemony that serves the interests of Israel.

Ousting Assad is central to the goal of breaking resistance.

This is why the people sought through the ballot box to foil a determined push to achieve regime change in Damascus.

This, in the ultimate analysis, is the real significance of Assad’s electoral triumph.

The Syrian people have defeated a violent, aggressive attempt at achieving regime change as part of that perpetual plan to ensure US and Western hegemony, especially in a region which is pivotal to their quest for global domination.

Apart from Israel which launched a number of air-strikes against Syria in the course of the war, some of the West’s other regional allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have also played a major role in pursuit of this diabolical agenda.

Given that the United States and some of its allies are democracies, will they now concede that since the Syrian people have spoken, they will respect their wishes and cease their pursuit of regime change?

It is most unlikely that they would. After all, hegemony has always taken precedence over democracy.

Hegemony trumps everything else. Does it matter to the hegemon and its allies that if they continue along this path, thousands more are going to die or become refugees in some other land?

Perhaps one should reach out to ordinary American citizens in the hope that they would persuade their government to put an end to the war and create the conditions for peace in Syria.

It may be worthwhile trying this approach.

A Pew Research Centre poll conducted in 2013 showed that “70% of Americans oppose arming the Syrian rebels”.

Can they now be convinced that arming rebels against a democratically-elected president nullifies everything that a democracy stands for?

Can we expect American citizens to share the dream of their Syrian counterparts for an end to war in their land?

Will they act to make that dream come true?

By Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is President of JUST, the International Movement for a Just World.

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US under Obama reluctant to stop making messes all over the world ; ISIS massacre in Iraq shames Washington


USA messes

US President Barack Obama has been in office for more than five years, but his diplomatic practice has so far ended with misery.

The Iraq War that lasted for seven years and five months brought about radical anti-government forces that have relations with Al Qaeda and have seized northern provinces. It also brought about a more pro-Iran government.

The 13-year-long Afghan War led to a US that has to engage in negotiations with the Taliban and an Afghanistan hostile to the US.

Bashar al-Assad, whom the US has been trying to defame in every possible way, was reelected as Syrian president. The Arab Spring brought about an anti-US wave across the Middle East.

While isolating Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis, the US also finds Russia and Europe are getting closer.

While unscrupulously supporting Japan led by right-wing forces, its “pivot to Asia” strategy has become a tool to vitalize Japan’s militarism. The US’ “mess-making” image is hard to change.

Such an eye-watering diplomatic sheet reflects the decline of US power and the rigidness of its strategic mentality. The two time-consuming and costly wars and the financial crisis that swept the whole world have corroded the strength of the US, which corresponds to the conclusion of Paul Kennedy in his book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers that military overstretching leads to the decline of empires.

Meanwhile, the increasingly severe partisan struggles in US domestic politics serve as a negative democratic model.

The US’ torture of prisoners overseas and the PRISM-gate scandal have weakened Washington’s soft power. It is time for the US to reflect upon its failed global diplomacy and reform its political and economic systems.

Against the backdrop that the security of all countries are interrelated, the US still insists on alliances. In the past two decades, NATO has expanded three times and strengthened the military alliance as the US advocated the “Russia threat,” which has led to the split of European security.

When Asian countries progressed into regional integration, the US advocated the “China threat” to strengthen the Asian alliance system, with the US-Japan alliance at the core, which will surely lead to the split of Asian security.

The old mentality of “alliance” has not only worsened the international environment in which the US’ own domestic economic plight is to be solved, but also brought about criticism of other countries.

The US has been obstinate in pursuing its dream of hegemony. It not only excludes others in the traditional security field, but also tries to define the boundaries in new security areas, such as information warfare and cyber space.

Experts from US think tanks who remain cool-headed have reminded those in power that the driving force of the US diplomacy is a revitalized economy. The urgent task is to solve domestic problems, rather than fan up the flames of troubles around the world.

