Category Archives: Technology

US-Canadian Family Returns to Canada After 5 Years as Captives in Afghanistan

A kidnapped American-Canadian couple and their three children have returned to Canada, after enduring five years as captives of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Afghanistan.

The family landed in Toronto late Friday aboard an Air Canada flight from London.

Caitlan Coleman, a U.S. citizen, and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012. Coleman was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to four children while in captivity.

Their release has prompted expressions of relief from U.S. and Canadian officials. In a statement, the Canadian government said it was rejoicing over the long-awaited return of the family.

‘Resilience and determination’

But details are now emerging of the ordeal the family faced while held captive by members of the Haqqani network. In a statement made at the Toronto airport and reported by the Associated Press late Friday, Joshua Boyle said members of the Haqqani network killed one of their children, a, infant girl, and raped his wife during the time they were held hostage.

God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, Boyle said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

The stupidity and evil of the Haqqani network’s kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Boyle said.

Before their arrival in Canada Friday, word of the birth of a fourth child had not been public. He said one of his surviving children is in poor health and had to be force fed by their Pakistani rescuers.

Rescue in Pakistan

On Wednesday, acting on a tip from U.S. intelligence, Pakistani officials say their troops rescued the family, hours after their captors transported them in a car to the Pakistani side of the long porous Afghan border.

A U.S. plane was standing by at the military airbase in Islamabad, waiting to fly the family to a U.S. military base in Germany for a medical checkup, but Pakistani security sources told VOA Boyle refused to board the flight fearing their scrutiny.

Instead, the family boarded Pakistan’s state-run carrier and left for Britain where they took the Air Canada flight to Toronto.

Kidnapped by Taliban

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for kidnapping the couple. U.S. officials maintain the couple was held in captivity by the Haqqani terrorist organization linked to the Taliban.

The insurgent group, which released two videos of the hostages while they were in captivity, had been demanding the release of their prisoners in exchange for Boyle and his wife.

One of the prisoners the militants wanted to be freed is Annas Haqqani, who is on death row in an Afghan prison. The detainee is the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who heads the Haqqani network and also serves as a deputy to the leader of the Taliban.

A senior Taliban official when contacted by VOA claimed the Coleman and Boyle converted to Islam while in captivity.

The Taliban need not have to keep them hostage and thought they be freed to go anywhere they wanted to because their hardships as an extended family were increasing in captivity, the official said requesting anonymity.

U.S. and Pakistani officials have expressed hope the hostages’ release could represent a turning point in traditionally mistrusted-marred relations between the two countries and it could lead to better cooperation between the uneasy allies in fighting Taliban and other Islamist extremists in Afghanistan.

Source: Voice of America

Patton and FiberPlex Join Forces to Build Enterprise Communications Infrastructure Powerhouse

GAITHERSBURG, Md., Oct. 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Patton Electronics—US manufacturer of UC, cloud, and IoT enabling solutions for carrier, enterprise and industrial networks—has executed a strategic transaction with FiberPlex Technologies—supplier of secure fiber-based digital communications to US Government and commercial markets.

Patton has acquired certain assets and intellectual property rights of FiberPlex and begun consolidating FiberPlex operations in Patton’s Gaithersburg Maryland facility. Other terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

The consolidation creates a unified business, growing Patton’s revenue and adding significant new resources, competencies and capabilities to the Patton group. New solutions from the combined core technologies and product portfolios enhance value to Patton and FiberPlex customers, channels and ecosystem partners.

FiberPlex customers will continue to receive stable, uninterrupted service and product supply, with all warranty and service agreements fully honored. FiberPlex channel partners will be credentialed into Patton’s channel program and given access to the full suite of complementary products. Patton channels will also gain access to FiberPlex products.

“The list of synergies is too long to enumerate,” said Bobby Patton, CEO of Patton Electronics. “Our product lines complement each other beautifully and the combined manufacturing capabilities mean we can offer a new level of vertical integration to the worldwide market.”

“We are excited about this new chapter for the FiberPlex brand,” said Buddy Oliver, CEO of FiberPlex. “We share a vision for the market and look forward to bringing new value to our employees, vendors and customers.”

“The FiberPlex cutting-edge fiber technology know-how enhances our contribution to our newly combined customer base. The advanced metal works manufacturing operation of FiberPlex makes us even more vertically-integrated, boosts our rapid-prototyping capabilities and increases the velocity in which we can commercialize technology,” Bobby added.

