Posts Tagged ‘ Britain ’

Soldier cited for holding off up to 30 Taliban by himself

As reported by CNN

Britain’s newest hero is a Nepali.

Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday awarded Britain’s second-highest award for bravery, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, to Acting Sgt. Dipprasad Pun of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

While stationed as a lone sentry at a checkpoint in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on September 17, Pun fended off an attack by up to 30 Taliban fighters.

“There were many Taliban around me,” Pun said in an interview with British Forces News. “I thought they are definitely going to kill me. … I thought before they kill me I have to kill some of them.”

During the 15-minute battle, Pun fired more than 400 rounds of ammunition, detonated 17 grenades and a mine and even threw his gun tripod at a Taliban fighter climbing toward his position, according to British Forces News.

“He was just about to climb up there and I hit (him) with my tripod and he fell down again,” Pun told British Forces News.

Pun’s actions saved the lives of three fellow soldiers at the checkpoint and were the “bravest seen in his battalion over two hard tours in Afghanistan,” according to his medal citation.

Pun was not wounded in the firefight.

“That he survived unscathed is simply incredible,” his medal citation says. “Throughout Dip’s actions he was under almost constant intense fire. Dip’s courage and gallantry were simply astonishing.”

Pun, 31, joined the British military in 2000 and also has served in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Like other Gurkhas, Pun is from Nepal. The Gurkhas were incorporated into British forces after their fighting skill impressed the opposition British during the Nepal Wars of 1814 to 1816. As part of the peace treaty ending that conflict, Gurkhas were admitted into East India Company’s army and then into the British military.

Gurkhas recruited solely in Nepal remain Nepalese citizens during their service. Gurkha unit officers are British.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note– Congratulations to Sgt. Dipprasad Pun for his amazing feat of bravery and determination in his battle with the Taliban. We salute him for his gallantry and wish there were thousands more like him in the allied forces fighting the Taliban menace. If that were the case, these barbarians would be already defeated.

Ahmed Rashid on Negotiating With the Taliban

By Amar C Bakshi for CNN Global Public Square

Intrepid Pakistani author and journalist Ahmed Rashid wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times describing the Obama administration’s secret decision to ramp up talks with the Afghan Taliban, trying to find a negotiated solution to a decade-long conflict. In a follow-up phone call, Rashid said that the Obama administration ought to announce these talks publicly and pressure Afghanistan’s neighbors to get behind them.

Amar C. Bakshi: What is the shift in U.S. policy toward Afghanistan?
Ahmed Rashid: For a very long time there was a lot of division about whether the U.S.would talk to the Taliban or not. Those divisions have now more or less ended. There is much greater determination to set in motion not just secret talks but everything around it that has to happen.

For example, the Taliban are very keen to open an office somewhere in one of the Gulf countries or maybe Turkey. There is nowU.S.support for that. There would presumably be international support for that also. These are the kinds of steps that are needed to get a political process going.

There is the acknowledgement that an over-dependence on a military strategy is not going to work in the long-term. Secondly, the economic and international situation is really not in favor of a long-term military strategy. What is needed now very much is a political strategy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself has said this several times in the past few weeks.

What would a deal with the Taliban look like?
We are a very, very long way away from that. Many questions are being raised. For example, would there be a power-sharing with the present government? How would it take place? How would the constitution accommodate something like that? There are all sorts of social and legal issues about the constitution and Islamic law.

One of the key steps that the Americans have taken is that for the last two years or so, the Obama administration has been talking about preconditions – that the Taliban has to renounce Al Qaeda, accept the constitution and President Karzai. Now what we’re seeing is that talks are going on without any preconditions. These preconditions, or red lines, are something that everyone assumes will be accepted by the Taliban at the end of the talks rather than at the beginning. That is a very positive thing because I don’t think either side could go into their talks with their preconditions.

There are Taliban preconditions that seem to be watered down too because the Taliban were insisting that they wouldn’t talk until the American forces started to leave. But they seem to be willing to put that aside for the time being.