When Obama first took office in 2009, the US public expected him to take their country out of the economic downturn like former president Franklin Roosevelt did before. Five years have passed, the economy hasn’t got rid of sluggishness, political extremism remains, and the gap between different social classes has widened.

The tragedy of the US diplomacy is that decision-makers habitually refuse reflection.

Last month, when Obama delivered a speech at the US Military Academy at West Point, he articulated his vision of the US’ leading role in the world for the century to come.

But if the declining US that brought about numerous tragedies to the world still wants to dominate the world, the world will come to the edge of a cliff. It seems just too difficult for the US to learn to be a normal country.

By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published
The author is a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

ISIS massacre in Iraq shames Washington

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants boasted on Twitter Saturday that they had executed more than 1,700 Iraqi government soldiers and posted grisly on-the-spot photos. The claim of the Sunni Islamist militants shocked media outlets the world over as this latest Iraq massacre might be the largest since 2003.

ISIS already appalled the whole international community by suddenly taking over Mosul days ago, the second-largest city of Iraq. Their mass murder of thousands of war prisoners this time reveals their atrocity as well as the unpredictable abyss of the Iraq crisis. The US has sent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and two guided missile ships into the Persian Gulf and is hesitating about whether to launch air strikes against ISIS in northern Iraq. It seems the Iraq tragedy is caused by a continuously regenerative power that can never be eliminated by external forces.

Washington waged the Iraq War in 2003 without UN authorization and regardless of objections from major countries including China, Russia, Germany and France. US public opinion has recently been reflecting that the Bush administration might have started a wrong war, although authorized by Congress and a majority of the US public back when the US elite was confident about remolding the Middle East. The democratic system failed to broaden the limited vision of US society on the Middle East.

Thousands of US soldiers were killed at the battlefields of Iraq and tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives, for which then president George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not assume any responsibility. This is indeed an error by Uncle Sam. Nevertheless it will be of positive significance to a certain degree if the Western world led by Washington can draw from the brutal war profound lessons that are expected to help change the US’ way of “leading the world.”

The biggest lesson is that the US is not omnipotent in reforming smaller countries it detests. The West needs to hold in awe the torn and tattered societies of Iraq and Afghanistan, which will release incredible power once their internal structures are disrupted and devour all efforts at peaceful reconstruction. There is no denying that Washington has injected power into globalization by bringing the clout of Western values to every corner of the world. However, many people may have overestimated the political meaning of US cultural communication and mistaken it for a prelude to world domination for the Western political model.

Now the White House is keen on its “pivot to Asia” strategy. History will not simply repeat itself. If the US attempts to scourge East Asia, it will probably adopt different means from those in the Middle East. East Asians should give full play to their wisdom to avoid falling into the trap of Washington.

Source:Global Times

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Terrorists attack crowded Chinese market, strongly condemned by international community!


Terrorists Attach_Chinese market

Thirty-one people are dead and more than 90 injured after attackers drove their cars into an open-air market in China and hurled explosives out the windows.

The attack occurred at 7.50am local time in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the volatile Xinjiang region, and has been described as a ‘serious violent terrorist incident’ by China’s Ministry of Public Security.

Two 4×4 vehicles rammed into shoppers in an open market, Xinhua news agency reported, citing witness reports.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Thirty-one people are dead and more than 90 injured after attackers drove their cars into an open-air market in China and hurled explosives out the windows+17
Thirty-one people are dead and more than 90 injured after attackers drove their cars into an open-air market in China and hurled explosives out the windows

The attack occurred at 7.50am local time in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the volatile Xinjiang region, and has been described as a 'serious violent terrorist incident' by China's Ministry of Public Security+17
The attack occurred at 7.50am local time in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the volatile Xinjiang region, and has been described as a ‘serious violent terrorist incident’ by China’s Ministry of Public Security
Photos posted on social media site, Weibo, show bodies and debris from the market strewn about the streets

Photos posted on social media site, Weibo, show bodies and debris from the market strewn about the street

 

A picture allegedly from the bomb site, shows a man lying on the street after explosions rocked through Urumqi in China's north-west

A picture allegedly from the bomb site, shows a man lying on the street after explosions rocked through Urumqi in China’s north-west
Explosives were flung out of the vehicles, and one of the vehicles exploded.

