Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Two pilots from downed Russian plane alive: Turkish official <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The two pilots who ejected from a Russian war plane downed by Turkey on the Syrian border are believed to be alive and the Turkish authorities are seeking to recover them, a government official said on Tuesday.</p><p>&quot;Turkey has information that the two pilots are alive and right now Turkey is trying to recover them,&quot; the official told AFP, after reports that at least one of the pilots could have died after parachuting down inside Syria.</p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:36:00 +0000 AFP 2462150 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/24/501010/turkey.jpg Man who lodged suspected Paris attackers goes before judge <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The man who provided lodging for the presumed mastermind of the Paris attacks will go before an anti-terrorism judge on Tuesday as the hunt for suspected gang member Salah Abdeslam, Europe&#39;s most wanted fugitive, entered its 11th day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Frenchman Jawad Bendaoud said before he was detained by police last Wednesday that he had been asked to put up two people for three days in an apartment in St. Denis north of Paris, but he had no idea one of them was the attackers&#39; ringleader.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was in this flat that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected leader of the attacks claimed by Islamic State, died during a police raid along with Hasna Aitboulahcen, a woman believed to be his cousin, and an as yet unidentified third person.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Under French counter-terrorism laws, Bendaoud must be charged or released on Tuesday. The Paris Prosecutor is due to hold a news conference at 6.30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. ET), though the prosecutor&#39;s office has said Bendaoud will go before a judge.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Paris attacks that killed 130 people on Friday, November 13, at the national sports stadium, a concert venue and bars and restaurants in heart of the capital, shocked a city already struck by Islamist gunmen in January.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since the killings, France has moved its flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier into the eastern Mediterranean to step up its bombardments of Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>President Francois Hollande is also trying to rally support this week for a more coordinated international campaign to destroy the militant group. He is due to meet President Barack Obama later on Tuesday and to visit Moscow on Thursday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As millions of Americans prepare to travel for the US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, the US State Department issued a global alert of &quot;increased terrorist threats&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The agency said on Monday current information suggested that Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other groups continued to plan attacks in multiple regions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Brussels lockdown&nbsp;</strong><br />&nbsp;</div><div>French investigators are still piecing together exactly who did what when and have launched a massive hunt to find Abdeslam, suspected of being the eighth attacker mentioned by Islamic State when it claimed responsibility for the killings.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Abdeslam, 26, fled to Belgium the day after the shootings and his presumed presence in Brussels was one of the factors behind a security lockdown that brought the city to a virtual standstill over the weekend.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Fearing an imminent Paris-style attack, Belgium has extended a maximum security alert in Brussels until next Monday but said the metro system and schools may open again on Wednesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Belgium has been at the heart of investigations into the attacks since France said two of the suicide bombers in Paris had lived there. Four people, including two who traveled with Abdeslam back to Brussels, have been charged with terrorist offences in Belgium. Abdeslam&#39;s brother Brahim blew himself</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While major shopping centers in Brussels remained closed on Tuesday, two Ikea furniture stores on the edge of town reopened, along with some of the larger supermarkets in the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Magritte museum remained shut, however, and Brussels had yet to decide whether to open its Christmas market on Friday in the historic Grand Place, where workers have set up stalls with an armored personnel carrier in the background.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are at the time of year when we are supposed to have a lot of people, and increase business. And there the problem with the attacks is people are scared and are afraid of leaving their homes,&quot; said Brussels toy shop worker Laeticia Shalaj.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Belgium&#39;s King Philippe phoned King Mohammed of Morocco on Monday to ask for help in tracking down the militants behind the attacks, Belgium&#39;s Interior Ministry said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A French police source said last week that Morocco tipped off Paris that Abaaoud, one of Islamic State&#39;s most high-profile European recruits, was in France at the time of the attacks rather than in Syria as widely believed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Explosive belt?&nbsp;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As authorities tried to establish Abdeslam&#39;s movements and whereabouts, a source said he traveled through Italy in August with a companion, but his presence caused no alarm because he was not a wanted man at the time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His companion was Ahmet Dahmani, a Belgian man of Moroccan origin who was arrested in Turkey last week on suspicion of involvement in the Paris attacks, the investigative source said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tracing Abdeslam&#39;s movements since the attacks has been a main focus of the investigations in Paris. A suspected explosive belt was found dumped near the capital on Monday, close to a location where his mobile phone was detected the night after the attacks, a source close to the investigation said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The same phone was also detected after the attacks in the 18th district in the north of Paris, near an abandoned car he had rented, before being picked up in Chatillon in the south close to where the suspected belt was found.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was still being established on Tuesday whether the belt was Abdeslam&#39;s. One theory was that Abdeslam had intended to blow himself up in the 18th district but had abandoned the plan, although it was not clear why.