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ABU DHABI/DUBAI, Nov 9, (RTRS): Saudi authorities have questioned 208 people in an anti- corruption investigation and estimate at least $100 billion has been stolen through graft, a top official said on Thursday as the inquiry expanded beyond the kingdom’s borders. “Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades,” Attorney-General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement. Of the 208 people called in for questioning so far, seven have been released without charge, Sheikh Saud said, without naming them.

Dozens of princes, senior officials and prominent businessmen, including cabinet ministers and billionaires, have been detained in the inquiry, which was announced last weekend and appears at least partly aimed at strengthening the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The investigation has spread to the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, as the UAE central bank has asked commercial banks and finance companies there to provide details of the accounts of 19 Saudis commercial bankers told Reuters on Thursday.

Almost all of the 19, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, are known to have been detained. The commercial bankers said UAE authorities had not explained why they wanted the information, but the bankers believe the authorities were acting at the behest of the Saudi government, which has said it aims to recover illicit funds.

UAE central bank officials were not available to comment, while Saudi officials, who have frozen over 1,700 domestic bank accounts as part of the crackdown, did not respond to requests for comment. The UAE, particularly Dubai, is one of the main places where wealthy Saudis park their money abroad. In addition to bank accounts, they buy luxury apartments and villas in Dubai and invest in the emirate’s volatile stock market. Some wealthy Saudi individuals have been liquidating assets within Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf countries this week, apparently in an effort to move money out of the region and escape the crackdown, private bankers and fund managers said.

In Riyadh, rich individual investors have been selling equities heavily, although buying by state-linked funds has helped to support the market. In Dubai, shares in real estate developers have sunk as investors worry about the impact on the property market of a pull-out by Saudis.

The UAE commercial bankers said they had not been asked to freeze the Saudi accounts at their institutions, but they believed the central bank’s request for information might be a prelude to such action.

The risk of the accounts being frozen “jeopardises Dubai’s pitch as a private banking centre”, said a Gulfbased banker, adding: “Banks in the UAE are full of Saudi money.” One senior banker at an international bank with business in Saudi Arabia said his institution had already frozen some accounts, both inside the kingdom and outside it, in response to Saudi government requests.

The bank is conducting its own investigations into accounts linked to people who have been detained, the banker said without elaborating. Another banker in the region said his institution was receiving more enquiries from Saudi clients about crossborder financial transactions, but it was handling the enquiries with extreme caution as there could be further action by regulators. Saudi and foreign businessmen worry that the crackdown could hurt the economy if the freezing of bank accounts delays payments and companies become more cautious about investing.

On Thursday, Mojeb repeated statements by other top officials that normal commercial activity had not been affected and that only personal bank accounts had been frozen, not corporate accounts. “Companies and banks are free to continue with transactions as usual.” The risk of fund outflows from the region has helped to push the currencies of Gulf Arab countries down slightly against the US dollar in the forward market this week.

The Saudi riyal dropped in the one year forward market on Thursday to imply riyal depreciation of 0.8 percent against the dollar in the next 12 months, compared to 0.3 percent before the crackdown. However, it remains much stronger than it was last year, when the forward market implied depreciation of about 2.7 percent because of worries about Saudi Arabia’s ability to cope with an era of low oil prices.

A helicopter carrying a high-ranking Saudi prince and other government officials crashed on Sunday in the kingdom's south near the border with Yemen, reportedly killing all eight people aboard.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said early on Monday that the crash happened in Saudi Arabia's Asir province as the official took part in a tour of local projects near Abha, some 840 kilometres southwest of Riyadh.

Security officials gave no cause for the crash, but said a search of the wreckage was underway.

The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya, based in Dubai, reported that the crash killed Prince Mansour bin Murquin and seven others. Prince Mansour was the deputy governor of Asir province.

 

In Yemen, Houthi officials offered no immediate comment on the crash, while its Al-Masirah satellite news channel reported only that the crash had occurred.

