Video in Malaysian court shows prac­tice be­fore Kim at­tack

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - World -

SEOUL, South Korea -- A South Korean law­maker says North Korean hack­ers stole highly clas­si­fied military doc­u­ments that in­clude US-South Korean wartime “de­cap­i­ta­tion strike” plans against the North Korean lead­er­ship.

The United States, mean­while, staged an­other show of force meant to de­ter any North Korean ag­gres­sion by fly­ing two B-1B su­per­sonic bombers Tues­day night from an air base in the U.S. ter­ri­tory of Guam to the South for drills with South Korean jets. Such flights by the pow­er­ful air­craft based in Guam in­cense the North, which claims they are preparation for war; Py­ongyang has threat­ened to send mis­siles into the waters around Guam.

If con­firmed, the re­ported hack­ing at­tack by the North would be a ma­jor blow for South Korea at a time when its re­la­tions with ri­val North Korea are at a low point. The South has taken an in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive stance to­ward the North’s bel­liger­ence amid back-and-forth threats of war be­tween North Korea and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. North Korea’s pos­ses­sion of se­cret war plans would re­quire a ma­jor over­haul of how South Korea and its ally Wash­ing­ton would re­spond if there’s an­other war on the Korean Penin­sula.

An un­usu­ally ag­gres­sive ap­proach to the North by Trump, which has in­cluded rhetoric hint­ing at U.S. strikes and threat­en­ing the de­struc­tion of North Korea’s lead­er­ship, has some South Kore­ans fear­ful that war is closer than at any time since the Korean War ended in 1953 in a shaky cease­fire, leav­ing the Korean Penin­sula still tech­ni­cally in a state of war.

Rep. Lee Cheol-hee, a law­maker for the rul­ing Demo­cratic Party who sits on the Na­tional De­fense Com­mit­tee, said de­fense sources told him that North Korean hack­ers last year stole the clas­si­fied U.S.South Korean war plans, in­clud­ing parts of Op­er­a­tional Plan 5015, which in­cludes pro­ce­dures for a de­cap­i­ta­tion strike on the North’s lead­er­ship if a cri­sis breaks out or ap­pears im­mi­nent.

The De­fense Min­istry af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion said in May that North Korea was likely be­hind the hack­ing of the De­fense In­te­grated Data Cen­ter in Septem­ber last year, but had re­fused to con­firm me­dia spec­u­la­tion that the de­cap­i­ta­tion strike plan was com­pro­mised. De­fense of­fi­cials re­fused to com­ment Wed­nes­day.

Lee, who didn’t spec­ify his sources, said the plans al­legedly stolen by the North in­clude op­er­a­tions for track­ing the move­ment of the North’s lead­er­ship, iso­lat­ing their hide­outs, ex­e­cut­ing air as­saults and fol­low-up ac­tions for se­cur­ing and elim­i­nat­ing tar­gets, which would ob­vi­ously in­clude North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“There is an ur­gent need for the military to change and up­date parts that were stolen by North Korea,” Lee said.

A pre-emp­tive strike against Py­ongyang’s lead­er­ship would be dif­fi­cult to un­der­take, but it’s widely seen as the most re­al­is­tic of the lim­ited military op­tions Seoul has to deny a nu­clear at­tack from its ri­val.

Out­side gov­ern­ments and in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions say Kim rules as a tyrant over a largely mal­nour­ished and abused pop­u­la­tion while en­joy­ing a lux­u­ri­ous lifestyle backed up by a weapons pro­gram nearly ad­vanced enough to vi­ably tar­get the U.S. main­land with nu­cle­artipped mis­siles. But Kim, the third gen­er­a­tion of his fam­ily to rule, is of­fi­cially revered in the North, and any sug­ges­tion of re­mov­ing him from power is taken ex­tremely se­ri­ously in Py­ongyang.

Lee said that 235 gi­ga­bytes of military doc­u­ments were taken, but the military has yet to iden­tify 80 per­cent of the doc­u­ments that were com­pro­mised. Other stolen data in­cluded con­tin­gency plans for South Korean spe­cial forces and in­for­ma­tion on military fa­cil­i­ties and power plants, he said.

Seoul says North Korea has re­peat­edly staged cy­ber­at­tacks on South Korean busi­ness and gov­ern­ment web­sites. North Korea rou­tinely de­nies re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Not long af­ter the news of the al­leged cy­ber­at­tacks broke, two B-1B bombers few from Guam to con­duct drills with two South Korean fighter jets Tues­day night, a South Korean De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial said, re­quest­ing anonymity be­cause of de­part­ment rules.

The U.S. bombers staged sim­u­lated air-to-ground mis­sile strik­ing drills off the penin­sula’s east coast be­fore fly­ing across the coun­try ac­com­pa­nied by the two South Korean jets. The air­craft then con­ducted sim­i­lar sim­u­lated air to ground strik­ing drills off the penin­sula’s west coast, the of­fi­cial said.

North Korea has yet to com­ment on ei­ther the bomb­ing drills or the hack­ing claims. (AP)

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia -- The Viet­namese sus­pect in the as­sas­si­na­tion of the es­tranged half brother of North Korea’s leader was seen on air­port se­cu­rity video pre­sented in court Wed­nes­day smear­ing some­thing on a per­son’s face two days be­fore Kim Jong Nam was killed in that man­ner.

The footage showed Doan Thi Huong run­ning to­ward a per­son from be­hind and wip­ing his face, then clasp­ing her hands and slightly bow­ing be­fore mov­ing away.

De­scrib­ing other se­cu­rity videos the day of the mur­der, po­lice of­fi­cer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz tes­ti­fied Huong was more “ag­gres­sive” when she ap­proached Kim Jong Nam com­pared to the prac­tice in­ci­dent.

Wan Azirul, the chief po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor, said Huong ar­rived at the Kuala Lumpur air­port two hours be­fore the at­tack and bought a taxi voucher.

The at­tack on Kim took place about 9 a.m. on Feb. 13 in the air­port’s de­par­ture hall. Af­ter smear­ing Kim’s face, Huong hur­ried away from Kim and “her hand ges­tures showed she was un­com­fort­able,” wan Azirul said. She walked swiftly to a re­stroom one floor below, keep­ing her hands par­tially raised and her palms away from her body as if to avoid con­tact.

Pros­e­cu­tors said pre­vi­ously they would present ev­i­dence the two mur­der sus­pects knew they were han­dling poi­son when they killed Kim. Their de­fense lawyers have said the women were duped by sus­pected North Korean agents into be­liev­ing they were play­ing a harm­less prank for a TV show.

“She seemed to be anx­ious. From my ob­ser­va­tion, Doan has been in­formed and knew what needed to be done. Even though she seemed to be in panic, she knew what to do,” wan Azirul told the court.

Huong was in the re­stroom for just over a minute, and the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor tes­ti­fied she was more re­laxed and her hands were in nor­mal po­si­tion af­ter she left the re­stroom. She then headed to the taxi queue and was joined by the sec­ond sus­pect, Siti Aisyah from Indonesia, shortly af­ter­ward.

Other wit­nesses have tes­ti­fied that VX nerve agent was de­tected on Kim’s face and on the sus­pects’ cloth­ing and on Huong’s fin­ger­nails clip­pings.

Wit­nesses also tes­ti­fied that wash­ing hands could re­move the oily sub­stance.

Huong and Aisyah have pleaded not guilty to mur­der charges that carry a manda­tory death sen­tence if they are con­victed. (AP)

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