The National

Castaways rescued when giant SOS spotted in the sand

Three Micronesian men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after writing a giant SOS sign in the sand that was spotted from above.

The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days when their distress signal was spotted on Sunday on the uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and US warplanes, the Australian defence department said Monday.

The men had apparently set out from Pulawat atoll in a 7-meter boat on July 30 and had intended to travel about 43 kilometres to Pulap atoll when they sailed off course and ran out of fuel, the department said.

Searchers in Guam asked for Australian help. The military ship, HMAS Canberra, which was returning to Australia from exercises in Hawaii, diverted to the area and joined forces with US searchers from Guam.

The men were found about 190 kilometres from where they had set out.

“I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfil our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world,” said the Canberra’s commanding officer, Capt Terry Morrison.

The men were found in good condition and an Australian military helicopter was able to land on the beach and give them food and water. A Micronesian patrol vessel was due to pick them up.

SOS is an internationally recognised distress signal that originates from Morse code.

Albania transfers ISIS terror cell suspect to Germany

Albania has transferred to Germany a Tajik man accused of being part of a cell of the Islamic State group that allegedly planned to attack U.S. military facilities in Germany, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The suspect, identified only as Komron B. in line with German privacy rules, was arrested on his arrival at Frankfurt airport on Monday, federal prosecutors said in a statement. Four other Tajiks were arrested in Germany in mid-April and their alleged leader was taken into custody in March 2019.

Prosecutors said Komron B. and the other suspects joined IS in January 2019 and founded a cell in Germany on the group’s instructions, initially intending to travel to Tajikistan and fight that country’s government. They then allegedly changed plans and decided to carry out attacks in Germany, either on U.S. military facilities or on individuals — including an unidentified person living in Germany who they considered critical of Islam.

As part of their efforts to raise money for their plans and for IS, one of the cell’s members traveled to Albania to carry out a contract killing for $40,000 but the plan failed, prosecutors said. He and another suspect who had traveled with him then returned to Germany.

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi confirms contesting for second term

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday formally declared her intention to seek a second term in an election in November that is seen as a test of the Southeast Asian nation's tentative democratic reforms.

After decades of military rule, Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning for democracy, took the reins in 2016 after an electoral landslide, but has been forced to share power with the generals.

Her international reputation slumped over Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims but she remains popular at home, where her image is undented by accusations of complicity in atrocities against the minority.

On Tuesday, Suu Kyi, 75, waved to a crowd of around 50 supporters on the outskirts of the former capital Yangon to submit an application to run as a candidate.

Some of her supporters wore red-coloured face masks denoting their backing for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party and shouted: "Mother Suu, be healthy."

In 2017, a military-led crackdown in Myanmar resulted in more than 730,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border to Bangladesh, where they took shelter in refugee camps. U.N. investigators concluded that the military campaign had been executed with "genocidal intent".

In January, Suu Kyi admitted that war crimes may have been committed against Rohingya, but denied genocide, saying refugees had exaggerated the extent of abuses against them

Mainly-Muslim Gambia had filed a suit in November at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Myanmar of “ongoing genocide” against the Rohingya. Myanmar has filed a report on its adherence to measures to protect Rohingya, but details of the document have not been published.

On the domestic front, Suu Kyi's adminstration has had faltering peace talks with ethnic armed groups in various parts of the country, while a struggling economy faces new pressure from the cororavirus pandemic.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is dominated by the military and retired civil servants, will be the NLD's main opponent.

Australia gains access to scholar jailed in Iran

The family of a British-Australian academic jailed in Iran on spying charges said Tuesday they were "reassured" after Australian officials found her well during a consular visit.

Australian ambassador Lyndall Sachs visited Kylie Moore-Gilbert on Sunday at Qarchak prison, amid heightened concerns for the academic's health and welfare.

Moore-Gilbert was recently moved to the women's prison, which is in an old chicken-processing factory outside Tehran.

A group of her friends last week launched a public campaign to win her freedom, saying that Australia's strategy of quiet diplomacy had failed.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Moore-Gilbert was "well" and "has access to food, medical facilities and books".

A lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, Moore-Gilbert's arrest was confirmed by Iran in September 2019 but it is believed she was detained a year earlier.

Her family said they "have been reassured" by Sunday's visit and reiterated their support for Australia's approach to the case.

"We continue to believe that Kylie's best chance at release is through diplomatic avenues," the statement released by the foreign ministry said.

A "Free Kylie" group said last week Australia's government should explore every option and urged Australians to petition members of parliament and the media to raise awareness.

She is serving a 10-year sentence for spying, a charge she has denied.

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry also rejected the calls for a more muscular campaign, adding that the embassy would "continue to seek regular consular access to Dr Moore-Gilbert".


Super Saturday results

4pm: Mahab Al Shimaal Group 3 | US$350,000 | (Dirt) | 1,200m
Winner: Drafted, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer).

4.35pm: Al Bastakiya Listed | $300,000 | (D) | 1,900m
Winner: Divine Image, Brett Doyle, Charlie Appleby.

5.10pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Group 3 | $350,000 | (Turf) | 1,200m
Winner: Blue Point, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

5.45pm: Burj Nahaar Group 3 | $350,000 | (D) | 1,600m
Winner: Muntazah, Jim Crowley, Doug Watson.

6.20pm: Dubai City of Gold Group 2 | $300,000 | (T) | 2,410m
Winner: Old Persian, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

6.55pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Group 1 | $600,000 | (D) | 2,000m
Winner: Capezzano, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer.

7.30pm: Jebel Hatta Group 1 | $400,000 | (T) | 1,800m
Winner: Dream Castle, Christophe Soumillon, Saeed bin Suroor.

The team

Photographer: Mateusz Stefanowski at Art Factory
Videographer: Jear Valasquez
Fashion director: Sarah Maisey
Make-up: Gulum Erzincan at Art Factory
Model: Randa at Art Factory Videographer’s assistant: Zanong Magat
Photographer’s assistant: Sophia Shlykova
With thanks to Jubail Mangrove Park, Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)