The US Embassy in Libya warned Saturday of an “imminent” attack in the capital Tripoli.
In a statement on its website, the embassy said the attack would target a vital national institution in the Libyan capital, without giving further details.
Citing open source reports, the embassy said the area of the Central Post Office on Zawiyah Street in central Tripoli was cordoned off after possible improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were discovered.
But the Libyan Interior Ministry quickly denied the discovery of IEDs in central Tripoli. In a statement, the ministry said it had seized suspicious packages in the post office.
“Initial reports, however, suggested that there were no IEDs or explosives inside these packages,” it added.
The US Embassy in Libya is currently operating from neighbouring Tunisia.
Libya has remained beset by violence turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.
Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power – one in Al-Bayda and another in Tripoli – along with a host of heavily-armed militia groups.
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Forensic experts search the area outside the Russian consulate in Athens, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavakis)
ATHENS – With critics saying the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has emboldened anarchist assaults on a number of targets in Greece’s capital, assailants suspected of belonging to a left-wing militant group threw a hand grenade at the Russian Consulate March 22, causing minor damage and no injuries, Greek authorities said.
Police sent a bomb disposal team to the consulate after cameras showed two people on a motorbike throwing a small object in the early hours of the morning at the fence beside the consulate’s security guard post, reportedly causing minor damage.
Despite the government promising tighter security for embassies after previous attacks, including against those from Germany and Israel, no security guard was at the post at the time, reports said.
Police cordoned off the area around the consulate, located in a suburb north of the city center.
Greece’s counter-terrorism police were investigating the attack that came in the wake of the government trying to repair relations with Moscow after two Russian diplomats last year were expelled after being accused of trying to undermine a deal Greece made to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to North Macedonia.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the attack, which it said would not affect “the traditional and inherently long-term friendly relations … with Russia.” it said a thorough investigation would be carried out to catch the perpetrators.
Authorities were examining a motorbike found partially burned in a central Athens neighborhood.
Greece has a long history of small groups that periodically attack symbols of state authority, wealth or foreign diplomacy. They usually plant small explosive devices that don’t cause injuries although a package bomb exploded in a car holding former Premier Lucas Papademos in 2017.
Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing, said they suspect the attack was carried out by a leftist militant group called the Popular Fighters Group, which had claimed responsibility for a bombing against the offices of SKAI TV and a newspaper in December.
Authorities were also investigating whether other active militant groups might have been behind the attack as Greece is awash with terror groups and the notorious Rouvikonas group which has vandalized many targets around the capital with none of the ringleaders being apprehended, leading to charges Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is soft on crime.
The Popular Fighters Group, known by its Greek acronym OLA, is considered responsible for several bombings and shootings since it first appeared in 2003, when it fired shots at the offices of Greece’s conservative New Democracy party.
It has also carried out shootings against the residence of the German ambassador in Athens, fired a rocket against the offices of a car dealership and planted bombs outside the offices of Greece’s federation of enterprises, a bank and a courthouse.
None of its attacks have caused any injuries and a SYRIZA minister said the assaults weren’t serious but just political acts.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)
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The German prosecutor”s office confirmed on Thursday investigations into acts of vandalism perpetrated by unknown persons against the Venezuelan consulate general in Hamburg, in the north of the country.
On the 2nd of this month several people damaged the diplomatic installation with posters and paintings insulting President Nicolás Maduro, an attack criticized by the authorities and solidarity groups with Venezuela.
The organization Juana Ramirez La Avanzadora, which brings together Venezuelans living in Germany, and other Latin American and African initiatives described the aggression as cowardly and demanded respect for diplomatic personnel.
In addition, they questioned the treatment given by the German press to the situation in Venezuela, which ignores this type of intimidation on the part of the opposition.
Meanwhile, the Latin American Bloc alliance condemned ‘any interference in the internal affairs of the South American nation because it fuels a violent escalation that could lead to regional destabilization’.
‘We urge governments and institutions to put an end to the economic sanctions against Venezuela, which only impede the population’s access to basic consumer goods and medicines,’ states a communiqué from the alliance of a dozen organizations.
‘For us, this is an attack on the sovereignty and self-determination of a people. We are in favor of a political solution that must come from the citizens, in accordance with the constitutional order,’ he concludes.
Germans and Latin Americans living in Hamburg organized several demonstrations in January in solidarity with Venezuela and criticized ‘the actions to ignore Maduro’s electoral victory on May 20, 2018.
In addition, they condemned U.S. maneuvers to promote a coup d’état in that country.
The International Rescue Committee’s emergency response experts have ranked the countries most at risk of humanitarian catastrophe next year. While there are 21 countries on the list, we’ll break down the top 10, which account for approximately half of the internally displaced people and two-thirds of refugees across the globe.
“2018 was a devastating year for millions around the world, with more people displaced from their homes than ever before,” said Bob Kitchen, the IRC’s Vice President for Emergencies. “In many of the world’s most challenging places, armed conflict and man-made crisis mean life will get worse and not better in 2019.”
These are the top 10 countries experiencing—or on the brink of—the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Somalia has been plagued by ongoing conflict for decades. Precipitated by instability and insecurity, and combined with persistent natural disasters, the crisis has left over 2.6 million Somalis internally displaced and 870,000 registered as refugees.
Outlook for 2019: Somalia will likely remain unstable, conflict-affected and food-insecure throughout 2019. While a major Al-Shabab resurgence is unlikely, people will continue to be uprooted from their homes due to ongoing conflict.
Ethiopia is experiencing increased internal conflict, which saw 1.4 million people displaced internally in the first half of 2018 — more than in any other country. This has been intensified by tensions between regional political and ethnic groups since new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office and started to introduce reform.
Outlook for 2019: Politics will remain volatile with a high likelihood of further conflict along ethnic lines, sparking major displacements and food insecurity, which will be compounded if poor rain and harvests continue.