One witness told Reuters he saw the aftermath of the blasts on his way to work
‘The air was full of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of sobbing,’ he said. ‘There were simply too many (casualties), old folks who were at the morning market.’

Sources: Dailymail.co.uk

Video: International community strongly condemns Urumqi terror attack

The international community has strongly condemned the terrorist attack. World leaders and internati…

Strong condemnation of the terrorist attack that claimed over 31 lives in China’s northwestern city of Urumqi poured in from the international community on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the victims of the attack, which took place at a morning market earlier on Thursday and left 94 injured, via a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the message, Putin strongly condemned the bloody crime, saying he hoped the organizers will be found and prosecuted, and confirmed Moscow’s interest in further strengthening Russia-China cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism.

Putin also sent condolences to the relatives of those killed and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms the killing and injuring of many innocent people.

Karzai offered his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of China and called the attack “an act by the enemies of peace and stability who don’t want to see our region grow secure, stable and developed.”

The president stressed that the Afghan people, more so than others, can well understand such pains and grief as they have long been victims of terrorist attacks.

He also expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery to those injured.

The South African government condemned all forms and manner of terrorism.

“We believe that terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned,” the country’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.

France, Hungary and Greece, as well as the European Union (EU), also lashed out at the terrorist activity and showed sympathy with those who fell victim, with the EU branding it a “senseless act of violence.”

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal expressed his country’s solidarity with the government and the people of China in this ordeal.

Hungary was shocked by the Urumqi attack, stressing that terrorist activities targeting innocent civilians are severe crimes and can not be accepted under any circumstances.

Greece also strongly condemned the act, expressing solidarity with the Chinese people.

“We condemn in the most unequivocal manner the deadly terrorist attack carried out today in China, in the city of Urumqi, in the Xinjiang region,” Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement released by the ministry.

“We express our solidarity with the Chinese people and our condolences to the families of the victims, and we wish those who were injured a speedy recovery,” he added.

“The European Union condemns this senseless act of violence and extends its heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victims,” Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told Xinhua on Thursday.

Australia’s ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, has joined the global chorus of condemnation, reporting that the Australian government is concerned by reports of the explosions in Urumqi.

“We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to the victims of the attack and their families,” she said.

“The Australian government deplores all forms of terrorism and condemns any attack on innocent people.”

Pakistan also voiced its condemnation and showed sympathy with the government and the people of China.

Iran said acts of violence and extremism targeting innocent people anywhere in the world are condemned and such moves have no connection with the principles of Islam at all, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said.

Vietnam strongly condemned the terrorist attack and extended deep condolences to the Chinese people and relatives of the victims. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said he hoped that the culprits would be brought to justice.

Also on Thursday, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary-General Dmitry Mezentsev condemned the violence, expressing the SCO’s strong indignation and deep sorrow.

“We express deep-felt condolence to the victims and convey sincere solace to relatives of the victims and the injured people,” Mezentsev said in a statement.

It is the priority of the SCO to fight terrorism, the statement said, adding the international community should further boost cooperation to combat terrorist activities effectively.

The Palestinian presidency condemned the terrorist attack. – Xinhua

“We condemn with the strongest words this heinous crime,” Nemer Hammad, political advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas told Xinhua.

“We support our Chinese friends, and wish speedy recovery to the injured, as well as prosperity, safety and stability to the people of China,” Hammad added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China has the confidence and capability to crack down upon the audacious terrorists.

“The violence, a further indication of the terrorists’ anti-human, anti-society and anti-civilization nature, should be condemned by the Chinese people and society,” Hong said.

