Tag Archives: Europe

Russia threatens to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark ships if it joins NATO shield

Russia threatens to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark ships if it joins NATO shield

missiles rockets

COPENHAGEN – Russia threatened to aim nuclear missiles at Danish warships if Denmark joins NATO’s missile defense system, in comments Copenhagen called unacceptable and NATO said would not contribute to peace.

Denmark said in August it would contribute radar capacity on some of its warships to the missile shield, which the Western alliance says is designed to protect members from missile launches from countries like Iran.

Moscow opposes the system, arguing that it could reduce the effectiveness of its own nuclear arsenal, leading to a new Cold War-style arms race.

In an interview in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, said he did not think Danes fully understood the consequences of joining the program.

“If that happens, Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” Vanin told the newspaper.

Asked to respond, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Denmark was a staunch member of the alliance and NATO would defend all allies against any threat.

“We have made clear that NATO’s ballistic missile defense is not directed at Russia or any country, but is meant to defend against missile threats. This decision was taken a long time ago, so we are surprised at the timing, tone and content of the statements made by Russia’s ambassador to Denmark,” she said.

“Such statements do not inspire confidence or contribute to predictability, peace or stability,” she added.

Tensions between Moscow and the West have grown since the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia over a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine. NATO has recorded increased activity by the Russian navy and air force in the Nordic region.

No missiles are to be placed on Danish soil under the NATO program, but they could be deployed some day in Greenland, a part of the kingdom, according to Jyllands-Posten.

“Denmark will become a part of the threat against Russia. It will be less peaceful, and relations with Russia will be damaged,” Vanin said, adding that Russia has missiles which would be able to penetrate the future missile shield.

Denmark’s foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said Vanin’s comments were unacceptable.

“Russia knows very well that NATO’s missile defense is not aimed at them,” Lidegaard told Jyllands-Posten.

NATO’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, told a Brussels conference on Sunday that the comments from the Russian ambassador were the “next step” in a campaign against countries that joined the shield.

“Romania came under great pressure when they became a part of the (missile shield). Poland is coming under great pressure and now anyone else who wants to join in to this defensive capability will come under this diplomatic and political pressure,” Breedlove said.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen, additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels; Editing by Peter Graff)

European Criminals and Terrorists Have 67 Million Guns to Choose From Despite Strict Gun Control

European Criminals and Terrorists Have 67 Million Guns to Choose From Despite Strict Gun Control

“They’re available even to very average criminals”

AK-47 / AP

BY:

After a recent spat of terrorist attacks in the European Union, many are grappling with one question: Why didn’t Europe’s strict gun control keep guns out of the hands of dangerous extremists? Restrictions and outright bans on firearms have not prevented terrorists and criminals alike from obtaining them, the Washington Post reported.

In contrast with the free-firing United States, Europe is generally seen as a haven from serious gun violence. Here in Denmark, handguns and semiautomatic rifles are all but banned. Hunting rifles are legally available only to those with squeaky-clean backgrounds who have passed a rigorous exam covering everything from gun safety to the mating habits of Denmark’s wildlife.

“There’s a book about 1,000 pages thick,” said Tonni Rigby, owner of one of only two licensed firearms dealers in Copenhagen. “You have to know all of it.”

But if you want an illicit assault rifle, such as the one used by a 22-year-old to rake a Copenhagen café with 28 bullets on Saturday, all it takes are a few connections and some cash.

“It’s very easy to get such a weapon,” said Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen, a former operations director for the Danish security service P.E.T. “It’s not only a problem for Denmark. It’s a problem for all of Europe.”

The weapons are so widely available that at least one European official says even average criminals can find them.

“You can find Kalashnikovs for sale near the train station in Brussels,” acknowledged a Brussels-based European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. “They’re available even to very average criminals.”

In the case of the Paris attackers, they were able to obtain an entire arsenal: AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, a Skorpion submachine gun and even a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. All of it was purchased in Brussels for about $5,000, according to Belgian media reports.

A European Commission study estimated there were more than 65 million illegal guns available in Europe before concluding the real number will never be known.

