- - Monday, July 12, 2010

ISRAEL

Report: Flotilla raid was poorly planned

TEL AVIV | Flawed intelligence gathering and planning led to Israel’s botched and deadly raid on a Gaza-bound protest flotilla, with security forces underestimating the potential for violence, said the official report released Monday.

The report, however, praised the commandos who took part in the operation, saying they were justified in opening fire and killing nine after being confronted by violent pro-Palestinian activists on board one of the ships.

The report concluded that intelligence gathering was deficient and that various intelligence units did not communicate properly with one another. It criticized the operation’s planners for not having a backup plan in the event of violence.

It did not recommend any dismissals, though some senior officers could be ousted or demoted in an ensuing shake-up.

BRITAIN

Airline bomb plotters sentenced to 20 years

LONDON | Four years after a plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners triggered tight new security restrictions for travelers worldwide, British authorities closed a lengthy legal chapter Monday when each of the final suspects was jailed for a minimum of 20 years.

Ibrahim Savant, 29, Arafat Waheed Khan, 29, and Waheed Zaman, 26, were sentenced in the marathon case, which began after the plot — directed by al Qaeda — was thwarted in 2006.

A total of nine British Muslims have been convicted of involvement in the plan to blow up at least seven trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid explosives.

A series of trials began in 2007. The plot’s ringleader, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, was jailed for a minimum of 40 years — one of the longest sentences ever handed out by a British court.

British and U.S. authorities said the plan was guided by senior Islamic militants in Pakistan and designed to be the deadliest terrorist strike since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Discovery of the plot prompted tight new restrictions for air passengers, including limits on the amount of liquids and gels that travelers are able to carry into airliner cabins.

AFGHANISTAN

Report: Civilian deaths rise; NATO kills fewer

KABUL | Escalating violence in Afghanistan is now the worst since the early months of the nearly 9-year-old war, killing 1,074 civilians so far this year as international forces struggle to establish security, an Afghan rights group said Monday.

However, the share of civilians killed by international forces is dropping — and the number dying in NATO airstrikes has halved — thanks to restrictive rules of engagement issued last year, the Afghanistan Rights Monitor said.

Despite speculation that newly arrived coalition commander Gen. David H. Petraeus would change the policy, which critics say increases danger to American and other foreign troops, a NATO spokesman reiterated over the weekend that would not happen.

FRANCE

Sarkozy defends self amid finance scandal

PARIS | President Nicolas Sarkozy defended himself on national television Monday against charges of illegal financing for his 2007 election campaign, claims that have threatened the government’s credibility as it fights for unpopular cost-cutting reforms.

The president said Labor Minister Eric Woerth, who is at the heart of the scandal, would keep his job in the government. But apparently bowing to public pressure, Mr. Sarkozy said he advised Mr. Woerth to resign from his contested second job, as the treasurer of their conservative UMP party.

Mr. Sarkozy, whose poll ratings have slipped to his lowest point in three years in office, described the party financing allegations as a “campaign” against him.

Speaking to France 2 television in the garden of the presidential Elysee Palace, he steered the questions away from the scandal toward his efforts to modernize France, casting himself as a tireless leader willing to put himself on the line to save France from its untenable expectations about government social protections.

COLOMBIA

Military kill nine in FARC camp raid

BOGOTA | Nine guerrillas were killed Monday when the army and air force attacked a FARC rebel camp in the jungles of southern Caqueta department, the military said.

The air and ground attack near Penas Coloradas followed a similar attack Sunday in mountains of central Tolima department that killed 12 rebels in a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp where its leader Guillermo Leon Saenz was thought to be holed up.

The FARC — the country’s strongest and oldest guerrilla group — has been fighting the government since the 1960s. It now includes 7,500 to 10,000 fighters, according to estimates.

BRITAIN

Church of England OKs female bishops

LONDON | The Church of England national assembly has decided that women should be allowed to become bishops, making only minor concessions to theological conservatives who have threatened to break away over the issue.

Dioceses will now consider the draft law, which would let individual bishops allow alternative oversight for traditionalists within each diocese. The dioceses must report back by 2012.

Members of the church’s governing General Synod voted Monday in favor of the proposal that paves the way for women to be made bishops without restrictions to their authority.

The church’s ruling synod earlier rejected a compromise plan proposed by traditionalist Anglicans that would have created a category of male-only bishops to oversee traditional parishes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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