The FiberPlex product line focuses on secure fiber-based digital communications solutions that protect against compromising emanations and feature physical security, intercept avoidance, and layer-zero cyber security.

Both companies are family-owned, brick-and-mortar, advanced-manufacturing operations founded on conservative business principles and American values and focused on cutting-edge technologies, products, and services.

In related news, InsightsSuccess Magazine recently recognized Patton as a top-Ten UC solutions provider for 2017.

Media Contact:  Glendon Flowers | +1 301 975 1000 | press@patton.com

Globecomm introduces Vector, a Virtualized Video Headend for delivering hundreds of channels across multiple platforms

Highlights

  • Virtualized video headend system offers a single, compact solution that simplifies the processing, packaging and customization of video content – from acquisition and contribution to playout and distribution.
  • Scalable to hundreds of channels, Vector delivers content across DTH, OTT, IPTV, cable and terrestrial TV leveraging Globecomm’s global satellite, IP and fiber network.
  • Designed with Globecomm’s hallmark resiliency offering high availability.
  • Cost-effective solution that significantly reduces rack space, cabling, power and operational constraints.

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Globecomm announced today the introduction of Vector℠, a virtualized video headend system able to support hundreds of channels and deliver content across multiple platforms.  Vector’s IP-centric platform simplifies the processing, packaging and customization of video content from acquisition and contribution to playout and distribution for delivery across DTH, OTT, IPTV, cable and terrestrial TV.  It leverages Globecomm’s robust satellite, IP and fiber content delivery networks and the company’s extensive experience with design and integration of media infrastructure.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/10e8aecd-0762-4f80-8ecc-0568a3c46a39

Vector replaces the need for the traditional data center with a compact solution that significantly reduces rack space, cabling and power. Whether hosted on Globecomm’s cloud network or implemented at a customer site, each system is designed with Globecomm’s hallmark resiliency offering high availability.

“Vector marks the next step in the evolution of Globecomm’s services for the media and entertainment industries, and is the culmination of many months of R&D research,” said Chief Commercial Officer Bryan McGuirk.  “We’ve spent decades building production facilities and broadcast centers, hosting and distributing high-value media content for linear broadcast and helping customers adapt it for OTT.  The Vector virtualized video headend brings all of that capability together into one of the simplest, resilient and scalable solutions on the market.”

The video headend is the technology core for video management, from ingest and storage to packaging.  In legacy headends, the workflow depends on multiple devices from different manufacturers, each performing discrete tasks and all requiring integration with sufficient redundancy to ensure reliable processing, and end-to-end communication to deliver the final content package.

Vector simplifies multiple, interdependent processes – including new compression technologies, multiple video standards and encoding advances such as adaptive bit rate – into software and data storage in an all-IP environment.  The IP environment provides a common bus to simplify process communications and ease technology upgrade management.  It provides lower and more efficient CAPEX or the replacement of capital expenditure with predictable operating expenses, and offers faster market-capturing delivery for new programs and channels, with dynamic scaling response to changes in demand.

Vector will make its debut at NAB Show New York 2017, Globecomm booth N609, being held October 18-19 at the Javits Center in New York City.

About Globecomm
Globecomm designs, integrates and operates highly sophisticated voice, video and data systems for connecting anyone to anything, anywhere.  We are differentiated by our worldwide integrated satellite, fiber, cellular and content delivery networks that offer resilient and robust connectivity over Land, Sea and Air with high availability. Technology-agnostic, Globecomm offers solutions and end-to-end managed services that best serve the needs of our customers.  Currently we support mission-critical communications and IoT capabilities for Government, Maritime, Broadcast, Enterprise, Oil & Gas and Telecom customers in over 100 countries.

Headquartered in Hauppauge, NY, Globecomm has locations in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, South Africa, Germany, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan.

www.globecomm.com

Contact Information:

Peggy Stalhut; peggy.stalhut@globecomm.com

Some See Trump Pressure Tilting Pakistan’s Afghan Policy

U.S. President Donald Trump’s new policy on Afghanistan, which pressures Pakistan to take more action against terrorists or face consequences, may be having an effect on Islamabad’s thinking, experts say.

“Trump’s statement triggered severe resistance from the Pakistani side and complaints of unfair treatment by the Americans,” said Malik Siraj, a political analyst in Washington.

“They have, nonetheless, alarmed the Pakistanis and cautioned them of the consequences that will come with continued presence of and support for extremists inside Pakistan,” Siraj said. “Hence, this has generated some serious internal calls to review Pakistan’s overall policy toward extremist groups.”