During 2018, Nigeria has experienced persistent attacks from armed groups as well as communal violence exacerbated by competition for water and land resources. As a result, Over 2 million Nigerians have been displaced internally and 230,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
Outlook for 2019: Violence could intensify, triggering more displacements and exacerbating food insecurity for millions of Nigerians. The presidential election in February 2019 may also have a destabilizing impact and could spark greater conflict, leading to further displacement.
Syria has been plagued by armed conflict since protests against the government erupted in 2011. Since then, much of Syria has been shattered by the war, with health and education services collapsing. 6.2 million Syrians remain internally displaced and 5.6 million are registered as refugees in the region.
Outlook for 2019: Northwest Syria remains at risk of major displacements and further destruction of infrastructure in 2019, as conflict persists. Civilians may be vulnerable to airstrikes and have few options of places to flee to.
6. Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced persistent instability since armed groups overthrew the government in 2013, exacerbating the situation in a country that was already under-developed. Despite efforts to bring armed groups into dialogue, many civilians remain at their mercy. Over 550,000 people also face emergency levels of food insecurity.
Outlook for 2019: Conflicts resulting in further displacement and food insecurity are likely to persist in CAR. With an already vulnerable population, even relatively minor conflicts or natural events will have major humanitarian implications threatening lives.
Economic collapse in Venezuela has driven at least 3 million people from the country, largely because they can no longer afford to feed their families. It has also led to a rapid rise in criminality and violence and a collapse of the health system, contributing to the spread of diseases like measles and diphtheria.
Outlook for 2019: Venezuela’s economic crisis is only likely to worsen in 2019. Unless the government shifts direction radically and introduces economic reforms, diseases will continue to spread and people will be without food and forced to flee the country.
Afghanistan has seen persistent conflict since 2001. Once on the brink of defeat, the Taliban has been steadily advancing since 2014. This conflict, paired with chronic drought, has led to widespread displacement and food insecurity. Complicating matters, 2018 saw over half a million Afghan refugees return from Iran, many of them forcibly.
Outlook for 2019: Presidential elections due in April 2019 will coincide with the start of the spring fighting season, and are likely to prompt increased Taliban violence. Conflict-driven displacements will increase. The number of people facing food insecurity is also expected to rise due to continued violence and fallout from a 2017-2018 drought.
3. South Sudan
South Sudan has been in the grip of civil war since it gained independence in 2012, which has seen an estimated 380,000 casualties. While conflict has reduced due to a fragile peace agreement, violence persists throughout the country, leading to 1.96 million people displaced internally, 2.47 million refugees, and 6.1 million people facing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse.
Outlook for 2019: Even without an escalation in fighting, a significant proportion of South Sudanese will struggle to get enough food. If the peace deal holds, localized conflict will likely continue to displace tens of thousands of civilians, given the threats to their safety from the activities of armed groups. A collapse of the peace deal could lead to a re-escalation in the conflict and a drastic rise in humanitarian need.
2. Democratic Republic of Congo
At least two decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to extreme instability across large parts of the country. 13.1 million people are experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity. Recent displacement figures are contested, but the United Nations counted 4.5 million internally displaced in 2017. Congo is also witnessing the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.
Outlook for 2019: Tensions around the presidential election due in December 2018 mean that 2019 is likely to begin with intense political disagreements, protests and possibly growing militia violence. This will drive rising displacements and food insecurity, given the resulting disruption to harvests, while Ebola will continue to spread.
Yemen has been embroiled in a bitter civil war since 2015 as the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition supports the government of President Hadi against the Houthi movement that controls the capital, Sanaa. 24 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance and the United Nations warned in late 2018 that the country risked facing a “massive famine.” According to the most recent assessments, 63,500 Yemenis are experiencing catastrophe levels of food insecurity. Yemen is also home to the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, with over one million affected.
Outlook for 2019: The civil war and associated humanitarian catastrophe are highly likely to persist in 2019, with food insecurity already rising. As airstrikes continue to hit civilian areas and medical facilities, it will be increasingly difficult for humanitarian organizations to deliver aid, help people uprooted from their homes, and address the widespread malnutrition. If dialogue efforts fail and the coalition launches an offensive to seize control of the port city of Hodeidah, which brings in 70 percent of all imports, another 250,000 people could “lose everything—even their lives,” the U.N. warns.
The IRC, which helps to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster is responding to the humanitarian consequences of the crises in all 10 countries. The full 2019 Emergency Watchlist will help us make informed decisions about where to focus our efforts in the coming year. As these crises evolve, we will continue to track them and provide lifesaving assistance and humanitarian aid to those in need across the globe.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police say they have detained eight people after the U.S. Embassy in Athens was vandalized with paint.
Police said Monday the eight were detained after about 10 people on motorbikes threw red paint at the embassy’s parking entrance at around 3:30 a.m. local time. An anarchist group known as Rouvikonas claimed responsibility for the attack in an internet post.
It cited “American imperialism” as well as Greece’s deal with neighbouring Macedonia for the latter to change its name to North Macedonia in return for NATO membership, and the recent US decision to pull out of Syria, a move it said delivers Kurdish forces there “to the semi-fascist state of Turkey.”
Rouvikonas has carried out similar paint attacks in the past against embassies, Greek state organisations and political party offices.
————–Back Story From AFP
Two Greek anarchists were arrested Monday after hurling red paint at the US embassy in Athens, police said.
A further eight members of the Rubicon Anarchist Collective were also detained but later released over the incident, which caused minor material damage but no injuries, police added.
The Greek foreign ministry condemned an action it said undermined “longstanding friendly relations between the two peoples and the strategic relationship between Greece and the United States (which is) crucial for our country and the region.”
The Rubicon group, which regards Washington’s interventions in numerous regions including the nearby Balkans as “imperialism”, arrived outside the embassy in the early hours and sprayed the entrance before police intervened.