Why is this shift happening now?
The overall international and economic situation is very, very dire. First of all, the majority of European countries want to pull their troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible and that includes some of the leading nations like Britain, Germany and Canada.

Economically they can’t do it. They’re cutting their defense budgets. They are in recession.

And secondly the huge expenditure by the Americans themselves: Something like $108 billion is going to be spent on Afghanistan this year on the war effort. This is clearly not sustainable with all the economic crises that President Obama is facing right now.

What can the U.S. do to help make India and Pakistan see eye-to-eye on Afghanistan?
That is obviously a very crucial part of it. The big tussles going on over Afghanistan right now is between India and Pakistan in a battle for influence there. I think the U.S. needs to play a more upfront role – privately at least – to bring the two countries together if not on the other issues that divide them like Kashmir and larger issues, then certainly on Afghanistan. I think that’s very doable.

The more we get into this endgame and negotiations – the more the world realizes that the Americans are talking to the Taliban – I think it becomes very imperative for both the governments in India and Pakistan to accept the fact that they will have to work with each other if they want to be part of the ultimate equation.

Does Pakistan want to see stability in Afghanistan?
Pakistanis very keen to see stability in Afghanistan. An end to the war in Afghanistan could have a very dramatic effect on containing terrorism inside Pakistan too and containing the Pakistani Taliban. So I think Pakistanis very keen to see stability.

The question at the moment is: If the U.S. is going to take the lead – or the United Nations or whoever we are going to see in the months ahead take the lead on this – they have to bring together all the neighboring countries, of which Pakistan is probably by far the most important, but all of the neighboring countries have to agree to some king of on non-interference in Afghanistan.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are being exacerbated by upheavals throughout the Middle East. How might Saudi Arabia and Iran see eye-to-eye in Afghanistan?
For the last 30 years, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been rivals in Afghanistan. For example, the Saudis backed the Taliban regime in the 90s. The Iranians very strongly opposed it.

The point right now is that with the tensions in the Gulf – the Saudis accusing the Iranians of destabilizing Bahrain and Saudi Arabia– they are both searching for allies.

The Saudis have recently been approaching the Afghans and the Pakistanis to ally with them against Iran. That is something that neither country can afford to do – neitherAfghanistannorPakistan. Secondly, you need the compliance of both Saudi Arabia and Iran for any eventual Afghan peace settlement.

So taking sides on this Iran-Saudi dispute in the region is not a good idea. It is not very helpful, especially if you want to bring the two countries into the peace agreement.

So a major diplomatic lift is needed?
Yes, absolutely. We’re talking about a huge diplomatic effort, which the former U.S. Af-Pak Special Envoy, Richard Holbrooke, had started. It needs a very big push by the United States, NATO and the European countries.

It needs some public diplomacy. Things need to be done and said in public so that people around the world can see that there is movement on this. As well, of course, a great deal of private diplomacy is needed such as dealing with this Iran-Saudi Arabia issue, bringing India and Pakistan together. A mixture of private and public diplomacy is needed.

We might see some of that public diplomacy in July when President Obama marks the withdrawal of some U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The quicker the United States gets on with this, the better it is going to be. One of the big steps it should take in the public realm is admitting that the U.S. is having talks with the Taliban and set out a roadmap as to what the President would like to see. The quicker we see the administration doing this, the faster this process will move.

Why Noor Inayat Khan, the Indian Princess and Decorated British Spy Who Was Shot By The Nazis, Deserves A Statue

by Gurinder Chadha and Shrabani Basu, Daily Mirror

On September 13, 1944, a beautiful Indian princess lay dead on the floor at Dachau concentration camp. She had been brutally tortured by the Nazis then shot in the head. Her name was Noor Inayat Khan. The Germans knew her only as Nora Baker, a British spy.

The first female radio operator to infiltrate occupied Paris, she was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the George Cross – one of only three women from the Special Operations Executive to receive the latter medal.

But while Odette Hallowes and Violette Szabo have had Hollywood films made of their lives and blue plaques put up in their honour, Noor has been largely overlooked.

The gentle Indian woman who sacrificed her life for Britain, has become a footnote in history. A memorial to her has long been overdue.

