Authorities alleged that the grisly discovery is directly connected to Zakaria Kandahari, a notorious wartime collaborator who Afghan officials believe has US citizenship.Kandahari reportedly led a death squad that terrorized locals in Wardak Province, using the A-Team base in Nerkh District, a one-hour drive from Kabul, as a permanent residence.The mutilated body was discovered by ditch diggers about 200 yards from the perimeter of Nerkh base in Wardak Province, the New York Times reported. The base was previously occupied by the A-Team US Special Forces unit, which withdrew in March. Rhe Nerkh base compound is currently occupied by Afghan Special Forces.According to district governor Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, the corpse was found packed in a military-style black body bag. The victim was identified as Sayid Mohammad, a local resident who was allegedly seen being taken to an US base in November 2012.This is not the first time that the partial remains and clothing of a missing person have been found near Nerkh base, Afghan officials said. A dismembered body was previously found in a garbage container just outside the US base.An anonymous Afghan investigator for the Defense Ministry told the NYT that he has a list of names of 17 people who went missing in Nerkh District in Wardak Province between November and December 2012, when Kandahari’s squad conducted operations such as detaining suspects and bringing them to the US Special Forces base.The seized persons were reportedly never seen alive again. Nine of their bodies, including that of Sayid Mohammad, were found; the other eight remain missing.The torture squadThe recently unearthed victim was the same man previously seen in a classified video recording made last year. US officials familiar with the matter said it depicts Mohammad being repeatedly kicked by the chief interpreter at the Nerkh base – Kandahari.Kandahari is on Afghanistan’s most-wanted list for prisoner abuse, torture and murder. Kabul claimed the US sheltered Kandahari; the US Army has denied the accusations.The US Army has not denied that Kandahari was previously on their payroll, but maintains that the torture video was made after he parted with the A-Team to operate a rogue Afghan unit, and that he is not a US citizen. The US Military described Kandahari as a “freelance interpreter” who joined the American Special Forces voluntarily and lived at their base out of gratitude.Over the past year, Kandahari and his henchmen have been seen throughout Wardak Province wearing NATO uniforms while riding on quad bikes in search of alleged insurgents.Precious hangmanLast March, hundreds of Afghans – watched by a considerable number of armed riot police – marched to parliament in Kabul, demanding the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Wardak Province. The demonstrators were infuriated by reports of civilians being tortured and killed; Kandahari’s name first went public amid these demonstrations.Following the protests, Afghan authorities demanded the US deliver the alleged criminal to Kabul. The US refused to turn over Kandahari to Afghan authorities.US Military authorities claimed that Kandahari had escaped, and that they knew nothing about his whereabouts. In response, an infuriated President Hamid Karzai demanded that the US Special Operations forces leave Wardak. A compromise was later reached, and only the infamous A-Team base was removed.An unidentified Afghan investigator told the New York Times that “there is no question” that Kandahari was directly involved in torture and murder, but asks, “Who recruited him, gave him his salary, his weapons? Who kept him under their protection?”The official also expressed doubts that Kandahari could have left the base on his own, since “He was such a criminal that he could not stay one hour outside the base by himself.”US Military officials reported that they conducted thorough investigations into the disappearances and murders “of at least 15 people” in Wardak Province, none of which revealed evidence that American soldiers were involved in such crimes. However, the results of these investigations have not been made public.The treatment of Afghans by US troops and their collaborators has been a perpetual stumbling block for US-Afghan relations; the ‘steal and kill’ case of Kandahari could well be the final straw in the 11-plus years of the Afghan War. …
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The race to succeed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is entering the final stretch, with the list of candidates declared eligible to participate in the June 14 elections having been whittled down to just eight.
The eight – all men – were approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, a 12-member body consisting of six jurists and six theologians, and whose task it is to approve candidates’ nominations and confirm the final election results.
Registration for the country’s 11th presidential election took place from May 7 to 11, with more than 680 candidates putting their names forward. Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei were amongst those who were barred from the ballot by the Guardian Council.
The official election campaign will begin on May 24 and will end on June 13, the day before Iranians cast their votes.
On June 15, the Presidential Commission will announce the official results, which the Guardian Council will either confirm or reject five days later.