Another gripe is the planned US withdrawal of troops from Syria, which the group said would “abandon the Kurds into Syria’s hands”.
Rubicon has carried out a number of similar acts on embassies, banks and public buildings in recent years, causing some material damage but no injury.
Last October, the group daubed paint over the facade of the Canadian embassy to protest the presence of a Canadian gold mining firm in northern Greece.
A month earlier, Rubicon targeted the Iranian embassy in “solidarity” with Iranian Kurds. Media reports say it plans to join a January 17 meeting of other anarchist organisations in Rome.
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BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Colombia is investigating a possible plot to assassinate President Ivan Duque that may involve Venezuelan nationals arrested while carrying “weapons of war,” according to a top official.
Without providing evidence or any further details, Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes posted a 90-second video on Twitter Saturday night that said Colombia’s intelligence services had been hearing chatter about alleged plans to kill Mr. Duque, a conservative.
He said the recent arrests of three Venezuelans who had assault weapons in their possession had heightened the authorities’ concern.
“With immense concern and the utmost condemnation, I want to inform the international community that, in effect, for the past several months intelligence investigations have been taking place about possible attacks on the president’s life,” Mr. Holmes said in the video.
The video did not say whether the authorities had verified the existence of a conspiracy.
Blu Radio reported that the Venezuelans, who were arrested in the cities of Valledupar and Barranquilla this month, had in their possession an assault rifle with a telescopic scope, as well as an Uzi, ammunition and stun grenade.
Blu, citing unidentified sources, said any plot would have likely had the support of armed Colombian leftist rebels or drug-trafficking organizations, and would have been timed to coincide next month with the start of the second term of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.
There was no immediate reaction from Venezuela’s government.
In his video, Mr. Holmes appealed to Colombians to share any information that could affect the president’s safety. He expressed appreciation for the cooperation of unidentified foreign intelligence agencies for helping to protect the Colombian president.
Mr. Duque, 42, who took office in August, has been leading a diplomatic effort in Latin America to isolate Venezuela’s socialist government as Mr. Maduro looks set to cement his hold on power amid a devastating economic crisis that has spurred millions of Venezuelans to flee to neighboring countries to escape widespread food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation.
The Colombian leader has been a strong critic of the socialist government of Mr. Maduro, whom he has called a “dictator.”
The two neighboring countries have had tense relations for years, with soldiers and helicopters from the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela regularly crossing the porous border into Colombia.
Colombia, the United States and other governments have said that Mr. Maduro’s election victory in May, amid an opposition boycott and allegations of vote-rigging, was illegitimate.
They have urged the embattled leader to call new elections in which all of his opponents, several of whom have been exiled or banned from holding office, be allowed to run.
Mr. Maduro has been ratcheting up his rhetoric against Colombia in recent weeks, accusing his neighbor of plotting with the United States to violently oust him from power. He accused Colombia of helping “terrorists” after an attempted armed drone attack in August. Colombia has denied the accusations.
In a notable rebuke in September, five Latin American countries and Canada urged the International Criminal Court to consider prosecuting senior officials in Venezuela for extensive human rights abuses, the first time that member nations had referred another member to the tribunal.
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Afghan officials said on Tuesday that a suicide bomber struck a compound of Pakistani Baloch insurgents in southern Kandahar, killing and injuring several militants.
Zia Durrani, a spokesman for the Kandahar police chief, told the BBC Pashto radio that at least two people were killed and three others injured in the attack in Ayno Mina area in Kandahar, bordering Balochistan. Durrani did not offer comments on the nationality.
Section of the Afghan media reported that those killed and injured belonged to a family of Baloch militants.
Pakistani official sources, however, said that five Baloch insurgents were killed in the attack.
Sources said the bomber attacked the residence of Baloch Liberation Army’s commander and head of Majeed Brigade Aslam Achu at around 4pm. As a result seven persons, including Aslam Achu, was killed and three others were injured, the official sources said.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. They said Aslam Achu was mastermind of the attacks on a Chinese consulate in Karachi and a bus carrying Chinese in Dalbadin area of Balochistan.
Three gunmen tried to attack the Chinese consulate in Karachi on November 23, killing two police guards and a father and his son, who were there to get visa. The outlawed BLA had claimed responsibility for the attack. On August 11, a suicide bomber had struck a bus carrying a team, including Chinese engineers, working on the Saindak Copper-Gold Mine project near Dalbandin, injuring three Chinese and two locals.
Suicide attackers storm Libyan foreign ministry in Tripoli, killing at least three. ISIS claims responsibility.
Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 12/28/2018B
DAR Note: Our Trusted source on the Ground in Tripoli has reported that the current situation in Libya is worse than it has been since 2014. Tribal Clashes and are approaching a full-scale civil war. A terrorist element is also engaged in an active campaign to discourage all foreign powers from having a presence or influence inside of Libya. Most nations have already withdrawn from the country.
Suicide attackers on Tuesday stormed the Libyan foreign ministry in the capital Tripoli, killing at least three people including a senior civil servant, the authorities said, according to AFP.
21 other people were wounded in what authorities said was a suicide attack carried out by “terrorists”.
A car bomb exploded near the ministry, prompting security forces to rush to the scene, said special forces spokesman Tarak al-Dawass.
A suicide bomber then blew himself up on the second floor of the building while a second attacker died when a suitcase he was carrying exploded, he added.
A third assailant, who was unarmed and wearing a bulletproof vest, was killed by security forces outside, said Dawass.
The Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.
The group said in its propaganda news agency, Amaq, that three of its members carried out the attack.
Foreign Minister Tahar Siala said one of the dead was senior diplomat Ibrahim al-Shaibi who headed a department in his ministry.
Libya has been rocked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival authorities and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) regained control of Sirte in December 2016 after eight months of deadly fighting.
Since then, some jihadists have returned to the desert in an attempt to regroup and reorganize.