However, the crash comes after soon Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile near Riyadh's international airport after it was fired from Yemen, in an escalation of the kingdom's war against Huthi rebels.

The missile attack was the first aimed by the rebels at the heart of the Saudi capital, underscoring the growing threat posed by the raging conflict in Yemen.

The attack highlighted how the war in Yemen is increasingly spilling across the border since a Saudi-led coalition began its military intervention there in 2015.

Saudi Arabia led the intervention to prop up the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile.

Hoping for a quick victory against what it saw as Iranian expansionism in its backyard, Riyadh has so far been unable to remove the Huthis from Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Prince Mansour

Prince Mansour was the son of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence service director and a one-time crown prince of the kingdom.

Prince Muqrin was removed as crown prince in April 2015 by his half brother King Salman in favour of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a counterterrorism czar and interior minister.

But in June, King Salman also ousted Prince Mohammed in favour of installing his 32-year-old son, the now-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as first in line to the throne.

All of these moves have cemented the young crown prince's position in power.

Further solidifying his hold was the arrests late Saturday of dozens of the country's most powerful princes, military officers, influential businessmen and government ministers in a purported anti-corruption campaign.

WASHINGTON, Nov 4, (Agencies): The US conducted a pair of drone strikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia on Friday, the first time America has hit the jihadists in the Horn of Africa nation, officials said. The strikes occurred in northeastern Somalia and killed “several terrorists,” the US military’s Africa Command said in a statement.

According to Voice of America, which cited the chairman of the town of Qandala in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, six missiles hit an IS base in Buqa village, 60 kilometers (35 miles) away. “Local residents and pastoralists were shocked and fl ed from the area,” Jama Mohamed Qurshe told VOA. AFRICOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Anthony Falvo said no civilians were in the vicinity of the strikes. “They struck their intended targets,” he told AFP, noting these were the first anti-IS air strikes in Somalia.

The first strike occurred around midnight Somalia time (0300 GMT) with the second strike coming at about 11:00 am (1400 GMT). In recent months, the US has repeatedly hit Somali jihadists from the Shabaab rebel group that is aligned with al-Qaeda, but Friday’s development marks a significant step in the ever-evolving war against IS.

“US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” AFRICOM said. IS claimed its first suicide attack in Somalia in May, killing at least five people as it stepped up activities in a region dominated by the Shabaab.

The militants are led by former Shabaab cleric Abdiqadir Mumin, who switched allegiance from Al- Qaeda to IS in October 2015 and was named a “global terrorist” by the US State Department in August. Mumin was born in Puntland and lived in Sweden before moving to the UK in the 2000s, where he was granted British citizenship.

The United States has ordered all non-essential employees of its mission to Somalia to leave the capital, Mogadishu, because of “specific threat information” against them. Saturday’s statement says the information relates to Mogadishu International Airport. Somalia remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries. The US hasn’t had an embassy there since 1991 and calls security “extremely unstable.”

Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for an explosion in Riyadh, saying they fired a long-range ballistic missile that travelled more than 800km over the border with Saudi Arabia.

A spokesman for the rebels told Al Jazeera they launched a Burkan 2-H missile towards Riyadh late on Saturday, a Scud-type missile with a range of more than 800km.

"The capital cities of countries that continually shell us, targeting innocent civilians, will not be spared from our missiles," the spokesman said.

Al Masirah, a TV network run by the Houthi rebels, also claimed responsibility for the attack on their social media account.

According to videos published on social media, smoke could be seen rising from an area near Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport.

The official Saudi news agency, SPA, quoted Colonel Turki al-Maliki as saying, that at exactly 20:07 (local time) a ballistic missile was fired from Yemeni territory towards the kingdom.

Maliki said Saudi forces used a surface-to-air Patriot missile to destroy the missile in an uninhabited area east of King Khalid International Airport.

He added that there were no reported casualties.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports.

In an interview to Al Jazeera earlier this month, Mohammed Abdul Salam, a spokesman for the Houthi rebels, threatened to to escalate operations on the Yemen-Saudi border and target deep inside the kingdom.

