Monday, January 26, 2015

IS hacks MAS website?

Malaysia Airlines official website is hacked!

As at 1.30pm today, experts were still trying to revive it, and a group proclaiming support for the Islamic State group is believed to be behind it.

But why did they choose Malaysia Airlines?

The airline's site was changed, at first with a message saying "404 - Plane Not Found" and that it was "Hacked by Cyber Caliphate". The browser tab for the website said "ISIS will prevail".

The national carrier is trying to recover from two disasters last year, including the disappearance of Flight 370, which authorities believed crashed 1,100 miles off Australia's west coast.

The website was later changed to a picture of a lizard, with the ISIS reference removed and the claim of responsibility changed to "Lizard Squad - Official Cyber Caliphate".

The Lizard Squad group last year claimed it was behind attacks on Sony's online PlayStation network and Microsoft's Xbox site.

In August, it also tweeted to American Airlines that there might be explosives on a plane carrying the president of Sony Online Entertainment, which makes video games, forcing the flight to be diverted.

Malaysia Airlines said that its domain name system was "compromised" and users were being redirected to the hacker group's website. It said it will take up to 22 hours to restore the website.

The Evil's Pact

The article below testifies how 'dirty' the US administration under Barack Obama is. Dubbed 'the Evil's Pact', it is about a 'detainees exchange' that shocked many in the country, including those at the White House.

An American couple’s freedom may have come at a steep price: the release of a convicted terrorist from Supermax prison!

Before he was released from a U.S. maximum-security prison last week, a confessed al Qaeda sleeper agent was offered up in a potential prisoner swap that would have freed two Americans held abroad.

The Daily Beast has learned that the proposal was floated in July 2014 to the then-U.S. ambassador in Qatar by an individual acting on behalf of that country’s attorney general. According to two individuals with direct knowledge of the case, the proposition was made shortly after the Obama administration traded five Taliban fighters for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Those fighters were also sent to Qatar, where they’re to remain under government watch until later this year. U.S. officials have said they’re at risk of plotting further attacks against the United States.

The proposed swap involving the al Qaeda agent, Ali Saleh Al-Marri, raises troubling questions about whether the Bergdahl trade opened a kind of Pandora’s box, signaling to foreign governments that they can pressure the United States to make concessions on terrorism by trading American prisoners abroad for dangerous extremists held in the United States.

“I believe we must examine the administration’s decision in the case of Al-Marri (pic) and determine if his release is connected to negotiations of any kind,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, a frequent critic of the Obama administration’s hostage negotiations, wrote Thursday in a letter to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the House Armed Services Committee chairman.

Governments' hostage negotiations policies are once again taking center stage after ISIS released a photograph Saturday showing the apparent beheading of Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese men the group is holding.

Unexpectedly, ISIS has now dropped an earlier demand of $200 million ransom and says it will free the remaining hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, in exchange for the release of Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber who's imprisoned in Jordan for her role in an attack on three hotels in Amman in 2005, which killed 60 people.

ISIS has made other demands for freeing prisoners, including a Pakistani woman held in the United Sates, Aafia Siddiqui, known in counterterrorism circles as "Lady Al Qaeda," who was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Siddiqui has been used as a bargaining chip in other negotiations, as well.

In 2012, Pakistani officials offered to try and win the release of Bergdahl if the United States would free Siddiqui. The Obama administration quickly rejected the idea because releasing her would be seen as offering concessions to terrorist groups and put a potentially dangerous woman back on the streets, according to current and former administration officials.

In his letter, Hunter accused the administration of failing to pursue other avenues for freeing Americans abroad and relying on prisoner releases or exchanges, “which are often counter to U.S. security interests, for leverage in negotiations.”

The congressman also alluded to other potential swaps, saying it’s his understanding that “other foreign nationals” who are still in U.S. custody “have also been named as potential figures of interest in other cases, with Qatar at the forefront.”

