Society hangs in unsecured equilibrium after Paris Attack

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According to NPR, French authorities are still on the hunt for two brothers suspected in an attack against the headquarters of a satirical magazine in Paris that left 12 people dead.

NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports that the French capital is on its highest alert level, and 800 soldiers and riot police have been called on to guard the city. Schoolchildren, Eleanor said, are being kept inside for recess.

To add to the tension, there was a shooting on Paris’ southern edge that killed a police officer and wounded a street sweeper. Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s Interior Minister, said those shootings had not been linked to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Overnight, one of the three suspects, identified by French media as 18-year-old Mourad Hamyd, was reported to have turned himself in.

Overnight, one of the three suspects, identified by French media as 18-year-old Mourad Hamyd, was reported to have turned himself in.

Cazeneuve said nine people had been detained in connection to the attack. The two chief suspects, named as Said and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32, remain at large‘Dangerous Moment’ for Europe, as Fear and Resentment GrowJAN. 7, 2015

The precautionary measures are on top of those already in place since Dec. 20, when Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed in their patrol car by a lone gunman targeting officers. They were disseminated two days after two other officers were shot and wounded in the Bronx.

For more than two weeks, the department has increased security at precinct houses and ordered a suspension of solo foot patrols.

William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, said earlier on Wednesday that there was no “direct threat” to New York related to the attacks in Paris on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam in the past.

The internal memo drew attention to the victims of the Paris attacks. “Among the dead were two police officers, one of whom was assigned to guard the office after it had been threatened and firebombed by terrorists,” the memo began, before urging vigilance.

“Pay attention to your surroundings, not your cellphone,” it read.

Local officials say mosques were targeted across the country late Wednesday and early today. There were no reports of injuries, and it’s unclear if they are linked to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. But Cazeneuve said the country would not tolerate any attacks on places of worship.

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We’ll move quickly to correct the record and we’ll only point to the best information we have at the time.

Update at 3:15 p.m. ET. Eiffel Tower Goes Dark

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Update at 7:19 a.m. ET. Not Linking Suspects To Terrorist Groups:

Counterterrorism officials have been careful not to link the two main suspects to terrorist groups, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston tells our Newscast Unit.

One of the men, Chérif Kouachi, was convicted on terrorism charges in 2008. He served 18 months for helping to funnel fighters from France to Iraq.

What’s unclear, said Dina, is what happened to Kouachi after that. It’s unclear whether he has ever traveled to Syria and it’s unclear whether he has developed links to terrorist groups — including the Islamic State — since 2008.

Judging by the shot patterns left on a police cruiser yesterday, what is clear is that the two suspects were very comfortable using high-powered weapons. It’s likely, Dina said, that they received some military training. The question is where.

Update at 6:44 a.m. ET. Roads Shut Down:

NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports that police have shut down all roads in and out of Paris.

EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

December 17, 2014

The EU General Court has ordered that the Palestinian militant group Hamas be removed from the bloc’s terror blacklist. The move comes over four years after Hamas appealed its terror designation before the EU.

The European Union first banned Hamas’ military wing, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002, though the organization’s social and political divisions were not put on the terror list. Following a series of Hamas suicide bombings during the second intifada or uprising in September 2003, the EU extended the ban to include the organization as a whole.

On September 12, 2010, Hamas appealed the ban, largely on procedural grounds. In its complaint, the group cited a lack of due process, specifically, that it had not been properly informed the act was being implemented. It further asserted that as a “legitimately-elected government,” it cannot be labeled as a terrorist organization, saying such a designation flies in the face of “the principle of non-interference in the internal matters of a State.”

READ MORE: ‘Amnesty are victims of Hamas propaganda’ – Israeli FM spokesman

The court accepted the organization’s argument, saying that the decision to remove Hamas from the list was not based on an examination of Hamas’ activities, but rather on an examination of the procedures used to institute the 2003 ban in the first place. Unless an appeal brings closure, however, a funding freeze against the group and sanctions against its members will remain in place for three more months.

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

The lawyer for Hamas, Liliane Glock, told AFP she was “satisfied with the decision.”

Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq lauded the decision, saying the court had righted an injustice done to the organization, which he said is a “national freedom movement,” and not a terrorist organization, the Jerusalem Post reports.

But a deputy from Israel’s major right-wing Likud party, Danny Danon, said, “The Europeans must believe that there blood is more sacred than the blood of the Jews which they see as unimportant. That is the only way to explain the EU court’s decision to remove Hamas from the terror blacklist.”