Even assessing the scale of the problem has proven too difficult for Europe. A comprehensive European Commission study released last year cited an estimate of 67 million illicit firearms across the continent. But it also noted the total was probably overstated and concluded that “no accurate quantification of the problem is feasible.”

UK: Muslim man charged with attempting to obtain a chemical weapon

UK: Muslim man charged with attempting to obtain a chemical weapon

By

The BBC deigns to tell us his name, Mohammed Ammer Ali, but other than that tells us only that he is “a man from Liverpool.”

As is typical of the mainstream media, it makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that there is a jihad against the West, and that Mohammed Ammer Ali likely considers himself to be a soldier of that jihad.

This kind of coverage would be like reporting that on December 7, 1941, a group of men from Japan destroyed some ships at Pearl Harbor, with no hint that it was an act of war or that the Japanese Empire was behind it.

“Man charged over ‘chemical weapon,’” BBC, February 16, 2015 (thanks to Marc):

A man from Liverpool has been charged with attempting to obtain a chemical weapon, police have said.

Mohammed Ammer Ali, 31, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London on Tuesday.

He was arrested on Wednesday, when officers from North West Counter Terrorism Unit and Merseyside Police searched five Merseyside addresses.

Officers have uncovered no plan or threat of an imminent attack either at home or abroad, police said.

The suspect is accused of attempting to have a chemical weapon in his possession between January 10 and February 12, contrary to the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 and the Chemical Weapons Act 1996.

Second UK health worker monitored for Ebola

Second UK health worker monitored for Ebola

Royal Free Hospital
The person has been admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in north London

A second UK military healthcare worker has been flown to England following “likely exposure” to the Ebola virus via a needle-stick injury in Sierra Leone.

The patient is being monitored at London’s Royal Free Hospital and does not currently have a diagnosis or symptoms of the virus.

Public Health England says there is no risk to the general public.

The patient will be watched for 21 days to see if they develop Ebola.

Another military health worker was sent to the UK on Saturday following a similar incident and is also being observed at the hospital.

‘Precautionary measure’

Prof Paul Cosford of Public Health England said: “We can confirm that all the appropriate support is being offered to this individual and that strict protocols have been followed to transfer them back to the UK.

“We would like to emphasise that there is no risk to the general public’s health.

“Our thoughts are with both of the healthcare workers, and their families, affected at this time.”

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Francois said: “This is entirely a precautionary measure and our priority is the wellbeing of the individual involved.

“Their family has been informed and will receive all possible support from the government.”

He said although the two similar incidents had occurred within a short space of time, they appeared to be unrelated.

“Our personnel receive the highest standard of training and briefing prior to deployment,” he said.

Needle-stick injuries involve a piercing of the skin by a sharp instrument or object, typically a needle.

Experts have said such injuries are one of the most dangerous risks for infection as the virus could be delivered directly into the bloodstream.

Police in Belgium, France, and Germany make arrests in latest anti-terror raids

Police in Belgium, France, and Germany make arrests in latest anti-terror raids

 

Dozens of terror suspects were arrested in Belgium, France, and Germany early Friday, a day after Belgian authorities said that they halted a plot to attack police officers by mere hours.

Eric Van der Sypt, a Belgian federal magistrate, told a news conference Friday in Brussels that 13 people had been detained in Belgium in connection with the plot, with another two arrested in neighboring France. He added that a dozen searches had led to the discovery of four military-style weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles.

On Thursday, Belgian police had moved against a suspected terrorist hideout in the eastern town of Verviers. In the ensuing firefight, two terror suspects were killed, while a third was wounded and arrested.

At the time, officials said the militant group targeted in the raid included some who had returned from Syria. Authorities have previously said 300 Belgian residents have gone to fight with extremist Islamic formations in Syria; it is unclear how many have returned.

Authorities in Belgium signaled they were ready for more trouble by raising the national terror alert level from 2 to 3, the second-highest level. Prime Minister Charles Michel said the increase in the threat level was “a choice for prudence.”

“There is no concrete or specific knowledge of new elements of threat,” he said.

Meanwhile, French police arrested at least 12 people in anti-terrorism raids in three towns around Paris, the city prosecutor’s office said early Friday.