Last year, the Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is accused by Washington of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, announced its “dissolution”.
Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi in the chaos following the death of Qaddafi. Members of the group overran the city in 2014 and later declared authority over the coastal city of Darna.
Most of Ansar al-Sharia’s members have defected to ISIS in recent years.
The government of Albania has ejected Iranian agents alleged to have plotted terrorist attacks in the country, including targeting Israelis.
“I commend PM Edi Rama’s expulsion of two Iranian agents who plotted terrorist attacks in Albania,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted. “European nations have thwarted three Iranian plots this year alone. The world must stand together to sanction Iran’s regime until it changes its destructive behavior.”
The foiled plot is related to Iranians, who planned to attack a World Cup soccer match between Albania and Israel in 2016.
One of the two Iranian agents expelled was the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Albania.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated,” National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote on his Twitter feed. “We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe.”
The expulsion of the two Iranian agents on Wednesday follows the arrest of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat in the Vienna embassy who is believed to have launched a plot to blow up a meeting of Iranian dissidents in Paris in June. The German government arrested Assadi in Bavaria.
In October, France’s government said Iran’s ministry of intelligence was behind the plot to bomb the rally of Iranian opposition groups in Paris.
The rally in Paris was attended by US President Donald Trump’s attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Former US House speaker Newt Gingrich was also present.
In November, Denmark accused Iran’s intelligence agency of planning to murder an exiled leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), groups fighting for a separate territory in Iran. “We are dealing with an Iranian intelligence agency planning an attack on Danish soil. Obviously, we can’t and won’t accept that,” said Finn Borch Andersen, the head of Danish intelligence.
Sweden extradited a Norwegian national of Iranian background to Denmark in connection with the foiled plot against the ASMLA leader.
The Danes pulled their ambassador out of Iran but he returned in November.
The Danish government pushed the EU for sanctions against Iran, but the EU has refused to take action.
The Netherlands expelled two Iranian diplomats, according to a Reuters report in July. “We can confirm that the Netherlands has expelled two persons accredited to the Iranian embassy,” a spokesperson for Dutch intelligence said. “We will not provide any further information.”
Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 12/12/2019 Updates on US Consulate Grenade Attack
MEXICO CITY — Officials in western Mexico confirmed Friday that a drug cartel has hung up banners denying involvement in a Nov. 30 grenade attack on the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara.
Several media outlets posted photos of the banners, which read: “Our cartel totally and completely distances itself from what happened at the U.S. embassy (sic).”
The banners were signed “Jalisco New Generation cartel.”
A Jalisco state government official who was not authorized to be quoted by name confirmed the content of the banners, and said they were found strung on an overpass and footbridge in Guadalajara on Thursday.
The official could not vouch for the authenticity of the banners.
The professionally printed vinyl banners read, “We are not the ones who carried out the attack” on the consulate.
“You, the government, know perfectly well who is doing things with the aim of sullying our organization’s image,” the banner continued.
The banners appeared a couple of days after the FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information on the attack.
The FBI says a lone attacker tossed two grenades at the consulate while it was closed. Nobody was injured.
It was unclear if the Nov. 30 attack had been timed to coincide with the eve of the Dec. 1 inauguration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexican cartels have been known to carry out grisly acts of violence in areas controlled by their rivals in order to provoke government crackdowns on their rivals’ turf.
The Mexican and U.S. government have been focusing their efforts on the Jalisco cartel in particular, in part because it is viewed as the fastest-growing Mexican drug gang. This week, the new administration announced its first money-laundering case against the Jalisco cartel.
In past attacks on U.S. targets in Mexico, the attackers have usually pleaded ignorance or mistaken identity.
In 2010, hitmen working for Barrio Azteca, a gang allied with the Juarez drug cartel, killed U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband, Arthur Redfels, and Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another employee of the consulate in Ciudad Juarez.
Former gang members testified the killings were a case of mistaken identity. Redfels was driving a white SUV that was very similar to a vehicle that had been marked as a target for his team of assassins because they thought it belonged to members of the rival Sinaloa cartel.
Grenade attack on U.S. Consulate may be an ominous warning for Mexico’s new president
MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Consulate in Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, opened Monday with limited operations after it was targeted with two grenades over the weekend, just hours before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as the nation’s first leftist president.
The act occurred when the consulate was closed, and no one was injured. But it immediately caused alarm among government officials and security experts who question whether it was meant as a test for the new Lopez Obrador government, to provoke the Trump administration, or both.
Guadalajara, along with Lake Chapala and Ajijic in the region, is home to one of the largest American expat communities in the world.
Elements of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, whose headquarters are in Guadalajara, were suspected in the act. Security was reinforced Monday outside consulate offices as well as at the U.S Embassy in Mexico City as a precaution.
“The situation in Mexico is a powder keg,” said Arturo Fontes, a security consultant and former FBI agent whose postings have included the western city. “The timing and target are key: a presidential inauguration. Political transition. The Chapo trial, which threatens to expose names of corrupt officials, and the migrant caravan.”
The infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of the Sinaloan cartel has been on trial in New York City since mid-November. Fontes and other security experts say the caravans of hundreds and sometimes thousands of Central Americans moving up through Mexico to the U.S. border are hurting human- and drug-smuggling profits because they don’t need cartel protection or cartel-regulated coyote smuggling services.
And with Christmas fast approaching, cartel bosses are desperate for money to pay annual holiday bonuses known as aguinaldos to their underlings.
Some current and former U.S. and Mexican officials drew parallels to other political transitions in which power vacuums have led to internal realignment among cartels, usually leaving a trail of bloodshed behind.
Lopez Obrador arrives to the presidency with the murder rate at a record high, with more than 31,000 people killed this year. It’s now been 12 years since the official start of a militarized crackdown on organized crime that’s left more than 240,000 dead and more than 37,000 missing.
