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Australia nabs hundreds in global crackdown on organised crime | Cybercrime News

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A total of 224 people were arrested and 104 firearms seized in Australia while at least 35 people were arrested in New Zealand.

Australian police have arrested more than 200 people involved in organised crime after infiltrating an encrypted messaging app that opened up nearly 25 million messages about “industrial-scale” drug imports and murder plots, officials said.

They announced on Tuesday that the joint operation between Australia and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which began in 2018, had ensnared criminals involved in the global drugs trade in Australia, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

Dubbed “Operation Trojan Shield”, forces in 16 countries monitored as members of the mafia, Asian crime syndicates and outlawed motorcycle gangs discussed drug deals, money laundering and even gangland hits.

Australia has struck “a heavy blow against organised crime – not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world. This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Australia did not detail any arrests in other countries but said Interpol and the FBI would hold news conferences later on Tuesday.

The plan, which was conceived by Australian law officers and the FBI in 2018, saw officials in the US take control of a messaging app called AN0M, which authorities said was popular with organised criminals.

When an Australian underworld figure distributed the app to his associates as a secure means to communicate, law enforcement authorities could monitor all their messages.

“We have been in the back pockets of organised crime,” Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw told reporters at the same press briefing.

“All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered.”

‘Murder plot’

Kershaw said one murder plot involved plans to attack a café with a machine gun, while a family of five was also targeted – attacks the authorities said they were able to prevent.

A total of 224 people were arrested on Monday and 104 firearms seized as well as almost 45 million Australian dollars ($34.9 million) in cash.

A total of 525 charges have already been laid but authorities expect more in the coming weeks.

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan gives a presentation after a press conference in Sydney following the arrests [David Gray/AFP]

As well as securing the ability to decrypt messages in real-time, the FBI and others are said to have launched an elaborate plot to encourage suspected criminals to use AN0M cryptophones.

The devices had no email, call or GPS services and could only message other AN0M phones, They could only be bought on the black market and required a code from an existing user to access.

Australian media reported that agencies helped distribute the phones to known suspects – including an Australian fugitive drug boss on the run in Turkey – in a bid to gain trust.

“Criminals needed to know a criminal to get a device,” the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

‘Industrial scale’

New Zealand Police said it was the “world’s most sophisticated law enforcement action against organised crime to date”.

According to a statement by the New Zealand police, more than 300 authorities executed 37 warrants starting last Monday.

Detective Superintendent Greg Williams said 35 people had been arrested across the country so far on 900 “serious drug dealing, money laundering and other conspiracy-type charges” and were due to appear in court Tuesday.

Police in New Zealand seized methamphetamines, firearms, and millions of dollars in cash and assets during the operation.

“Warrants are coming in and we expect a number of other arrests to be undertaken,” Williams told reporters in Auckland.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Iran says it has broad agreement with the US on lifting sanctions | Boycott Divest and Sanctions News

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The landmark accord has been delayed because there are some sticking points, but not an impasse, Iran said.

By Bloomberg

Iran said it has reached a broad agreement with the U.S. over the lifting of sanctions on its industrial sectors, including energy, but warned there was “very little time left” for world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, didn’t give more detail on the potential easing of trade restrictions, which have all but prevented the Islamic Republic from exporting oil and battered its economy. The landmark accord was being delayed because there are still sticking points, he told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

Oil markets are closely watching the negotiations, which are taking place in Vienna, for any clues as to when the OPEC member will be able to resume crude sales and how quickly Washington will allow it to ramp up production.

“Some minute technical, political, legal and practical issues remain,” Khatibzadeh said. “No task was impossible for negotiators” and there’s no impasse, he said.

Brent crude rose 1% to $73.43 a barrel at 8:50 a.m. in London, extending its gain this year to 42%. Traders have pushed back their estimates for Iran’s oil comeback as the talks drag on.

World powers are trying to revive the 2015 agreement that the U.S. abandoned three years ago. It restricted Tehran’s atomic activities in return for sanctions relief.

On Saturday, Iran’s lead envoy in Vienna, Abbas Araghchi, said a deal was unlikely before presidential elections in his country this Friday.

President Hassan Rouhani — who negotiated the original deal in 2015 — is due to leave office in August after serving two terms. He is widely expected to be replaced by Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric generally seen as hostile to engaging with the U.S.

Still, a government spokesman said last week that the decision to try to resuscitate the accord was made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and won’t be affected by Rouhani’s departure.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Who’s who in Israel’s new patchwork coalition government | Middle East News

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Israeli prime minister came to an end as the country’s parliament on Sunday approved a new coalition government led by right-wing nationalist leader Naftali Bennett.

The new government, a hodgepodge of political parties, has little in common other than a desire to unseat now-former Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The coalition spans from the far-left to the far-right and includes for the first time a small party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for 21 percent of the country’s population.

Analysts say it is expected to focus mostly on economic and social issues rather than risk exposing internal rifts by trying to address major diplomatic issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian leaders have dismissed the change in government, saying new the Israeli prime minister will likely pursue the same right-wing agenda as his predecessor.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued said it was “inaccurate” to call Bennett’s coalition government a “government of change” unless there was a significant shift in its position on the Palestinian right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Here are the leaders who will be leading the new government:

Naftali Bennett – prime minister

Naftali Bennett will serve as Israel’s prime minister for two years until he is replaced by Yair Lapid [Fiel: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Bennett leads the ultranationalist Yamina (Rightwards) party that champions illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A former Netanyahu ally, Bennett has defended his decision to join the new coalition to save the country from a period of political turmoil that could otherwise see a fifth election in just over two years. He served in previous Netanyahu-led governments, most recently as defence minister.

