Posts Tagged ‘AP’

US SAYS 14 MORE NATIONS JOIN STATEMENT ON SYRIA

September 10, 2013

Fox News on September 9, 2013, published an AP report that the The White House says 14 more nations have signed on to a statement blaming Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government for a chemical weapons attack and calling for a strong international response. Excerpts below:

That means the list has grown to 25 from the 11 — including the U.S. — who initially signed on. The statement was unveiled on September 6 at the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Among the new nations announcing support are Germany, Denmark, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Honduras, Romania, Latvia, Albania and Lithuania are also listed.

Advertisements

EGYPTIAN SECURITY FORCES STORM MOSQUE, CONSIDER DISSOLVING MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

August 18, 2013

Fox News on August 17, 2013, published an AP report on Egyptian security forces storming a Cairo mosque after shooting at armed men firing down from a minaret, rounding up hundreds of supporters of the country’s ousted president who hid there overnight after violent clashes killed 173 people. Excerpts below:

Security officials said officers raided the Ramses Square mosque out of fear the Muslim Brotherhood again planned to set up a sit-in similar to those broken up Wednesday in assaults that killed hundreds of people. The Egyptian government meanwhile announced it had begun deliberations on whether to ban the Brotherhood, a long-outlawed organization that swept to power in the country’s first democratic elections a year ago.

Such a ban — which authorities say is rooted in the group’s use of violence — would be a repeat to the historic and decades-long power struggle between the state and the Brotherhood.

The assault on the al-Fath Mosque began overnight on August 16, as pro-Morsi protesters and armed men fled into worship center to avoid angry vigilantes and arrest. They piled furniture in the mosque’s entrance to block authorities and enraged anti-Morsi protesters from reaching them.

The mosque earlier served as a field hospital and an open-air morgue as a Brotherhood-called day of protests descended into violence. By daybreak August 17, security forces and armored personnel carriers surrounded the mosque and it appeared that military-led negotiations might defuse the standoff.

Then gunmen took over a mosque minaret and opened fire on the security forces below, the state-run MENA news agency said. The crowd around the mosque panicked as soldiers opened fire with assault rifles, the chaos broadcast live on local television channels.

Several security officials told The Associated Press that ending the standoff at the mosque was essential after receiving information that the group planned to turn it into a new sit-in protest camp. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who leads the military-backed government, later told journalists that authorities had no choice but to use force in the wake of recent violence.

“I feel sorry for valuable blood shed,” el-Beblawi said. However, he cautioned that there will be no “reconciliation with those whose hands are stained with blood or those who hold weapons against the country’s institutions.”

Signaling the Brotherhood’s precarious political position, Shawki said the government was considering ordering the group be disbanded. The spokesman said the prime minister had assigned the Ministry of Social Solidarity to study the legal possibilities of dissolving the group. He didn’t elaborate.

The Muslim Brotherhood [was] founded in 1928…

The fundamentalist group has been banned for most of its 85-year history and repeatedly subjected to crackdowns under Mubarak’s rule. While sometimes tolerated and its leaders part of the political process, members regularly faced long bouts of imprisonment…

The possible banning comes amid calls by pro-military political forces to brand the Brotherhood a “terrorist organization.”

“We are calling for declaring the Brotherhood as a terrorist group,” said Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, one of the leaders of the Tamarod youth movement that had organized mass rallies calling Morsi’s ouster.

The military-backed government has declared a state of emergency and imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew, empowering army troops to act as a law enforcement force. Top Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi, remain held on a variety of charges, including inciting violence.

On Saturday, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that a total of 1,004 Brotherhood members were detained in raids across the country and that weapons, bombs and ammunition were confiscated from the detainees.

…authorities also arrested the brother of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri, a security official said. Mohammed al-Zawahri, leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group, was detained at a checkpoint in Giza, the city across the Nile from Cairo, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists about the arrest.

AL-QAEDA’S YEMEN BOSS LEFT BLUEPRINT FOR JIHAD

August 10, 2013

Fox News on August 9, 2013, published an AP report that a year before he was caught on an intercept discussing the terror plot that prompted this week’s sweeping closure of United States embassies abroad, al-Qaida’s top operative in Yemen laid out his blueprint for how to wage jihad in letters sent to a fellow terrorist. Excerpts below:

In what reads like a lesson plan, Nasser al-Wahishi provides a step-by-step assessment of what worked and what didn’t in Yemen. But in the rare correspondence discovered by the Associated Press, the man at the center of the latest terror threat barely mentions the extremist methods that transformed his organization into al-Qaida’s most dangerous branch.