"The Saudis started the war. Our response will continue and increase, whether it's targeting deep inside Saudi Arabia, targeting military positions where Saudi jets fly from or military bases inside Yemeni territory," Abdul Salam said.

"Abu Dhabi and others that target Yemen, are as far as we're concerned, are a fair military target. Any country that targets Yemen will be struck by our missiles."

The war in Yemen, the Arab region's poorest country, started in 2014 after Houthi rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa and began pushing south towards the country's third-biggest city, Aden.

Concerned by the rise of the Houthi rebels, believed to be backed by regional rival  Iran , Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Sunni Arab states launched an intervention in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government.

Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed and at least 40,000 wounded, mostly from Saudi-led air strikes.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

President Donald Trump departed Washington for an almost two week trip to Asia on Friday, leaving a trail of invective and scandal that risks overshadowing efforts at top-level diplomacy.

Trump left Joint Base Andrews bound for Hawaii — where he will receive a briefing from United States Pacific Command — before travelling on to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

But before climbing the steps of Air Force One, Trump unleashed a Twitter barrage, pillorying his own Justice Department and calling for his former political opponents to be prosecuted.

"A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me," Trump later said, complaining they were probing his campaign's ties to Russia but not adequately investigating his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

 

"There was no collusion, there was no nothing. It's a disgrace, frankly, that they continue."

Read: Do Trump's tweets and outspoken comments affect the US legal system?

His comments dealt a fresh blow to the traditional barriers between the executive and the judicial system, breaking the taboo over presidential interference with investigations.

Trump will meet China's Xi Jinping, Japan's Shinzo Abe and other Asian leaders with his standing at home dramatically weakened by series of indictments against former campaign aides.

Ties to Russia

His week started with special counsel Robert Mueller — who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election — indicting Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on money laundering charges.

Mueller also revealed that a Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had lied to the FBI about his contacts with Kremlin-connected officials, but then turned informant.

Trump said he did not recall a campaign encounter with Papadopoulos, during which the young aide proposed a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I don't remember much about that meeting, it was a very unimportant meeting. Don't remember much about it," Trump said.

'Crooked Hillary'

The president, who was elected one year ago, may be leaving Washington, but news from the US capital is likely to trail him.

New indictments are rumored to be on the way, perhaps within days.

While he is away Republican lawmakers will also be working furiously to pass tax cuts that are make-or-break for his legislative agenda.

And there will also be gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey seen — in part — as a gauge of his popularity.

Trump tried to seize on Democratic infighting ahead of those votes, fired up by explosive revelations from a top Democratic operative that the 2016 presidential primaries were tipped in Clinton's favor.

"Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept," he tweeted.

Trump's trip itself had already promised to be anything but easy.

The main foreign policy item on the agenda will be efforts to contain or roll back North Korea's ballistic and nuclear missile programs.

It is the longest presidential tour of Asia since George H.W. Bush visited in late 1991 and early 1992.

That culminated in the 41st president fainting and vomiting at a banquet in Japan.

Trump used his departure to announce that the already marathon trip will be extended to include an East Asia Summit in the Philippines, which he had been slated to miss.

Investigators inspect a truck following a shooting incident in New York on Oct 31. Eight people were killed and numerous others injured in New York when a suspect (inset)Saipov plowed a vehicle into a bike and pedestrian path in Lower Manhattan, and struck another vehicle on Halloween, police said. (AFP)

NEW YORK, Nov 1, (Agencies): An Uzbek immigrant suspected of killing eight people in New York City followed plans laid out by the militant Islamic State group and planned the attack weeks in advance, US investigators said on Wednesday. Police said they had interviewed Sayfullo Saipov, 29, who was shot and arrested by police moments after the rampage in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, in which a rental truck was driven down a riverfront bike path.

“It appears that Mr Saipov had been planning this for a number of weeks,” New York Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller told a news conference. “He did this in the name of ISIS (Islamic State) and along with other items recovered at the scene were some notes that indicate that,” said Miller. “He appears to have followed almost exactly the instructions that ISIS has put out on its social media channels to its followers.”

