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MEP’s want to cut financial flows from EU to terrorist organizations

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"We have many indications that countries such as Pakistan or entities such as the Palestinian Authority, funnel EU money towards terrorist organisations, such as Al-Qaeda or Hamas. With this Written Declaration we are urging the European Court of Justice and the European External Action service to follow up on these indications and deliver final proof, so that funding can be frozen,’’ said German Liberal MEP Michael Theurer, one of the signatories.

"Seldom has a Written Declaration been tabled in such a timely fashion. We are currently reacting to the heightened security risk and threat through international terrorism in our societies and to this institution through the announced code yellow, which is followed by special measures, such as the Belgian army guards stationed outside the building," he added.

‘’While we protect ourselves from this imminent danger, we simultaneously need to tackle the problem at the root,’’ Theurer added.

He mentioned in particular the so called ‘aw of prisoners of the Palestinian Authority which, he said, "raised suspicion to how EU financial assistance might be spent".

The law grants prisoners that participated in “the struggle against Israel's occupation” an average monthly salary of 3129 US Dollar,’’ according to a report by Palestine Media Watch (PMW).

In the declaration, the MEPs stress that "in times of economic stringency and heightened security concern, it is important to ensure that EU funds are not wasted or abused.This would be the case if EU funds were being channelled, deliberately or by neglect, to terrorist organizations".

It continues: "The European Court of Auditors (ECA) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) are called upon to subject to special scrutiny those recipients of high levels of EU funding, for example the Palestinian Authority and Pakistan, where there is a suggestion of evidence of support for terrorist activity."

"Where there are indications of such abuse, the European Commission is called upon to freeze or reduce funding until the necessary checks and control measures have been put in place," the declaration states.

The declaration was also signed by MEPs from various political groups: Antanas Guoga (Lithuania, ALDE), Petras Austrevicius (Lithuania, ALDE), Johannes Cornelis van Baalen (Holland, ALDE), Tunne Kelam (Estonia, EPP), Lars Adaktusson (Sweden, EPP), Indrek Tarand (Estonia, Greens, EFA), Geoffrey Van Orden (UK, ECR) Ryszard Czarnecki (Poland, ECR), Bas Belder (Holland, ECR), Monika Flasikova Benova (Slovakia, S&D).

Defence

New marine rotational force deploys to Norway

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Approximately 350 marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have deployed to Norway for a two-month training deployment. The marines and sailors of the 'Teufelhunden Battalion' are the next rotational deployment of Marine Rotational Force-Europe. After a quarantine period at their training location in Norway, to mitigate the risk of COVID exposure and transmission, the marines will conduct bilateral arctic warfare training, improve interoperability, and strengthen defense capabilities alongside Norwegian allies.

This is the first rotation of shorter MRF-E deployments, announced by the Marine Corps in August 2020. Marine Rotational Force-Europe’s deployment will be synchronized with the Norwegian Armed Forces’ arctic training and will allow for increased operational flexibility for the Marine Corps.

“Norway offers challenging terrain and unique training opportunities to improve our cold-weather and mountain-warfare skills, enabling our force to fight and win in arctic conditions,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “The ‘Teufelhunden Battalion’ looks forward to continuing our historic relationship and strengthening our alliance with the Norwegian military.”

During their deployment, the new MRF-E will participate in cold-weather warfare and survival training, led by Norwegian Army instructors; participate in a variety of field training events in rugged, arctic conditions alongside Norwegian Army allies; and participate in Exercise Reindeer II, a major Norwegian Army-led field exercise in northern Norway.

Marine Rotational Force-Europe 21.1 is expected to operate in Norway several times over the coming year, with a larger follow-on rotation scheduled in early 2021. The Marine Rotational Force plans to conduct various exercises alongside allied forces for continued inoperability and arctic training.

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Defence

Three dead as woman beheaded in France, gunman killed in second incident

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A knife-wielding attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a suspected terrorist act at a church in the French city of Nice today (29 October), while a gunman was shot dead by police in a separate incident, writes .

Within hours of the Nice attack, police killed a man who had threatened passersby with a handgun in Montfavet, near the southern French city of Avignon. He was also shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), according to radio station Europe 1.

