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Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice

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    Social media exercise giving blow-by-blow account of operation that led to death of al-Qaida chief criticised as ‘distasteful’

    The Central Intelligence Agency’s decision to live-tweet the military operation that culminated in the death of Osama bin Laden “as if it were happening today” has been criticised as a distasteful “victory lap” and PR exercise.

    Osama bin Laden was killed on 2 May 2011 after a raid on his compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan by United States Navy Seal commandos.


    I get @CIA desire to take victory lap but tweeting #UBLRaid seems contrary to Intel Community ethos & good judgment

    We'd like to see a reenactment of the Communications meeting when this idea was discussed. #UBLRaid

    Imagine what the @CIA are planning for the 10th anniversary - Puppets? Opera? Pixelated animated gifs? #UBLRaid

    @CIA This is grotesque and embarrassing. You should fire your web team.

    If you live tweet the Bay of Pigs invasion, call us. Otherwise, stop it. #UBLRaid

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    Hamza bin Laden’s message comes days after al-Qaida leader called for unity – despite continued rejection of Islamic State

    The son of Osama bin Laden has urged jihadis in Syria to unite, claiming that the fight in the war-torn country paves the way to “liberating Palestine”.

    “The Islamic umma (nation) should focus on jihad in al-Sham (Syria) ... and unite the ranks of mujahideen there,” said Hamza bin Laden in an audio message posted online. “There is no longer an excuse for those who insist on division and disputes now that the whole world has mobilised against Muslims.”

    Related: How Isis crippled al-Qaida | Shiv Malik, Ali Younes, Spencer Ackerman, Mustafa Khalili

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    Isis has deepened Osama bin Laden’s idea of using violence to terrorize enemies and is better positioned to launch a far-reaching campaign of ‘leaderless jihad’

    The two attacks that shook the US and France on Sunday and Monday suggest a very new form of terrorism, posing a dramatic new threat.

    But the horrific actions of Omar Mateen in Orlando, Florida, and Larossi Aballa outside Paris are the result of a 20-year evolution of Islamic militancy towards a decentralised, anarchic but tragically effective type of violence.

    If these smaller attacks kill​ fewer people, that doesn’t necessarily matter – t​​he cumulative effect is the same

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    Hamza bin Laden releases message in which he promises to continue the militant group’s fight against the US in a speech entitled ‘We Are All Osama’

    The son of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has threatened revenge against the United States for assassinating his father, according to an audio message posted online.

    Hamza bin Laden’s message is taken as a sign that the ageing leadership of al-Qaida is trying to find a way of reviving its fortunes after years of decline, and the rise of rival organisations such as Islamic State (Isis).

    Related: Islamist terror has evolved toward lone actors – and it's brutally effective

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    Military and local government at odds over what to do with the plot in Abbottabad where Bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals

    A dispute has broken out over the future of the site where Osama Bin Laden was shot dead in 2011, with authorities pushing rival plans for a graveyard or playground.

    The military has erected a wall around the 3,800 sq ft plot where the al-Qaida leader’s compound once stood in the garrison city of Abbottabad, and wants to convert it into a graveyard.

    Related: Osama Bin Laden's son vows to avenge al-Qaida leader's death

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    In undated message he calls on young Saudis to fight US influence and join al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen

    A son of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida’s slain founder, has urged Saudis to overthrow the kingdom’s rulers to free themselves from US influence, the terrorism-monitoring company Site Intelligence Group has said.

    In an undated audio message, Hamza bin Laden urged Saudi youth to join the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) to “gain the necessary experience” to fight, according to Site.

    Related: Osama Bin Laden's son vows to avenge al-Qaida leader's death

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    Twitter users share experiences of living in a country crippled by 19 years under America’s anti-terrorism embargo

    It was Osama bin Laden who first earned Sudan a place on the US blacklist for state sponsors of terrorism.

    The al-Qaida leader had been living in Khartoum for five years when America imposed a trade embargo and froze the government’s assets in the US in 1997.

    Takes me 27 hours to fly home, so I can spend 5 days with my family. And then embark on another 27 hour journey back. #SudanUnderSanction

    @Sudan_Voices let's not forget the cost of doing international business for Sudanese , which eventually will add up to the consumer burden

    Need a new browser and want to try out Google Chrome? Sorry mate.

    Well, Let's start with my Iphone I can't Update my Applications or install a new one ! #SUD#sudanundersanction

    Dude, I can't even snapchat while on beach/pool wearing scanty underpants ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #SudanUnderSanction(s)

    Vpn is being a lifestyle #sudanundersanctions

    @Sudan_Voices No payment from online jobs because no bank transfers, and opening a bank account here is useless.

