Senior US officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on US and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than previously estimated. \nWhen foreign fighters and the network of a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are counted with home-grown insurgents, the core of the resistance numbers between 8,000 and 12,000 people, a tally that grows to more than 20,000 when active sympathizers or covert accomplices are included, the officials said. \nThese estimates contrast sharply with earlier intelligence reports, in which the number of insurgents have varied from as few as 2,000 to a maximum of 7,000 fighters. The revised estimate is influencing the military campaign in Iraq, but has not prompted a wholesale review of the strategy, officials said. \nIn recent interviews with the New York Times, military and other government officials in Iraq and Washington said that the core of the Iraqi insurgency now consists of as many as 50 militant cells that draw on "unlimited money" from an underground financial network run by former Baath Party leaders and former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's relatives. \nTheir financing is supplemented in great part by wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities that funnel large sums of cash through Syria, according to these officials, who have access to detailed intelligence reports. \nOnly half of the estimated US$1 billion the Saddam government put in Syrian banks before the war has been recovered, Pentagon officials said. There is no tally of money flowing through Syria to Iraq from wealthy Saudis or Islamic charities, but one Pentagon official said the figure is "significant." \nUS military and Pentagon officials continue to argue that as Iraqi security forces increase in numbers and effectiveness, they will be able to gather even more detailed and timely information, an important consideration if the insurgency is to be stifled. The critical variable, these officials note, remains the large segment of the Iraqi population that has still not decided whether to actively support the new government. \nIn further violence yesterday, US and Iraqi forces left a mosque they were raiding in search of suspected insurgents in Mosul after coming under fire, witnesses said. \nUnarmed worshippers prevented the intruding forces from entering the mosque itself. The US troops then sparked an uproar when they entered the women's section of the mosque, the preacher, Sheikh Rayan Tawfiq said. \nInsurgents later attacked US vehicles parked outside the mosque with rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses said. \nThe US-Iraqi force then withdrew, amid jubilation among the worshippers inside the mosque. \nMeanwhile, all three Macedonian contractors missing in Iraq since August have been killed, a Skopje official said yesterday, citing experts from the Balkan country who reviewed footage of the Macedonian hostages broadcast by an Arab television station. \nThey were part of a group of Macedonians employed with the Baghdad-based Soufan Engineering construction company.
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities. Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp (小米) have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement,” Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region,” but can be turned on remotely at any time,
CLOSE COOPERATION: A House of Representatives bill suggests inviting Taiwan’s navy to participate in the world’s largest international maritime military exercises The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed its annual defense policy bill, which includes provisions recommending that Taiwan be included in next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and enhanced cooperation between Taiwan and the US National Guard. The House approved the US$777.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in a 316-113 vote. The 1,390-page bill includes three major provisions related to Taiwan under sections 1243, 1247 and 1248. Section 1248 recommends that the US invite Taiwan’s navy to participate in next year’s RIMPAC. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the event, which is the world’s largest
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the
‘FIGHT FOR VICTORY’: Eric Chu said his election victory would be the beginning of the DPP’s worries and that he would open all channels of communication with China Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) was yesterday elected Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman in a four-way race that included outgoing chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣). Chu, 60, garnered 85,164 votes, or 45 percent of the 187,998 KMT members who cast ballots. Sun Yat-sen School president Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) trailed behind with 60,632 votes, followed by Chiang with 35,090 votes and former Changhua County commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) with 5,133 votes. Voter turnout was 50.71 percent. This will be Chu’s second time heading the party. He was elected KMT chairman in an unopposed by-election in January 2015 and resigned in January