Qatar has emerged as a go-between in various hostage negotiations. It agreed to take custody of the five Taliban fighters for a period of one year after Bergdahl’s release. And sources close to efforts to free other Americans held abroad said that Qatar facilitated a ransom payment to help free journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who was held for two years by al Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

Hunter helped spur the administration to review its hostage negotiation policy, which is widely seen by experts and family members of Americans held abroad as dysfunctional.

The proposal to trade Al-Marri came from an individual described by one source as a “government contractor” and close friend of Qatar’s attorney general, Ali Bin Mohsen Bin Fetais Al Marri, who is said to be a relative of the confessed terrorist.

The emissary met with the then-U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Susan Ziadeh, and raised the idea of trading Al-Marri for Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple who’d been living in Qatar and were convicted in the still-unexplained death of their adopted daughter, in what was widely criticized by human-rights groups and legal experts as an unfair show trial.

“Qatari government officials told the Huang team that they floated the idea of a prisoner swap to the U.S. ambassador,” Richard Grenell, a former U.S. diplomat who worked on the Huang case, told The Daily Beast. That account was corroborated by a second source.

A State Department spokesman said that “no such proposal was ever on the table,” and noted that Al-Marri was eventually released from prison and sent home to Qatar as scheduled “and not as the result of any U.S.-Qatari agreement.” Asked for further clarification on whether the swap was raised as described and what the U.S. reaction was, the spokesman declined to comment further. The Qatari embassy in Washington didn’t respond to inquiries from The Daily Beast.

A second administration official pushed back on the idea that Al-Marri’s release was a quid pro quo for freeing the Huangs, who were eventually allowed to leave Qatar in December after their conviction was overturned.

“Al-Marri’s release happened as a matter of course, as a result of his court-imposed sentence being completed,” the administration official said. Al-Marri was given a “good conduct release” from the “supermax” facility in Florence, Colorado, on Jan. 16, after serving 87 percent of his 100-month sentence, said a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons.

He’d accumulated credit for good behavior while in prison and time already served in jail while awaiting trial, which is why he didn’t serve the remainder of his time.

Administration officials characterized Al-Marri’s release as routine. But Al-Marri was no ordinary prisoner. At one time, he was the only so-called enemy combatant being held on U.S. soil, a status that treated him more like solider in a war than an ordinary criminal.

Al-Marri’s release—timely or otherwise—has led to criticism that the Obama administration is repatriating a dangerous man who could help plan more attacks. An individual with knowledge of Al-Marri’s release said President Obama played no role in the process.

Al-Marri was first detained by U.S. authorities in December 2001 at his home in Peoria, Illinois, having arrived in the U.S. on a student visa. Authorities suspected that Al-Marri, who has dual citizenship in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, had ties to al Qaeda. But his future dramatically changed when was declared an enemy combatant in June 2003 and then transferred into military custody.

It turns out that Al-Marri may have been more valuable as a source of intelligence about other terrorist plots than for anything he knew about the 9/11 attacks. Much of the information that U.S. officials have on his plans came from the brutal interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, which included waterboarding.

“Over three quarters of the intelligence reports that the FBI cited in a paper assessing the activities of [Al-Marri] and explaining the reach of al Qaeda’s network in the U.S. were sourced to” Mohammed, the CIA stated in its written response to a blistering report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the so-called torture program. “Prior to [Mohammed’s] information, CIA and the FBI were aware of Al-Marri’s links to al Qaeda but lacked the detail to more fully understand al Qaeda’s plans for him.”

That may explain why U.S. officials were reluctant to give Al-Marri a criminal trial, where he could have questioned the credibility of the evidence Mohammed provided while being tortured and exposed the details of the CIA’s interrogation program.

Al-Marri was held in a naval brig for more than five years, and his lawyers have claimed he was subjected to harsh and intimidating treatment. Al-Marri’s case took yet another odd turn when, early in the Obama administration, he was transferred back into federal court and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to aid al Qaeda.

