- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

IRAQ

Insurgents hack American drones

Insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have hacked into live video feeds from Predator drones, a key weapon in a Pentagon spy system that serves as the military’s eyes in the sky for surveillance and intelligence collection.

Though militants could see the video, there is no evidence they were able to jam the electronic signals from the unmanned aerial craft or take control of the vehicles, a senior defense official said Thursday.

Obtaining the video feeds can provide insurgents with critical information about what the military may be targeting, including buildings, roads and other facilities.

Shi’ite fighters in Iraq used off-the-shelf software programs such as SkyGrabber - available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet - to regularly capture drone video feeds, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

PAKISTAN

Defense minister barred from travel

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency barred the defense minister and nearly 250 other top officials from leaving the country Thursday as political turmoil deepened after a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a graft amnesty.

President Asif Ali Zardari and several of his key aides are among those who had benefited from the amnesty deal.

Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency said 247 people who had cases withdrawn under the amnesty had been blocked from travel. News channels reported that Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar were included.

Mr. Mukhtar said immigration officials at the airport barred him from boarding a flight to China, where he planned to take delivery of a new warship.

BRAZIL

Top court halts boy’s return to U.S.

RIO DE JANEIRO | The Brazilian supreme court on Thursday delayed the return of a 9-year-old boy to his American father only hours after the man arrived from New Jersey in hopes of taking the boy home for Christmas.

The court ruled that the child must stay in Brazil while it considers a request that his own testimony be heard in the custody case, which has dragged on for five years.

The ruling means the boy will be in Brazil at least until Feb. 1, after the justices’ return from a recess, according to a court spokesman. David Goldman’s attorney, Ricardo Zamariola, confirmed that the ruling means he will be unable to pick up his son, Sean, at the American Consulate in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, as a federal appeals court had ruled Wednesday.

YEMEN

34 killed in raid on al Qaeda hide-outs

SAN’A | Yemeni security forces struck suspected al Qaeda hide-outs and training sites Thursday, and officials said at least 34 militants were killed, in an unusually heavy assault as Washington presses the deeply unstable country for tougher action against the terror network.

Witnesses, however, put the number killed at more than 60 in the heaviest strike and said the dead were mostly civilians, including women and children. They denied the target was an al Qaeda stronghold.

RUSSIA

Suicide bomber strikes police group

NAZRAN | A suicide car bomber attacked a group of police and soldiers in Russia’s restive North Caucasus on Thursday, wounding at least 23 people, while two security officers were killed in a drive-by shooting, officials said.

The bomber struck the group at a checkpoint in the city of Nazran in the province of Ingushetia, which neighbors Chechnya to the West.

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