Monday, October 25, 2021

US airstrike kills senior al Qaeda leader


A U.S. airstrike in Syria killed a senior leader of al Qaeda Friday, according to U.S. Central Command. 

The strike — carried out by an MQ-9 aircraft — took out Abdul Hamid al-Matar, according to a U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee. 

"The removal of this al Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians," Rigsbee said in a statement. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

FBI confirms human remains are Brian Laundrie

 On October 21, 2021, a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie.




This is a breaking news update. A previous version of this report is below.

The apparent human remains that authorities found Wednesday in a Florida park most likely belong to Brian Laundrie, the missing man whose fiancĂ©e Gabby Petito was found fatally strangled last month, the Laundrie family attorney told CNN.

Investigators also found a backpack and a notebook belonging to Laundrie, 23, near the suspected remains while they were searching the Carlton Reserve in North Port, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson.

The discovery came on Wednesday morning when Laundrie's parents and law enforcement searched an area of the reserve that had been underwater but recently reopened to the public. The remains and items were found in the same area that the parents had initially told the FBI to look, family attorney Steven Bertolino told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

U.S. conducted 3 Hypersonic weapon tests in one day one failed.


WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The Pentagon's hypersonic weapon programs suffered a setback on Thursday when a booster rocket carrying a hypersonic weapon failed, people briefed on the test result said.

The test was intended to validate aspects of one of the Pentagon's hypersonic glide vehicles in development, two of the people said.

The tests occurred the same day that U.S. President Joe Biden said he was concerned about Chinese hypersonic weapons. read more

The Sandia National Laboratory ran the tests from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia which will help "inform the development of the Navy's Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) and the Army's Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) offensive hypersonic strike," a statement said.

The Navy and Army will conduct a flight test of the common hypersonic missile in fiscal 2022, which began on Oct. 1.Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound, or about 3,853 miles per hour (6,200 kph).

These tests "demonstrated advanced hypersonic technologies, capabilities, and prototype systems in a realistic operating environment," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s.

Companies such as Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) and Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) are working to develop the hypersonic weapon capability for the United States.

Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

FBI raids two properties linked to a Russian billionaire with ties to President Vladimir Putin


The FBI is searching two properties linked to a Russian billionaire with ties to President Vladimir Putin, a spokesperson for the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, told NBC News on Tuesday.

The raids of two houses, located in Washington, D.C., and New York, “are being carried out on the basis of two court orders, connected to US sanctions,” the spokesperson told NBC.

An FBI spokeswoman earlier confirmed to CNBC that agents are conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity” at the Washington home.

The search warrants in Washington are the result of a federal investigation stemming from New York City, two officials briefed on the matter told NBC, which first reported earlier Tuesday that Deripaska’s home was being raided by the FBI.

But Deripaska’s spokesperson said the houses do not belong to him, since he is not technically allowed to own property in the U.S. due to sanctions against him. The houses belong to Deripaska’s relatives, the spokesperson said.

In 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Deripaska and about two dozen other oligarchs and Kremlin officials tied to Putin.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, designated Deripaska “for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation,” among other allegations. In a press release, OFAC noted that Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.

Deripaska sued over the sanctions, but a U.S. judge in June dismissed his lawsuit.

Deripaska became widely known in the U.S. for his ties to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted on fraud charges stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Then-President Donald Trump pardoned Manafort in his final month in office.

Manafort and Deripaska had numerous business dealings. Manafort was indebted to Deripaska, court filings have alleged, and reportedly tried to leverage his role on Trump’s campaign to resolve his debts with the Russian billionaire.

The FBI and the D.C. police did not immediately respond to requests for additional information regarding Tuesday’s raid. A lawyer for Deripaska did not immediately provide comment.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

FBI tactical team standing by to rescue kidnapped American missionaries

 


Port-au-Prince, Haiti — Desperate efforts continued on Tuesday to save a group of missionaries, most of them Americans, being held for ransom by a criminal gang in Haiti. FBI agents were working with local authorities in the tiny Caribbean nation to find the 16 U.S. nationals and one Canadian who were kidnapped on Saturday.

The gang was asking for $1 million for each hostage — $17 million total — to release the missionaries, a high-ranking government source confirmed to CBS News. The dollar amount was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The missionaries, from an Ohio-based Christian organization, were abducted just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez and his team in the city were able to obtain a phone number for the leader of the "400 Mawozo" gang, which authorities believe is behind the kidnappings. CBS News dialed the number and a man picked up, but he hung up after hearing who was on the other end of the line.  

FBI tactical teams were assisting as Haitian authorities try to negotiate the missionaries' safe return.

"You're trying to do two things at the same time — maintain open lines of communication, and prepare for the worst," James Gagliano, a former special agent with the FBI's hostage rescue team, told CBS News about what was likely going on behind the scenes. 

Gagliano said that if it became clear the gang was killing or threatening to kill hostages, the U.S. law enforcement agency would likely have a strike team on hand to attempt a rescue operation.

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