Moreover, Mexico’s rule of law remains weak, with beleaguered police forces beset by corruption and incompetence, campaign issues that were central in ushering Lopez Obrador to power.
This article neglects to mention the large number of crimes committed by the Municipal Police in Mexico. It has been our experience that even high ranking Government Employees, Senior Elected Officials, and Judges are often forced to ignore crimes commited by the municipal police out of fear.
At his first daily early morning press briefings Monday, Lopez Obrador made no mention of the incident in Guadalajara.
Near midnight on Friday, a person, caught on film, tossed two grenades into the U.S. Consulate General compound. Grenade fragments were found at the scene and the blast left a 16-inch hole in an exterior wall. The damage was considered minimal.
Mexican federal and U.S. authorities are investigating the act. The U.S. Consulate said on Twitter that it was limiting operations Monday to facilitate the investigation. Regular operations were to resume Tuesday.
“The investigation has been handed over to federal authorities, who will give information on developments in due time,” stated the prosecutor’s office for the state of Jalisco.
The incident comes nearly two weeks after the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known by its Spanish acronym, CNGJ, allegedly posted a video online in which it threatened to attack the consulate. The video shows a man under interrogation, with part of his face bandaged and severely beaten. With an accordion playing in the background, the man says he was ordered to attack the consulate office and, with the help of local and state police, to kidnap Central American men, women and children and hold them for ransom to generate money to pay corrupt authorities to overlook illicit activities. The planned attack against the consulate office, the man said, was to send the U.S. a message to leave “Mencho alone.”
The Dallas Morning News couldn’t independently confirm the recording’s authenticity.
CNGJ is one of the largest and most violent cartels in Mexico and is a top target for U.S. anti-drug operations. The gang’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, or “El Mencho,” is on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted list.
Attacks on U.S. personnel or structures are rare. But when they do happen, retaliation by the U.S. government has been swift and severe. An unexploded grenade at a U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in 2008, the 2010 killing of a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband in Juarez, and the 2011 murder of U.S. agent Jaime Zapata led to swift action by the U.S. government that eventually crippled or splintered the cartels, from the Zetas in the state of Tamaulipas to the Juarez cartel across from El Paso.
John Feeley served in Mexico during those incidents and said of the incident in Guadalajara: “We have seen U.S. embassies and consulates attacked before, but it is very rare. If this was a cartel directed attack, it was almost certainly a message or a trial run … El Mencho and CNGJ know how to kill and maim and this attack did neither.”
Feeley said he won’t fully rule out that someone other than a cartel may be behind the grenades, saying, “We have seen embassies attacked by disgruntled visa seeker or ideologically anti-American crowds, too. One thing is certain, however: The FBI and ATF will be all over this and it will be an early test of law enforcement collaboration in the AMLO-era.”
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political science professor at George Mason University and expert on security, said she was puzzled by the act because it’s been a long-held unspoken rule by the cartels not to rattle U.S. authorities. But she said the timing was key.
“Remember that the CJNG grew exponentially and became what it is now since the beginning of the Peña Nieto government,” she said, referring to former President Enrique Peña Nieto, who just ended his six-year term. “But they should not be attracting attention, and with this attack you’re calling for a response from two governments. Why?”
Fontes played an integral role as an FBI investigator in the Laredo region during the rise of the Zetas paramilitary group, whose remnants continue to terrorize the area. Fontes didn’t dismiss the possibility of a feud inside the Jalisco cartel, as warring factions led by Carlos Enrique Sanchez Martinez, known as El Cholo, with the support of the Sinaloa cartel, against his old boss, ‘El Mencho.” But in his experience in Nuevo Laredo, he said, politics also played a central role in such incidents as political rivals unleashed violence to weaken their opponents in the eyes of voters.
Political motives cannot be ignored, he said. “You have a new president coming in and this may be a message: ‘Hey, this drug war continues and it can make or break you.’ ”
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In a daylight shoot-out in Karachi on Friday, Pakistani security forces thwarted an attack apparently aimed at the Chinese Consul General in the southern coastal city. Sind police official Amir Sheikh told The Media Line that three gunmen, two police officers and two civilians were killed during an hour-long gunfight, the police contingent led by a female officer. According to Sheikh, the attackers first opened fire at a check point, then detonated hand grenades and set three vehicles on fire. The Chinese diplomats and other consular staff were safely evacuated to a safe house.
Deputy Inspector General Javeed Alam Odho of the Karachi police told The Media Line that one of the three dead attackers who wore a suicide vest was gunned down by a police sniper and the others died in the gun battle.
Peer Muhammed, Senior Superintendent of the Karachi police revealed to The Media Line that the responding police contingent was headed by Assistant Superintendent of Police Suhai Aziz Talput, a female officer who was the first official on the scene and “successfully managed to engage the terrorists” who, armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades and suicide vests, arrived in a vehicle and opened fire in the heavily-guarded area that has schools and upscale restaurants.
The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army tweeted responsibility for the deadly attack after which Twitter suspended its account.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the attack and ordered a complete inquiry into the incident and has ordered that elements behind the incident must be exposed. In his tweet, Imran Khan said that the failed attack against the Chinese Consulate was clearly the reaction to unprecedented trade agreements that resulted from his recent trip to China. He said the attack was intended to scare Chinese investors and undermine.
Sind Province Police officials reported recovering a significant amount of explosives, weapons, ammunition, dried fruits and medicines, which is being interpreted as indications that the attackers had planned to take hostages but apparently were unable to do so because of the speed of the police response which denied the gunmen access to the compound and continued to engage until elite army rangers arrived at the scene.
Assistant superintendent Aziz has been recommended to become the first woman police officer to receive the “Father of the Nation Police Medal.”
Speaking to The Media Line, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman and son of former prime minister Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, praised Suhai Aziz in his tweet and said that “The reprehensible terrorist attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi was thwarted by the courageous fight put up by our Sindh police led by the courageous Suhai Aziz. In an exclusive interview with The Media Line, Aziz said she rushed to the scene as soon as she heard about the attack. “I managed the manpower, I called for the armed personnel carrier, the fire brigade, ambulances; and I informed my senior officers. I then made the environment favorable to the assault teams.”