Back in Qatar, where Al-Marri has been reunited with his family, he’s being given a hero’s welcome. Members of the public have been invited to a celebration in Al-Marri’s honor held just down the street from a football stadium that will host the 2022 World Cup, said David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“Several prominent Qatari personalities welcomed Al-Marri home with open arms. That trend has continued, with a longtime board member of Al Jazeera declaring on her personal Twitter page that ‘We congratulate the family of Ali bin Kahlah Al-Marri on his return,’” Weinberg told The Daily Beast.

Al-Marri may have other powerful friends in Qatar, in addition to the attorney general. Weinberg noted that in U.S. court documents, Al-Marri is said to have spent nearly a decade working as a “key person” in the audit department of Qatar Islamic Bank, and then as a senior auditor for the government of Qatar.

Sending a known moneyman to a country widely seen as a major financial hub for terrorist groups, instead of to Saudi Arabia, where he also has citizenship, “was a big missed opportunity for U.S. policy,” Weinberg said.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Malays too kill each other, sir!

CYBERJAYA, Jan 24 ― Muslims are doing the US and Israel a favour every time they kill one of their own, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today as he called for unity among Islam’s followers to push for global recognition of a Palestinian state.

He said Muslims today are too preoccupied with revenge and killing each other over ideological differences, that they have forgotten that the Quran calls for brotherhood among all the faithful.
“Currently we are trying to bring down governments, we are fighting each other, and we are accusing each other of not being Islamic enough, just so that we can murder them.

“Every time a Muslim kills another Muslim, the Israelis and Americans cheer because we are doing their work for them. We should realise that and stop fighting each other,” he said in his keynote address at the launch of a US$1 billion (RM3.6 billion) fund raiser to rebuild Gaza.

(Dear Tun, Muslims (the Malays) in Malaysia too are already 'killing each other' over politics, and the non-Malays seem to be 'enjoying it', don't you agree? If no effort is taken to patch things up, I personally don't see any future for Umno, which itself is facing internal bickering. 'Ketuanan Melayu', Islam and even the Federal Constitution are open to criticism and sarcasm. Where are the Malays leading to?)
Dr Mahathir, long a critic of US foreign policy, claimed that the Muslim world in its current state of disunity is unable to counter the West’s “hypocrisy of the highest order” in dealing with terrorism and human rights.
He accused Israel and its western backers of being “state terrorists” responsible for the killing of 200,000 Palestinians, describing it as a far worse act of terrorism compared to the deadly attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo earlier this month.
The retired prime minister, however, said that the Muslim world lacks the military prowess to match their oppressors and instead need to broaden their diplomatic clout to pressure Israel and its allies to end the siege on Gaza.
Dr Mahathir said there has been a “change of heart” among some former supporters of Israel in Europe, and urged Muslims to do all they can to convince their new “friends” to help further the cause for Palestine.
“If our objective is to fight for freedom for the Palestinians, for the people of Gaza and for Islam, we should avoid fighting each other. We should unite in order to struggle for this objective.
“And the objective cannot be won unless we have a strategy, unless we have a plan. It is not about revenge, it is not an eye for an eye, it is not about one man’s murder to be atoned by another man’s murder.
“We are not here to take revenge, we are here to unite and to struggle for the freedom of the people of Gaza, Palestine and in fact, the Muslim world,” he said.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tut tut! Tut tut!

'Tut tut' for KL? You must be kidding.

Before making such a suggestion, look at the road system in the city, the traffic congestions and the attitude of Malaysian drivers. And don't forget, our enforcement!

Remember the days (in late 1970s and early 1980s) of the 'bas mini'? They 'swamped' the roads and jammed all corners of KL. But it was because our public transport system was bad enough... and it is still not better today except for the LRT and Monorel systems.