Trump’s position might have helped bring about a visit to Afghanistan by Pakistan’s military leader, and may have influenced Pakistan’s effort Thursday to free an American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children who were being held by the Haqqani network, which is considered the most lethal terror group in the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, during a recent visit to New York, called terrorist groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba a liability and said officials need some time to get rid of them, which seemed to reflect a change in policy. Up to now, Pakistan has always denied any links with the Haqqanis or any other terror group, including the Afghan Taliban.

In addition, Pakistan’s Election Commission on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group.

The events have fostered some optimism about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, which has been rocky at times during the 16-year war in Afghanistan. Pakistan still needs the United States on its side, as Pakistan fears India and wants continued financial aid and military materiel.

To avoid global isolation, Pakistan will need to modify its security policies and break any links with terror groups that pose a threat to regional security. Pakistan also has lost a huge number of civilians and troops to terrorism.

‘The right step’

“It’s a positive and the right step for all the right reasons,” said Mona Naseer, a columnist for Daily News Pakistan. “We need to stop playing a cat-and-mouse game on our Afghan policy, or otherwise we risk global isolation.”

“What prompted the [military chief’s] visit might be for different reasons, not only the Trump administration. I feel the other significant aspect is the Chinese government’s recent stance in the BRICS summit, too,” said Naseer, referring to the countries that make up the five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS nations called for patrons of the Pakistan-based militant groups to be held to account.

“What happens in the future, its effect or visible change, I’m not so sure about,” Naseer said.

Still, some experts don’t think Trump can pressure Pakistan to the point that it feels it must change.

“I do not think we should assume that U.S. pressure is the reason for [military chief General Qamar Javed] Bajwa’s visit. Pakistan has its own reasons for wanting to push for a detente with Kabul,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center’s Asia program, told VOA.

“It will want to build trust to get Afghanistan to do more to cut down on cross-border terror,” Kugelman said. “But the big issue is the border itself. Pakistan has a strong interest in pushing for better cross-border management in order to move toward a legitimization of the Durand Line [the de facto border], which Afghanistan does not recognize.

“All this said, the U.S. wants better relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, so there is some reason to believe that the COAS’s [chief of army staff] trip was meant at least in part to appease growing U.S. impatience about Pakistan’s inaction on Afghanistan-focused terrorists on Pakistani soil.”

Rahimullah Yousufzai, a senior journalist based in Peshawar, agreed, telling VOA that even before Trump announced his Afghan policy, there were efforts between Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve relations and cooperate to wipe out terrorists on both sides of the border.

Source: Voice of America

Pakistan Rescues Western Couple, 3 Children Held by Militants

ISLAMABAD A U.S.-Canadian couple and their three children were apparently still in Pakistan late Thursday, preparing to return to the West after five years in Taliban captivity.

Acting on a tip from U.S. intelligence, Pakistani troops on Wednesday rescued U.S. national Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, from the Kurram tribal region near the Afghan border.

A U.S. plane standing by was expected to fly them to a U.S. military base in Germany for a medical checkup. For reasons that were unclear, Boyle had so far refused to board the jet.

Coleman and Boyle went missing while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012. The Afghan Taliban later claimed responsibility for kidnapping them.

Prisoner exchange sought

The group, which released two videos of the hostages while they were in captivity, had been demanding the release of their prisoners in exchange for Boyle and his wife. While in captivity, the couple had three children, who were rescued with them.

President Donald Trump praised the release of the family from “captivity from the Haqqani network, a terrorist organization with ties to the Taliban.” He also called the development a “positive moment” in U.S.-Pakistan relations.

“The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,” he said in a statement. “We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations.”

He later told reporters that he thought Pakistan had “started to respect the United States again.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave reporters almost no information on the operation that led to the family’s freedom, other than to say, “It’s a very good moment and we intend to work with Pakistan in a collaborative way in the future to stop terrorism that includes kidnapping.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, speaking to VOA’s Urdu service, said, “The operation was carried out on the basis of intelligence shared with us. When these people who were abducted by the Afghan group were being transferred from Afghanistan to Pakistan, our security institutions swiftly acted on that intelligence and we were able to recover them safely.

“This is proof that if the United States and Pakistan work together in partnership, we can achieve so much to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region.”

Terrorist group designation

The Haqqani network, whose leader is also deputy chief of the Afghan Taliban, is considered a terrorist group by the U.S.