Aziz, who told TML she was drawn to the job in part “because of the adrenalin, and the satisfaction,” has been in this position before. In 2017, she defused a bomb discovered at Mehriman University in the city of Jamshoro.
She related that her family wanted her to become a chartered accountant but she felt the job to be very dull as it had no social value and decided to appear for the Central Superior Services examination and passed on her first try.
At the age of 25, Suhai Aziz Talpur became the first woman from the lower Sinds to join the police.
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All the staff inside the consulate are safe, China said. The government condemned the attack on its mission and the foreign ministry in Beijing called for extra measures to protect Chinese citizens in Pakistan.
“At the same time we mourn the deaths of the Pakistani police and think of their families at this time,” a spokesman said.
But the spokesman was keen to praise Pakistani security forces for its efforts to protect the consulate.
A separatist group, the Balochistan Liberation Army, said it had carried out the attack. It is one of a number of separatist groups operating in the province, which has seen a long-running nationalist insurgency.
“We have been seeing the Chinese as an oppressor, along with Pakistani forces,” a spokesman for the group told the AFP news agency.
Over the years, construction projects and Chinese workers in Balochistan have been repeatedly targeted by militants. Most recently, a suicide bombing in August injured a number of Chinese engineers.
So far, none of the incidents has been large enough in scale to really threaten the viability of Chinese investment in the country. But this is one of the most prominent attacks to date.
Officials told the BBC’s Stephen McDonell in Beijing they were confident the Pakistani government was able to manage the security situation to guarantee Chinese investment.
In the middle of a hard day, Pakistan’s remarkable women rise to be the silver lining. So proud of SSP Suhai Aziz Talpur, the woman who fearlessly spearheaded the vanguard of the successful police operation against terrorists at Chinese consulate.
Suhai Talpur joined the police force after passing the country’s civil services exam in 2013, according to local media.
“When my parents decided to enroll me at a school, most of our relatives started taunting my family. So much so, that my family had to leave our village and move to a nearby town,” she is quoted as telling The Express Tribune.
What is China doing in Balochistan?
By Secunder Kermani, BBC Pakistan correspondent, Islamabad
Balochistan is a sparsely populated region and has remained Pakistan’s most impoverished area despite being rich in gas and coal reserves, as well as copper and gold.
Baloch nationalists have long accused the central government of exploitation, and denying the province its due rights.
The area is at the heart of an ambitious Chinese project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The corridor is a string of huge investments by China in Pakistani infrastructure, which aim to link its western Xinjiang province with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan, as part of the One Belt, One Road initiative.
China has poured billions into Pakistan, and thousands of Chinese nationals visit the country to work on CPEC projects or other business ventures. Pakistan is keen to ensure nothing happens to jeopardize that and Chinese workers are closely guarded.
The assault on the consulate is particularly significant because it took place in Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan, rather than in the remote province where the militants are based.
The incident will deeply concern authorities who have described the Chinese funding as a “game-changer”.
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Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s annual rally to mark the storming of the US embassy and hostage-taking of 1979 had particular significance on Sunday on the eve of renewed sanctions by Washington.
Thousands joined rallies in Tehran and other cities, carrying placards that mocked President Donald Trump, wiping their feet on fake dollar bills, and engaging in the usual ritual of burning the US flag.
This year’s 39th anniversary fell just hours before Washington was set to reimpose sanctions — including an oil embargo — following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this year.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, addressed the crowd from the grounds of the former embassy, now known as the “den of spies”.
He said “economic warfare” was a final bid by Washington to overthrow the Islamic republic after decades of failed attempts.
“With God’s help and the resistance and perseverance of the pious and revolutionary people of Islamic Iran, this last weapon of the enemy — the economic war — which is accompanied by America’s widespread media operation against the nation of Iran, will be defeated,” Jafari said.
“Never threaten Iran,” he warned US President Donald Trump, describing him as America’s “strange president”.
The seizure of the US embassy by radical students was a key stage in the Islamic revolution of 1979, leading to a 444-day hostage crisis that permanently damaged relations between Washington and Tehran.
The students believed the US would launch a counter-coup to return deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power — similar to the CIA-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s elected government in 1953 — unaware that the king was already critically ill with cancer.
Several of the students later regretted the incident, but for the establishment it has become a powerful symbol of Iran’s refusal to be dominated by outside powers, the key driving force of the revolution.
Without the attack on the embassy, “the revolution would not have reached its 40th year,” said Jafari.
Thirty-five years ago, two suicide bombers killed 241 American and 58 French military personnel, as well as six civilians, in Beirut, Lebanon. The attack marked the largest single-day loss for US servicemen since the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive.
playU.S. Marines with the School of Infantry-East Color Guard stand at parade rest during a wreath laying ceremony on the anniversary of the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on Camp Geiger, N.C., Oct. 23, 2015.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SOI-East Combat Camera Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/ Released)
Thirty-five years ago, two suicide bombers killed 241 American and 58 French military personnel, as well as six civilians, in Beirut, Lebanon. The incident marked the largest single-day loss for the US military since the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive.
The horrific Oct. 23, 1983 attack on the multinational peacekeepers, an attack purportedly perpetrated by the Iranian-funded terrorist organization Hezbollah, was especially devastating for the US Marine Corps, which lost 220 service members. The Corps had not suffered such a loss since in one day since Iwo Jima. Eighteen US Navy sailors and three Army soldiers were also killed in the Beirut barracks bombing, and dozens of others were injured.
The deadly blast, characterized by the FBI as the largest non-nuclear explosion they’d ever seen, came just a few months after the April 18, 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Lebanon, where an extremist killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.
