KCNA (North Korea), THE KOREA TIMES (South Korea), AFP, REUTERS
North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had put its artillery and rocket units into "combat posture," and threatened to attack South Korea and U.S. bases in Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. mainland.
The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army released a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), warning that the alert affects “all the field artillery units including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units which are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zone in the Pacific, as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity.”
The provocation is the latest in a series of threats issued by Pyongyang over the past few weeks, in retaliation to tougher UN sanctions and to U.S.-South Korea military drills and a new joint operational plan, The Korea Times writes.
The new threats come as South Korea marks the third anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan warship by a North Korean torpedo – an attack that left 46 sailors dead.
In a speech at the national cemetery in the central city of Daejeon where the ship was sunk, South Korean president Park Geun-hye warned North Korea that its only "path to survival" lay in abandoning its nuclear and missile programs, the AP reports.
Although they are not believed to have the capability to hit U.S. mainland with an atomic weapon, North Korea’s medium-range missiles are in range of the U.S. military’s bases in the Pacific Ocean, Reuters reports.
Earlier this week, North Korea released its latest propaganda video that depicts paratroopers descending on Seoul in an invasion scenario that it said would see thousands of U.S. citizens living in South Korea taken hostage (see below).
Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Praying inside a Dutch mosque.
Broken trust in Islamic community
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
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