Wednesday, December 28, 2016

India Successfully Tests Nuclear-Capable Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

On Monday, India carried out its fourth successful test launch of its Agni-V nuclear-capable, three-stage, solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. The test was carried out off Dr. Abdul Kalam Island in the Indian state of Odisha.

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization released a statement noting that the test “further boosted the indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence level of the country.” The statement added that “all the radars, tracking systems, and range stations tracked and monitored the flight performance and all the mission objectives were successfully met.”

“All the test parameters of the missile, which was tested for its full range, were successfully achieved. The missile splashed down near Australian waters,” an Indian official told the Times of India.

Successful test firing of Agni V makes every Indian very proud. It will add tremendous strength to our strategic defence,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a statement released on Twitter.

Monday’s test was long-planned and first reported last week. As my colleague Franz-Stefan Gady explained in the Diplomat, the previous three tests of the Agni-V have had important distinctions.

In April 2012 and September 2013, the ICBM was tested in “open configuration,” and a test last year in January featured its launch from a hermetically sealed canister on a road-mobile transporter erector launcher in “deliverable configuration.”

The capability conferred on India’s Strategic Forces Command by the Agni-IV and Agni-V missiles are primarily intended to bolster India’s strategic nuclear deterrent against China.

India deploys the short-to-medium-range Agni-I, Agni-II, Agni-III, and Prithvi series of shorter-range missiles for its strategic deterrent against Pakistan.

The Agni-V has a rated strike range of more than 5,000 kilometers and is capable of delivering a 1,500 kilogram warhead.

The strike range of the Indian ICBM leaves it capable of striking all of China, most of Russia, the Middle East, and parts of north-eastern and southern Africa.

With its land-based ballistic missiles, a limited free-falling unguided air delivery method, and a recently acquired sea-based ballistic missile capability with the launch of the first of the Arihant-class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, India joins the United States, Russia, and China as a triad power.

Once the Agni-V is formally inducted, which will take place following user trial testing, India will join the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom as the sixth country to feature a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile capability. (North Korea has yet to test its KN-08 and KN-14 ICBMs.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

ALERT: Libyan Aircraft Hijacking - the latest.

UPDATE:Two hijackers of a Libyan passenger plane, purportedly supporters of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, surrendered Friday after diverting the Afriqiyah Airways jetliner from the north African country to the island of Malta, authorities said. All 118 people aboard left the plane safely.

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter: "Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken into custody." Muscat said the plane hijackers had one pistol and one hand grenade.

Malta state television TVM said the two hijackers threatened to blow up the Airbus A320. All flights to Malta International Airport were immediately diverted after the mid-morning landing, and emergency teams including negotiators were sent to the airport tarmac.

Muscat said there were 111 passengers aboard — 82 males, 28 females and one infant. The Times of Malta said it also had seven crew members.

MALTA -Passengers have begun disembarking from the hijacked Libyan aircraft in Malta.

The doors of the plane opened at 1:44 p.m. local time and a staircase moved to the door before passengers began disembarking.

An official from Afriqiyah Airways said the two hijackers had expressed a willingness to release the passengers but that they will keep the pilot.

Serraj al-Fitouri also told Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV that one Libyan lawmaker was among the list of passengers. It was unclear whether the lawmaker, identified as Abdel-Salam al-Marabet, had been on the flight that was hijacked earlier Friday.



A flight within Libya has been hijacked and diverted to Malta, with 118 people on board.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted shortly before 8 a.m. Eastern time that the "first group of passengers, consisting of women and children, being released now."

There were 28 women and one infant on the plane when it landed, according to earlier tweets from Muscat.

Maltese state television previously said hijackers have threatened to blow the plane up, the Associated Press reports.

Two hijackers claiming to be armed with a hand grenade took over the the Afriqiyah flight, which was set to fly from Sebha to Tripoli, according to The Times of Malta. It's not clear what their demands are.

Muscat said that security services are "coordinating operations."

Video posted by the Times of Malta shows the plane sitting on the ground, with security forces gathered nearby.

"All flights into Malta International Airport have been diverted," the AP writes. "Muscat's office confirmed that a negotiating team is on standby awaiting instructions from the prime minister.

Reuters reports that the plane's pilot alerted flight control authorities of the hijacking:

"A senior Libyan security official told Reuters that when the plane was still in flight on Friday morning the pilot told the control tower at Tripoli's Mitiga airport it had been hijacked.