In 1982, the US decided, at the request of the Lebanese government, to send US troops to Lebanon to serve as peacekeepers in the bloody Lebanese Civil War between warring Muslim and Christian factions. The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was deployed to Beirut in the spring of 1983.
US forces, along with their French and Italian counterparts, achieved some initial success in Lebanon, but the Muslim factions in the country began to turn their aggression toward the foreign troops.
playLance Corporal David Chapman of Pennsylvania, right, fires from his sandbagged bunker position at Beirut’s International Airport
At 6:22 a.m. on Oct. 23, 1983, a truck laden with thousands of pounds of explosives slammed into the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine headquarters at the airport in Beirut.
playThe explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon, created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away.
(Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort)
The driver, said to be a Iranian national, detonated the explosives, collapsing the four-story barracks.
playRescue workers remove the body of a U.S. Marine from the rubble of the Marine Battalion headquarters at Beirut airport.
American troops were buried in the rubble. “Bodies were lying around all over,” one rescuer reportedly said at the time, “Other people were trapped under the concrete. I could hear them screaming: ‘Get us out. Don’t leave us.’ I just started digging, picking men out.”
playA U.S. Marine looks around as he is pulled from the wreckage of the Marine headquarters near Beirut airport.
The attack claimed the lives of 220 Marines, making it the worst single-day loss for the service in nearly four decades.
playU.S. Marines carry their dead comrades away from the four-story command center that was destroyed in a bomb blast.
(AP Photo/Asaad Jeradeh)
Minutes after the first attack, another suicide bomber hit the French barracks a couple of miles away. French troops managed to kill the driver, but the bomb exploded a few moments later, bringing down the nine-story building.
playA wounded French soldier is attended to by a doctor after he was injured in a huge car bomb attack at a building housing members of the French contingent of the peacekeeping forces in Beirut.
“There are no words to properly express our outrage and I think the outrage of all Americans at the despicable act,” President Ronald Reagan said in response.
playPresident Ronald Reagan condemned the Beirut bombing.
A memorial was built at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and dedicated on Oct. 23, 1986. The names of the fallen, as well as the inscription, “They came in peace,” are written on the memorial.
playThe memorial at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune honors the US service members killed in the Beirut barracks bombings.
(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera)
Memorial services are held annually to remember those who were lost, as well as the cost of freedom.
playA Marine color guard stands in front of the Beirut Memorial in Jacksonville, N.C., during the Beirut Memorial Ceremony Oct. 23, 2014.
(US Marine Corps/Cpl. James Smith)
“I think we all kind of grew up that day because we knew the world had changed,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Tuesday, “It changed the way we saw the world. It changed the way we looked at threats. It changed the way we trained. It changed the way we operated – and those lessons learned carried through the rest of our time as Marines. And that impact of Beirut still shapes us today.”
playU.S. Marines with the Official Marine Corps Color Guard march on the colors during the Beirut Memorial Parade at Marine Barracks Washington, Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 2017.
10/19/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep| ANKARA: An individual who claimed to have links to Daesh (ISIS) extremist group threatened to attack the Iranian Embassy in Ankara, Tehran’s envoy in Turkey said Monday, denying Turkish media reports that he had been evacuated.
“The suicide attack against the embassy was only a threat,” Ambassador Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard said. “Nothing significant has happened and things are under control.”
“The threat was made by someone who introduced himself as linked to Daesh,” Fard said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Turkish media said Fard had been evacuated but the ambassador and Tehran flatly denied the report as a complete fabrication.
“Such a claim is a sheer lie, and the personnel at our embassy are present at their workplace in full health and security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Earlier Monday, DHA news agency said Iran’s mission in the Turkish capital had been given an intelligence warning about a possible suicide bomb attack. The road by the embassy was shut off and police could be seen searching cars in the area, an AFP photographer said.
Ambassador Fard also said Turkish police “intensified security measures” around Tehran’s mission in Ankara in response to the threat.
In 2015 and 2016, Turkey was hit by a series of terror attacks which were blamed on both Kurdish militants and Daesh.
The last attack blamed on Daesh was in January 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people at an elite Istanbul nightclub on New Year.
10/15/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep CAIRO — Embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions worldwide are often considered places of sanctuary, however, not all have been impervious to horrific incidents.
When Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week it prompted Turkish officials and media to claim he may have been killed and even dismembered by a squad of assassins on the premises. The macabre mystery stirred memories of instances when diplomatic missions turned into places of terror.
Brutal killings, suicide bombings, militant raids and hostage crises — embassies and consulates have seen plenty of tragedy and bloodshed.
Here are just some of many examples:
BENGHAZI, ATTACK ON U.S. COMPOUNDS IN LIBYA
Libyan extremists from the militant Ansar al-Shariah group attacked two U.S. compounds — a diplomatic post and a CIA annex nearby — in the city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, setting off a night of rampage that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and gutted the buildings. Last year, a jury in Washington convicted 47-year-old Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khattala on multiple terrorism-related charges for his role in the attacks.
AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY BOMBING IN JAKARTA
Suspected Muslim militants detonated a car bomb outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 9, 2004, killing eight people, including an embassy guard, policemen on duty, two embassy workers and a visa applicant.
MYANMAR EMBASSY SIEGE IN BANGKOK
A shadowy group known as the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors stormed the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok on Oct. 7, 1999. They took 38 hostages to demand democracy in their country, also known as Burma. Thailand allowed them to fly to the border, angering Myanmar but ending the standoff without bloodshed.
U.S. BOMBING OF CHINESE EMBASSY IN BELGRADE
NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by mistake on May 8, 1999, killing three Chinese reporters. In China, protesters retaliated by attacking U.S. missions.
AL-QAIDA BOMBINGS OF U.S. EMBASSIES IN EAST AFRICA
Al-Qaida launched near-simultaneous truck bombings on Aug. 7, 1998, targeting U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people. Most of the victims were Kenyans but 12 Americans also died. The mastermind behind the attacks, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, eluded capture for 13 years before he was gunned down at a security checkpoint in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a month after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May 2011.
