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.
LOST AT SEA: Survivors of a sunken Cambodian ship said they floated for two days in open waters, while a UN official said that traffickers might continue undeterred Chinese survivors from a boat that sank near a Cambodian island, killing three people and leaving eight missing, said they embarked on what they believed would be a short-term fishing job and ended up without food and water aboard the vessel, and their belongings were taken away. Cambodian authorities said on Friday they rescued 21 people one day after the boat small wooden fishing vessel sank near Koh Tang, a Cambodian island close to the maritime border with Vietnam. Nine more people were rescued by the Vietnamese and three bodies were recovered by Cambodia, leaving eight people still missing, Preah Sihanouk provincial
SOUTH CHINA SEA: Despite differences on some matters, Marcos has pledged to foster closer ties with China, calling the relationship ‘advantageous’ to both nations The Philippines is interested in renewing talks with China on joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea to expand and diversify its sources of energy, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in an interview. The Southeast Asian country seeks a compromise with China, which is claiming parts of the South China Sea that are within Philippine territory, Marcos said, stressing that any agreement must not contravene his nation’s laws. While the Philippines and China could not agree on which nation’s law would apply, “we continue to explore, perhaps there can be other ways that we can do it,” Marcos
Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin (胡錫進) on Sunday said that as China ponders its COVID-19 policies, epidemic experts need to speak out and China ought to conduct comprehensive research and make any studies transparent to the public. Hu’s unusual call on Chinese social media for candor and transparency earned him 34,000 likes on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging platform, as well as frank responses from commentators in a normally tightly policed Internet quick to censor voices deemed a risk to social stability. China’s top leaders warned in May amid the COVID-19 lockdown of Shanghai and widespread restrictions in the Chinese capital, Beijing,
Standing in line to try to buy food, Rekha Begum is distraught. Like many others in Bangladesh, she is struggling to find affordable daily essentials such as rice, lentils and onions. “I went to two other places, but they told me they don’t have supplies. Then I came here and stood at the end of the queue,” said Begum, 60, as she waited for nearly two hours to buy what she needed from a truck selling food at subsidized prices in the capital, Dhaka. Bangladesh’s economic miracle is under severe strain, as fuel price hikes amplify public frustrations over rising costs for