" 'The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him,' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

" 'The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused.' "

Thursday, December 22, 2016



Seven people were arrested overnight at properties in Flemington, Meadow Heights and Dallas in Melbourne over the alleged plot, which police said was inspired by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the plot as an "act of evil", while Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said police had seized "the makings of an improvised explosive device".

Speaking at a press conference today, Mr Turnbull said: "Overnight our police and security agencies have disrupted a very substantial terrorist plot.

Overnight, the Victoria Police, working with the Australian Federal Police and ASIO, have arrested seven persons, five of whom are still in custody, searched five premises and are continuing to search them.
"What they have uncovered is a plot to explode improvised explosive devices in central Melbourne in the area of Federation Square, on or about Christmas Day.

"This is one of the most substantial terrorist plots that have been disrupted over the last several years."

The raids were part of a counter-terrorism operation involving Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.

Commissioner Ashton said it was believed a number of people were intending to carry out an attack involving explosives and other weapons.

"Over the last fortnight … we have had to conduct a criminal investigation relating to the formation of what we believe was a terrorist plot," he said.

"We believe that there was an intention to conduct what we call a multi-mode attack, possibly on Christmas Day.

Police believe the locations to be targeted include Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, and St Paul's Cathedral.

Commissioner Ashton said: "We believe [the plot] was going to involve an explosive event, the use of explosives, and we gathered evidence to support that.

"There has also been evidence that we will lead around the possibility of an intention to use other weapons. That could include knives and/or a firearm.

"Certainly these [people] are self-radicalized, we believe, but inspired by ISIS and ISIS propaganda."

China claims Lunar Defense Obliteration Zone around the Moon.

Following the successful launch of its first lunar rover, the Chinese government has declared a defensive zone extending vertically from China into space and encompassing the moon.

The Lunar Defense Obliteration Zone, according to newly appointed space minister Wu Houyi, “will protect China’s core interests and interplanetary sovereignty.” All foreign spacecraft, satellites, comets and space debris must notify China before passing through or into the zone.

Due to orbital complications, the boundaries of the LDOZ will shift daily in accordance with the position of the moon relative to its sovereign power. China’s Ministry of Space has issued diagrams of the shifting boundaries, dubbed “the lasso.”

Many countries have disputed China’s ability to establish such a zone, but Chinese officials are adamant about the country’s claim to Earth’s only natural satellite.

“China’s historical ties to the moon date back at least five thousand years, perhaps more,” said Chen Guang, an official historian from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “We made a whole calendar based on it for Christ’s sake.”

As for the political ramifications, the Ministry of Space has promised not to impose terrestrial laws on the celestial object, nor push immediately for reunification.

China LDOZ

“The moon will retain full autonomy,” Wu told reporters on Thursday, “and will continue to orbit the Earth as normal under the ‘One Country, Two Circumgyrating Bodies’ system.”

So far, the LDOZ has received widespread support from the public and government-issued propaganda posters have cropped up around Beijing and Shanghai bearing the slogan “China Dream, Moon Dream.”


Anis Amri, wanted as main suspect in Christmas market attack in Berlin.

ABC NEWS: Anis Amri, a suspect wanted in connection with the Christmas market attack in Berlin, is very likely the assailant, according to German Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

"We can tell you today that there are additional clues that this suspect is, with very high likelihood, the perpetrator," Maiziere told reporters at a press conference Thursday. "Fingerprints in the cab of the truck have been found, and there are also other clues that suggest that [he is the perpetrator]."

Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for the German federal prosecutor's office, said Amri's fingerprints were discovered on the steering wheel, on the driver's side door and elsewhere in the cab of the tractor-trailer that was used on Monday to plow into a crowded Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, a public square in the heart of Berlin. Based on this evidence, prosecutors "assume that Anis Amri was driving the truck" and have issued a warrant for his arrest accordingly, Koehler said at a press conference Thursday.

The Breitscheidplatz attack killed at least 12 people and injured dozens more, including two Americans. Family members confirmed to ABC News that Richard Ramirez of San Benito, Texas, remained in a Berlin hospital Thursday. He is in stable condition after having emergency surgery for injuries sustained in the attack. His partner of 18 years, a German citizen, was killed, family members said.

ABC News affiliate KRGV reported that the other injured American is also from Texas.

A source told ABC News that Amri was known to U.S. intelligence agencies.

German authorities have launched a Europe-wide manhunt for the suspect. According to a wanted notice, Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian national, went by six different aliases and is considered "violent and armed." Officials are offering a reward of up to 100,000 euros ($105,000) for information leading to his arrest.

German authorities have not said whether Amri is thought to be still in Berlin or Germany.


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