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dozens of people have been arrested and hundreds of homes searched by police in the wake of the attacks, most of them as part of a broad sweep that is not specifically targeting people thought to have played a direct role in the attacks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police backed up by helicopters descended on a southwestern French village on Tuesday where Salafist preacher Olivier Corel, nicknamed the &quot;White Emir&quot; and suspected of mentoring young Jihadists, lives, a source close to the case said.</div> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:08:00 +0000 Reuters 2462146 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/15/501010/paris.jpg Putin's 'realpolitik' aims to make Russia indispensable <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>By intervening in Syria, President Vladimir Putin has broken Russia&#39;s relative isolation and is making it the &quot;indispensable nation&quot; in conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and with Islamic State while the United States balks at deeper involvement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But in this geopolitical poker game, it&#39;s not clear he will be able to quit while he&#39;s winning, especially when events can take unexpected turns such as the shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey&#39;s air force on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Russia&#39;s air strikes, cruise missiles and trainers on the ground have tilted the balance of forces in Syria back toward President Bashar al-Assad&#39;s army, forcing a US-backed coalition waging an air war against Islamic State onto the back foot.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Now Putin has seized on this month&#39;s Islamist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, and the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, which was claimed by IS and killed all 224 people on board, to shift his focus and offer France an alliance against the militant group, also known as ISIS.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Russian Defense Ministry released pictures of bombs destined for Syrian targets inscribed &quot;For Paris&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Russia has been willing and able to bring significant firepower to bear against ISIS at a time when France is willing but not entirely able, and the United States is able, but not entirely willing to bring its full firepower to bear against ISIS in Syria,&quot; said Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>From a pariah in the West over his action in Ukraine, Putin has become a sought-after interlocutor due to his &quot;realpolitik&quot; combining hard power and diplomacy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Western leaders who had lectured him over Ukraine at last year&#39;s G20 summit Brisbane, Australia, and sidelined him from the G8 group of industrialized powers, vied for private meetings with him at this year&#39;s G20 in the Turkish resort of Antalya.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After the failure of US President Barack Obama&#39;s 2009 &quot;reset&quot; of relations with Russia, it could be seen as a &quot;re-reset&quot; by the West, albeit somewhat reluctantly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It doesn&#39;t mean Putin can escape yet from Western sanctions over his seizure of Crimea in 2014 and support of Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine. The five main Western powers agreed last week to extend them for at least six months.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nor does it guarantee the Russian leader a successful outcome to his Syrian venture. Military interventions often start in triumph and end in ashes, as the United States and Britain learned to their cost in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union experienced in Afghanistan in the 1980s.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Putin believes he has put Russia in the position that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright claimed for the United States in the late 1990s as &quot;the indispensable nation&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But some strategic analysts believe Putin is overreaching and storing up security and economic dangers for Russia from domestic militants and Middle East oil powers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It is not only events such as Tuesday&#39;s shooting down of the Russian jet, described by Putin as a &quot;stab in the back&quot;, that could affect relations with other powers. A &quot;friendly fire&quot; incident involving Western forces or strikes that caused huge civilian casualties could also blow his campaign off course.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Master-tactician</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Putin is a geopolitical master-tactician. Whether one likes it or not - and I don&#39;t - &#39;Putinpolitik&#39; is doing pretty well,&quot; said Michael Emerson, a former European Union envoy to Moscow.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He noted it was the second time Putin had wrong-footed the United States by taking an initiative in Syria that saved Assad from potential military defeat and make himself an unavoidable partner in any solution in the country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The first was in August 2013 when Putin persuaded Obama to use diplomacy to achieve the chemical disarmament of Syria rather than enforce the US leader&#39;s own &quot;red line&quot; by striking Assad&#39;s forces over the use of the banned weapons.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That decision was a &quot;major foreign policy mistake&quot; that signaled US fatigue in the Middle East and was duly noted in Moscow and Beijing, said former NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obama belittled Russia after its seizure of Crimea as a &quot;regional power&quot; acting out of weakness rather than strength and not a &quot;number one security threat&quot; to the United States.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Putin&#39;s instinct for exploiting perceived US and European weakness has been one of the features of his vigorous foreign policy as he has tried to reassert Russia&#39;s great power status.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He has an incredible nose for political opportunity, but also for power,&quot; said Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank and advocacy group.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He was stuck in Ukraine... and couldn&#39;t see a way out. He initially stepped up the Russian footprint in Syria because Assad was in trouble. Now he has managed this extraordinary pivot after the Paris events,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>French President Francois Hollande, who had been a small part of the US-led air campaign against IS, has called for a single coalition including Russia to eradicate the militant group in Syria. He will discuss cooperation with Putin in Moscow on Thursday after making his plea to Obama on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A Reuters analysis in late October showed almost 80 percent of Russia&#39;s declared targets in Syria were in areas not held by IS.