In response to the attack, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish terrorists and spare no efforts in maintaining stability, asking local authorities to solve the case quickly, put the injured under proper care and offer condolences to families of the victims.

Two vehicles, without license plates, broke through roadside fences and plowed into people at an open air market in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Thursday morning. Explosive devices were set off, causing the deaths of at least 31 people and injuring 94 others.

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Philippine cops

Captain recalls attack by Philippine police

“They rushed toward us in a boat and fired at us,” He Junting, captain of the fishing boat Qiongqionghai 03168, said Thursday when recalling an attack by Philippine police.

He’s boat was about 300 meters from Qiongqionghai 09063, which was seized by Philippine police at about 10 a.m. Tuesday in waters off the Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea, with 11 fishermen on board captured.

He drove his boat and rushed away after seeing the armed vessel. It encountered another armed boat later but safely got away.

“If we had not known the sea conditions around the Half Moon Shoal well, we would never have got away from them,” he told Xinhua.

“If we delayed a little bit, our nine fishermen aboard would have been seized,” he said.

The Half Moon Shoal is China’s inherent territory. It has rich fishing resources, good anchorages and harbors, the captain said.

“It is a traditional fishing ground for fishermen in Qionghai City, Hainan Province,” He said. “We have been fishing there many times.”

The Beidou navigation system installed on Qiongqionghai 09063 was switched off by the Philippine police, meaning the 11 fishermen lost contact with China, according to a Qionghai fishing administration official on condition of anonymity.

There are still 48 Chinese fishing boats in the waters off the Nansha Islands, according to the Qionghai municipal fishing administration station.

Police will make contacts with the boats four times a day and make sure to know their positions. They will guide fishing boats to leave dangerous sea areas if needed, said Yu Yi, head of the Tanmen township border police station of Qionghai City.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the Philippines to “immediately” release the detained fishermen and the boat.

China has demanded the Philippines “make rational explanations”, said spokeswoman Hua Chunying at the daily press briefing, warning the Philippine side to “take no more provocative action”.

Hua said a Chinese maritime police boat has arrived at the sea area. China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines have already lodged representations with the Philippine side.

Hua reiterated that China has undisputable sovereign rights over the sea area, including the Half Moon Shoal of Nansha Islands, where the incident occurred. – Xinhua

Another Chinese national kidnapped in Malaysia by Philippine gunmen

Once again a Chinese tourist is abducted from Sabah. Yes, again!

Indeed the word ‘again” epitomizes the vulnerability of Sabah’s marine defence, the loopholes in the state’s security, the woes of the state’s tourism industry, the deeply planted worries of the state’s residents, as well as the indignation of all Malaysians.

It is not just a scandal for Sabah, but a crying shame for the entire nation.

Are you kidding me? Just one month and now we have another tourist kidnapped from our territory.

Goodness! Why a Chinese national again?

Is it Abu Sayyaf again?

Public reactions have been a concoction of varying sentiments: shock, disbelief, frustration, anguish, humiliation…

More than a hundred Chinese passengers onboard MH370 are yet to be located while the young female Chinese tourist abducted from a Semporna resort is yet to be freed. And now we have the Chinese manager of a fish farm snatched away.

Many Chinese nationals have cancelled their travel plans to Malaysia after the MH370 and Semporna kidnapping incidents. So far no bookings have been received from Chinese travel agencies.

There were a total of 1.6 million Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia last year but according to estimates, the number will likely shrink by 400,000 to 800,000 this year.

With another Chinese national now kidnapped in Sabah, it is foreseeable that Chinese tourists will shun the country while other nationals might review their travel plans. To be honest, no one wants to visit a country that fails to guarantee foreigners’ safety.

This is not the first time Filipino terrorists have kidnapped hostages from Sabah in demanding exorbitant ransoms from the government. Last November, a Taiwanese couple was assaulted on Bon Bon island off Sabah. The husband was killed while the wife was abducted, to be released only after a large sum of ransom was paid to the kidnappers several months later.