    I can't get paid for my videos from Google, I'm broke, I can't buy camera gear, broke again, I am single "it counts"

    Even @Twitter ,they use us collecting our data and block developers' resources ,we can't even use our own data

    And am not alone @Jaw33sh won the African round of the cyber Olympic but couldn't compete in the finals all the same

    Most of the giant Infotech vendors are American firms so they don't deal with Sudan IBM,Cisco,Microsoft,Oracle,NetApp,Dell

    So many scholarships are not awarded to applicants such as myself because my government is sanctioned #SudanUnderSanction#notmyfault

    getting sanctions lifted is the only way #sudanundersanction

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    Matt Bissonnette, whose book No Easy Day included firsthand account of Osama bin Laden’s killing, ruled to have violated non-disclosure agreements

    The former Navy Seal who wrote a book about his role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden must now pay the US federal government more than $6.6m (£4.9m) for violating non-disclosure agreements and publishing without clearance from the defence department.

    Matt Bissonnette, who wrote No Easy Day under the pseudonym Mark Owen, will give the US government all profits and royalties from the book or movie rights. The proceeds already total more than $6.6m. He will have four years to pay the bulk of that sum.

    Related: US Navy Seal: Killing Bin Laden 'not the highlight of my career'

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    Political ideologies take decades to form. Islamic State’s is the latest iteration of one that has been developing for 50 years

    In June 2014 the armed forces of the group that at the time called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis or Isil) seized Mosul, the second or third most populous city of Iraq. The United States had invested, or perhaps wasted, according to one estimate US$25bn on the Iraqi army, which now fled in fear.

    Already Isis had dissolved the border that divided Iraq and Syria since the end of world war one, which it derisively described as the fruit of the Anglo–French “Sykes–Picot” conspiracy. Shortly after, Isis shortened its name to the Islamic State and declared that the centuries-old caliphate abolished in 1924 by the Turkish president Kemal Atatürk was now reborn.

    Related: Don’t underestimate Islamic State. More atrocities are on their way | Abdel Bari Atwan

    Related: How Isis came to be

    In 1996 Bin Laden set his sights on the destruction of the only remaining superpower, the United States

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    A shockingly ill-advised caper from Borat director Larry Charles takes the left field true story of Gary Faulkner and mines it for zero laughs

    In Army of One, a man who experiences hallucinations due to kidney disease has a vision of God, sparking an ill-advised misadventure. I urge the film’s director, the usually great Larry Charles, to immediately seek a doctor’s care, as I fear he may be suffering from a similar condition.

    Related: The Trust review: Nicolas Cage gets wacky in pitch-black heist comedy

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    Accident investigators say plane landed too far down runway and caught fire, killing Bin Laden’s stepmother, stepsister and another relative, as well as pilot

    A private jet that crashed, killing three members of Osama bin Laden’s family, landed too far down the runway because it was travelling 40% faster than the recommended speed, accident investigators concluded.

    The Saudi-registered Phenom 300 jet smashed into an earth bank at the end of the runway at Blackbushe airport, Camberley, on the border of Hampshire and Surrey, on 31 July last year before becoming airborne again and colliding with several parked cars.

    Related: Bin Laden plane crash: aircraft went down in near perfect conditions

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    State department adds Hamza bin Laden, who was named an al-Qaida member in 2014, to global terror list, saying he is ‘actively engaged in terrorism’

    The Obama administration imposed sanctions on Thursday on a son of Osama bin Laden, saying the younger Bin Laden poses a risk to US national security.

    The state department said Hamza bin Laden had been added to its Specially Designated Global Terrorist list after he was “determined to have committed, or pose a serious risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security”.

    Related: 'A more dangerous long-term threat': Al-Qaida grows as Isis retreats

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    Lawyer says officials refused to renew ID cards for wife and children of Shakil Afridi, who helped US track and kill al-Qaida chief

    Pakistan has refused to grant identity cards to the family of Shakil Afridi, the jailed doctor who helped the US hunt Osama bin Laden, his lawyer has said, in effect denying them passports and voting rights.

    Related: CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA

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    British-born jihadi who blew himself up for Islamic State this week was a convert detained for two years at Camp X-Ray

    When US special forces found Jamal al-Harith in a jail in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in January 2002, he said he viewed them as his saviours. But after another 15 years, two of which he spent in Guantánamo Bay, he was to blow himself up in Iraq on behalf of Islamic State, sworn enemies of the US.

    Harith’s Guantánamo file says US officials decided to ship him to Camp X-Ray at the American base in Cuba because “he was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics”. He was soon to learn even more about US methods.

    Related: Isis suicide bomber ‘was Briton freed from Guantánamo’

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    Biographies of ‘homegrown’ European terrorists show they are violent nihilists who adopt Islam, rather than religious fundamentalists who turn to violence

    There is something new about the jihadi terrorist violence of the past two decades. Both terrorism and jihad have existed for many years, and forms of “globalised” terror – in which highly symbolic locations or innocent civilians are targeted, with no regard for national borders – go back at least as far as the anarchist movement of the late 19th century. What is unprecedented is the way that terrorists now deliberately pursue their own deaths.

