US names JAD terror group
The US has designated an Indonesian radical network behind an attack in Jakarta as a terrorist group and announced sanctions on four militants in an effort to disrupt Islamic State (IS) group operations and recruitment in Australia and Southeast Asia. The US Department of State on Tuesday said it had designated the IS-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) as a terrorist group, which in practice prohibits US citizens being involved with it and enables the freezing of any property in the US. JAD militants are believed responsible for an attack in January last year in the Indonesian capital that killed eight people, including the attackers. The US Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against two Australians, both previously believed killed in the Middle East, and two Indonesians, one of whom is in prison in Indonesia.
Sarawak chief dies
The veteran chief minister of the state of Sarawak yesterday died of a heart attack, in a fresh blow for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was counting on him to help secure victory in upcoming elections. Adenan Satem, 72, was one of Najib’s closest allies, whose popularity helped the ruling Barisan Nasional alliance secure a landslide victory in the Sarawak state elections last year. Najib was counting on Adenan to help him in a general election that he is expected to call this year. Najib is mired in a multibillion-dollar graft scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad. The fund is being investigated in at least six countries, including the US, Singapore and Switzerland. Najib has denied wrongdoing.
Mercury soars above 40°C
Sydney temperatures topped 40°C yesterday, with beaches packed, bushfire warnings issued and people urged to stay hydrated. Some towns in the northwest of New South Wales (NSW) could reach 47°C tomorrow, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Authorities issued a total fire ban for several areas across the state, while Surf Life Saving NSW warned of an increased risk of dehydration as temperatures soared. “Lifeguards and lifesavers have been extremely busy over the last few weeks and we are urging the public to do what they can to help lessen the load by taking some responsibility for their own safety,” Surf Life Saving NSW manager Andy Kent said. New South Wales has had a balmy summer, but it has been marred by tragedy with more than 20 drownings in backyard pools, waterways or the ocean since Christmas Day.
Aid groups ‘misusing funds’
Borno State Governor Kashim Shettim on Tuesday accused aid agencies, including UNICEF, of profiting from funds meant to help refugees from Boko Haram, and said they should leave the country. The criticism follows President Muhammadu Buhari’s charges that the UN and private agencies are exaggerating a massive humanitarian crisis created by the northeastern militant uprising to boost funding. For months, children and others have been dying of starvation there. The UN last month launched an appeal for US$1 billion, warning that tens of thousands of children will die this year without critically needed aid. Shettima said that only eight of 126 registered agencies “are actually providing humanitarian services.” He said the rest are “using the name of Borno to make money, and enriching themselves.”