And when a bust of Noor goes up in London’s Gordon Square in 2012, it will be the first statue to an Indian woman in Britain – and the first to any Muslim.

Given the contribution of Asian women in this country to arts, music, literature, law, human rights and education, it is a gap that is crying to out be filled.

Noor’s journey from her birthplace in Moscow to London was in many ways part of her exotic upbringing.

A descendant of Tipu Sultan – the famous 18th century ruler of South India, known as the Tiger of Mysore – she was brought up a fierce nationalist by her father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi preacher and musician.

Inayat Khan left his hometown of Baroda in western India to take Sufism to the West. Deeply spiritual, he gave concerts and lecture tours in America where he met Noor’s mother, Ora Ray Baker. Soon the two moved to London where they were married, Ora taking the name of Ameena Begum.

In 1914, Inayat Khan was invited to Moscow and it was there that Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan was born. She had the title of Pirzadi, daughter of the Pir.

Moscow at the time was rife with political discontent and Inayat Khan soon moved back to London. The family spent the next six years in a house on Gordon Square.

But the British government was suspicious of Inayat Khan, who was a friend of Nehru and Gandhi and a strong nationalist, so the family went to France. They began life again on the outskirts of Paris in a house called Fazal Manzil or House of Blessing. It was here Noor spent most of her life.

Educated and genteel, she went to the Sorbonne to study child psychology.

She started writing stories for children and in 1939 her first book, Twenty Jataka Tales, was published. But war clouds were gathering. And as England declared war on Germany, Noor and her brother Vilayat decided it was a crime to stand by and watch, even though as Sufis they believed in non-violence.

They went to London to be a part of the war effort. In November 1940, Noor volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

Officers of the Special Operations Executive, Churchill’s secret army, were looking for people with language skills. Noor – fluent in French and now a trained wireless operator – fitted the bill. At an interview, she was told she would be sent as an agent to Paris – and shot if she was caught. She took the job.

Over the next few months, the gentle harp-playing Noor was trained as a secret agent, given arms training, taught to shoot and kill, and finally flown to Paris under the code name of Madeleine, carrying only a false passport, a clutch of French francs and a pistol. Despite her spy network collapsing around her, Noor stayed in France for three months, until she was betrayed. What followed in October 1943 was arrest, imprisonment in chains, torture and interrogation.

Noor bore it all. She revealed nothing to her captors, not even her real name. When the end came on September 13, 1944, it was not swift or painless.

All night long an SS officer kicked and tortured Noor. Defiant till the last, she shouted “Liberte” as she went down to a bullet fired at the back of her head. Then Britain gradually forgot about her brave sacrifice. Bringing Noor back to Gordon Square, near the house from where she left on her last mission, will be a worthy gesture by her adopted country.

Gurinder Chadha has directed Bend It Like Beckham, and Bhaji on the Beach. Shrabani Basu, author of Spy Princess, The Life of Noor Inayat Khan, is founder of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust. Contribute at www.noormemorial.org, or email noor.memorial@gmail.com.

Books Not Bombs at Pakistan Literature Festival

As Reported by The AFP

Pakistan is hosting one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing literary festivals, a showcase of new talent where writers urge citizens to reverse the tide of Islamist extremism and global isolation.

Now into a second year and determined to become an annual fixture on the international circuit, the Karachi Literature Festival portrays the softer face of a country more often associated with terrorism than award-winning prose.

Students, authors, budding writers and avid readers have descended on a hotel in an exclusive neighbourhood near the Arabian Sea for two days of book launches, workshops, dance, music and theatrical exhibits ending Sunday.

“It’s to promote our authors, who are underrated and do not get the credit they’re due, and also to interest people in reading and buying books,” organiser and Oxford University Press managing director Ameena Saiyid told AFP.

Women in T-shirts and skinny jeans rub shoulders with religious girls cloaked in Islamic veils at events with standing room only, as pensioners on crutches fold themselves into chairs and children race up the aisles.

Gathering nearly 100 authors and moderators, a handful from Britain, France, Germany and the United States give the event a veneer of the cosmopolitan, but the government denied visas to three of six Indians invited, organisers said.