The newly-elected president will meet with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei on August 1 before being sworn in on August 3.
The eight candidates
The Guardian Council ruled that Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, Mohsen Rezaee, Saeed Jalili, Ali Akbar Velayati, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Mohammad-Reza Aref, Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Gharazi are eligible to run for presidency.
Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf (born August 23, 1961 in Torqabeh, Razavi Khorasan Province) is a candidate with the Secular Society of Engineers (ISE). A former military and police commander, Ghalibaf is the 54th and current Mayor of Tehran, serving his second term having first been elected in 2005.
Mohsen Rezaee (born on September 9, 1954 in Masjed Soleyman, Khuzestan) is a candidate with the Moderation and Development Party (MDP). An economist and former military commander, he currently serves as the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Before that, Rezaee was the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps chief commander for 16 years.
Saeed Jalili (born September 6, 1965) is a candidate with Front of Islamic Revolution Stability party (FSP). Currently, he serves as the present secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
Ali Akbar Velayati (born June 25, 1945) is a candidate with The Islamic Coalition Party (ICP). An academic and diplomat, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs for more than sixteen years from 1981 to 1997 under Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Presidents Ali Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He is the first and only person to held the post for more than ten years.
Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel (born 1945) is a candidate with the Society of Devotees of the Islamic Revolution party. A philosopher and former chairman of the Iranian parliament, he is the first non-cleric in the post since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Mohammad-Reza Aref (born 1951) is a candidate with the Islamic Iran Participation Front party. Aref is an academic, electrical engineer and professor at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.
Hassan Rouhani (born November 12, 1948) is a candidate with the Combatant Clergy Association party. He has been a member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999, a member of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Expediency Council since 1991, a member of the Supreme National Security Council since 1989 and head of the Center for Strategic Research since 1992.
Mohammad Gharazi (born October 5, 1941 in Isfahan) is an independent candidate. He served as Minister of Petroleum from 1981 to 1985 and Minister of Post from 1985 to 1997. He was also a member of the Iranian Parliament from 1980 to 1984.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
“They can be rescued by today. We will be able to bring them out after we cut seven more iron rods,” rescue official Mohammad Sarwar Hossain said.Rescue operations to find more survivors are expected to continue. However, there are fears that even if survivors are still alive 72 hours after the tragedy, they may be badly dehydrated.An estimated 2,419 survivors have been accounted for. On Saturday, search crews managed to pull 19 survivors out of the rubble, after 40 were found late Friday.”There are many [survivors] still there,” fire official Subrata Sarker told AP.Another rescue worker said he saw 15 people still alive. Many of the trapped workers were so badly injured they needed to be removed within a few hours, and given with dried food, bottled water and oxygen.‘Profits before people’It is unclear how many workers were inside the factory when it collapsed. According to local police, they ordered an evacuation of the building on Tuesday after detecting cracks in the building. However, the bosses of Rana Plaza ignored the order and the building collapsed the next day, on Wednesday morning.“It’s nothing new for Bangladesh,” American trend forecaster and publisher of the Trends Journal, Gerald Celente, told RT.“It’s an international trend that we see growing more and more as profits are put before people. People are more expendable. So it’s just a lot of talk that you hear from these companies in the West, for example, that say they watch the standards going on in the sweat factories around the world. They just show. There’s really no security, really no hard institutions in place that are monitoring these kind of factories,” Celente said. Hundreds of the employees – paid $38 a month to produce low-cost clothing for Western brands – were killed by massive blocks of concrete and mortar falling on them. The top three floors of the eight-story Rana Plaza, which employed 3,122 workers, were illegally constructed, according to media reports. An arrest warrant has been issued for the owner of the factory, Mohammed Sohel Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front. His wife has been detained for questioning. Rana’s arrest was reportedly ordered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.