The prosecutor’s office said that the raids were targeting people with links to Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who attacked a kosher supermarket Jan. 9 and claimed ties to the Islamic State terror group. Police officials earlier told The Associated Press that they were seeking up to eight to 10 potential accomplices

Coulibaly was one of three gunmen who carried out a series of terror attacks that resulted in the deaths of 17 people. Authorities in France and several other countries are looking for possible accomplices. One suspect, Coulibaly’s common-law wife Hayat Boumeddiane, is believed to have fled to Syria earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Friday morning that the Gare l’Est train station in Paris had been closed and evacuated due to a bomb threat. A police official, who was not authorized to be publicly named, told the AP that the station was closed “as a precaution,” but would not give further details. The Gare l’Est is one of the major stations in Paris, serving cities in Eastern France and countries to the east.

Also Friday, Berlin police said that they had taken two men into custody on suspicion that they were recruiting fighters and procuring equipment and funding for the Islamic State group, better known as ISIS, in Syria.

The two were picked up in a series of raids involving the search of 11 residences by 250 police officers. Authorities said the raids were part of a months-long investigation into a small group of extremists based in Berlin. However, they also said there was no evidence the group was planning attacks inside Germany.

The group’s leader, identified only as 41-year-old Ismet D. in accordance with privacy laws, is accused organizing the group of largely Turkish and Russian nationals to fight against “infidels” in Syria. Emin F., 43, is accused of being in charge of finances.

Those recruited include Murat S., a 40-year-old Turkish man who was arrested in September after returning from Syria where had allegedly gone to fight.

In an unrelated raid, German police arrested 26-year-old German-Tunisian dual national into custody Thursday on suspicion he had gone to fight with the terrorist group in Syria. Police made the arrest in Wolfsburg, 120 miles outside Berlin.

Earlier Thursday, Belgian authorities said they were looking into possible links between a man they arrested in the southern city of Charleroi for illegal trade in weapons and Coulibaly.

The man arrested in Belgium “claims that he wanted to buy a car from the wife of Coulibaly,” Van der Sypt said. “At this moment this is the only link between what happened in Paris.”

Van der Sypt said that “of course, naturally” we are continuing the investigation.

At first, the man came to police himself claiming there had been contact with Coulibaly’s common-law wife regarding the car, but he was arrested following a search of his premises when indications of illegal weapons trading were found.

A Belgian connection figured in a 2010 French criminal investigation into a foiled terrorist plot in which Coulibaly was one of the convicted co-conspirators. The plotters included a Brussels-area contact who was supposed to furnish both weapons and ammunition, according to French judicial documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Spain’s National Court said in a statement it was investigating what Coulibaly did in the country’s capital, Madrid, with Boumeddiene and a third person who wasn’t identified but is suspected of helping Boumeddiene get from Turkey to Syria.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jewish schools in Belgium closed on Friday because of terrorist threat

Jewish schools in Belgium closed on Friday because of terrorist threat

Written by Yossi Lempkowicz

BRUSSELS/ANTWERP (EJP)—Jewish schools in Brussels and Antwerp will be closed on Friday because of increasing terror threat against sensitive targets, one day after a vast anti-terrorist police operation in Belgium against jihadists returning from Syria.

Belgian police killed two men who opened fire on them during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday against an Islamist group that federal prosecutors said was about to launch “terrorist attacks on a grand scale”.

The decision to cancel classes in Jewish schools around the country was taken after a security analysis made by the internal security service of the Jewish community on the basis of the available informations, reports said.

According to Antwerp’s Joods Actueel Jewish magazine, Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, which advises Israeli embassies in countries with important Jewish communities, took part in the security analysis.

Around 40,000 Jews live in the country.

Belgian Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters Thursday’s the suspects were on the verge of committing a major terrorist attack in Belgium.

He told an emergency press conference that that Belgium’s terror alert level was raised to its second highest level.

Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, including 4 Jewish men in a kosher supermarket, Belgium’s police operation fuelled fears across Europe of young Muslims returning radicalised from Syria to commit terror attacks. But the Belgian probe had been under way before the Paris attacks and Belgian officials saw no obvious link between the two.