    Over the past 20 years – from Khaled Kelkal, a leader of a plot to bomb Paris trains in 1995, to the Bataclan killers of 2015– nearly every terrorist in France blew themselves up or got themselves killed by the police. Mohamed Merah, who killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, uttered a variant of a famous statement attributed to Osama bin Laden and routinely used by other jihadis: “We love death as you love life.” Now, the terrorist’s death is no longer just a possibility or an unfortunate consequence of his actions; it is a central part of his plan. The same fascination with death is found among the jihadis who join Islamic State. Suicide attacks are perceived as the ultimate goal of their engagement.

    Related: How the changing media is changing terrorism | Jason Burke

    Few jihadis advertise their own life stories. They generally talk about what they have seen of others’ suffering

    The Muslim community terrorists are eager to avenge is almost never specified

    Living in ‘a true Islamic society’ does not interest jihadis: they do not go to the Middle East to live, but to die

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    In the days after 9/11, the world’s most wanted man retreated to Afghanistan. What happened to his wives and children?

    On 10 September 2001, Osama bin Laden’s wives were ordered to pack one suitcase each. No one would say why, only that their husband wanted to move them and his youngest children away from Kandahar. His older sons were to join their father and other brothers at an undisclosed location. The only boy left behind was nine-year-old Ladin, a timid child who flinched at the sound of gunfire. He, the women and other children filed on to a corroding Soviet-era bus smeared with mud, setting off on a dirt track parallel to the Silk Road.

    When the engine stops, you get off, Osama told them.

    The children fought over a battered Nintendo or scanned their father’s transistor for snatches of Madonna

    Osama’s grandsons pelted guards with stones, shouting, 'We have been illegally kidnapped and hidden in this secret jail'

    Slipping off her niqab, Iman swaddled a doll as if it were a baby, and made her escape

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    The 22-year-old was influenced in part by the people who formed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a little-known al-Qaida affiliate outlawed in 2004

    “Whoever played with his mind, as he saw the kids coming out [of the arena] – all the happy faces – he should have changed his mind.” Those were the words late last week of Hisham Ben Ghalbon, a proud Manchester resident, a Libyan and a man, like so many others, wondering how what happened at the Manchester Arena ever came to pass.

    Tragically, 22-year-old Salman Abedi didn’t change his mind. But what had formed and shaped its deadly rage? The search for an answer leads into the labyrinth of Libyan extremist politics of 20 years ago. A thread of resentment, violence and hardline theology that can be traced through Afghanistan and Gaddafi’s Libya, all the way to that country’s “second capital”, as Ghalbon puts it: Manchester.

    Related: Large part of Manchester attack network detained, police say

    Related: The Libya fallout shows how Theresa May has failed on terror | Paul Mason

    Related: Manchester attack: UK terror threat level down from critical to severe

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    Son of Osama bin Laden called for strikes against ‘Jews’ and ‘Crusaders’ 10 days before Manchester suicide bombing

    His name alone is enough to guarantee headlines and the attention of the world’s security services. Though only about 25 years old, his words are urgently picked over by analysts and officials seeking to understand the new threat posed to the west by Islamist militancy. He is Hamza bin Laden, the son and “heir apparent” of his father, Osama, the late founder and leader of al-Qaida.

    Ten days before the bombing in Manchester last week, Hamza’s voice was heard on a new audio tape issued by al-Qaida calling for strikes by followers against “Jews” and “Crusaders”.

    Related: Terrorists see reason in madness of targeting public events | Jason Burke

    Related: Osama bin Laden’s family on the run: ‘I never stopped praying our lives might return to normal’

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  • 06/07/17--10:08: Adnan Khashoggi obituary
  • Saudi businessman, arms dealer and fixer known for his extravagant lifestyle

    The life of Adnan Khashoggi, who has died aged 81, did not imitate art but prompted it. The sybaritic Saudi middleman inspired the image of the influential fixer who spent his days arranging huge arms deals and meeting presidents and tycoons, and his nights partying with beautiful women aboard yachts and planes or in palatial homes.

    He was the model for Harold Robbins’ bestseller The Pirate, published in 1974, though he was a rather less glamorous figure than the protagonist Baydr al Fay. The title of a 1986 book by Ronald Kessler referred to Khashoggi as The Richest Man in the World. That claim was as fictional as Robbins’ hero. Khashoggi only spent like the world’s richest man: 12 homes, 1,000 suits, $70m on his third yacht and $40m on a customised Douglas DC-8 described as a flying Las Vegas discotheque. With Khashoggi – who loathed being described as an arms dealer – more was always more.

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    Capture of giant Tora Bora complex would mark major victory for group as it clashes with Taliban

    Islamic State fighters have captured some territory around Tora Bora, the former stronghold of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, officials said on Wednesday.

    The push and capture of the giant cave complex that once housed the late al-Qaida chief would be a major victory for the Islamic State group in its increasingly deadly rivalry with the Afghan Taliban. The caves had until now been under Taliban control.

    Related: Trump's defense chief admits struggle in Afghanistan: 'We are not winning'

    Related: Devastation and a war that rages on: visiting the valley hit by the Moab attack

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