Peace efforts between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan have been stagnant since Islamist gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008. India and the United States blamed the attack on Pakistani militants.

Pakistan denies it is not doing enough to shut down Islamist terror groups, in a country where more than 4,000 people have been killed in Taliban-related bomb attacks in three years.

At the festival, where up to 5,000 people devoted their weekend to listen to their favourite authors — about twice the number of visitors compared with last year — some felt there was a duty to confront growing extremism.

“It’s the most fabulous development for Karachi,” said Aliya Naqvi, a doctorate student in Islamic history and wife of author H.M. Naqvi, whose debut novel “Home Boy” recently won an Indian prize for South Asian literature.

“Life goes on. You take a risk every time you step outside… But to ignore the rise of extremism would be disingenuous. It has to be acknowledged,” she told AFP between sessions.

The September 11, 2001 attacks put Pakistani writers on the international map as inquisitive Westerners searched for insight into the Taliban and Islam, at the same time as throwing the country into war and chaos.

Ahmed Rashid, whose book “Taliban” became a US bestseller, delivered a thundering address, saying it was time Pakistan faced up to its own mistakes rather than blame the United States.

“We have to do something to save ourselves,” he said, accusing Pakistan of meddling in Afghanistan, obsessing about India at the expense of national interest, failing the economy, sheltering Al-Qaeda and sponsoring the Taliban.

Nuclear physicist and social activist Pervez Hoodbhoy went further, warning a packed session on “Taking Stock: Where is Pakistan Now?” that the country is on “a knife-edge” and at risk of being overrun by a “clerical tsunami”.

Mohsin Hamid, best-selling author of novels “Moth Smoke” and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, said he did his best to look for the positive but conceded: “Fear is fundamental to what it’s like to live in Pakistan right now.”

The revolts in Egypt and Tunisia have resonated widely in Pakistan and were touched upon in questions from the audience. In response to one man, Hamid said it was not for him to lead a social movement onto the streets.

Inevitably in a country where mastery of English remains the preserve of the elite, who often live more luxuriously than the middle classes in the West and where the poor struggle on less than a dollar a day, there were cries of elitism.

While the event was free to all, sponsored by the British Council, Oxford University Press and USAID, some complained it was not on the public bus route.

US-educated novelist Bina Shah, whose new book “Slum Child” was snapped up like hotcakes, was asked how difficult she found it to write about a slum when she herself did not use public transport or go out to work.

“I’ve been in a rickshaw!” she hit back.

“My experience of a slum is obviously going to be different. It should convince you enough that a slum person could have told the story,” she said.

Will India Win Coveted UN Seat?

By Sunil Sharan for The Huffington Post

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao says Pakistan is hypnotically obsessed with India but she and her bosses too are fixated on a coveted prize, a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. The mandarins of New Delhi must be pleased as punch to have had over to visit leaders of all five permanent member countries in quick succession. Inexorable appears the march but will India find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? And, if it does, what are the implications for itself as well as for Pakistan?

First in was David Cameron of Britain, who arrived during the summer and offered unstinting support, whetting local appetite for the main American course. And, did he fail to disappoint? No sir, Barack Obama set the cat amongst the pigeons by endorsing India for the seat, the first time ever by the US. India rejoiced while Pakistan recoiled.

But a careful examination shows him adhering closely to what he told Bob Woodward in the book, Obama’s Wars. In lieu of the seat, he expects India to resolve Kashmir. At a press conference with Manmohan Singh, Obama characterized Kashmir as a long-standing dispute making the latter stutter that the K-word was not scary. Only then did Obama hand over the endorsement in India’s Parliament but couched in such diplomatese that countless local hair were split over when “the years ahead” would dawn.

Next waltzed in Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The French, like the British, have consistently seen merit in India’s case. Sarkozy though, true to type, proved an enigma. He first tagged on the applications of Africa, the Arabs and pretty much the rest of the world onto India’s, befuddling his hosts, who are willing to concede as equal aspirants only “self-appointed frontrunners” Germany, Japan and Brazil. Just as they were about to give up on him, Sarkozy warmed the cockles of India’s heart by throwing in 2011 as early as when it could make it.