In May 2014, an Islamist terrorist, Mehdi Nemmouche, who had also joined jihadist groups in Syria before returning to Europe, killed four people in the Brussels Jewish Museum.

Belgian Police Arrest 13 in Terror Raid

Belgian Police Arrest 13 in Terror Raids

Suspects Are Alleged to Have Been Plotting to Kill Policemen

Police officers in front of a house where two alleged terror suspects were shot on Thursday in Verviers, Belgium.
Police officers in front of a house where two alleged terror suspects were shot on Thursday in Verviers, Belgium. ZUMA PRESS

By MATTHEW DALTON, WSJ

BRUSSELS—Belgian police said they had arrested 13 people throughout the country suspected of plotting to kill policemen in an alleged attack that authorities said was potentially hours away from being committed.

Two other people involved in the alleged plot were killed in a firefight in the eastern city of Verviers on Thursday evening, authorities said in a news conference on Friday. Two Belgians were also arrested in France for taking part in the suspected plot.

Police said the arrests started on Thursday.

Several of the people involved in the alleged plot had been to Syria and had subsequently returned, authorities said.

Write to Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com

3 reasons the euro is plunging

3 reasons the euro is plunging

By Mark Thompson   @MarkThompsonCNN
euro dollar

In Europe, the new year is starting where the old year left off — the euro is on the skids.

The currency briefly hit its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in nine years Monday, before steadying to trade around $1.19.

That leaves the euro down 20 cents, or about 14%, since May 2014. So why has it fallen out of favor so spectacularly?

1. The mighty dollar

Much of the recent decline in the euro has been about the strength of the greenback. During the second half of 2014, the U.S. dollar made significant gains against all other major global currencies, such as the British pound, Swiss franc and Japanese yen.

The U.S. economy is motoring, growing by 5% in the third quarter, and creating jobs at a rapid pace. That has allowed the Federal Reserve to end its emergency stimulus — or quantitative easing — and begin talking about when to raise interest rates from their record lows.

Compare that with the eurozone, where unemployment is stuck near record highs, the economy is stagnating and the risk of deflation looms large. Or Japan, where officials are going all in with stimulus.

2. European QE coming

Just as the Fed begins to tighten monetary policy, the European Central Bank looks poised to launch its own version of quantitative easing — possibly as early as its next meeting on January 22 — to head off the risk of deflation.

ECB President Mario Draghi passed up the chance of using the last big bazooka in the central bank’s arsenal in December, saying he needed more time to assess the impact of the oil price slump on inflation, growth and wages.

The picture has darkened further since then, and ECB officials have been busy working on ways to launch a program of government bond purchases — in effect printing euros in huge quantities.

The first estimate of December inflation in the eurozone, due Wednesday, could show a negative number — recording regional deflation for the first time since the depths of the financial crisis.

“Germany’s inflation rate is expected to have fallen from 0.5% to 0.2% and any further downside surprise will, of course, heighten expectations of [ECB] action — if that is possible from here,” noted Kit Juckes at Societe Generale.

3. Greek fears grow

Adding to pressure on the euro is the risk that Greek elections on January 25 could revive the eurozone debt crisis.

Leading in the opinion polls is Syriza, an opposition party that wants to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s 240 billion euro bailout by the EU and IMF — including canceling part of its huge debt — and reversing some painful austerity measures.

Germany, and others, will resist those demands. Giving ground to Athens could encourage other deeply indebted eurozone countries to insist on similar treatment.

Media reports suggest the German government could live with a Greek exit from the eurozone if it has to.

And there’s been little sign of contagion so far. Yields on Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Irish government bonds have held steady, while Greece’s borrowing costs have spiked.

The most likely outcome is a messy compromise that is unlikely to enthuse investors.

Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Tyler Durden's picture
Submitted by Tyler Durden

Russian Rubbles money cash foreign bank

Slowly but surely Europe is figuring out that as a result of the western economic and financial blockade of Russian, it is Europe itself that is suffering the most. And while Germany was first to acknowledge this late in 2014 when its economy swooned and is now on the verge of a recession, now others are catching on. Case in point: the former head of the European Commission, and Italy’s former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi who told Messaggero newspaper that the “weaker Russian economy is extremely unprofitable for Italy.”