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tertrais said the French believe nearly 90 percent of Russian strikes were on Western-backed anti-Assad rebels before the Paris attacks and the Sinai plane bombing, and just 10 percent on IS. In the last week, those proportions have roughly been inverted, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Other Western experts say Moscow has continued to hit Western-back insurgents, notably those that had acquired US TOW anti-tank missiles, but at least half its strikes now targeted IS leadership and logistics in Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both Russia and France are reported to have hit oil installations exploited by IS as a source of revenue.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Poor strategist?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While the Kremlin leader has overturned the table in Syria, possibly creating space for a negotiated settlement to four years of civil war, his use of force beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union has raised risks for Russia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Putin is not a good strategist. He is stirring up a hornet&#39;s nest of Sunni Muslims who will hold a grudge against him,&quot; said Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington and a former deputy Secretary of State and veteran Russia expert.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He already had an internal problem with Islamist extremism and he now has an external problem since ISIS was responsible for the Sinai plane bombing.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>By aligning himself with Shi&#39;ite power Iran and its Lebanese Hezbollah militia allies, he said, Putin risked antagonizing Sunni powers led by Saudi Arabia, which have driven down the oil price on which Russia&#39;s sanctions-weakened economy depends.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>European diplomats say even if Russia, the United States and Europe had a common interest in achieving a settlement in Syria to focus on Islamic State, the Saudis, as well as Turkey and perhaps Iran, may see interests in keeping the conflict going.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Faced with a choice between keeping Assad in power and destroying ISIS, Putin is caught in a vice of his own making,&quot; Talbott said. &quot;He has pushed Assad&#39;s exit off into the future at great cost to Russia, because ISIS is going to be stronger.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He now faces a potential upsurge of Islamist militancy in Russia&#39;s Caucasus region which has spurred attacks in Moscow and other cities since the Chechen wars of the 1990s, Talbott added.</div> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 14:54:00 +0000 Reuters 2462145 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/10/22/503194/putin_approval.jpeg CNN: 'Clock boy' Ahmed Mohamed's family seeks $15 mn, apologies from Texas city <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Fifteen million dollars and apologies from the mayor and police chief.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That&#39;s what an attorney says the family of Ahmed Mohamed is demanding from city and school officials in Irving, Texas, or they say they&#39;ll file a civil suit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In September, 14-year-old Ahmed made international headlines when he brought a handmade clock to school to show his teachers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One of them thought it was a bomb and notified school authorities, who then called police. Ahmed was detained, questioned and hauled off in handcuffs. At the time, the school said it reacted with caution because the contraption that had wires could have been an explosive device.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It wasn&#39;t. It was just a clock.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a whirlwind of publicity about the case fueled by social media, #IStandWithAhmed became a trending topic on Twitter, President Barack Obama invited the teen to attend an event at the White House and a foundation offered him a scholarship to study in Qatar.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But despite the surge of support for Ahmed, the attorney representing his family says the teen suffered severe psychological trauma and that his &quot;reputation in the global community is permanently scarred.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In two letters sent Monday to attorneys representing the school district and the city, attorney Kelly Hollingsworth says that Ahmed&#39;s civil rights were violated by the way the case was handled.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Irving city officials told CNN they were reviewing the letter and had no comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>School district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver told CNN that the district is aware of the letter and also had no comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hollingsworth, who says he was recently retained by the teen&#39;s father, alleges that the teenager was not read his Miranda rights during his arrest and that those involved with the incident tried to cover up mistakes &quot;with a media campaign that further alienated the child at the center of this maelstrom.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rather than calming the situation, Hollingsworth says in the letters, officials in Irving stoked the flames.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;They tried to push responsibility off on the victim -- Ahmed. They have even implied publicly that what has come of this has been good for Ahmed, as though the resilience of this fine boy and his fine family somehow excused what they did,&quot; the letters say. &quot;It does not, for there is no excuse.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hollingsworth argues that the damages are numerous but difficult to quantify. He notes an online blog post that superimposed the 14-year-old&#39;s face onto a famous image of Osama bin Laden, a &quot;Clock Boy&quot; Halloween costume on a website and harassment suffered by the teen&#39;s siblings.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Ahmed will now forever be associated with bomb making wholly without basis,&quot; Hollingsworth says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among numerous allegations, the letters say that the authorities interrogated the Muslim teenager, alone, for at least one hour and 25 minutes, a period that was recorded on a police officer&#39;s iPhone. At one point, according to the letters, a police officer who first saw Ahmed said, &quot;Yep. That&#39;s who I thought it was.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Ahmed clearly was singled out because of his race, national origin and religion,&quot; the letters say.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If officials don&#39;t comply with the family&#39;s demands for apologies and compensation for the damages within 60 days, the letters say, a civil lawsuit will be filed.</div> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:42:00 +0000 CNN 2462126 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/24/501010/us_kid.jpg