But soon came the caveat. Sarkozy, just like Obama before him, cautioned that with great power status came great responsibilities. Whereas Obama wanted India to be more mindful of human rights violations of countries such as Iran and Myanmar, Sarkozy wanted India to send military forces to keep world peace. With India already being one of the foremost contributors to UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world, the mandarins of New Delhi must have been left wondering what more was being asked of them.

No matter, three down, two to go. By now the state jets were landing at Delhi airport almost on top of one another. Wen Jiabao, the leader India was least looking forward to, came with the master key to entry. Shortly before his visit, WikiLeaks revealed China’s opposition to any council expansion. Indian hopes were up nevertheless but Wen remained inscrutable, willing only to acknowledge an understanding of India’s aspirations. No one in India knew quite what to make of him and since Wen was off to Pakistan next, all the country could do was wait with clenched teeth to hear what he would say there.

Rounding off the passage to India was Dmitry Medvedev. Relations between Russia and India have frayed considerably since the heady days of the cold war, so much so that Russia has waffled on India’s bid. Medvedev signaled that the waffle still needed baking, voicing support for India while reiterating that reforming the council was tough and required consensus.

All the while Pakistan protested vociferously against what it deemed an indulgence of Indian hegemonism. But what will India gain with a permanent UN seat? Could it block Pakistani claims on Kashmir? True a permanent member wielding veto power can stonewall but the veto seems unattainable for seekers since they themselves have forsaken it. And, while India sees red when the K-word is uttered in the UN by Pakistan, no ascension to permanency can make it strangle the latter. Nor can it efface any past security council resolutions.

So then, what is it? Nothing comes to mind but the obvious, the acceptance that any arriviste craves. Even that appears a false hankering because ever since its early years, Gandhi’s legacy and Nehru’s charisma burnished the country with global influence disproportionate to its economic and military capabilities. A bee once in one’s bonnet is hard to get rid of though. And, as every journey must have a fitting end, India has found a destination to its liking.

Flush with cash, New Delhi wants to beef up its military. All of the recent visitors bar China are major suppliers of defence equipment to India. As bees flock to honey, they arrived armed with catalogues of the most terrifying stuff. Inherent was a delicate diplomatic quid-pro-quo. The more arms you buy from us, the more we will push your candidacy. As Islamabad keeps raising the bar for India’s seat, so too will India have to up its arms binge.

Lost in Pakistan’s current rhetoric was its vote in October to put India in the security council for two years beginning January 1, 2011. Once on, we will never get off is the new mantra of India’s brave. India seemingly returned the favor by taking in stride the sale of Chinese nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Is there more afoot than meets the eye?

Every country is entitled to its obsession. Pakistan’s is obvious. By continually thumbing its nose at a NATO mired in Afghanistan, it has put the K-word in spotlight, albeit on the backstage. A deal has been blessed by the powers that be. Both the seat and Srinagar are not far away.

The writer edits a website on India: http://www.scooptime.com.

India Denies Visa to Former Pakistan President Musharraf

By Anjana Pasricha for The Voice of America

Indian officials have confirmed that former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been denied a visa. They did not give a reason.

Mr. Musharraf had been invited to speak at a seminar organized by business professionals in New Delhi.

Several of Mr. Musharraf’s supporters, who were planning to visit India with him, were also denied a visa. The former Pakistani military ruler, who lives in Britain, is attempting a political comeback and launched a political party in October.

Foreign affairs observers say that India wants to avoid providing a platform for Mr. Musharraf’s political ambitions, which they believe would be sending a wrong message to the civilian government in Islamabad.

“With Mr. Musharraf threatening to go back to Pakistan to start a political career, the Indian government is not very comfortable with helping him enlarge his political portfolio or image,” said Bharat Karnad, a strategic affairs analyst with the independent Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.

New Delhi has also been irked by Mr. Musharraf’s recent comments that India is responsible for creating unrest in Pakistan’s south-western Balochistan province, and that India is trying to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.