Pakistani army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor provided VOA with details of the operation to rescue the captives.

We swiftly deployed our troops soon after U.S. officials informed us at around 4 p.m. (local time) Wednesday the Taliban were transporting the hostages in a vehicle to the Pakistani side of the border. We traced the vehicle and safely recovered the hostages, Ghafoor said, adding that U.S.-Pakistani cooperation was key to the mission.

A U.S. defense official said the hostages were not in U.S. custody. “A U.S. plane was available for them and they chose not to depart on it,” he told VOA.

Coleman, 31, and Boyle, 33, in their last video message released in December 2016, urged then-President-elect Trump to negotiate with the Taliban to secure their release in return for Taliban prisoners.

Word of the couple’s release came as Lisa Curtis, National Security Council senior director for South and Central Asia, visited Islamabad as the head of a high-level U.S. delegation and held talks with Pakistani officials at the Foreign Ministry.

An official statement issued at the end of the visit Thursday said the two sides reviewed the state of their bilateral relationship in the wake of the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia and agreed to continue discussions on all matters of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, American Kevin King, 60, and Australian Timothy Weeks, 48, were being held hostage in Afghanistan. The two teachers, with the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

In a video the Taliban released in June, the hostages begged Trump to negotiate their freedom with the Islamist insurgent group.

Source: Voice of America

Pakistan Rescues Western Couple, 3 Children Held by Militants

ISLAMABAD A U.S.-Canadian couple and their three children were apparently still in Pakistan late Thursday, preparing to return to the West after five years in Taliban captivity.

Acting on a tip from U.S. intelligence, Pakistani troops on Wednesday rescued U.S. national Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, from the Kurram tribal region near the Afghan border.

A U.S. plane standing by was expected to fly them to a U.S. military base in Germany for a medical checkup. For reasons that were unclear, Boyle had so far refused to board the jet.

Coleman and Boyle went missing while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012. The Afghan Taliban later claimed responsibility for kidnapping them.

Prisoner exchange sought

The group, which released two videos of the hostages while they were in captivity, had been demanding the release of their prisoners in exchange for Boyle and his wife. While in captivity, the couple had three children, who were rescued with them.

President Donald Trump praised the release of the family from “captivity from the Haqqani network, a terrorist organization with ties to the Taliban.” He also called the development a “positive moment” in U.S.-Pakistan relations.

“The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,” he said in a statement. “We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations.”

He later told reporters that he thought Pakistan had “started to respect the United States again.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave reporters almost no information on the operation that led to the family’s freedom, other than to say, “It’s a very good moment and we intend to work with Pakistan in a collaborative way in the future to stop terrorism that includes kidnapping.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, speaking to VOA’s Urdu service, said, “The operation was carried out on the basis of intelligence shared with us. When these people who were abducted by the Afghan group were being transferred from Afghanistan to Pakistan, our security institutions swiftly acted on that intelligence and we were able to recover them safely.

“This is proof that if the United States and Pakistan work together in partnership, we can achieve so much to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region.”

Terrorist group designation

The Haqqani network, whose leader is also deputy chief of the Afghan Taliban, is considered a terrorist group by the U.S.

Pakistani army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor provided VOA with details of the operation to rescue the captives.

We swiftly deployed our troops soon after U.S. officials informed us at around 4 p.m. (local time) Wednesday the Taliban were transporting the hostages in a vehicle to the Pakistani side of the border. We traced the vehicle and safely recovered the hostages, Ghafoor said, adding that U.S.-Pakistani cooperation was key to the mission.

A U.S. defense official said the hostages were not in U.S. custody. “A U.S. plane was available for them and they chose not to depart on it,” he told VOA.

Coleman, 31, and Boyle, 33, in their last video message released in December 2016, urged then-President-elect Trump to negotiate with the Taliban to secure their release in return for Taliban prisoners.

Word of the couple’s release came as Lisa Curtis, National Security Council senior director for South and Central Asia, visited Islamabad as the head of a high-level U.S. delegation and held talks with Pakistani officials at the Foreign Ministry.

An official statement issued at the end of the visit Thursday said the two sides reviewed the state of their bilateral relationship in the wake of the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia and agreed to continue discussions on all matters of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, American Kevin King, 60, and Australian Timothy Weeks, 48, were being held hostage in Afghanistan. The two teachers, with the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

In a video the Taliban released in June, the hostages begged Trump to negotiate their freedom with the Islamist insurgent group.

Source: Voice of America