It started with a robbery, but the gang that burst into a branch of Al-Habib Bank in this teeming port city had no interest in striking it rich, and the university graduate driving the getaway car was just getting started on a master plan for terror. \nThe heist, carried out in daylight and with AK-47 assault rifles, is emblematic of a new brand of Islamic militant -- more educated but less established and largely cut off from traditional sources of terror funding, Pakistani police and intelligence officials told reporters. \nAtta-ur Rehman and his Jundullah gang walked away from the bank in Karachi on Nov. 18 last year with just under 4 million rupees (US$70,000), enough to finance an eight-month wave of attacks against the US Consulate, a Christian Bible studies group, a peace concert by an Indian singer, a police station, and a senior Pakistani military general. At least 17 people died in the assaults, all carried out in the urban sprawl of Karachi, a city of 15 million that's honeycombed with terror hideouts and al-Qaeda safehouses. \nThere's no indication al-Qaeda had a hand in Jundullah's spree, but some gang members are believed to have spent time at training camps with top members of Osama bin Laden's network. \n"Normally, when robbers loot a bank they split the cash and go their separate ways, but the Jundullah gang only spent about 500,000 rupees ($8,600) from their heist and they stuck together," said Fayyaz Leghari, chief of operations for the Karachi police. "They were not ordinary robbers. They saw the bank job as a way to fund their holy mission." \nLeghari said police recovered the rest of the money when they arrested 10 members of the gang following a June 10 assassination attempt on Ahsan Saleem Hayat, the city's military commander and a close aide to President General Pervez Musharraf. Hayat survived but 11 others were killed. The group, whose name means Allah's Brigade, was apparently saving the cash to finance more attacks. \n"They have a record of each penny spent, all of it they believe in a noble cause, and they are not denying what they have done," said another police investigator involved in the interrogations of Jundullah suspects, speaking on condition of anonymity. \nPolice and intelligence officials believe there are about a half dozen other militant bands operating in Karachi, each with about 15 to 20 members. \nIn addition to Jundullah, officials say they are aware of two cells that call themselves Khuddam Uddin, meaning Servants of The Religion, and al-Furqan -- The Distinguisher. Other group names aren't known. Most of the new groups are offshoots of al-Qaeda-linked Sunni sectarian organizations like Lashkhar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sihaba, which have killed hundreds of Shiite Muslims, or Kashmiri militant organizations like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen. They're motivated by centuries-old Shiite-Sunni feuding, and more recent anger over the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. \nUnlike their parent organizations with well-established networks for raising money -- from Arab sympathizers, al-Qaeda, and jihadi-linked charities -- the smaller groups have improvised. \nRobberies, drug trafficking and other crimes have long been used by militant groups across the globe but an increased reliance on them in Pakistan may be a sign that Washington's push to shut terrorists off from their financing is having an effect.
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another
The Paris prosecutor’s office on Tuesday said that French actor Gerard Depardieu was in December last year charged with rape and sexual assault after authorities revived a 2018 investigation that was initially dropped. Depardieu was not detained when he was handed the preliminary charges on Dec. 16 last year, the office said. The prosecutor’s office addressed the charges after the case was leaked to the media. Media reports have said that the charges relate to allegations made by an actress in her 20s that date back to 2018. An initial inquiry against the star was dropped in 2019 because of lack of evidence, but