SUSPECTED US DRONE KILLS FOUR IN YEMEN WITH TIES TO AL QAEDA

August 7, 2013

Washington Times on August 6, 2013, reported that a U.S. drone was believed to have killed four members of al Qaeda in Yemen on Tuesday, the fourth such strike in less than two weeks. Excerpts below:

Officials speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press said a drone fired a missile at a car in the district of Marib. All four men inside were killed in the fire that ensued – and one of them was believed to be a senior member of al Qaeda, Saleh Jouti, AP reported.

The drone strike comes as the State Department said it intercepted a secret message between al Qaeda personnel warning of a looming terror attack.

The State Department has also temporary closed 19 U.S. diplomatic posts in Africa and the Middle East.

PHILIPPINES GET MAJOR WARSHIP FROM US TO CHALLENGE CHINA’S ISLAND CLAIMS

August 6, 2013

Fox News on August 6, 2013, published an AP report on the Philippines adding a second major warship to its fleet to challenge China’s massive territorial claims that Filipino officials say intrude in their country’s potentially oil-rich seas.

President Benigno Aquino III led military and other officials in receiving the 3,250-ton former U.S. Coast Guard cutter in ceremonies complete with a brass band and 21-cannon fire at the Subic Bay freeport.

The ship has been renamed as Philippine navy frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz.

A part of the former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila will soon be turned into a Philippine military hub to shift its assets closer to the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

BRADLEY MANNING GUILTY ON MOST CHARGES

July 31, 2013

Washington Times on July 30, 2013, published an AP report on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning being convicted of espionage, theft and other charges, more than three years after he spilled secrets to WikiLeaks. Excerpts below:

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, deliberated for about 16 hours over three days before reaching her decision in a case that drew worldwide attention as supporters hailed Manning as a whistleblower. The U.S. government called him an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor.

Manning was convicted on 19 of 21 charges, and he previously pleaded guilty to a charge involving an Icelandic cable. He faces up to 136 years in prison. His sentencing hearing begins on July 31.

Manning’s court-martial was unusual because he acknowledged giving the anti-secrecy website more than 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, and video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser offenses that could have brought him 20 years behind bars, yet the government continued to pursue all but one of the original, more serious charges.

The government said Manning had sophisticated security training and broke signed agreements to protect the secrets. He even had to give a presentation on operational security during his training after he got in trouble for posting a YouTube video about what he was learning.

The lead prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein, said Manning knew the material would be seen by al-Qaida, a key point prosecutor needed to prove to get an aiding the enemy conviction. Even Osama bin Laden had some of the digital files at his compound when he was killed.

Prosecutors said during the trial Manning relied on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for guidance on what secrets to “harvest” for the organization, starting within weeks of his arrival in Iraq in late 2009.

Federal authorities are looking into whether Assange can be prosecuted. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

JAPAN INTERIM DEFENSE PAPER SAYS DRONES, MARINES NEEDED AMID THREAT FROM CHINA, NORTH KOREA

July 27, 2013

Fox News on July 25, 2013, published an AP report on Japan’s government saying in an interim defense policy paper that drones and marines are needed to strengthen defenses against China and North Korea. Excerpts below:

The interim report approved by the Defense Ministry outlines Japan’s mid- to long-term defense policy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet wants to revise the current policy set by the moderate Democratic Party in 2010, to strengthen regional defenses and a security alliance with Washington.

The report says Japan should increase its surveillance capability and consider using drones like Global Hawk. It proposes creating a marine force to defend disputed islands and upgrading its missile defense.

Japan says China’s growing maritime activity near disputed East China Sea islands and North Korea’s missile and nuclear development pose major threats.

PROSECUTORS: MANNING ABUSED HIS COUNTRY’S TRUST

July 26, 2013

Fox News on July 25, 2013, published an AP report on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning being a traitor with one mission as an intelligence analyst in Iraq: to find and reveal government secrets to a group of anarchists and bask in the glory as a whistleblower, a prosecutor said during closing arguments.

Maj. Ashden Fein said Manning betrayed his country’s trust and spilled classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, knowing the material would be seen by Al Qaeda. Even Osama bin Laden had some of the digital files at his compound when he was killed, the prosecutor said.

“WikiLeaks was merely the platform which Pfc. Manning used to ensure all the information was available for the world, including enemies of the United States,” Fein said.

Manning is charged with 21 offenses, but the most serious is aiding the enemy, which carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison.

Manning, 25, was not the troubled, naive soldier defense attorneys have made him out to be, Fein said. He displayed a smiling photo of Manning from 2010 when he was visiting relatives in Maryland on leave.

Fein said: “This is a gleeful, grinning Pfc. Manning” who sent battlefield reports to WikiLeaks, accompanied by the message: “Have a good day.”

Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., has acknowledged giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and videos in late 2009 and early 2010.

“The flag meant nothing to him,” Fein said.

Fein also quoted from chat logs between Manning and convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo to try to show the soldier knew he would embarrass diplomats.

“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack,” Manning wrote to Lamo in a chat cited by Fein.

Lamo turned the soldier in to authorities in May 2010.

A military judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Manning’s request. Army Col. Denise Lind will deliberate after closing arguments. It’s not clear when she will rule.

Fein said Manning relied on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for guidance on what to leak, starting within two weeks of his arrival in Iraq in November 2009.

Referring to a “Most Wanted Leaks” list the organization published, Fein said WikiLeaks sought almost exclusively information about the U.S.

“What is obvious is that Pfc. Manning pulled as much information as possible to please Julian Assange in order to get that information released,” Fein said. He later described the group as “a bunch of anti-government activists and anarchists.”

Federal authorities also are looking into whether Assange can be prosecuted. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

Also, the judge refused to dismiss theft charges against Manning after the defense said prosecutors hadn’t proven the allegations.

A counterintelligence witness, in classified testimony, valued the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs at about $5.7 million, based on what foreign intelligence services had paid in the past for similar information, Fein said.

Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to reduced versions of some charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison for those offenses, but prosecutors pressed ahead with the original charges.

RUSSIA HOLDS LARGEST WAR GAMES IN DECADES

July 18, 2013

The Washington Times on July 17, 2013, reported that Russia kicked off its largest national military maneuvers in decades on July 16, sending an estimated 160,000 troops and 5,000 tanks into Siberia for an exercise some say was aimed at fending off a future attack from Japanese and U.S. forces. Excerpts below:

Russia also sent in dozens of its Pacific Fleet ships and about 130 of its combat planes to participate, The Associated Press reported. The exercise is scheduled to last all week.

Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said the exercises were just normal combat training and not aimed at any nation in particular, but military analysts say otherwise. Konstantin Sivkov, a retired Russian military officer and former member of the General Staff, said in a local media report that part of the training was a simulated attack by Japan and the United States, AP reported.

Comment: It is quite possible that the maneuvers ultimate message is to China which might in the future seek to expand into the sparsely populated Siberia.

PROSECUTION RESTS CASE AGAINST MANNING IN WIKILEAKS TRIAL

July 3, 2013

Fox News on July 2, 2013, published an AP report on prosecutors resting their case against Pfc. Bradley Manning after presenting evidence from 80 witnesses, trying to prove the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst let military secrets fall into the hands of Al Qaeda and its former leader Osama bin Laden. Excerpts below:

The 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., is charged with 21 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence. To prove that charge, prosecutors must show Manning gave intelligence to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, knowing it would be published online and seen by an enemy of the United States.

Manning has acknowledged sending more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and State Department diplomatic cables, along with several battlefield video clips, to WikiLeaks while working in Baghdad from November 2009 through May 2010.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Manning, a former intelligence analyst, used military computers in Iraq to download reams of documents and battlefield video from a classified network, transferred some of the material to his personal computer and sent it to WikiLeaks.

The evidence showed Manning’s training repeatedly instructed him not to give classified information to unauthorized people.

As they wrapped up their case, prosecutors offered that Al Qaeda leaders reveled in WikiLeaks’ publication of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States.

“By the grace of God the enemy’s interests are today spread all over the place,” Adam Gadahn, a spokesman for the terrorist group, said in a 2011 Al Qaeda propaganda video. The video specifically referred to material available on the WikiLeaks website.

The government also presented evidence that bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghanistan battlefield reports WikiLeaks published. The evidence was a written statement, agreed to by the defense, that the material was found on digital media seized in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Manning’s intent is a key issue, said Philip Cave, a retired Navy lawyer in private practice in Alexandria, Va.

Manning faces eight espionage counts and a computer fraud charge, all alleging he either exceeded his authorized access to classified information or had unauthorized possession of national defense material. His top-secret clearance enabled him to look at many kinds of classified information, but an information assurance officer, Capt. Thomas Cherepko, testified that “having the ability to go there doesn’t mean you have the need or authority to go there.”

Manning is also charged with five counts of theft, each alleging he stole a something of value worth more than $1,000.

The trial is being heard by a judge, not a jury. It began June 3 and was in session for 14 days before the prosecution rested.

Manning has pleaded guilty to reduced charges on seven of eight espionage counts and two computer fraud counts. He also has pleaded guilty to violating a military regulation prohibiting wrongful storage of classified information. The offenses carry a combined maximum prison term of 20 years.

Despite his pleas, prosecutors are seeking to convict him of the original charges.