Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Bangladesh Islamist party leader to hang for war crimes <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Bangladesh&#39;s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a final appeal from the leader of the top Islamist party against death sentence for atrocities committed during the 1971 war of independence, lawyers said, meaning he could be hanged at any time.<br /><br />The Supreme Court in January upheld the death penalty for Motiur Rahman Nizami, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, for genocide, rape and orchestrating the massacre of top intellectuals during the 1971 war.<br /><br />Nizami, 73, a former legislator and minister under Khaleda Zia when she was prime minister, has been in jail since 2010 when he was charged with war crimes by the tribunal set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that year.<br /><br />The war crimes tribunal has sparked violence and drawn criticism from opposition politicians, including leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, that it is victimizing Hasina&#39;s political opponents.<br /><br />No Peace Without Justice, a non-profit organization based in Italy, has called the tribunal&#39;s proceedings &quot;a weapon of politically influenced revenge whose real aim is to target the political opposition&quot;.<br /><br />The government denies the accusations.<br /><br />East Pakistan broke away to become independent Bangladesh after the war between India and Pakistan. About three million people were killed.<br /><br />The verdict comes as the Muslim-majority nation has seen a surge in militant violence in which atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers have been killed.<br /><br />In the last month alone, five people, including a university teacher, two gay activists and a Hindu have been hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants.<br /><br />The government has blamed the increase in Islamist violence on Jamaat-e-Islami, but the group denies any link to the attacks.<br /><br />Four opposition politicians, including three Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, have been convicted by the war crimes tribunal and executed since late 2013.</p> Thu, 05 May 2016 09:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2469358 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/05/504802/bangladesh.jpg Raging fire threatens to reduce Canadian city to ashes, engulf airport <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>A massive wildfire that has forced all 88,000 people to flee the western Canadian oil city of Fort McMurray and burned down 1,600 structures is now threatening its airport and communities well south of the town, authorities said on Wednesday.<br /><br />With a few neighborhoods already in ruins, worsening fire conditions Wednesday pushed walls of flames toward thousands of more homes in the northeastern Alberta town, in the heart of Canada&#39;s oil sands region.<br /><br />The winds also pushed flames toward the local airport, with webcam images showing black smoke engulfing the airport late on Wednesday evening. Officials confirmed that a hotel north of main terminal had caught fire.<br /><br />As flames fanned south, officials also issued mandatory evacuation orders for the Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation communities located about 50 km south of Fort McMurray.<br /><br />Officials on the scene were forced to evacuate their make-shift emergency operations center for the second time in the span of less than a day as the flames spread south. Officials at the center said in a tweet that they were relocating to the town of Lac La Biche some 250 km south of Anzac.<br /><br />Authorities said there had been no known casualties from the blaze itself, but fatalities were reported in at least one car crash among the evacuees. Thousands bunked down in arenas, hockey rinks and oil work camps, often short of fuel and food.<br /><br />A huge cloud of black smoke was visible from well over 60 km (37 miles) away from the town. Traffic on the main road headed south had thinned to a trickle, however, after major jams on Tuesday when the evacuation order was given.<br /><br />Stretches of the highway had been converted into make-shift campgrounds by people in cars, trucks and recreation vehicles, who were fleeing the inferno.<br /><br />Firefighting crews have been unable to stop the wildfire, which has charred 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) since it erupted on Sunday and exploded in ferocity.<br /><br />&quot;It is a possibility that we may lose a large portion of the town,&quot; said Scott Long, an official with Alberta&#39;s emergency management agency.<br /><br />Major oil sands facilities were not in the path of the flames, but companies&#39; efforts to help employees and evacuees and protect pipelines led to a decline in production.<br /><br />Images from the neighborhood of Beacon Hill in the city&#39;s southeast showed rows of charred house foundations, their upper stories burned to the ground, and blankets of white ash within. Officials said 80 percent of houses in the neighborhood, nearly 600 in total, were destroyed.<br /><br />The regional government said two other neighborhoods, Abasand and Waterways, had sustained &quot;serious loss.&quot; Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said a total of about 1,600 structures have been destroyed in Fort McMurray.&quot;There are certainly areas within the city that have not been burned, but this fire will look for them and it will find them and it will want to take them,&quot; said Chief Darby Allen of the Fort McMurray fire department.<br /><br />The province declared a state of emergency for what was shaping up to be Canada&#39;s costliest natural disaster.<br /><br />Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the military can deploy air force planes to the stricken city as needed. Fort McMurray International Airport suspended all commercial flights.<br /><br /><strong>&#39;Extreme wildfire behavior&#39;</strong><br /><br />It was the second major blaze in the oil sands region in a year. Last May, wildfires led to the evacuation of hundreds of workers from the region, and a 9 percent cut in Alberta&#39;s oil sands output.<br /><br />The wildfire&#39;s knock-on effects on oil sands operations escalated on Wednesday, with five companies including Suncor Energy and Husky Energy reporting reduced production either because workers had been affected by the evacuations or because of precautionary pipeline shutdowns. The impact on crude production volumes was not immediately clear, but Suncor said late on Wednesday it had shut its base plant operations - its largest oil sands mining site with a production capacity of 350,000 barrels of oil a day.<br /><br />Its other thermal oil sands sites were operating at reduced levels.<br /><br />Officials said very hot and dry conditions meant &quot;extreme wildfire behavior&quot; on all fronts around the fire.