Mr. Musharraf was army chief when India and Pakistan came close to a fourth war in 1999. Later, when he became Pakistan’s military ruler, the South Asian rivals embarked on a peace process which lowered tensions and led to a ceasefire along their tense Kashmir border.

That ceasefire is still holding. But the peace process remains stalled since the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, which India says were planned by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Karnad says New Delhi is unlikely to resume a full-fledged peace dialogue with its rival until its repeated calls to clamp down on groups directing terror at India are heeded.

“There has to be something on the ground is what Delhi wants by way of reassurance before it gets into thinking of resuming the composite dialogue,” added Karnad. “There is no give on Pakistan’s part, so there is unlikely to be any movement in Delhi.”

The top Indian demand is that Islamabad speed up the trial of the Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives it accuses of planning the Mumbai attacks.

U.N. Speakers Urge Pakistan to Free Up Arms Talks

By Patrick Worsnip for Reuters

Heaping pressure on Pakistan, a high-level U.N. meeting called on Friday for talks to start immediately on a treaty to ban production of fissile material used as fuel for nuclear weapons.

But Pakistan has insisted it will continue to block such talks, arguing that a ban would put it at a permanent disadvantage to its nuclear rival India. The dispute has led to deadlock at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

At the U.N. meeting of some 70 states to discuss the paralysis at the conference, speakers avoided openly naming Pakistan, but several referred to “one country” that was causing the problem.

In a closing summary of the views expressed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there was “broad agreement on the need to immediately start negotiations on a … treaty banning the production of fissile material.”

Continued impasse could result in states going outside the Geneva conference, known as the “CD,” to tackle the issue, Ban warned.

Support has appeared to be growing in Geneva to find another approach — possibly small-group talks in parallel to CD sessions. A precedent was set when Canada and Norway moved talks on a landmine ban out of the forum, eventually clinching the landmark 1997 Ottawa Treaty.

At Friday’s U.N. meeting, Western powers sharply attacked Pakistan’s blockage of the CD, which requires consensus for its actions.

“It strikes us as unwarranted for a single country to abuse the consensus principle and thereby frustrate everyone else’s desire to resume serious disarmament efforts,” said U.S. delegate Gary Samore, a special adviser to President Barack Obama.

Washington understood that all countries needed to protect their security interests, and with that principle in place, “no country need fear the prospect of (fissile material) negotiations,” Samore said.

NO CONSENSUS

British junior foreign minister Alistair Burt said blocking the negotiations was “damaging for multilateral arms control.”

Launched in 1978, the CD has clinched treaties banning biological and chemical weapons as well as underground nuclear tests. Its members include all five official nuclear powers — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.

But it has been unable to reach consensus on substantive work for the past 12 years. Pakistan’s refusal since January to launch negotiations on fissile material like plutonium and highly enriched uranium is the latest obstacle.

Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said earlier this month his country would continue to hold out, arguing that India has an unfair advantage with bigger fissile material stockpiles and “discriminatory” nuclear cooperation deals with the United States.

“Pakistan’s security concerns can be addressed only once we have developed sufficient capacity to ensure our deterrent is credible in the face of growing asymmetry,” he told Reuters. “My instructions are, ‘We continue to maintain our position.'”

Pakistan did not speak at Friday’s meeting in New York. No decisions were made, but Ban said he would ask a panel of advisers to review the issues raised.

Separately, French delegate Jacques Audibert said Paris would host a meeting of the five official nuclear powers next year to discuss their obligations stemming from a May conference on nuclear non-proliferation.

The conference called on the powers to pursue negotiations ultimately aimed at the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

Pakistani Student Britain Couldn’t Deport was ‘Involved in Planning Attack in US’

By Duncan Gardham for The Daily Telegraph

A suspected terrorist who Britain is unable to deport has been arrested on suspicion of plotting to bomb New York’s underground system. A US warrant was issued for Abid Naseer, who is accused of helping an al-Qaeda cell planning suicide bomb attacks in the city. Naseer was arrested on Wednesday in Middlesbrough, sources said, and the US authorities have requested he is extradited for trial.