He is opposed to Palestinian independence and strongly supports illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and much of the international community see as a major obstacle to peace. Settlements are illegal under international law.

The Israeli leader has in the past called for the annexation of the occupied West Bank but analysts believe that plan seems unfeasible, given his new centrist and leftist partners.

Bennett, who made a fortune in Israeli high-tech before entering politics in 2013, is known to be ultra-liberal on the economy.

The new prime minister has expressed opposition to reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. And in his speech in the Knesset after winning the vote, he vowed to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy towards Iran.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Under the coalition deal, Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years and until he is replaced by Yair Lapid. He will be the country’s first leader to wear a kippah, a skullcap worn by Orthodox Jews.

Yair Lapid – foreign minister

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid heads the Yesh Atid party [File: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP]

Yair Lapid heads the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party and was the architect behind the new government. His party is the biggest in the coalition but he agreed to share power with Bennett to secure a parliamentary majority.

He quit his job as a TV anchor in 2012 and formed his own party, running on the promise to ease financial pressures on the middle class. He also seeks to end many of the state-funded privileges enjoyed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, a long-running source of anger for many secular Israelis.

He initially served as finance minister before moving to the opposition, which he led until Sunday.

Lapid will serve as foreign minister for two years and then take over as prime minister until the end of the government, provided it lasts that long.

Benny Gantz – defence minister

Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz is also the leader of the Blue and White party [File: Jalaa Marey/AFP]

Just two years ago Gantz, a former military chief heading the centrist Blue and White party, was the opposition’s best hope to unseat Netanyahu.

He came closer than other contenders to toppling Netanyahu in an unprecedented three elections between April 2019 to March 2020, preventing the former prime minister from forming a governing bloc of right-wing and religious parties.

But he agreed to join Netanyahu in a “unity” government last April, a decision that angered many of his supporters.

He will be a part of the new coalition, remaining in the post of defence minister that he held under Netanyahu.

Avigdor Lieberman – finance minister

Israel’s Minister of Finance Avigdor Lieberman leads the Yisrael Beitenu party [File: Ammar Awad/Reuters]

A far-right immigrant from Moldova who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, Lieberman has been a political wildcard over the past decade. He has joined Netanyahu governments, including as defence minister, but also quit.

As finance minister, he will have to rein in a budget deficit that ballooned during the coronavirus crisis.

He has also said he will try to change the status quo between the government and Israel’s politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority, which is a mainstay of Netanyahu’s outgoing government.

The ultra-Orthodox community has low participation rates in the workforce and relies heavily on government handouts while focusing on religious studies. Lieberman has said he will work to integrate them more into the economy.

Gideon Sa’ar – justice minister

Likud party member Gidon Saar was the main rival of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu [File: Abir Sultan/EPA]

Gideon Sa’ar was Netanyahu’s main rival within Likud, but the former prime minister did his best to keep him out of the spotlight and away from the highest-level portfolios. Frustrated, Sa’ar launched a failed leadership bid then spun off his own party.

As head of the New Hope party, Saar will be bumped up to justice minister, where he will oversee the legal system and become a member of the security cabinet.

Mansour Abbas – deputy prime minister

Mansour Abbas is the leader of the United Arab list [File: Abir Sultan/AFP]

Abbas’s small United Arab List will be the first party in an Israeli government to be drawn from Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

He split with other Palestinian politicians who prefer to remain outside government and cast aside differences with Bennett and other right-wingers to tip the scales against Netanyahu.

Abbas is expected to serve as a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office. He aims to negotiate a big increase in government spending in Palestinian towns and villages.

But his presence is a potentially destabilising factor. He has been criticised by Palestinians for agreeing to support an Israeli government while Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories.

Addressing these tensions, Abbas told the Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday: “There will be difficult decisions to be made, including security decisions. We have to juggle our identity as Palestinian Arabs and citizens of the State of Israel, between civil and nationalistic aspects.”

 



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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COVID-19: Ex Judiciary Secretary, Kagole Kivumbi Dies

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Former Secretary to the Judiciary, Mr Kagole Kivumbi Expedito, has succumbed to COVID-19.

He was 58 years-old.

Judiciary’s Principal Communications Officer, Solomon Muyita said Kagole “died on Sunday at Le Memorial Medical Services at Kitiko-Lubowa, Kigo Road”.

He had been admitted in critical condition, according to relatives.

Kagole was forced out of office for alleged misappropriation of funds according to the Auditor General’s report for the Financial Year 2017/2018.

He was the fourth Secretary to the Judiciary.

He came from the Judicial Service Commission, one of the 18 Justice, Law and Order Sector Institutions, where he was accounting officer for seven years.

Despite his mistakes, Kagole was hailed for the extensive revamp of the High Court headquarters carried out between 2017 and 2018.

This encompassed renovation and painting works on the over 80-year-old building as well as the refurbishing and renovating its places of convenience.

Kampala High Court building/Judiciary Head Quarters was in June 2018 fitted with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV )cameras in a move to boost security at the building located in the city centre.

The post COVID-19: Ex Judiciary Secretary, Kagole Kivumbi Dies first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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