REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON — Anwar Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who was a leading voice in Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, was killed when his vehicle was hit by a Hellfire missile fired by an American drone aircraft, according to senior U.S. counter-terrorism officials.
They described the attack as a covert mission run by the CIA with Special Operations forces in Yemen.
An official statement from Yemen’s government said Awlaki was targeted and killed five miles from Khashef, a town in Jawf province about 85 miles from the capital, Sana. The operation was launched at about 9.55 a.m. local time, the statement said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Get ready for a new wave of bank fees. Bank of America will begin charging a $5 monthly fee at the beginning of next year for customers who make debit card purchases.
Whether you use your card for one purchase a month or 20, you will pay $5 per month starting in 2012. It doesn’t matter if you select “debit” or “credit” at the point of sale.
Ricky Hatton says depression almost drove him to suicide after he was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in 2009.
In an exclusive interview on BBC Radio 5 live, Hatton explained how his life spiralled out of control in a battle with drink and drugs.
Hatton confirmed his retirement in July and now runs a successful promoting business.
But he said: “I was so down, I was crying and breaking out and contemplating suicide.”
Hatton lost to Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in May 2009 with a brutal second-round knockout.
He said: “I was going deeper and deeper into depression.
“I was getting depressed. I was going out and having a few drinks. The worst thing you can do with depression is add alcohol to it.
“I needed something to get my backside into gear and pull my finger out. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to think, ‘Blimey Ricky, get a grip’.
“Depression is a serious thing and, after my defeat to Manny Pacquiao, I contemplated retirement and didn’t cope with it very well.”
Massachusetts man arrested in terror plot
Updated: Thursday, 29 Sep 2011, 2:32 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 28 Sep 2011, 8:11 PM EDT
(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – We’re learning more about 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus, the Ashland man accused of conspiring to blow up the US Capitol and Pentagon.
Rezwan Ferdaus was a 2008 graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, where he earned a degree in physics.
He graduated from Ashland High School in 2003.
Ferdaus used the alias “Dave Winfield” and “Jon Ramos”
At the time of his arrest he was living with his parents at 22 Coburn Drive in Ashland.
Voting records show his mother, Maria Ferdaus, works as a health coordinator. His father is an engineer.
Despite living in the neighborhood for 14 years, none of their neighbors seemed to know much about them.
According to a source, Ferdaus was a star soccer player in Ashland. He also ran track and graduated at the top of his high school class, receiving a scholarship to go to Northeastern.
According to an article in the Milford Daily News , Ferdaus and two other seniors at Ashland High School poured concrete in front of 10 of the school’s doors as part of a “prank” in 2003. They were also accused of burning an American flag and vandalizing the school’s tennis court net.
He is charged with a plot to damage or destroy the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol as well as attempting to provide support and resources to foreign terrorist organization al Qaeda
He was arrested by undercover agents posing as terrorists. He thought he was going to receive 25 pounds of C-4 explosives. 3 hand grenades. 6 fully automatic AK-47 rifles. Instead, he was busted.
He wanted to have remote control drone airplanes, packed them with explosives, crash them into the targets. The planes are about 5 feet long with a 4 foot wingspan.
He traveled to DC in May and chose sites where he would launch these drone planes filled with explosives.
Ferdaus has been planning to attack DC for 2 years. He wanted to killed woman and children and as many Americans as possible.
Ferdaus was also the drummer for the band The Silk Road.
By Milton J. Valencia, Glen Johnson, and Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
Federal authorities today arrested and charged a 26-year-old Ashland man with plotting to damage the Pentagon and US Capitol with a remote-controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives.
Rezwan Ferdaus, a US citizen, was also charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically to Al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers stationed overseas, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
He apppeared for an initial status hearing today in US District Court in Worcester. Prosecutors are seeking that he be detained without bail until his trial. A detention hearing will be held at 3 p.m. Monday.
“The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said. “Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted.”
She added, “I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion. In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today, we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race, and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.”
The statement said that the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees.
Ferdaus also was closely monitored as his alleged plot developed and undercover agents were in frequent contact with him.
Federal prosecutors said that Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate with a physics degree, began planning to commit violent “jihad” against the US in early 2010.
He allegedly obtained mobile phones and modified them to act as switches for improvised explosive devices, and provided them to FBI undercover agents, believing the devices would be used against US soldiers overseas. Prosecutors said that in a June 2011 meeting, he “appeared gratified” when he was told that one of his triggers had killed three US soldiers and injured four or five others in Iraq.
“That’s exactly what I wanted,” Ferdaus allegedly said. Ferdaus delivered more of the devices and was anxious each time to know if they had worked and how many Americans had been killed, prosecutors said in a statement.
In recorded conversations beginning in January, Ferdaus allegedly also told a cooperating witness that he planned to attack the Pentagon using aircraft similar to “small drone airplanes” laden with explosives and guided by GPS devices.