Finding solutions for a cheaper public transport will get to nowhere. Some politicians have interest in it, for example the taxi permits. Are the fares going down on the back of declining petrol prices?
KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) today said the idea to introduce the motorised tricycle popularly known as the "tuk tuk" by the end of the year was just a suggestion to provoke discussion among the public about cheaper alternatives to public transport.
"We just said that it was an interesting idea because other Asean cities have introduced it," SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said.
"We just thought that it would be an interesting form of para-transit. We must get used to public discussion, when we (SPAD) come out with any statement, we can't just decide, we do not have the power, we just want to provoke discussion among the public," he said, adding that the prime minister had already advised SPAD to engage the public when implementing any transport programme.
"That's what we do, we engage the public, we will hear and we will discuss," he said, adding that to actually implement this would take a long time because there would have to be licences issued for the vehicles and the drivers besides getting approval of the Road Transport Department (JPJ).
Syed Hamid was speaking to the press after a contract signing ceremony between SPAD, Cityliner Sdn Bhd and MARA Liner Sdn Bhd to roll out new stage bus services in Seremban and Kangar respectively, thus providing the people with more efficient and reliable services.
Plans are also in place to introduce the services in Ipoh, Kuala Terengganu and Kuching by this year through a RM100 million investment by the government.
The investment will improve access across these five cities, where buses remain the backbone of public transportation.
'Tut tut' is not practical here, bro. So, don't turn yourself into a fool by making such a suggestion. The public are laughing at you.

Much effort was done to offer a cheaper public transport in the city. However, the bus is still the lowest but the fares went spiralling over the last ten years due to oil prices and bureaucratic incompetency.

When did we launch the 'car pool' campaign? More than 20 years ago but not many people responded to it positively. Why? Not easy for Malaysians to accept a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh and others in one car. Admit it!

Even 'tut tut' cannot solve our problem since most parts of KL were built on 'build the buildings, roads later' concept. Can't blame them but even converting some roads into one-way system failed to help.

With tolls every 'here and there' due to more highways being erected to ease traffic jams, KL is still 'huru hara' with massive congestions, even on weekends. We can only hope the MRT mega project will help.

The issue here is cheap transport. The big question is, who wants to 'rugi'? We are not a four-season nation to introduce bicycles like Beijing or Tokyo. Most Malaysians living in KL are individualistic and proud of their car, and they enjoy driving to work.

How much does a 'tut tut' cost? About RM15,000-RM20,000? Who wants to invest and how many of it will be sufficient in KL? Maybe 20,000 units!

Unless the government or any 'orang kaya' in the Cabinet is willing to come up with the money, subsidise the operators, pay wages to the 'tut tut' drivers and charge a fare of only RM1, then I believe it will provide a little logic!

If someone is to invest million of ringgit for cheap fare, he must be willing to become a 'botak'!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hadi warns DAP of another May 13

I don't like what PAS president Hadi Awang said today about the possibility of another 'May 13' racial riot.

He was warning DAP - its ally in Pakatan Rakyat - that if the Chinese-based party keeps pushing for local government elections, it might incite the Malay wrath, and that could translate into a 'national disaster'.

However, I am of the opinion that DAP should consider what Hadi said. (I don't understand also why Hadi must come up with such a reminder).
KUALA LUMPUR: PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who leads an Islamic party, mentioned the taboo word “race” on Friday and claimed that there would be a repeat May 13 if the DAP kept pushing for local government elections. On 13 May, 1969, three days after a General Election where the Opposition did quite well, race riots broke out, the rest of the election in Sabah and Sarawak were cancelled and Parliament was suspended.
Local government is the third and bottom tier in a Federal system which calls for power-sharing, the other two tiers being the Federal Government and the state governments.
Hadi accused the DAP, its partner in the Pakatan Rakyat along with PKR, of unilaterally pushing for local elections to pander to its votebank in urban and semi-urban areas.
“We cannot be thinking of politics and economic domination in a mixed society,” said Hadi in taking a swipe at DAP in vague and couched terms without explaining how not holding local elections will strengthen democracy in the country. “Local elections will widen the urban-rural gap and trigger instability.”
If local government elections are held, he claimed that the urban areas will be getting the bulk of public funds while the rural areas inhabited by Malays, the estates where Indians reside and Orang Asli areas will be left out. “This would worsen racial inequality,” said Hadi.
PAS and DAP have crossed swords on the former’s bid to introduce in Kelantan.
Local government elections were suspended in 1965 by then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who used the Indonesian Konfrantasi (policy of confronting Malaysia as a neo-colonialist creation) as an excuse. He pledged to restore local elections but this was never carried out.
In August last year, the Federal Court turned down the Penang Government’s bid to hold local elections. DAP has pledged to pursue its fight for local government elections.
But do Malaysians want another dark day? I doubt it unless those 'mangkuk' politicians keep igniting race politics.

