EU commission discusses deal with U.S. to combat terror financing

Europe lays new standards to fight terrorists

Anti-terror measures intensified in Yemen as several al-Qaeda members arrested

Pakistan enhances anti-terror cooperation with NATO

Campaign of accusations against Pakistan to cast doubts over its ability to protect its own nuke stockpile

Israeli arrested in Poland on charges of involvement in Mabhouh assassination

European Union and U.S. negotiators reached a new agreement on transferring bank data to American counter-terrorism investigators, seeking to overcome a veto by EU lawmakers who want to protect privacy.

European Commission President Jose Barroso said the revised accord, under which the EU would let the U.S. Treasury Department view records from the Swift money-transfer system, bolsters the protection of personal data. He urged approval by the European Parliament, which rejected the previous deal in February after saying its privacy provisions were inadequate.

“This draft is compatible with the respect of fundamental rights,” Barroso told the 27-nation Parliament in Strasbourg, France. “It is subject to strict compliance with safeguards on privacy and the protection of personal data.”

The assembly’s veto of the earlier accord deprived the U.S. of its preferred tool for collecting European data under the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program created after the Sept. 11 attacks. An EU-wide agreement spares the U.S. from having to seek bank data on a country-by-country basis and makes the transfers less politically controversial.

The rejection four months ago nullified a preliminary agreement that was meant to be a precursor to a definitive deal. The new text drafted by the commission, the EU’s executive arm, and the U.S. government would be the definitive accord, on which the Parliament plans to vote in July.

One of the new provisions makes Europol, the EU’s police agency, responsible for screening U.S. requests for data and empowers the organization to deny any that fail to comply with the accord. Under another new provision, the commission will appoint an “independent” person to monitor “on an ongoing basis” the oversight of data protection.

“The draft agreement is a substantial improvement,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem. “We can be proud.”

Swift, with headquarters in Belgium and computer centers in the Netherlands and Switzerland, is one of the main conduits for the global financial system. The cooperative, formally called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, relays money-transfer orders among 9,000 member banks and other financial institutions in more than 200 countries.

Meanwhile, Yemen has thwarted an al Qaeda plot to attack vital installations in a province that is home to much of the country's oil resources and a key pipeline that ferries crude to the coast, the defense ministry said Monday.

The ministry's online newspaper said security forces had destroyed an al Qaeda hideout in the Maarib province and foiled a "plot on the verge of implementation to target economic and government installations and army camps."

It did not say what installations were being targeted.

Yemen, strategically located next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, has been a major Western security concern since a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing claimed responsibility for a failed December attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane.

Yemen's Western allies and Saudi Arabia fear a resurgent al Qaeda wing could exploit unrest to use impoverished Yemen as a base for destabilizing attacks in the region and beyond. They want Sana’a to resolve internal conflict and consolidate power.

Tension has been high in Maarib, east of the capital, since a Yemeni mediator who was also Maarib's deputy governor was killed in May in an errant air strike targeting al Qaeda, prompting clashes between his kinsmen and government troops.

The announcement that authorities had foiled an al Qaeda plot followed several days of gun battles between Yemeni forces and militants in Wadi Obeida, a suspected militant stronghold in Maarib.

At least one person was killed and around 20 more wounded in fighting and shelling in the area, according to the government.

Tribesmen suspected of being aligned with al Qaeda later blew up a crude pipeline linking Maarib to the Red Sea coast.

Tribal leaders, however, have given higher casualty tolls in the government's assault, launched Wednesday with the stated aim of catching suspected al Qaeda gunmen thought to be behind an ambush of a military convoy that killed a commander and a soldier.

Al Qaeda members, many of whom hail from local tribes, have forged links with Yemen tribesmen in efforts to establish a support base in the Arabian peninsula country, where government control is weak in many areas outside the capital Sana’a.

The defense ministry said authorities had identified militants responsible for bombing the pipeline Saturday.

"Those who blew up the pipeline are a dangerous and wanted group of al Qaeda elements," the defense ministry's report said, saying their ranks included Yemenis and at least two Saudi nationals.

In addition to fighting al Qaeda, Yemen also faces growing unrest from southern separatists and is trying to cement a fragile truce with northern Shiite rebels.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has responded angrily to renewed allegations that its military intelligence agency, the ISI, is actively supporting Taliban militants in Afghanistan - and on a much larger scale than previously thought.