In April, he allegedly expanded his plans to include attacking the US Capitol. In May and June, he allegedly delivered two thumb drives to agents that contained detailed plans of his proposed attacks.
In May, he allegedly traveled to Washington, conducting surveillance and taking photos of targets, as well as his proposed launch site, East Potomac Park. He told an undercover agent after his Washington visit that he wanted to couple his “aerial assault” with an armed ground attack, involving six people with automatic firearms.
Between May and September, prosecutors said, he ordered and acquired materials for his plans, including a remote-controlled aircraft. He also received from undercover agents today “(what he believed to be) C-4 explosives, six fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles (machine guns) and grenades,” prosecutors said in a statement. After he locked them into a storage unit in Framingham he had rented under an assumed name, he was arrested by federal agents.
“Although Ferdaus was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including being told that his attack would likely kill women and children …. Ferdaus never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks,” prosecutors said.
Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division said, “Today’s arrest was the culmination of an investigation forged through strong relationships among various Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to detect, deter, and prevent terrorism.”
Glen Johnson and Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Afghanistan is experiencing far more security incidents than it did a year ago, leading to more civilian deaths and injuries, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.
As of the end of August, the average monthly number of incidents for 2011 was up 39% from the same period in 2010, the report says. Most involved armed clashes and improvised explosive devices. There were just as many suicide attacks — 12 per month — as there were a year ago.
The report paints a very different picture from that offered by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. ISAF officials have repeatedly reported that violence is down this year, and cited numerous security gains.
“Throughout 2011 ISAF has seen significant security improvements throughout Afghanistan,” ISAF said in a report in August, adding that “violence is down in 12 of the past 16 weeks as compared to the same period in 2010.”
(Reuters) – Washington has just about had it with Pakistan.
“Turns out they are disloyal, deceptive and a danger to the United States,” fumed Republican Representative Ted Poe last week. “We pay them to hate us. Now we pay them to bomb us. Let’s not pay them at all.”
For many in America, Islamabad has been nothing short of perfidious since joining a strategic alliance with Washington 10 years ago: selectively cooperating in the war on extremist violence and taking billions of dollars in aid to do the job, while all the time sheltering and supporting Islamist militant groups that fight NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has angrily denied the charges, but if its critics are right, what could the explanation be for such duplicity? What strategic agendas might be hidden behind this puzzling statecraft?
The answer is that Pakistan wants to guarantee for itself a stake in Afghanistan’s political future.
It knows that, as U.S. forces gradually withdraw from Afghanistan, ethnic groups will be competing for ascendancy there and other regional powers – from India to China and Iran – will be jostling for a foot in the door.
Islamabad’s support for the Taliban movement in the 1990s gives it an outsized influence among Afghanistan’s Pashtuns, who make up about 42 percent of the total population and who maintain close ties with their Pakistani fellow tribesmen.
In particular, Pakistan’s powerful military is determined there should be no vacuum in Afghanistan that could be filled by its arch-foe, India.
Pakistan has fought three wars with its neighbor since the bloody partition of the subcontinent that led to the creation of the country in 1947, and mutual suspicion still hobbles relations between the two nuclear-armed powers today.
“They still think India is their primary policy,” said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general and prominent political analyst. “India is always in the back of their minds.”
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani – unprompted – complained that Washington’s failure to deal even-handedly with New Delhi and Islamabad was a source of regional instability.
Aqil Shah, a South Asia security expert at the Harvard Society of Fellows, said Islamabad’s worst-case scenario would be an Afghanistan controlled or dominated by groups with ties to India, such as the Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance, which it fears would pursue activities hostile to Pakistan.
“Ideally, the military would like Afghanistan to become a relatively stable satellite dominated by Islamist Pashtuns,” Shah wrote in a Foreign Affairs article this week.
Although Pakistan, an Islamic state, officially abandoned support for the predominantly Pashtun Taliban after the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001, elements of the military never made the doctrinal shift.
Few doubt that the shadowy intelligence directorate, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has maintained links to the Taliban that emerged from its support for the Afghan mujahideen during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Until recently, there appeared to be a grudging acceptance from Washington that this was the inevitable status quo.
That was until it emerged in May that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – who was killed in a U.S. Navy SEALs raid – had been hiding out in a Pakistani garrison town just two hours up the road from Islamabad, by some accounts for up to five years.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States have been stormy ever since, culminating in a tirade by the outgoing U.S. joint chiefs of staff, Mike Mullen, last week.
Mullen described the Haqqani network, the most feared faction among Taliban militants in Afghanistan, as a “veritable arm” of the ISI and accused Islamabad of providing support for the group’s September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
The reaction in Islamabad has been one of stunned outrage.
Washington has not gone public with evidence to back its accusation, and Pakistani officials say that contacts with the Haqqani group do not amount to actual support.
