South Korea On Heightened Alert As Isolated North Readies For Army Celebration

Reuters |   Apr 21,2017 , 02:50 PM IST
   


The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had registered a case against the three accused on January 28 last year. They were arrested the next day on arrival here from Abu Dhabi.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had registered a case against the three accused on January 28 last year. They were arrested the next day on arrival here from Abu Dhabi.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had registered a case against the three accused on January 28 last year. They were arrested the next day on arrival here from Abu Dhabi.


Special court today awarded seven-year jail term to two men after they pleaded guilty of criminally conspiring to raise funds and recruiting people for the terror outfit ISIS.

District judge Amar Nath convicted accused Azhar-ul- Islam (24) from Jammu and Kashmir and Mohammed Farhan Shaikh (25) from Maharashtra, following their U-turn more than a month after the court framed charges against them.

The accused had moved an application through advocate M S Khan saying they "are remorseful of the acts alleged against them. There is no prior criminal record against them and they want to join the mainstream and want to be productive for the society and want to rehabilitate themselves".

"The applicants are pleading guilty without any pressure, threat, coercion or undue influence," the plea had said.The court had last month framed charges against both the accused and 36-year-old Adnan Hassan for allegedly hatching a criminal conspiracy to raise funds for the ISIS and recruiting people for the terror outfit. The trial against Hassan is continuing separately before the same court.

The court had framed the charges for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy under the IPC) and under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had registered a case against the three accused on January 28 last year. They were arrested the next day on arrival here from Abu Dhabi.

According to the probe agency, Hassan and Shaikh had been frequently visiting the UAE in connection with jobs since 2008 and 2012 respectively, while Islam had gone to join them in the UAE in July, 2015.Hassan was earlier allegedly affiliated to the Indian Mujahideen and later got inclined towards ISIS, it alleged.

The charge sheet filed by NIA had claimed that the accused persons, in connivance with other known and unknown associates, had hatched a criminal conspiracy to propagate the ideology, recruit persons, raise funds and facilitate the travel of those recruited to Syria to join the ISIS and further its activities.
The final report said that in furtherance of the conspiracy, the accused had created multiple email IDs, used multiple mobile numbers obtained from their associates from different countries, formed various online forums and groups on Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, VKontakte, Viber and Skype, using the internet and invited and associated like-minded persons, residents of different countries.

"The accused had formed a terrorist gang and acted as a frontal group of the ISIS and incited, motivated, invited and facilitated people of different nationalities to leave their respective countries and travel to Syria to join, support and further activities of the ISIS," it alleged.
The agency said the accused persons were actively involved in perpetuating, promoting and propagating ideologies and terrorist activities of the ISIS.

"They had voluntarily advocated and professed to be the supporters and members of the ISIS and actively supported, invited support from others, propagated and promoted unlawful activities and terrorist activities of the ISIS by exhorting, inciting, luring and influencing others to become members of this organisation by disseminating incriminating contents including sharing comments, pages, videos, images, literature and openly endorsing, justifying and glorifying the terrorist acts of the ISIS," the NIA had claimed.

"They had also raised, collected and received funds in the UAE and transferred it to their associates in India, the Philippines and Tunisia to facilitate their travel to Syria to join ISIS," the agency said.South Korea said on Friday it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.

U.S. officials said there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signalling a possible heightened state of readiness by Beijing, reclusive North Korea's sole major ally, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons.

U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks that the North could soon stage another nuclear test in violation of United Nations sanctions, something both the United States and China have warned against.

North Korea marks the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army on Tuesday, an important anniversary that comes at the end of major winter military drills, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said.

Top envoys from the United States, South Korea and Japan on North Korea are due to meet on Tuesday, South Korea's foreign ministry said, to "discuss plans to rein in North Korea's additional high-strength provocations, to maximize pressure on the North, and to ensure China's constructive role in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue".

South Korea and the United States have also been conducting annual joint military exercises, which the North routinely criticises as a prelude to invasion.

"It is a situation where a lot of exercise equipment is amassed in North Korea and also a lot of strategic assets are situated on the Korean peninsula because of the South Korea-U.S. military drills," Lee told a briefing.

"We are closely watching the situation and will not be letting our guards down," Lee said.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday praised Chinese efforts to rein in "the menace of North Korea", after North Korean state media warned the United States of a "super-mighty preemptive strike".

Trump told a news conference "some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours", and that he was confident Chinese President Xi Jinping would "try very hard" to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Trump gave no indication of what the moves might be. None of the U.S. officials who told Reuters about the heightened level of activity by Chinese bombers suggested alarm or signalled that they knew the precise reason for such activity.

'RED LINE'

An official Chinese newspaper said on Friday there was optimism about persuading the North to end its pursuit of a nuclear programme without the use of force, "now that even the once tough-talking Donald Trump is onboard for a peaceful solution".


"Beijing has demonstrated due enthusiasm for Washington's newfound interest in a diplomatic solution and willingness to work more closely with it," the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

Tensions have risen sharply in recent months after North Korea conducted two nuclear weapons tests last year and carried out a steady stream of ballistic missile tests. Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile.

North Korea has said it would test missiles when it sees fit and a South Korean analyst said he believed they would do so.

"Without crossing the red line such as a nuclear test or a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, until the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People's Army, North Korea is expected to continue to launch mid-range missiles," said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at Sejong Institute outside Seoul.

The joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises are due to finish at the end of April.

A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, is heading towards the Korean Peninsula, Trump's administration has said.

North Korea test-fired what the United States believed was a mid-range missile on Sunday. It blew up almost immediately.

The failed launch came a day after the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather. There is concern the North will use the next big day on its calendar, April 25, to show off its strength.

"Although North Korea attempted a missile launch but failed on April 16, considering the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People's Army, there are concerns that it can make another provocation again at any time," South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn told top officials on Thursday, as he called on the military to maintain readiness.


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