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Officials say Pakistani Taliban training Frenchmen


By Ishtiaq Mahsud Associated Press

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Dozens of French Muslims are training with the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, raising fears of future attacks following the shooting deaths of seven people in southern France allegedly by a man who spent time in the region, Pakistani intelligence officials said Saturday.

Authorities are investigating whether Mohamed Merah, the Frenchman of Algerian descent who is suspected of killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three French paratroopers in Toulouse this month, was among the training group, the officials said.

Merah was killed in a dramatic gunfight with police Thursday after a 32-hour standoff at his Toulouse apartment. The 23-year-old former auto body worker traveled twice to Afghanistan in 2010 and to Pakistan in 2011, and said he trained with al-Qaida in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan.

Approximately 85 Frenchmen have been training with the Pakistani Taliban in the North Waziristan tribal area for the past three years, according to the intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Most of the men have dual nationality with France and North African countries.

The Frenchmen operate under the name Jihad-e-Islami and are being trained to use explosives and other weapons at camps near the town of Miran Shah and in the Datta Khel area, the officials said. They are led by a French commander who goes by the name Abu Tarek. Five of the men returned to France in January 2011 to find new recruits, according to the officials. It's unclear whether Merah was among that group.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised a crackdown on French citizens found to have trained in terror camps abroad.

"Anyone who goes abroad to follow ideological courses that lead to terrorism will be criminally punished. The response will be prison," he said in a campaign speech Saturday.

A senior French official close to the investigation into the shootings told The Associated Press on Friday that despite Merah's claims of al-Qaida links, there was no sign he had "trained or been in contact with organized groups or jihadists."

A militant commander, Ahmed Marwat, claimed in a phone call with the AP on Saturday that Merah was affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan, but provided no details. Marwat said he was part of the Jundullah wing of the Pakistani Taliban.

The claim could not be independently verified.

The Pakistani Taliban, which is closely allied with al-Qaida, has carried out hundreds of attacks in Pakistan over the past several years that have killed thousands of people. Taliban leaders say they want to oust the U.S.-backed government and install a hardline Islamist regime. They also have international jihadi ambitions and trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square in 2010.

The main sanctuary for the Pakistani Taliban is the restive tribal region along the Afghan border, especially North and South Waziristan. Despite a large military offensive in South Waziristan in 2009, the government has very little control over the area.

Western officials have been concerned for years about Muslim militants with European citizenship visiting northwestern Pakistan, possibly training for missions that could include terror attacks in Europe where they would act as "lone wolves" or on the orders of others. In 2010 alone, dozens were believed to be there.

Merah told police during the standoff that he was trained "by a single person" when he was in Waziristan, not in a training center, so as not to be singled out because he spoke French," the director of the DCRI intelligence service, Bernard Squarcini, told the Le Monde newspaper.

Merah was questioned by French intelligence officers last November after his second trip to Afghanistan, and was cooperative and provided a USB key with tourist-like photos of his trip, the French official close to the investigation told the AP.

While he was under surveillance last year, Merah was never seen contacting any radicals and went to nightclubs, not mosques, the official said. People who knew him confirmed that he was at a nightclub in recent weeks.

Merah told negotiators during the police standoff that he was able to buy a large arsenal of weapons thanks to years of petty theft, the official said.

French prosecutors said Merah filmed himself carrying out the three shooting attacks in Toulouse that began March 11.


Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten, Elaine Ganley and Angela Charlton in Paris and Sarah DiLorenzo in Toulouse contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press

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Fake NATO commander Facebook page friended by naive officials

A simple Facebook impersonation attack was used to tempt personal data from military and government associates of NATO’s supreme Commander James Stavridis, news sources have reported.

Despite NATO staff having been warned about fake Facebook pages in the past, The Daily Telegraph reports that “senior British military officers and Ministry of Defence officials” were among those temporarily fooled by ‘friend’ requests from the fake Stavridis page that appeared earlier this year.

The attackers will not have gained any vital information from this attack beyond a few phone numbers and a list if gullible and now embarrassed individuals worth targetting in their own right.

For the record, Admiral Stavridis does not have a Facebook page, nor would it be appropriate for a man with the job of heading the world’s most powerful military appliance to sign up for such a service in a professional capacity.

As with almost every other cyberattack with a geo-political dimension, the fake page attack is being pinned on Chinese intelligence although the level of sophistication required to create a bogus page would be open to anyone.

The frequency of fake Facebook pages claiming to be connected to important officials is now so significant that NATO has had to dedicate staff to liaising with the company to have them removed.

Last month, security company Barracuda published research that showed common features of malicious Facebook pages, which are 97 percent female, friend large numbers of individuals in a short space of time, and have a habit of embedding large numbers of tags on photographs, presumably for search engine optimisation reasons.

However, the phenomenon of impersonation is a trickier one. People are impersonated because there are deemed famous or important enough, which raises the issue of how the public can know whether a person is who they claim to be.

An infamous recent example of this at work is the battle between the service and author Sir Salman Rushdie to have his account re-activated after it was deemed fake because his pen name differed slightly from that stated in his passport.

Rushdie eventually vented his frustration on Twitter, which caught Facebook’s attention. The company eventually relented, accepting his identity as genuine.        

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Officials use NYC blackout scenario to sell senators on cyber-attack legislation

Senior Obama administration officials walked some 50 U.S. senators through a cyber-attack scenario Wednesday evening to press for pending legislation that would give the Department of Homeland Security authority to force critical industries to better protect their systems. Read full article >>

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Consumer officials warn about online dating scams

Tennessee officials say some fraud artists use online dating as a way to scam people out of their money.

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Anonymous Takes Revenge on Oakland Officials, Posts Private Data

Vigilante hacker collective Anonymous made public personal information of Oakland, Calif. city officials Tuesday, in response to what the group calls violent behavior toward Occupy Oakland protestors.

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Hacker Group Posts Addresses Of Top Oakland Officials

OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — The hacker group Anonymous appears to have posted the addresses and other personal information of Oakland city officials to the Internet.

The information went up on Tuesday on a website attributed to the group. An accompanying note expresses anger over police action against members of Occupy Oakland and budget cuts finalized by the city.

Mayor Jean Quan, Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Council members were among those whose information was included in the posting.

Occupy Oakland protesters and police clashed last month when protesters tried to take over a vacant building in the city. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and arrested hundreds of people.

Also last month, the City Council finalized $28 million in budget cuts that included about 80 layoffs.



(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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USA to equip military, government officials with Androids

The United States is preparing a modified version of Google’s Android operating system to allow soldiers to use smartphones.USA to equip military, government officials with Androids, Blog, government, military, Officials, Androids, equip

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U.S. Officials Probe Threats Against DOJ, FBI Websites

Federal authorities said they were investigating disruptions to the Justice Department website and threats to the site maintained by the FBI believed to be prompted by the arrests of four suspects as part of a far-reaching Internet piracy investigation. Federal authorities said they were investigating disruptions to the Justice Department website and threats to the site maintained by the FBI believed to be prompted by the arrests of four suspects as part of a far-reaching Internet piracy investigation.



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‘Anonymous’ hacks US, UK officials

The hacker group “Anonymous” has hacked email addresses, passwords and private details of more than 600 US, British and NATO officials.

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Gazette.Net: Frederick County officials accuse each other of stalking, bad hair

A Frederick County Planning Commission member is accusing Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young of being sexist by staring at her breasts, turning a feud over development into personal attacks on each other.

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