However, Imran Khan, a Pakistani cricketer-turned-populist-politician, said this week that it was too much to expect that old friends could have become enemies overnight.
He told Reuters that, instead of demanding that Pakistan attack the Haqqanis in the mountainous border region of North Waziristan, the United States should use Islamabad’s leverage with the group to bring the Afghan Taliban into negotiations.
“Haqqani could be your ticket to getting them on the negotiating table, which at the moment they are refusing,” Khan said. “So I think that is a much saner policy than to ask Pakistan to try to take them on.”
The big risk for the United States in berating Islamabad is that it will exacerbate anti-American sentiment, which already runs deep in Pakistan, and perhaps embolden it further.
C. Raja Mohan, senior fellow at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research, said Pakistan was probably gambling that the United States’ economic crisis and upcoming presidential elections would distract Washington.
“The real game is unfolding on the ground with the Americans. The Pakistan army is betting that the United States does not have too many choices and more broadly that the U.S. is on the decline, he said.
It is also becoming clear that as Pakistan’s relations with Washington deteriorate, it can fall back into the arms of its “all-weather friend,” China, the energy-hungry giant that is the biggest investor in Afghanistan’s nascent resources sector.
Pakistani officials heaped praise on Beijing this week as a Chinese minister visited Islamabad. Among them was army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, arguably the country’s most powerful man, who spoke of China’s “unwavering support.”
In addition, Pakistan has extended a cordial hand to Iran, which also shares a border with Afghanistan.
Teheran has been mostly opposed to the Taliban, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims while Iran is predominantly Shi’ite. But Iran’s anti-Americanism is more deep-seated.
“My reading is the Iranians want to see the Americans go,” said Raja Mohan, the Indian analyst. “They have a problem with the Taliban, but any American retreat will suit them. Iran in the short term is looking at the Americans being humiliated.”
ARMY CALLS THE SHOTS
The supremacy of the military in Pakistan means that Washington has little to gain little from wagging its finger about ties with the Taliban at the civilian government, which is regularly lashed for its incompetence and corruption.
“The state has become so soft and powerless it can’t make any difference,” said Masood, the Pakistani retired general. “Any change will have to come from the military.”
Daniel Markey, a senior fellow for South Asia at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, said the problem lies with a security establishment that continues to believe that arming and working – actively and passively – with militant groups serves its purposes.
“Until … soul-searching takes place within the Pakistani military and the ISI, you’re not likely to see an end to these U.S. demands, and a real shift in terms of the relationship,” Markey said in an online discussion this week. “This is the most significant shift that has to take place.”
(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
(Newser) – Bullies are continuing to plague a grief-stricken family even after the suicide of their 14-year-old gay son. New York student Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself after repeatedly complaining about bullies at his school and after making a heart-breaking YouTube video where he talked of his hopes for a better future. Now those same bullies chanted “we’re glad he’s dead” when Jamey’s 16-year-old sister, Alyssa, attended a homecoming dance. “She was having a great time, and all of a sudden a Lady Gaga song came on, and they all started chanting for Jamey, all of his friends,” Jamey’s mom, Tracy, said on the Today Show. “Then the bullies that put him into this situation started chanting, ‘You’re better off dead!’ and ‘We’re glad you’re dead!’”
Alyssa “came home in tears,” said her mom. “It turned into bullying even after he’s gone.” Her dad added: “I can’t grasp it. I don’t know why anyone would do that. They have no heart.” Authorities are still considering whether to file hate crime or criminal harassment charges against the key bullies who taunted Jamey. Lady Gaga dedicated a song to Jamey’s memory at a weekend concert in Las Vegas.
Mexican police have found five decomposing heads left in a sack outside a primary school in Acapulco.
Handwritten messages were also found, reportedly threatening the state governor as well as local drug lords.
It was not clear if the discovery of the heads and five decapitated bodies elsewhere in the city was linked to extortion threats against teachers.
Dozens of schools have been closed since last month after teachers went on strike over security concerns.
Police were called to a street in the Garita neighbourhood of Acapulco on Tuesday morning.
There they found a sack inside a wooden crate placed near the school, officers said.
Inside were the heads of five men, as well as the threatening messages.
- NEW: More than 320,000 people are affected, officials say
- Another tropical storm is expected as Typhoon Nesat heads offshore
- Storm expected to move offshore in the afternoon, state news agency says
- Typhoon Nesat, known in the Philippines as Pedring, struck early Tuesday
(CNN) — On the heels of a typhoon that left at least 21 people dead in the Philippines and 33 others missing, another tropical storm brewing in the Pacific is expected to hit the area within 24 hours, according to the state weather bureau.
Typhoon Nesat — referred to in the Philippines as Pedring — displaced thousands but was expected to move offshore Wednesday afternoon, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported.
A baby boy was among the 21 dead after Typhoon Nesat slammed into the Philippines on Tuesday, authorities said. Twenty-five other people were injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).