Wagner Group a criminal body

The Russian mercenary Wagner Group has been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a “transnational criminal organization” responsible for atrocities in Ukraine. Molly Dunigan, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a California-based global policy think tank, says Wagner “historically has just been . . . no-holds-barred in terms of brutality against civilians in the population in which they operate.” [node:read-more:link]

Iran has nukes potential

Nuclear nonproliferation experts have suggested for months Iran had enough highly-enriched uranium to build at least one weapon and now the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the stockpile is larger than thought. He said January 24 that while “we need to be extremely careful” in describing the program Iran insists is for peaceful purposes, “they have amassed enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons, not one at this point.” [node:read-more:link]

ISIS repatriations a thorny issue

The legal and safety implications of a Federal Court order to the government to repatriate four alleged Canadian members of ISIS are quickly becoming an issue for debate at home. The Ottawa lawyer who represented the men and other Syrian-held captives says the government can prosecute them if they’re held responsible for terrorist activitities but a former CSIS officer says an effective prosecution needs evidence and witnesses in Syria. Moreover, says Phil Gurski, “the supporters of these men and women have portrayed them as victims that need to be rescued.” [node:read-more:link]

Judge orders four men repatriated

Federal Court Justice Henry Brown has ruled that four Canadian men held in Syrian camps are entitled to the federal help to return home and that the government should not only provide them with the necessary travel documents but also assign a representative to travel to Syria to facilitate their release. [node:read-more:link]

Canada extends African deployment

Two Royal Canadian Navy coastal defence vessels left Halifax today on the RN’s sixth deployment to Operation Projection in West Africa. HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Moncton will conduct exercises, engagements and port visits to promote stability in the Gulf of Guinea. The two-and-a-half-month deployment includes the 12th Exercise Obangame Express, which begins January 23, focusing on piracy, terrorism and smuggling in the Gulf. [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa man faces trial for threats

Daniel Houde, a 19-year-old Ottawa resident, is to appear in court January 18 to face charges of perpetrating a terrorist hoax, uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm to a person, and uttering a threat to burn, destroy and damage property. RCMP say he was arrested after posting threats on social media against the Department of National Defence as well as the U.S. and Chinese embassies in Ottawa. [node:read-more:link]

Lawsuit follows ISIS judgment

An unprecedented U.S. government prosecution of the international Lafarge cement conglomerate headquartered in France has prompted the families of three of U.S. servicemen to sue the company. Lafarge was fined $777 million after pleading guilty in October to bribing ISIS to keep a Syrian cement plant operating and the new lawsuit states that the bribes were “seed capital” that enabled the terrorist group to expand operations, including against U.S. personnel. [node:read-more:link]

Biden says Iran deal “dead”

The 2015 multinational nuclear agreement from which his predecessor withdrew in 2018 is “dead”, according to U.S. President Joe Biden. His comment in a video of him talking in November with a group of people at an undisclosed location believed to be in California, isn’t being disputed by the White House. “The president's comments are entirely consistent with what we're saying,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said December 20, but hedging his comment by adding that “We do not expect an agreement to occur in the near future.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada sponsors Ukraine mine-clearing

The Scottish-based HALO Trust, a non-governmental organization which began mine-clearance in Afghanistan in 1988, has received $2 million from Canada for similar operations in parts of Ukraine east of Kyiv. Volunteers are dealing with what are understood to be millions of anti-tank and anti-personnel munitions left by retreating Russian invaders. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. warns Turkey over Syria

Turkey has been advised by the U.S. not to invade northern Syria after air strikes last month endangered U.S. troops. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin voiced “strong opposition” in a November 30 call with his Turkish counterpart. The strikes in northern Syria and Iraq targetted Kurdish groups in retaliation for a November 13 terrorist bombing in Istanbul and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been pressing for a follow-up ground campaign. [node:read-more:link]

Russia labelled “terrorism” sponsor

The European Parliament today declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”, saying its “deliberate attacks and atrocities” in Ukraine violate human rights and international humanitarian laws. However, the resolution supported by 494 MPs, with 58 against it and 44 abstentions, is largely symbolic in that the European Union has no legal framework to back it up. [node:read-more:link]

Iran renewing tanker attacks?

Debris recovered from an Israeli-owned oil tanker attacked in international waters off Oman last week has prompted the U.S. Navy to say today that it was the same type of Shahed-136 drone that Iran has supplied to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The drone’s explosion caused minor damage to the Liberian-registered ship’s stern above the waterline. There was a similar attack on another Israeli tanker off Oman in July 2021 but Iran denied responsibility. [node:read-more:link]

Turkey blames Kurds for attack

While no group has claimed responsibility for a weekend explosion that killed six people in Istanbul, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu today blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party and Syrian Kurdish militia. Forty-seven persons, including a Syrian woman suspected of planting the bomb, have been detained. [node:read-more:link]

France formally ends Mali operation

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed today that his country is formally ending its eight-year military operation in the Sahel, nearly nine months after withdrawing its troops from Mali. Faced with the continuing spread of jihadis linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and a growing number of French casualties, there has been increasing down about the fundamental viability of an ongoing intervention. While some 3,000 French troops will remain in Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, they will act only in concert with those countries’ forces. [node:read-more:link]

“Digital Red Cross” protection proposed

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is proposing “digital” markers in the hope of protecting websites and systems used for medical and humanitarian purposes against cyberattacks. The “markers” could incorporate information that targetted institutions are protected by the Geneva Conventions. [node:read-more:link]


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