I was nine when May 13 broke out, and I remember how ugly and terrifying it was. If another one breaks out, it could be worse!

Why can't our politicians focus on how to help develop the nation and prosper the rakyat instead of subscribing to filthy politics? Even those who self-proclaimed as 'moderates' are not moderate after all...they are bias too!

King Abdullah dies

My condolences and deepest sympathy to the peoples of Saudi Arabia for the passing of King Abdullah today, and I believe our government will send a representative to Riyadh for the burial.

Allahyarham, the powerful US ally who joined Washington's fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, was 90.

More than his guarded and hidebound predecessors, Abdullah assertively threw his oil-rich nation's weight behind trying to shape the Middle East. His priority was to counter the influence of rival, mainly Shiite Iran wherever it tried to make advances. He and fellow Sunni Arab monarchs also staunchly opposed the Middle East's wave of pro-democracy uprisings, seeing them as a threat to stability and their own rule.

He backed Sunni Muslim factions against Tehran's allies in several countries, but in Lebanon for example, the policy failed to stop Iranian-backed Hezbollah from gaining the upper hand.

And Tehran and Riyadh's colliding ambitions stoked proxy conflicts around the region that enflamed Sunni-Shiite hatreds -- most horrifically in Syria's civil war, where the two countries backed opposing sides. Those conflicts in turn hiked Sunni militancy that returned to threaten Saudi Arabia.

And while the king maintained the historically close alliance with Washington, there were frictions as he sought to put those relations on Saudi Arabia's terms. He was constantly frustrated by Washington's failure to broker a settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

He also pushed the Obama administration to take a tougher stand against Iran and to more strongly back the mainly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Abdullah's death was announced on Saudi state TV by a presenter who said the king died at 1 a.m. on Friday. His successor was announced as 79-year-old half-brother, Prince Salman, according to a Royal Court statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency. Salman was Abdullah's crown prince and had recently taken on some of the ailing king's responsibilities.

Abdullah was born in Riyadh in 1924, one of the dozens of sons of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. Like all Abdul-Aziz's sons, Abdullah had only rudimentary education. Tall and heavyset, he felt more at home in the Nejd, the kingdom's desert heartland, riding stallions and hunting with falcons.

His strict upbringing was exemplified by three days he spent in prison as a young man as punishment by his father for failing to give his seat to a visitor, a violation of Bedouin hospitality.

Abdullah was selected as crown prince in 1982 on the day his half-brother Fahd ascended to the throne. The decision was challenged by a full brother of Fahd, Prince Sultan, who wanted the title for himself. But the family eventually closed ranks behind Abdullah to prevent splits.

Abdullah became de facto ruler in 1995 when a stroke incapacitated Fahd. Abdullah was believed to have long rankled at the closeness of the alliance with the United States, and as regent he pressed Washington to withdraw the troops it had deployed in the kingdom since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. finally did so in 2003.

When President George W. Bush came to office, Abdullah again showed his readiness to push against his U.S. allies.

In 2000, Abdullah convinced the Arab League to approve an unprecedented offer that all Arab states would agree to peace with Israel if it withdrew from lands it captured in 1967. The next year, he sent his ambassador in Washington to tell the Bush administration that it was too unquestioningly biased in favour of Israel and that the kingdom would from now on pursue its own interests apart from Washington's.