<br /><br />The Canadian Red Cross said evacuees were calling the organization for help getting food and water.<br /><br />A highway closure on Tuesday forced most evacuees to drive north, away from major cities. By Wednesday morning, the highway had reopened, but fuel had run out, stranding evacuees. Alberta&#39;s transport department said it was escorting a fuel tanker north to help stranded drivers.<br /><br />Twitter filled with offers of food, housing and animal care as worried evacuees asked officials and strangers alike about the status of their homes. Two babies were born at one evacuation center on Tuesday.<br /><br />Wildfires were also raging in neighboring British Columbia on Wednesday, including a 9,000 hectare blaze in the province&#39;s northeast that was threatening to spread across the border to Alberta, the B.C. Wildfire Service said.</p> Thu, 05 May 2016 08:55:00 +0000 Reuters 2469356 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/05/504802/canada_fire.jpg US Army captain sues Obama over 'illegal' war in Iraq and Syria <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>A US Army captain sued President Barack Obama on Wednesday, alleging that he doesn&#39;t have the proper congressional authority to wage war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.<br /><br />Capt. Nathan Michael Smith filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington as the president is deploying more special operations forces to the region &mdash; and a day after a Navy SEAL was killed in combat in Iraq, the third since a U.S.-led coalition launched its campaign against the Islamic State in the summer of 2014.<br /><br />Smith supports the war on military and moral grounds and considers the Islamic State an &quot;army of butchers&quot;. But he wants the court to tell Obama that he needs to ask Congress for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force.<br /><br />The White House did not comment on the lawsuit.<br /><br />To fight IS, Obama has been relying on congressional authorizations given to President George W. Bush for the war on al-Qaida and the invasion of Iraq. Critics say the White House&#39;s use of post-9/11 congressional authorizations is a legal stretch at best.<br /><br />The White House has claimed it has all the authority it needs to wage the war against IS, but says if an authorization tailored specifically for IS passed Congress with bipartisan support, it would send a clear signal of unity to U.S. troops and those groups they are fighting.<br /><br />Several lawmakers have pushed for a new authorization and the White House sent its own version to Capitol Hill. But many lawmakers have no interest in casting a war vote, leaving the issue languishing in Congress.<br /><br />Smith is asking the court to find that the war against IS violates the War Powers Resolution because Congress has not declared war or given the president specific authorization to fight it.<br /><br />&quot;This lawlessness has made it impossible for Capt. Smith to determine whether his present mission is inconsistent with his oath to &#39;preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,&#39; thus requiring him to seek an independent determination of this matter from the court,&quot; the suit said.<br /><br />Members of the military are obligated to refuse to follow an order that is illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If they follow unlawful ones, they risk punishment.</p> Thu, 05 May 2016 08:07:00 +0000 AP 2469350 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/05/504802/us_army_captain_nathan_michael_smith_and_us_president_barack_obama.jpg Dhaka arrests five Bangladeshis deported from Singapore <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span id="articleText"><span class="focusParagraph">Police in Bangladesh have arrested five men deported from Singapore as part of an investigation into an alleged Islamist plot to carry out attacks in the South Asian country, authorities in Dhaka said.</span></span></p><p><span id="articleText">Singapore&#39;s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday it had detained eight other Bangladeshi men who were planning attacks in their homeland, using the name Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB).</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The five men returned to Bangladesh were not involved with that group, the MHA said, but were found during the same investigation to be in possession of jihadi-related material or to support the use of armed violence for a religious cause.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Dhaka city police spokesman Maruf Hossain Sardar said the five, who traveled to Singapore between 2007 and 2011, were being investigated for possible connections with local militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Islamist militants in Bangladesh have targeted atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in a series of killings that dates back to February 2015 and has claimed at least 20 lives.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The Islamic State and a group affiliated to al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks but Bangladesh authorities have dismissed the claims as &#39;baseless&#39; and said homegrown militant groups were responsible. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">Bangladesh authorities have said the ABT was behind the attacks on online critics of religious extremism and the killing last month of a gay rights campaigner and his friend.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The MHA said on Tuesday the eight men still held in Singapore were detained under the colonial-era Internal Security Act.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Wealthy, multi-ethnic Singapore, which has not faced any successful militant attacks in decades, said investigations showed the group had identified several possible targets in Bangladesh.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">They were the second group of Bangladeshis investigated in the past six months in Singapore, which is host to around 150,000 workers from Bangladesh who are prominent in industries such as construction and marine.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">In January, Singapore said it arrested 27 Bangladeshi construction workers who supported Islamist groups including al Qaeda and Islamic State and deported 26 of them.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Bangladesh said the same month it would charge 14 of those deported with membership of ABT. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">Workers rights groups say Bangladeshis are among the most economically vulnerable migrant groups in Singapore, due to deeper poverty at home compared with other major groups.</span></p> Wed, 04 May 2016 08:18:00 +0000 Reuters 2469326 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/04/505021/bangladeshis_arrested.jpg