In April 2000, some 21 people were kidnapped by Filipino militants, including 12 foreigners. The kidnappers released the hostages after US$20 million was paid by the Philippine government at the mediation of Libya.

Last February, armed Sulu terrorists breached our territorial waters to stake a claim on their ‘”ancestral land” culminating in bloody clashes with our military.

Have we done or learned anything after all this? Why do the terrorists roam so freely into our territory even after the formation of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM)? Why do our security forces appear so helpless in fending off these intruders, allowing them to do whatever they wish in our country?

We remain so helpless and powerless in the face of such blatant provocation from these lawless militants. We have not only surrendered their insatiable ransom demands but also the confidence of Malaysians towards this country as well as our international reputation and image.

- Mysinchew.

Sabah shaken by kidnapping of fish farm manager from Guangzhou

Crime scene: Comm Hamza (right) and Sabah crime division chief SAC Omar Mamah showing photos of the kidnapping location. — Bernama

LAHAD DATU: Fresh off a piracy case on Sunday, Sabah was shaken by the kidnapping of another Chinese national from an island nearby.

Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman has since announced that a curfew and travels restrictions would be imposed in high risk areas off the coast of Sabah.

The kidnapping of 34-year-old fish farm manager Yang Zai Lin from Guangzhou saw five Filipino gunmen in a brief shootout with the pursuing Malaysian security forces before they fled to Sibutu Island in the southern Philippines.

The kidnapping came about 28 hours after four pirates armed with M16 rifles attacked four fishermen and robbed them of their outboard engines late on Sunday at Tanjung Labian, close to Kampung Tanduo that was intruded by Sulu gunmen in February last year.

The 10-minute raid at 2.45am on Tuesday at Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd fish farm on Pulau Baik, close to the shores of Silam, about 30km south of Lahad Datu, has shocked Sabahans who are now questioning the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

The kidnappers, also armed with M16 rifles, had paddled their 40HP white boat to the fish farm, avoiding the security guard by moving towards a second jetty on the other side of the farm.

Sources said that two of the masked men headed straight to the room of a female cook and demanded to know the whereabouts of the Hong Kong-based owner of the fish farm.

On learning that the owner had left just a few hours before their arrival, after a four-day stay at the farm, they grabbed Yang who had come out to check on the commotion outside his room, which was adjacent to the cook’s room.

They pulled him to the waiting speedboat where the guard was being held.

However, the gunmen pushed the guard off the boat and sped off towards international waters.

Security forces were immediately notified of the kidnapping.

Due to the proximity of the incident to mainland, police set up roadblocks along the Tawau-Lahad Datu road while at sea they went on red alert under Ops Tutup.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said that at about 6.20am they spotted a 200HP speedboat close to the Malaysian border island of Mataking and as police tried to intercept the gunmen, gunfire was exchanged.

He said the gunmen managed to slip into Alice Reef and flee towards the Philippines’ Sibutu island.

He said they believed that the gunmen had switched from their 40HP boat to the higher powered 200HP speedboat to make their escape out of Sabah.

Disclosing they had asked assistance from the Philippines police, Comm Hamza added that they were also checking whether the same group was behind the act of piracy at Tanjung Labian on Sunday.

According to sources, the pirates in the Labian incident had used a black boat and had spoken in local Malay while in Silam they spoke in the Bajau dialect, common among the bajaus on both sides of the Malaysia-Philippines border.

However, they were not ruling out the possibility that they might be linked to each other.

On April 2, gunmen from southern Philippines snatched Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, from the Singamata Reef Resort in the neighbouring Semporna district.

Their whereabouts in southern Philippines remain unknown though the Malaysian authorities say that they are safe.

On Nov 15 last year, a Taiwanese woman Chang An Wei, 58, was kidnapped from the Pom Pom resort while her husband Li Min Hsu, 57, was killed when gunmen raided the Pom Pom resort. She was released a month later after an undisclosed ransom was paid

- The Star/Asia News Network

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