World
Blame-game begins after Brussels carnage

The French alleged that the Belgians knew of the radicalisation of a significant part of Muslim-dominated areas in Brussels but turned a blind eye to radical Islam taking root in their capital city

 

An internecine battle between various European Union nations, especially between France and Belgium, which had been brewing since the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, flared up in public again after the carnage in Brussels on Tuesday.
 
Barely had the news of terror attack in Paris spread that several French officials, including senior ministers in the government, blamed Belgium for "hosting" the alleged terrorists who were suspected to be behind the Paris attacks. The French alleged that the Belgians knew of the radicalisation of a significant part of Muslim-dominated areas in Brussels but turned a blind eye to radical Islam taking root in their capital city.
 
And on Tuesday, French Economy Minister Michel Sapin told a French news channel that the Belgian government had, "intentionally or unintentionally, as they may have hoped for better integration of the Muslim minorities with the mainstream society, let communalism and radical Islam prosper in Maelbeek" (a Brussels locality that has been under the lens since the Paris attacks). 
 
“The Belgian government clearly has failed in doing the needful and perhaps it is a kind of naivety with which they handled the entire situation,” Sapin went on to tell the television channel.
 
Some French media also went on the offensive against Belgium, saying that the authorities had not taken the necessary steps to prevent the attacks, even though Brussels has effectively been in a lock-down kind of situation since the November 13 attacks.
 
On Tuesday evening, a French radio station host was told by a French security expert that the Belgian police had come to know of the hiding place of Salah Abdesalam, the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, a couple of days before his arrest last week.
 
“However, the Belgian police refused to raid the apartment in the middle of the night, when the information was shared with them by the French police, saying that the Belgian law did not allow police to make arrests from homes before day-break. How seriously can you battle the mounting security challenges with such an attitude," the expert wondered.
 
Luckily for Belgium, several other French officials, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls himself, interjected and criticised Sapin for his comments. “At this critical moment, when we are faced with an unprecedented challenge, Europe can not afford to be divided or even seen as divided," Valls told a French radio show Wednesday morning, adding that if Belgium had difficult quarters with challenges, so did France.
 
“I am not here to give lessons to our Belgian friends. We also have parts of our cities under the influence of drug traffickers and extremists," Valls added. “All over Europe, and in France, we had turned a blind eye to increasing extremist ideas and salafists," the French prime minister admitted. 
 
Sapin was also taken to task by his other party colleagues and other French politicians who said that France was almost in the same position as Belgium and had nothing to preach to anyone.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Decks cleared for Mehbooba Mufti to head new J&K government

PDP lawmakers had gathered at the Muftis to discuss government formation with the BJP. Akhtar said the decision was unanimous and every legislator and senior PDP leader was on board

 

Mehbooba Mufti was on Thursday unanimously elected as the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers, paving the way for her to become the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and head a government in India's only Muslim majority state after months of tension with the ruling partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
"Mehbooba Mufti has been nominated as the chief ministerial candidate of the PDP," party spokesman and former minister Naeem Akhtar told reporters outside the Fairview residence of the Muftis on the high security Gupkar Road in Srinagar.
 
PDP lawmakers had gathered at the Muftis to discuss government formation with the BJP. Akhtar said the decision was unanimous and every legislator and senior PDP leader was on board.
 
Mehbooba is meeting Governor N.N. Vohra on Friday and is most likely to stake claim to power. BJP state president Sat Pal Sharma is also meeting the governor on the same day at the state Raj Bhawan in winter capital Jammu.
 
Senior BJP leaders, Jitendra Singh, minister of state in PMO, and Ram Madhav, party national general secretary, are expected to be Jammu on Friday to hold a meeting with the state BJP legislators and senior leaders to discuss the government formation with the PDP.
 
The swearing-in date is also expected to be announced after Mehbooba and Sharma meet Vohra, separately though. Top sources told IANS that the oath taking ceremony of the Mehbooba-led new government would take place in Jammu early next month.
 
Mehbooba, 56, will now succeed her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who died on January 7, as the chief minister. Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since.
 
Mehbooba was tipped to take over the reins but she dragged her feet on continuing to ally with the BJP and wanted it to redraw the alliance terms that her father had authored. However, the BJP refused any fresh concessions and said it will only give assurances on the agenda, finalized last year when the two parties came together to form the state government.
 
After remaining entrenched in their respective positions for more than two months, the two sides warmed up to each other following Mehbooba's meeting with Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday in Delhi.
 
Senior PDP leader and Lok Sabha member Muzaffar Hussain Beigh denied that there has been any give and take with the BJP. "There is no addition or subtraction from the agenda of alliance agreed upon by the two parties. The agenda will be implemented in letter and spirit."
 
PDP leader and Lok Sabha member Tariq Hameed Karra, a vocal opponent of his party's continuation of alliance with the BJP, was also present in Thursday's meeting.
 
Before chairing the PDP meeting, Mehbooba went to her father's grave in south Kashmir Bijbehara town along with one of her daughters to pray there and apparently seek blessings for the governance innings she would be playing for the first time in her political career.
 
She presently represents south Kashmir's Anantnag constituency in the Lok Sabha. She will now have to get elected to either house of the state's bicameral legislature and also resign her Lok Sabha seat.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Bid made on Bal Thackeray's life, attacker slipped: Headley

During his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on February 12, Headley had first confirmed the Lashkar-e-Taiba's plot to target Thackeray, but had said nothing on an unsuccessful bid made to kill him and the attacker having slipped from the police hands

 

In a shocking disclosure, Pakistani-American terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Thursday claimed that an attempt was made on the life of late Shiv Sena founder-patriarch Bal Thackeray.
 
"I believe an attempt was made on the life of the Shiv Sena chief... The man who made the attempt had escaped from police custody," Headley said in the Special Court of Additional Sessions Judge G.A. Sanap.
 
His replies came on the second day of his cross-examination conducted by lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan, the defence counsel for Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, who is facing trial in the 26/11 case.
 
During his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on February 12, Headley had first confirmed the Lashkar-e-Taiba's plot to target Thackeray, but had said nothing on an unsuccessful bid made to kill him and the attacker having slipped from the police hands.
 
"The LeT wanted to target the chief of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray). LeT wanted to kill him whenever a chance arose. I have no first-hand knowledge, but I think an attempt was made to kill him," Headley said.
 
Denying knowledge of how the attempt was made, he said the person sent to kill Thackeray was arrested but slipped from police custody.
 
When Khan asked him how many times he visited the party headquarters Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar and what was the motive, Headley said he recced the building twice and reiterated that the LeT's target was the late Thackeray.
 
To the question, under whose instructions, Headley said he was instructed by his LeT supervisor in Pakistan, Sajid Mir.
 
On any other attempts on Thackeray's life, Headley said he had learnt of one previous attempt on the late champion of Hindutva (Thackeray), and the man who made the bid had escaped police custody.
 
He said post 26/11, when he returned to India in March 2009 to plan out further attacks on behalf of the Al Qaeda terror group, its leader Iliyas Kashmiri funded him to the tune of around one lakh Pakistani rupees.
 
Headley said that though the LeT came under pressure after the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes, it did not become 'soft' towards India.
 
"I think the LeT became soft about Denmark, but not India. After the Denmark issue, I went to Al Qaeda as the LeT had become soft," he claimed.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

 

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