‘It felt like I was in hell’”It was so hot, I could hardly breathe, there was no food and water. When I regained my senses I found myself in this hospital bed,” Marina Begum told reporters while in hospital. The 22-year-old survivor was trapped inside the collapsed factory for three days. “It felt like I was in hell,” she added.”We must salute the common people who dared to enter the wreckage to rescue them, as even our professionals didn’t dare to take the risk,” Mizanur Rahman, deputy director of the fire service, told Reuters. Fears turned to grief for many as they anxiously awaited news of their loved ones. Abul Basar burst into tears over his missing wife, who worked in one of the garment factories. “My son says that his mother will come back some day, she must return,” he told AP. Rescue teams went in from seven entry points gouged into the rubble, often returning with badly decomposed bodies covered in cloth and plastic. The bodies were kept at a nearby school before being handed over to relatives armed with photos of their missing family members.North American and European chains, including British retailer Primark, acknowledged they were supplied by factories in the Rana Plaza building. Many other retailers distanced themselves from the disaster, saying they were not involved with the factories at the time of the collapse or had not recently ordered garments from them, AP reported.Wednesday’s collapse was the third major industrial incident in five months in Bangladesh, raising concerns about worker safety and low wages in the South Asian country, which is one of the largest exporters of garments in the world after China and Italy. A reported 60 percent of Bangladeshi garment exports are to Europe.Public outrage over the poor working conditions of Bangladesh’s 3.6 million garment workers, most of whom are reportedly women, has triggered a wave of protests.Hundreds took to the streets on Saturday, burning cars and disrupting traffic as police formed a cordon around the site of the tragedy. The protests reportedly spread outside Savar, the Dhaka suburb where the collapse occurred. …
The Afghan president lashed out at both the ISAF and Taliban while holding a meeting with members of a commission investigating the incident in the Shigal district of Kunar province, a major infiltration route for insurgents based in northwestern Pakistan.”No Afghan security forces, under any circumstances, can ask for foreigners’ planes to carry out operations on our homes and villages,” Karzai said at a press conference in February after another deadly airstrike caused civilian casualties in Kunar province.Karzai likewise condemned the insurgents: “As the reports confirm that armed Taliban were there in the area, we strongly condemn the use of civilians and their homes as shields.”On April 6, an operation to arrest two Taliban commanders – Qari Mohammad Hanif and Ali Khan – went awry after an Afghan intelligence service squad encountered fierce resistance. The ground forces came under heavy fire as they attempted to retreat, and a US civilian adviser accompanying the squad was shot and killed.The squad requested air support, reportedly to evacuate the body, despite Karzai’s earlier injunction against ISAF air support. Airstrikes launched by the US-led coalition the continued “for hours,” witnesses said, including in areas near civilian houses where insurgents were allegedly taking refuge.Residents’ wood and clay houses collapsed under the shockwaves of bomb explosions – the victims likely died buried under the rubble, rather than from bomb fragments.Kabul launched an investigation into the incident, led by a government delegation and 75 tribal elders from the region. The results of the inquiry saw number of casualties raised from the previously reported 11 to 17: One local man, four women and 12 children.The Afghan president’s ban on airstrikes was issued earlier for the country’s defense and interior ministries, and the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence agency. “During your operations, do not call for air support from international forces during operations on residential areas,” the directive states.The squad violated this mandate by requesting air support. However, the ISAF can still carry out airstrikes on its own accord.“We do not accept the conduct of any air strike on residential areas under any name and for any purpose whatsoever,” the Afghan presidential media office said. Karzai has ordered aid be allocated to the families affected by the incident.Though Afghan troops have become increasingly independent in combat operations against Taliban militants, they still rely on the ISAF’s firepower and battle experience. Once the main ISAF forces are withdrawn in 2014, the Afghan army and law enforcement will have to do deal insurgents without air support.Atta Mohammad Noor, the Governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, recently said in an interview with TOLOnews that killing civilians is the biggest mistake the ISAF makes in Afghanistan. Noor, who is expected to become a major candidate in the 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan, stressed that this effectively nullifies efforts to increase security in Afghanistan. …
http://www.youtube.com/v/ARGvoJCY6dc?version=3&f=videos&app=youtube_gdata Visit site: Syrians mourn death of prominent cleric
Reporters Without Borders urges the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in Iran when it takes a vote on Iran this week. “The UN Human Rights Council must apply sanctions against Iran for the sake of the physical safety of its journalists and freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By renewing the Special Representative’s mandate, the Council will help defend journalists who are censored, (…) …