The other details from Prodi’s statement:

Lowered prices in the international energy markets have positive aspects for the Italian consumers, who pay less for the fuel, but the effect will be only short-term. In the long-term however the weaker economic situation in countries producing energy resources, caused by lower oil and gas prices, mostly in Russia, is extremely unprofitable for Italy, he said.

The lowering of the oil and gas prices in combination with the sanctions, pushed by the Ukrainian crisis, will drop the Russian GPD by five percent per annum, and thus it will cause cutting of the Italian export by about 50%,” Prodi said.

“Setting aside the uselessness or imminence of the sanctions, one should highlight a clear skew: regardless of the rouble rate against dollar, which is lower by almost a half, the American export to Russia is growing, while the export from Europe is shrinking.”

In other words, just as slowly, the world is starting to grasp the bottom line: it is not the financial exposure to Russia, or the threat of financial contagion should Russia suffer a major recession or worse: it is something far simpler that will lead to the biggest harm for Europe’s countries. The lack of trade. Because while central banks can monetize everything, leading to an unprecedented asset bubble which if only for the time being boosts investor and consumer confidence, they can’t print trade – that all important driver of growth in a globalized world long before central banks were set to monetize over $1 trillion in bonds each and every year to mask the fact that the world is deep in a global depression.

Which is why we read the following report written in yesterday’s Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten with great interest because it goes right to the bottom line. In it Russia has a not so modest proposal to Europe: dump trade with the US, whose call for Russian “costs” has cost you another year of declining economic growth, and instead join the Eurasian Economic Union! From the source:

Russia has presented a startling proposal to overcome the tensions with the EU: The EU should renounce the free trade agreement with the United States TTIP and enter into a partnership with the newly established Eurasian Economic Union instead. A free trade zone with the neighbors would make more sense than a deal with the US.

It surely would, but then how will Europe feign outrage when the NSA is found to have spied yet again on its “closest trading partners?” Some more on Russia’s proposal from EUobserver:

Vladimir Chizhov told EUobserver: “Our idea is to start official contacts between the EU and the EAEU as soon as possible. [German] chancellor Angela Merkel talked about this not long ago. The EU sanctions [on Russia] are not a hindrance”.

“I think that common sense advises us to explore the possibility of establishing a common economic space in the Eurasian region, including the focus countries of the Eastern Partnership [an EU policy on closer ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine]”.

“We might think of a free trade zone encompassing all of the interested parties in Eurasia”.

He described the new Russia-led bloc as a better partner for the EU than the US, with a dig at health standards in the US food industry.

“Do you believe it is wise to spend so much political energy on a free trade zone with the USA while you have more natural partners at your side, closer to home? We don’t even chlorinate our chickens”, the ambassador said.

The treaty establishing the Eurasian Union entered into life on Thursday (1 January).

It includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, with Kyrgyzstan to join in May.

Modelled on the EU, it has a Moscow-based executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, and a political body, the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, where member states’ leaders take decisions by unanimity.

It has free movement of workers and a single market for construction, retail, and tourism. Over the next 10 years, it aims to create a court in Minsk, a financial regulator in Astana and, possibly, to open Eurasian Economic Commission offices in Astana, Bishkek, Minsk, and Yerevan.

It also aims to launch free movement of capital, goods, and services, and to extend its single market to 40 other sectors, with pharmaceuticals next in line in 2016.

And as a reminder: The Eurasian Economic Union, a trade bloc of former Soviet states, expanded to four nations Friday when Armenia formally joined, a day after the union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan began.

So the ball is in your court, Europe: will it be a triple-dip (and soon thereafter quadruple: see Japan) recession as your Goldman-controlled central bank plunders ever more of what little is left of middle-class wealth with promises that this year – for real is when it all turns around, or will Europe acknowledge it has had enough and shifts its strategic, and trade, focus from west (speaking of the TTIP, Germany’s agriculture minister just said “We can’t protect every sausage” referring to the TTIP) to east?

Considering just whose interests are represented by the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, we won’t be holding our breath.