In Kuwait, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Wednesday sent a cable to US President Donald Trump expressing condolences and sympathy over the victims of Manhattan terrorist attack that killed eight people and wounded dozens others.

His Highness expressed condemnation of this criminal act, which targeted lives of innocent, breaching divine laws and human values. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah both sent similar cables to the American president. No Kuwaiti was hurt after a truck rammed into crowds in southern Manhattan Tuesday, Kuwait’s delegation to the United Nations has assured. In a press statement to KUNA, the delegation stated that initial contacts with local authorities indicated that so far, no Kuwaiti was among the victims of the attack. For their safety, the delegation urged nationals in New York to stay away from the attack scene and to follow the instructions of relevant local authorities.

In case of emergency, nationals are also advised to contact the delegation on the following numbers: +16462622882 and +16466515230. The attack was the deadliest on New York City since Sept 11, 2001, when suicide hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,600 people. A further 12 people were injured, some critically, in Tuesday’s attack. Similar assaults using vehicles as weapons took place in Spain in August and in France and Germany last year.

The suspect allegedly swerved the pickup onto a path filled with pedestrians and bicyclists on a sunny autumn afternoon, mowing down people in his path before slamming into the side of a school bus. He then exited the vehicle brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before a police officer shot him in the abdomen. The suspect underwent surgery for gunshot wounds at Bellevue Hospital, where he has been interviewed by police, Miller said. Saipov reportedly lived in Paterson, New Jersey, a one-time industrial hub about 25 miles (40 kms) northwest of lower Manhattan. He had rented the pickup from a Home Depot Inc hardware store which was located in Passaic, just south of Paterson. US Senator Lindsey Graham urged authorities to treat Saipov as an enemy combatant, a move that would allow investigators to question the man without him having a lawyer present. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that Saipov had been radicalized while living in the United States. “He is a depraved coward, is what he is, and he was associated with ISIS, and he was radicalized domestically,” Cuomo said in an interview with CNN.

The majority of the 18 Islamic Stateinspired attacks carried out in the United States since September 2014 were the work of attackers who developed radical views while living in the United States, said Alexander Meleagrou- Hitchens, research director at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. Six victims were pronounced dead at the scene and two more at a nearby hospital, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. Five of the dead were Argentine tourists, visiting New York as part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, the government there said. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said police will be out in force to protect the city’s marathon on Sunday, one of the world’s top road races, which draws some 51,000 runners from around the globe.

Source: Arab Times

مقامی میڈیا کے مطابق پولیس نے گذشتہ ہفتے ایک فلسطینی شخص کو اس وقت گرفتار کر لیا جب انھوں نے فیس بک پر عربی زبان میں گڈ مارننگ لکھا تاہم ترجمے کی غلطی کی وجہ سے عبرانی زبان میں اسے ان پر حملہ کرناپڑھا گیا۔

 

اسرائیلی پولیس نے تصدیق کی ہے کہ تعمیراتی ورکر کو اشتعال دلانے کے شبہے میں کچھ دیر کے لیے حراست میں رکھا گیا تاہم ترجمے کی غلطی معلوم ہونے پر اسے رہا کر دیا گیا۔

 

اخبار دی ٹائمز آف اسرائیل کے مطابق مقامی عربی زبان میں کسی کا خیر مقدم کرنے اور کسی کو کوسنے کے لیے جو الفاظ ہیں ان میں صرف ایک ہی حرف کا فرق ہے۔اطلاعات کے مطابق مذکورہ فلسطینی شخص کی گرفتاری سے پہلے کسی عربی زبان بولنے والے اہلکار سے مشورہ نہیں کیا گیا اور صرف فیس بک کے خودکار ترجمے پر ہی انحصار کیا گیا۔ فیس بک پر مذکورہ پوسٹ کو ڈیلیٹ کر دیا گیا ہے۔ 

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