The report, commissioned by the London School of Economics, says Taliban field commanders that it interviewed, suggested that ISI intelligence agents even attended Taliban Supreme Council meetings. The report follows one of the deadliest weeks for NATO troops in Afghanistan, with over thirty soldiers killed.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday dismissed a report that the Inter-Services Intelligence agency is funding, training and guiding the Taliban in Afghanistan as "rubbish", saying Talibanisation is not good for both countries.

Qureshi said he was "surprised and shocked" that an institution like the London School of Economics had prepared a report that alleged the ISI had links with the Afghan Taliban. He said Western countries had, in their official communications, praised the role of the ISI and Pakistan's armed forces in the war on terror.

Describing the report prepared by researched Matt Waldman as "rubbish", Qureshi said Talibanisation is not good for Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Pakistan's elected government has a clear "hands off policy" on Afghanistan, he said.

The government had not interfered in Afghanistan's internal affairs and was instead cooperating with the neighboring country, he added.

Western countries have acknowledged Pakistan's sacrifices and economic losses due to the war on terror, and the US and Britain have launched a strategic dialogue with Pakistan, Qureshi told a TV news channel.

Asked about an allegation in the LSE report that President Asif Ali Zardari and an ISI official had met arrested Afghan Taliban leaders, Qureshi said: "For the past two-and-half years, Zardari has been accused of toeing the line of the US, Britain and the West. It is strange that for first time he has now been linked to the Taliban. This shows what importance should be attached to this report."

Qureshi claimed knowledgeable circles were aware of the ISI's cooperation and sacrifices in the war on terror.

"Who has captured more terrorists than the ISI?" he asked.

He pointed out that militants had even attacked the ISI's offices in Lahore, Peshawar and Multan.

In a separate development, the Afghan Taliban too dismissed the LSE report, describing it as a drama staged by political leaders of the West.

"The US, Britain, US and NATO alliance have failed to counter successful operations of the Taliban and now they want to involve their educational and research institutions in aggression in Afghanistan and against the Muslims and the report of the London School of Economics is an example," the Afghan Taliban said in a statement.

The Afghan Taliban consider the report "as a staged drama by political leaders of the West and not a report by an educational institution based on facts", the statement said.

The Taliban leadership is leading the jihad with the support of mujahideen inside Afghanistan and the militants control some 70 per cent of Afghanistan, the statement said.

"The Islamic emirate does not need to have shura or councils outside the Afghan border," it added.

The Afghan Taliban invited the LSE and other educational and research institutions to come to Afghanistan to "see if those fighting in Taliban ranks and their leaders are Afghans or aliens", it said.

Meanwhile, Gen Stanley McChrystal, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander, traveled to Pakistan to provide an update on current operations in Afghanistan and to hold consultations with Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

McChrystal visits Pakistan regularly to consult with Kayani and Pakistani leaders on ISAF's activities, said a statement issued by the US embassy.

"ISAF and the US continue to collaborate and partner with Pakistan to achieve our mutual goals of defeating violent extremists and establishing peace and security in Pakistan and the region," the statement said.

An Israeli alleged to be a Mossad agent involved in the assassination of a Hamas militant in Dubai and obtaining a German passport under a false name has been arrested in Poland.

Germany is seeking the extradition of the man, said to be using the name Uri Brodsky, and believed to be the first Israeli arrested in connection with the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January.

A spokesman for the German Federal Prosecutor's office said the man, the subject of a warrant issued by Germany, was arrested in early June after arriving in Poland. The Polish prosecuting authorities have said that the man appeared before a Polish court on 6 June and was ordered to remain under temporary arrest for another 40 days.

They have made no comment on extradition proceedings.

Israel's foreign ministry has confirmed that they are giving consular assistance to an Israeli detained in Warsaw—while declining to confirm reports that Israel is opposing the extradition sought by the German authorities.

Der Spiegel reported in February that a man said by Dubai police to have used the name Michael Bodenheimer had successfully applied for a German passport with that name in Cologne last summer, saying he was an Israeli now living in the city. According to the report, the address he gave as his last in Israel turned out to be in an office block in Herzliya.