Get Adobe Flash player

Daily Archives: May 14, 2008

US paid bounty to Pakistan to arrest Canadian terror suspect

A US intelligence agency paid a 500,000-dollar bounty to Pakistan's military for the arrest of the Canadian son of a suspected Al-Qaeda financier, said court documents released Monday.
According to an October 2004 memo to the head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ordered released by Canada's federal court, Abdullah Khadr was wanted for "supporting insurgent activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
Thus, Khadr "is deemed to be a national security threat and has a 500,000 US dollar outstanding bounty for his capture," said the memo published on the website of the daily Globe and Mail, which fought for its disclosure.
Khadr is the eldest son of Egyptian-born
Canadian national Ahmed Said Khadr, and the brother of Omar Khadr, the only Canadian held at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba.
He was held in Pakistan for almost a year before returning in 2005 to Canada, where he was arrested and jailed, and is now fighting extradition to the United States.
Justice officials inadvertantly disclosed the top secret memo in court filings last year and fought the Globe and Mail not to publish it, but lost.
Federal Court Judge Richard said in his decision: "The fact that a foreign state paid a bounty for the apprehension of a Canadian citizen abroad and that Canadian officials were aware of it … is a matter in which the public would have a legitimate interest."
"The evidence heard in camera supports the conclusion that the bounty was offered and paid by the United States," he added.
Khadr's lawyers maintain that their client was tortured while in Pakistan and his statements to US, Canadian and Pakistani agents are therefore tainted. Khadr attorney Nathan Whitling told the Globe and Mail that Washington was guilty of "outsourcing torture."
"Rather than getting its own hands dirty, the US simply paid the Musharraf regime 500,000 dollars to arrest Mr Khadr, knowing full well what Pakistan would do to him.
"The US then did all it could to hide this secret arrangement from the Canadian judge hearing Mr Khadr's case," Whitling charged.
The RMCP memo says Khadr was also a "primary target" of Canada's anti-terrorism squad "for his role with (Al-Qaeda) training camps."
As well, it says Khadr "is deemed to be a great intelligence asset due to his close relationship" with Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other members of the terror network.
Khadr's brother Abdurahman Khadr has admitted on Canadian television that the family knew bin Laden, and that Al-Qaeda operatives trained him and some of his siblings in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, his brother Omar Khadr faces an upcoming US military tribunal on charges that he murdered a US army medic in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 15 years old.
Omar Khadr was arrested the same year and has since been held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The court documents also include a transcript of an RCMP interview in which Khadr says he is not a member of Al-Qaeda, but adds, "I only buy and sell weapons for Al-Qaeda."

UN chief urges global leadership to combat food crisis

Sample Image

by Herve Couturier*

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Monday for global leadership against the global food crisis as a United Nations task force met for the first time to design an action plan to curb soaring prices.
During the closed-door meeting, Ban said "tackling this issue will require international leadership and coordination at the highest level," his press office said in a statement.
The task force's primary aim is to "promote a comprehensive and unified response to the global food price challenge in support of governments and affected populations," the statement said.
The food crisis has sparked riots, protests and export restrictions worldwide.
Global food prices have nearly doubled in three years, according to the World Bank, with experts blaming the soaring prices on trade restrictions, poor growing weather, rising use of biofuels that rely on staples like corn and the hike in fuel prices that make transporting food more expensive.
The UN task force is also to prepare the ground for a high level meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on food security, to be held in Rome June 3-5, and follow up on the implementation of the action plan.
"This strategy is expected to outline short and longer-term actions, such as food aid, social protection initiatives and agricultural boosts … Today, the High Level Task Force agreed to present the elements of such a strategy" at the Rome conference, the statement from Ban's office said.
The UN chief has urged world leaders to attend the meeting, called the High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.
The food crisis task force, whose creation was announced by Ban in Bern, Germany on April 29, brings together the leaders of 15 groups and agencies from the United Nations, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
It is under the direct authority of Ban and is being coordinated by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes.
In Bern, the IMF, World Bank and United Nations urged world leaders to take steps to ensure more equitable global trade, with Ban urging a repeal of export restrictions in countries such as Brazil and Egypt.
Argentina, Brazil, Vietnam, India and Egypt have all imposed limitations on the export of certain produce in order to ensure food security for their populations, but Ban says the move has reduced supplies and raised prices.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick has said two billion people across the world are struggling with high food prices, and 100 million people in poor countries may be pushed deeper into poverty by the crisis.
The FAO estimates that world production of rice will reach a new record in 2008 but that prices will stay elevated in the short term.
Ban has said the first priority is to feed the hungry, and urged nations to contribute to international funds to help stem the crisis.
The UN World Food Program is seeking contributions for a 755-million-dollar emergency fund while the FAO is raising 1.7 billion dollars to provide seeds to the poor and boost output.
The UN's new top advisor on food, Olivier de Schutter, this month joined the growing chorus accusing biofuels — until recently cast as a miracle alternative to polluting fossil fuels — of usurping arable land and distorting world food prices.
"The ambitious goals for biofuel production set by the United States and the European Union are irresponsible," Schutter charged, describing the biofuel rush as a "scandal that only serves the interests of a tiny lobby."