In Saudi Arabia on Thursday, state television reported that a Saudi man had been arrested in the city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate.

The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger.

Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, who described the attack in his city as terrorism, said on Twitter it had happened in or near Notre Dame church and was similar to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty in an attack this month in Paris.

Estrosi said the attacker had repeatedly shouted the phrase “Allahu Akbar”, even after he had been detained by police.

One of the people killed inside the church was believed to be the church warden, Estrosi said, adding that a woman had tried to escape from inside the church and had fled into a bar opposite the 19th century neo-Gothic building.

“The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained, he is on his way to hospital, he is alive,” Estrosi told reporters.

“Enough is enough,” Estrosi said. “It’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our territory.”

Reuters journalists at the scene said police armed with automatic weapons had put up a security cordon around the church, which is on Nice’s Jean Medecin avenue, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare. Ambulances and fire service vehicles were also at the scene.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Nice, Estrosi said.

In Paris, lawmakers in the National Assembly observed a minute’s silence in solidarity with the victims. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said the people of Nice “can count on the support of the city of Paris and of Parisians”.

Police said three people were confirmed to have died in the attack and several were injured. The French anti-terrorist prosecutor’s department said it had been asked to investigate.

A police source said a woman was decapitated. French far-right politician Marine Le Pen also spoke of a decapitation having occurred in the attack.

A representative of the French Council for the Muslim Faith strongly condemned the attack. “As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday of Mawlid.”.

The holiday is the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, which is being celebrated today.

Estrosi said the victims had been killed in a “horrible way”.

“The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty,” he said, referring to a French teacher beheaded earlier this month in an attack in a suburb of Paris.

The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of middle school teacher Paty by a man of Chechen origin.

The attacker had said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.

It was not immediately clear if Thursday’s attack was connected to the cartoons, which Muslims consider to be blasphemous.

Since Paty’s killing, French officials - backed by many ordinary citizens - have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed teacher.

That has prompted an outpouring of anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

In a comment on recent beheadings in France, the Kremlin said on Thursday it was unacceptable to kill people, but also wrong to insult the feelings of religious believers.

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Defence

USEUCOM demonstrates readiness to support NATO in Exercise Austere Challenge

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US European Command (USEUCOM) leaders, strategists, planners and operators joined forces with their NATO counterparts in exercise Austere Challenge 2021 (AC21) to practice a co-ordinated response to a fictional major crisis this week. While the exercise was conducted virtually to protect the health of the participants and our communities from COVID-19 more than 4,000 military and civilian personnel participated.

The exercise brought together USEUCOM and its components who joined Joint Forces Command-Brunssum and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO for the weeklong, computer-based, biannual command post exercise, which culminated today (23 October).

"We are looking forward to drawing on the lessons learned we have from this exercise as we prepare for future activities together," said German Gen. Jörg Vollmer, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum. AC21 is part of an exercise series planned and executed since the 1990s and focused upon training combatant command co-ordination, command and control and the integration of capabilities and functions across USEUCOM’s headquarters, its component commands, US interagency and NATO.

The exercise was linked globally to other US combatant command exercises, including US Strategic Command and US Space Command’s Exercise Global Lightning 2021 and US Transportation Command’s Turbo Challenge 2021. “Exercises like AC21 prepare the USEUCOM staff to respond to crises in a timely and well-coordinated manner with our NATO Allies, which ultimately supports regional stability and security,” said US Army Maj. Gen. John C. Boyd, USEUCOM’s director of training and exercises.

While the ongoing pandemic forced a variety of USEUCOM exercises to be modified or canceled this year, training and partnership-building has carried on. “We remain postured and ready to support NATO against any enemy or threat – be it a military crisis or an invisible virus,” Boyd added. “Together on innumerable instances, the US and NATO have demonstrated a strong, unbreakable working relationship to counter any threat to the alliance. AC21 is yet another example of the strength and solidarity of the NATO alliance and USEUCOM’s contributions to Europe’s collective defense.”

About USEUCOM

US European Command (USEUCOM) is responsible for US military operations across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. USEUCOM is comprised of approximately 72,000 military and civilian personnel and works closely with NATO Allies and partners. The command is one of two US forward-deployed geographic combatant commands headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. For more information about USEUCOM, click here.

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