Syrians arrested in German probe of money transferred abroad

The new 100 and 200 Euro banknotes with new security features are presented at the headquarters of Germany's Federal reserve Bundesbank in Frankfurt, Germany, May 21, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 11 September 2019

Syrians arrested in German probe of money transferred abroad

  • The men, ages 34 and 37, are suspected of being part of a criminal network that earned commissions for sending sums abroad

BERLIN: German authorities have arrested two Syrian men on suspicion of transferring large amounts of money abroad that might have been used to fund extremist activity.
German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that the men, ages 34 and 37, are suspected of being part of a criminal network that earned commissions for sending six-figure sums abroad.
Dpa says 11 people are under investigation. Police and prosecutors searched 16 locations in the northern states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania and Hamburg on Wednesday.
The news agency quoted Flensburg chief prosecutor Ulrike Stahlmann-Liebelt as saying authorities are also investigating whether there are indications of "terror financing."


First day of Afghan truce as Taliban instruct fighters to cease violence 

Updated 22 February 2020

First day of Afghan truce as Taliban instruct fighters to cease violence 

  • US and Taliban forces enforce mutually agreed seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, starting midnight on Friday
  • Peace pact to be signed on Feb 29, intra-Afghan negotiations to follow soon after to deliver “permanent cease-fire“

ISLAMABAD: The Taliban military commission has instructed fighters of the insurgency to cease violence from February 22, the group said in a statement on Friday as the United States and the Taliban announced that they would sign a peace pact on February 29 to end America’s longest war after more than 18 years. 

Arab News reported on February 17 that the long-awaited peace agreement was scheduled to be signed on February 29 in Doha, Qatar, in the presence of international dignitaries and guarantors. 

On Friday, the Taliban military commission instructed its fighters not to carry out out any more attacks, including suicide and rocket assaults against US and allied forces in all provincial headquarters, foreign forces bases, Kabul city and all military corps of the Kabul administration, according to a statement and two audio recordings that Arab News is privy to.

The pause in attacks will continue until February 29, according to the Pashto-language order. In return, foreign and Afghan government forces will not conduct attacks, drone strikes, bombings, night raids, rocket and missile attacks on Taliban bases, the Taliban said in the letter send to its commanders.

“All governors and responsible persons should maintain round-the-clock contacts with and no one has the right to establish any contact with the enemy,” the order said. “Those will face severe punishment who will enter the area under the control of the enemy.”

On Friday, following a Taliban statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also confirmed that a peace pact would be signed on February 29.

“The only way to achieve a sustainable peace in Afghanistan is for Afghans to come together and agree on the way forward,” Pompeo said in a statement issued by the US State Department.

The statements came hours before US and Taliban forces enforced a mutually agreed seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, starting midnight on Friday, meaning neither side would conduct offensive operations.

Intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon after February 29 and “build on this fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permanent cease-fire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan,” Pompeo said.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Arab News on Thursday that no final decision had as yet been taken about the venue of an intra-Afghan dialogue, tentatively to be held on March 10. 

US officials have said the success of the temporary deal would enable the two sides to move ahead with the signing ceremony scheduled in Doha, the Qatari capital, which houses the Taliban’s political office and where the two negotiating teams have hammered out a comprehensive draft agreement after talks spread over a period of 18 months.

The Taliban said in a statement that both parties would now create a “suitable security situation” in advance of the agreement signing date, extend invitations to senior representatives of numerous countries and organizations to participate in the signing ceremony and make arrangements for the release of prisoners.

Senior Taliban negotiator Abdul Salam Hanafi said this week that 5,000 Taliban prisoners would be released under the agreement while the Taliban would set free 1,000 Afghans.

Shaheen tweeted that all foreign forces would leave Afghanistan under the agreement and no one would be allowed to use Afghan soil to launch attacks.

Experts pointed to possible challenges in implementing the peace agreement and the cease-fire.

“In case there are breaches/violations in the cease-fire it would manifest that either the Taliban factions are dissatisfied with the cease-fire or the spoilers inside Afghanistan may also take advantage and indulge in violence and put the responsibility on the shoulders of the Taliban,” Pakistan’s former ambassador Asif Khan Durrani told Arab News.

Also, the peace pact is meant to be followed by talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul, a process that will certainly be complicated by a bitterly disputed presidential election, in which the opposition candidate claimed victory despite President Ashraf Ghani having been declared the winner. With rival claimants to legitimacy, experts say it is unclear who would negotiate with the Taliban following the peace pact, whether they would be prepared to enter talks while struggling to control the government, or what kind of mandate they would have.