European, US Officials Warn of Terror Threat

19 January, 2015

After the deadly attacks in France, European nations are working toward greater cooperation to fight terrorism across the continent and the world.

Rob Wainwright is the director of the European Union law enforcement agency Europol. He says that a strong police response is underway after the January 7 and 9 terrorist attacks in France that killed 17 people. He adds that the nature of terrorism threats has changed since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Mr. Wainwright says authorities are working toward greater cooperation among counterterrorism services, including sharing information about terrorist activity.

Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain faces what he calls a "severe" threat of terrorist attack. He says that the threat of terrorist attacks keeps changing because of the problem of extremist Islamic believers. He adds that the struggle against these extremists will take a long time and require international cooperation.

European, US Officials Warn of Terror Threat
Belgian soldiers patrol the EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Security has been stepped up after thirteen people were detained in Belgium in an anti-terror sweep following a firefight in Verviers. Two suspected terrorists were killed. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Greg Barton is the director of the Monash University Center of Islam and Modern World in Australia. He says that al-Qaida has been around for 30 years and newer groups have also been created. He agrees with Prime Minister Cameron that a solution to terrorism is decades away.

In the United States, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that the U.S. also faces the potential of attack from what he calls "homegrown violent extremism." Another Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, adds that the Islamic State group and the al-Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq remain the biggest threat to the United States. He says that success against them would greatly change the security threat worldwide.

Time not right to ease Russia sanctions, EU says

European Union, or EU, foreign ministers said on Monday there were no reasons to lift economic sanctions against Russia. Federica Mogherini is the foreign policy chief for the EU. She suggested in a private message to the organization that the EU could start talking to Russia again about trade and other issues. But Ms. Mogherini says lifting sanctions on Russia would only happen if there were improvements on the ground in Ukraine.

The EU has joined the United States in issuing tough sanctions on Russia over its alleged support for the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. But not all 28 members of the EU agree strongly with the sanctions.

Margot Wallstrom is the foreign minister of Sweden. She says the EU must keep its sanctions on Russia. But she adds that a long-term plan is needed for future dealings with the country.

Sebastian Kurz is the foreign minister of Austria. He says the EU should create a strategy to improve long-term relations with Russia. The first sanctions the EU imposed on Russia come up for renewal in March. All members of the EU must agree to extend them.

Pakistan reportedly bans Haqqani terrorist network

Pakistan has reportedly banned the Haqqani Network, a militant group connected to the Afghan Taliban. But the government of Pakistan has not officially announced the decision. Officials say a formal announcement will be made, in their words, "at an appropriate time."

Last year, the militant group attacked a school in Peshawar and killed 150 people, mostly children. The school attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan's history. The attack has led the government and military to strengthen and expand counterterrorism actions. Since the attacks, authorities have reinstated the death penalty and created military courts to put terrorism suspects on trial.

U.S. and Afghan officials have said that key Haqqani leaders used secret areas in Pakistan to plan terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. They also have said the network receives support from Pakistan's military spy agency, the ISI. Officials in Pakistan deny any links or support for the group.

Nawaz Sharif is the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He spoke to a gathering of foreign diplomats in the country's capital Islamabad on Monday. He says his government is, in his words, "determined to wipe out terrorism in all its shades and hues and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against terrorists."

Video of father may have compelled N. Korea defector to change story

A video message from the father of a well-known defector from North Korea may have led him to change the story of his escape from a prison camp.

Shin Dong-hyuk admitted in a post on his Facebook page to having changed key parts of his story and apologized. He says he thought his father was dead and that he was grieved to see his father alive. On Sunday, Shin was a key witness to the United Nations investigation into human rights abuses in North Korea.

In the video, his father told Shin to "come to your senses and return to the embrace of the Party." The "Party" refers to the Workers' Party in North Korea. He also referred to discrepancies in Shin's story.

Shin said in October the video might have been a threat that his father would be killed if he did not keep quiet. But he did not want to talk about the differences in his story that his father spoke of in the video.

In the video, Shin's father speaks about the family living in an area that was once the site of one of North Korea's prisons, Camp 18.

But Shin's initial story talked about being born and living all his life in Camp 14. That camp was known for harsher human rights abuses.

Blaine Harden is the author of a best-selling book on Shin. He says that much of the changed story given was the same as the original version and his testimony to the UN.

"But he has significantly revised details of his early life and substantially changed the dates and places of major events," Harden said.

I'm Jonathan Evans.


Words in the News

defector – n. a person who leaves a country, political party, or organization and goes to a different one that is a competitor or an enemy

extremist – n. someone who has extreme ideas about politics, religion, etc.

initial – n. occurring at the beginning of something

sanction – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country by not allowing economic aid for that country

zero-tolerance – n. a policy of giving the most severe punishment possible to every person who commits a crime or breaks a rule