Reuters has a flood of stories this afternoon.
[The site is breaking up in the middle of this post; I’ve moved the rest to the Extended Entry to see if that fixes it.]
Bahrain Arrests Six Men Suspected of Qaeda Links
Bahrain said Tuesday it had arrested six people suspected of having links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network to thwart attacks in the kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The arrests follow a Friday warning by the State Department about the possibility of militant attacks in the oil-rich Gulf region. Bahrain’s neighbor is Saudi Arabia, which has been hit by a wave of al Qaeda suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Westerners. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa told the official Bahrain News Agency the six men were arrested to “prevent them committing dangerous operations that would have threatened people and their possessions.”
The lawyer for five of the detainees, Abdullah Hashim, said the men were known to be Salafists who were rounded up because of their suspected ties to al Qaeda.
“They have not been charged but there is talk about links to al Qaeda,” he told Reuters. “I don’t think they have any links to al Qaeda. This is not true.”
Salafist is a general term that strict Islamist movements in mainstream Sunni Islam use to describe their desire to return to what they say are the ways of early Muslims. In Saudi Arabia they are often referred to as Wahhabis. A Salafist group fighting an Islamic uprising in Algeria is linked to al Qaeda.
Speaking of Algeria . . .
Algerian officials said it was unclear what caused a huge explosion at power plant which injured 11 people, but newspapers and security experts speculated Tuesday it was a car bomb.
Monday’s blast at the Algiers 400-megawatts plant came just a day after oil-rich Algeria said its forces had killed the head of the country’s main Islamic militant group with ties to al Qaeda. “For the moment we don’t exclude any hypothesis,” Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil told state radio. An investigation was under way and anti-terrorist officials and technical police visited the scene to gather evidence. Khelil said witnesses and the injured were being interviewed.
The main Palestinian militant factions have united to oppose any security role Egypt might take in Gaza if Israel quits the territory, casting doubt over Egyptian efforts to mediate a smooth pullout.
A statement by 10 factions late on Monday put them at odds with the Palestinian Authority, which is due to hold potentially decisive talks with a top envoy from Cairo this week to discuss a possible Egyptian presence. “We deplore and are astonished at talk of a security role by Arab parties in Gaza and the West Bank,” the militant groups said after a meeting of exiled leaders in Syria. They said such a role would make it look “as if the Palestinian people were the problem, not the occupation.”
Among factions behind the statement were Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a wing of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement — although the Palestinian president has welcomed Egyptian involvement and Fatah in Gaza said it had nothing to do with the document.
Reuters uses the term “factions” slightly differently than did James Madison.
Suspected Chechen rebels rampaged through a southern Russian region early Tuesday, mounting a brazen onslaught that killed 57 people and raised new doubts about Moscow’s ability to stamp out separatist violence.
The fighters seized Ingushetia’s interior ministry building for several hours and attacked other top security points, prompting President Vladimir Putin to make a lightning trip to the region and criticize his government’s handling of the area.
“Judging by what is going on here, the federal center is not doing enough to defend the republic,” Russian television showed Putin telling Ingushi President Murat Zyazikov.
He called for the culprits to be found as quickly as possible. Earlier he had angrily said they should be killed.
“They must be found and destroyed. Those whom it is possible to take alive must be handed over to the courts,” he said at a televised Kremlin meeting with top security chiefs.
It was the biggest armed operation by rebels in the southern Russian province — whose mainly Muslim people are ethnically close to neighboring Chechens — since war between separatists and Moscow erupted in Chechnya a decade ago.
Fifty-seven people — including 47 security and police officials — were killed, Tass quoted the region’s acting Interior Minister, Beslan Khamkhoyev, as saying. Earlier reports said 25 civilians had been killed.
An interior ministry spokesman said the dead included the acting regional interior minister Abukar Kostoyev, who had been in the building when it was captured. Another 60 people were injured. Two rebel fighters had been killed.
These stories, along with the news of the murder by beheading of Kim Sun-il and of the beheadings in Afghanistan, all hit the wires within hours. That all of the Islamists involved are not members of al Qaeda is irrelevant; this is all one fight.