“In Europe they must have forgotten that Hamas kidnapped three boys and fired thousands of rockets last summer at Israeli citizens,” he added.

Shortly after the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the EU to keep Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations.

“We expect them to immediately put Hamas back on the list,” Reuters cites Netanyahu as saying in a statement. “Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization which in its charter states its goal is to destroy Israel.”

The EU and Israel have attempted to downplay the ruling, saying that groups standing within Europe as terror organizations will not change. Israeli and European officials say the court will be given a few months to rebuild its file against Hamas with evidence of the group’s activities, which will enable it to be placed back on the list of terror organizations, the Israeli news portal Ynet reports.

According to RT’s Paula Slier, Israeli politicians “across the political spectrum” have unanimously condemned what they call a “temporary” removal.

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#Israeli politicians across the political spectrum have unanimously condemned this ‘temporary’ removal.
4:36 AM – 17 Dec 2014

According to Slier, EU officials have given Israel assurances that Brussels’ position has not changed, saying Wednesday’s ruling was a “technical” mistake. Officials from the 28-member bloc further said the court did not have sufficient authority to affect the entire EU’s position.

In the interim, however, EU member states will be empowered to establish diplomatic ties with Hamas.

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas's armed wing sits on the shoulders of his father during a rally ahead of the 27th anniversary of Hamas founding, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip December 12, 2014 (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas’s armed wing sits on the shoulders of his father during a rally ahead of the 27th anniversary of Hamas founding, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip December 12, 2014 (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

The EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, will meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, on Wednesday to discuss the matter, Israeli daily Haaretz reports. Faaborg-Andersen is expected to reiterate that the EU’s position on Hamas remains unchanged, and that a future decision to reclassify Hamas as a terror organization is forthcoming.

During the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas defeated the PLO-affiliated Fatah party and has governed the Gaza Strip for the past seven years. Some countries have treated Hamas as a terrorist organization, while others have not. While Australia, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Qatar, the US and the UK all treat Hamas or its military wing as a terrorist organization, other states, including China, Iran, Russia and Turkey, do not.

Hamas leaders have made several diplomatic trips to Russia to discuss a range of issues, from Palestinian reconciliation to economic relations.

Breaking news US closes Bagram detention center in Afghanistan

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

RT Breaking News

The US Defense Department announced it has closed the Bagram detention center and now has zero detainees in its custody in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Although the United States transferred control over Bagram to the Afghans back in 2013, the detention center became infamous due the harsh treatment some of the detainees received while in American custody. At one point, it was double the size of the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba.

The facility’s closure comes just one day after the Senate released its long-awaited torture report, which described the gruesome tactics deployed by the CIA against terror suspects in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

READ MORE: Senate accuses CIA of torturing prisoners, overstepping legal boundaries

Two of the most infamous cases involved prisoners named Habibullah and Dilawar, whose abuse was chronicled by The New York Times in 2005. Dilawar – who was chained to the top of his cell for days by the time he died – was brutally beaten and passed away in 2002.

“At the interrogators’ behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend,” wrote Tim Golden in the Times.

“An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.”

Habibullah, who died just a few days before Dilawar, was also chained to the ceiling and beaten. The Times noted that he was struck more than 100 times in a 24-hour period.

READ MORE: ‘The Other Guantanamo’ – Indefinite detention at Bagram Air Force Base

As recently as this past September, there were still questions about the fate of the detainees being held at Bagram. It was unclear how many people remained in American custody, but with the US gradually drawing down its war in Afghanistan, officials said the legal authority allowing them to continue holding prisoners was about to expire.

“We’ve got to resolve their fate by either returning them to their home country or turning them over to the Afghans for prosecution or any other number of ways that the Department of Defense has to resolve,” said Brigadier General Patrick Reinert, the commanding general of the United States Army Reserve Legal Command, at the time. “Until the country provides assurances, the individual cannot be transferred.”

US Torture Report & the Release of Detainees from GITMO – What it Means for the Future of US Terror Policy

Tonight’s “Everything You Need to Know” panel discusses the release of six Guantanamo Bay detainees, and what implications the US Terror Report will have on GITMO and terrorism combat tactics. Alka Pradhan of Reprieve US, CODEPINK’s Media Benjamin, and retired colonel, Ann Wright, debate the issue.
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