Alarmed by the prospect of a rift, Bush soon after advocated for the first time the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The next month, the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks took place in the United States, and Abdullah had to steer the alliance through the resulting criticism. The kingdom was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers, and many pointed out that the baseline ideology for al-Qaida and other groups stemmed from Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

When al-Qaida militants in 2003 began a wave of violence in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy, Abdullah cracked down hard. For the next three years, security forces battled militants, finally forcing them to flee to neighbouring Yemen. There, they created a new al-Qaida branch, and Saudi Arabia has played a behind-the-scenes role in fighting it.

The tougher line helped affirm Abdullah's commitment to fighting al-Qaida. He paid two visits to Bush -- in 2002 and 2005 -- at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

When Fahd died in 2005, Abdullah officially rose to the throne. He then began to more openly push his agenda.

His aim at home was to modernize the kingdom to face the future. One of the world's largest oil exporters, Saudi Arabia is fabulously wealthy, but there are deep disparities in wealth and a burgeoning youth population in need of jobs, housing and education.

More than half the current population of 20 million is under the age of 25. For Abdullah, that meant building a more skilled workforce and opening up greater room for women to participate. He was a strong supporter of education, building universities at home and increasing scholarships abroad for Saudi students.

Abdullah for the first time gave women seats on the Shura Council, an unelected body that advises the king and government. He promised women would be able to vote and run in 2015 elections for municipal councils, the only elections held in the country.

He appointed the first female deputy minister in a 2009. Two Saudi female athletes competed in the Olympics for the first time in 2012, and a small handful of women were granted licenses to work as lawyers during his rule.

One of his most ambitious projects was a Western-style university that bears his name, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which opened in 2009. Men and women share classrooms and study together inside the campus, a major departure in a country where even small talk between the sexes in public can bring a warning from the morality police.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Looks like me, sounds like me...may not be me"

I like it. Call it 'quote of the day'!

"It looks like me, sounds like may not be me".

That's what Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali told Shah Alam High Court today about a video clip circulated in 2007 that prompted some parties to label him 'a racist'.

About three years ago, I remember Anwar Ibrahim saying the same line about a 'XXX' video clip featuring someone 'who looks like him'. Only an MCA leader was a true gentleman enough to admit it was him in the sex video leaked about 10 years ago. 
SHAH ALAM: Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali today parroted an infamous lawyer's testimony during a royal commission of inquiry about a controversial video clip that was circulated in 2007, when he claimed that a character in the recording was not him although it sounded and looked like him.
"It looks like me, sounds like me, but the (person's) mouth movement is not consistent with what is being said, so it may not be me," said Ibrahim when he testified in his defamation suit against theSun at the High Court today.
"I disagree that it is me," he said in answer to theSun's counsel Himahlini Ramalingam when she cross-examined him about the video which was shown in court today, where the central character was uttering racist remarks against Indians and Chinese during a speech.
The video had been introduced as evidence by the defence in the suit, where Ibrahim claimed theSun had defamed him in an article with the heading "Sultan keeps Perkasa guessing on invitation", published on March 17, 2010.
He had named theSun's then managing editor, Chong Cheng Hai, and then deputy editor (special reports and investigations) Terence Fernandez, and the publisher Sun Media Corporation Sdn Bhd as defendants.
The article was about whether the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, was going to grace the launch of Perkasa's Selangor chapter on March 27, 2010 as the sultan had reportedly remained non-committal despite pleas by Ibrahim.
The article also said the ruler was displeased that the invitation to the event stated that he would be officiating at the launch when the palace had not responded officially.
In his statement of claim, Ibrahim said the article defamed him as it had portrayed him as a chauvinist and extremist in championing the rights of the Malays.
Ibrahim claimed that various articles that had been published quoting him on various occasions, were either inaccurate or taken out of context.
Let the court decide.