He was among a group of 12 men arrested in Manchester last year accused of plotting to blow up shopping centres, but was never charged. Naseer, 24, was subsequently released and is thought to have been put under a control order and electronically tagged. In May the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission ruled that he was connected to al-Qaeda but could not be deported back to Pakistan on human rights grounds.

However, US authorities believe he stockpiled July 7-style bomb making materials for the planned attack in Manchester. The same type of material was to be used in the thwarted bomb attacks on the New York Metro.

He is also believed to have been in touch with the same senior al-Qaeda commanders.

The US Department of Justice (USDoJ) said the American plot was “directly related to a scheme by al-Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United Kingdom.”

Naseer is accused of providing material support to al-Qaeda and conspiracy to use a firearm in New York and elsewhere. According to a US statement, “large quantities of flour and oil were found” when Naseer’s address in Cheetham Hill, Manchester was raided by police.

The operation, codenamed Pathway, had to be brought forward 24 hours after Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick was photographed entering Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister with details of the raids visible.

Two members of the US cell, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have pleaded guilty to planning to conduct suicide bombings in New York using improvised explosive devices made from supplies such as hydrogen peroxide, acetone, flour and oil – ingredients similar to those used in the July 7 attacks five years ago.

In other addresses, Greater Manchester Police allegedly found surveillance photographs of public areas in Manchester – thought to be the Arndale shopping centre – and maps of Manchester’s city centre posted on the wall with one of the locations from the surveillance photographs highlighted.

Another student called Tariq ur-Rehman who returned to Pakistan after he was released from British custody, was allegedly recruited at the same time. The US Department of Justice said ur-Rehman was not in custody.

A US indictment says Naseer and ur-Rehman were members of a terrorist cell coordinated by Rashid Rauf – a British al-Qaeda commander who was also involved in the July 7 attacks of 2005.

Rauf is thought to have been killed in Pakistan by a missile from a US drone in November 2008 but according to the indictment the plot was also allegedly directed by Adnan el-Shukrijumah, known as “Hamad”, a 34-year-old Saudi citizen with a $5m price on his head from the FBI, and Saleh al-Somali, another al-Qaeda commander.

All three were said by the US to be leaders of al-Qaeda’s “external operations programme”.

The students were allegedly recruited in Peshawar, Pakistan in November 2008 along with the leader of the US plot, Najibullah Zazi.

After returning to Britain, Naseer allegedly sent emails to the same account that a man calling himself Sohaib, but also known as Ahmad and Zahid, was using to communicate with the US cell on behalf of al-Somali.

The Daily Telegraph previously reported that MI5 tipped off the FBI about the US plot and published the emails that used the names of girls as code words for bomb-making ingredients and a wedding to refer to the planned attack between April 15 and 20 last year.

Zazi had agreed a similar code, the Americans say, and emailed Sohaib that the “marriage is ready” just before he left Colorado for New York City in early September last year.

Full-Body Security Scanners Scrapped at Dubai Airports, Officials Say the Device “Contradicts Islam”

By Aliyah Shahid for The NY Daily News

Forget about London and France — in Dubai, airport screeners won’t be able to see your underpants.

Dubai police said full-body security scanners will not be used at the airports because the devices do not correspond with national customs and ethics, according to local press reports on Tuesday.

The scanners “contradict Islam,” said Ahmad Mohammad Bin Thani, head of airport security. He said the idea was scrapped”out of respect for the privacy of individuals and their personal freedom.”

The scanners will be replaced with other inspection systems that protect passengers’ privacy, Thani said. He told the Gulf News that police are considering the use of face-recognition cameras.

Recently, American officials have been encouraging use of the full-body scanners.

Authorities say the scanners could have stopped a Nigerian man who planted explosives in his underwear in an attempt to bring down a plane bound for the U.S. last Christmas.

Several European countries have tested the technology, including the Netherlands, Britain and France. South Korea and Japan have begun test programs.

But the machines have remained controversial. Critics have argued the scanners violate passenger privacy by producing”naked” pictures and liken the procedure to”virtual strip searches.”

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