ISLAMIC JIHAD’S ATTACK ON EGYPTIAN EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN
A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-packed truck into the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad on Nov. 19, 1995, killing 15 people, including the second secretary of the embassy and three Egyptian security guards. Egypt handed down a death sentence in absentia to its citizen Ayman al-Zawahri, who led the militant group and later merged it with al-Qaida, for this attack. Al-Zawahri succeeded bin Laden as al-Qaida’s chief.
JAPANESE EMBASSY HOSTAGE CRISIS IN PERU
Leftist Tupac Amaru rebels seized the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 17, 1996, during a party celebrating Emperor Akihito’s birthday, taking diplomats, guests and government officials hostage and demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades. The rebels held 72 hostages for 126 days before government troops stormed the premises; one hostage, two commandos and all rebels were killed. The story inspired the best-seller “Bel Canto” by U.S. author Ann Patchett.
ATTACKS ON ISRAELI EMBASSY, JEWISH CENTER IN ARGENTINA
A bomb flattened the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 18, 1992, killing 29 people, including four Israelis. Two years later, a Jewish community center in the city was bombed, killing 85 people — the deadliest bombing ever in Argentina. Israel and Argentina have long accused Iran of being behind the bombings. Iran has denied any role in the attacks.
BEIRUT, U.S. EMBASSY BOMBING
A suicide bombing on April 18, 1983, at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. The victims were mostly embassy and CIA staff, but also several U.S. soldiers and a Marine. It was the deadliest attack on an American diplomatic mission up to that time. A shadowy Shiite group calling itself Islamic Holy War took responsibility.
IRAN, U.S. EMBASSY IN TEHRAN
Militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and took 52 Americans hostages. The attackers demanded the return of the shah to Iran to face trial. President Jimmy Carter refused and launched a failed commando raid to free the captives. Six Americans who fled the initial takeover and found refuge with the Canadian ambassador later escaped Iran with the CIA’s help. Their escape was dramatized in the 2012 film “Argo.” Iran held the hostages for 444 days, releasing them only after the 1981 inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.
WEST GERMAN EMBASSY SIEGE IN STOCKHOLM
German anarchists of the Red Army Faction shot their way into the West German Embassy in Stockholm on April 24, 1975, demanding the release of their comrades from prisons back home. They took 12 embassy staff hostage, including Ambassador Dietrich Stoecher. During the standoff with the Swedish police, the attackers killed the military and the economic attachés before accidentally blowing up a part of the building.
ATTACK ON SAUDI EMBASSY IN KHARTOUM
The Palestinian terror group Black September attacked the Saudi Embassy in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, during a formal reception on March 1, 1973 and took 10 diplomats hostage. After President Richard Nixon refused to negotiate with the attackers, three Western hostages were killed, including George Curtis Moore, the U.S. chargé d’affaires.
ISRAELI EMBASSY IN BANGKOK HOSTAGE CRISIS
The Black September faction took over the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok on Dec. 28, 1972, and held six Israeli embassy staff hostage. The hijackers agreed after negotiations to leave in exchange for safe conduct to Egypt.
YUGOSLAV EMBASSY IN STOCKHOLM
Two Croatian separatists stormed the Yugoslav Embassy in Stockholm on April 7, 1971, where they held and mortally wounded Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic. The attackers were later caught and convicted in Sweden. One of them, Miro Baresic, was released in 1972 as part of demands by Croatian hijackers of a Swedish domestic flight. He was later extradited from Paraguay to Sweden to serve the remainder of his sentence.
(A journalist being killed and dismembered… We thought this was another Mexico story….)
(ISTANBUL) — Turkish media close to the president published images Wednesday of what it described as a 15-member “assassination squad” allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and of a black van later traveling from the Saudi consulate, where he went missing, to the consul’s home.
The release of the photographs and video raises pressure on Saudi Arabia a week after Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to the consulate. Turkish officials fear that the team killed the writer, who was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The kingdom has called the allegations “baseless,” but has not provided any evidence that Khashoggi left the consulate and did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
News channel 24 aired the video, suggesting that Khashoggi was inside of the black Mercedes Vito, which resembled one parked outside of the consulate when the writer walked in on Oct. 2. The channel said the van then drove some 1.2 miles to the consul’s home, where it parked inside a garage.
The Sabah newspaper, which is similarly close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published images of what it referred to as the “assassination squad” apparently taken at passport control. It said they checked into two hotels in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and left later that day.
Khashoggi had written a series of columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia’s assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led a widely publicized drive to reform the Sunni monarchy but has also presided over the arrests of activists and businessmen.
On Wednesday, the Post published a column by Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. She acknowledged the writer first visited the consulate on Sept. 28 “despite being somewhat concerned that he could be in danger.” He later returned Oct. 2 after being promised needed paperwork so the two could be married.
A surveillance video image surfaced Tuesday showing Khashoggi walking into the consulate in Istanbul’s upscale 4th Levent neighborhood. No evidence of him leaving the consulate has been made public, but Turkish officials also have yet to provide evidence he was kidnapped or killed.
“At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance,” Cengiz wrote. “I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”
She added: “Although this incident could potentially fuel a political crisis between the two nations, let us not lose sight of the human aspect of what happened.”
Khashoggi had sought to become a U.S. citizen after living in self-imposed exile since last year, fearing repercussions for his criticism of the prince, Cengiz wrote.
Trump, who took his first overseas trip as U.S. president to the kingdom and whose son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to Prince Mohammed, said Tuesday he had not yet talked to the Saudis about Khashoggi, “but I will be at some point,” without elaborating.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Tuesday that Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were “open to cooperation” and would allow the consulate building to be searched. It’s unclear when such a search would take place.
Embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to reassure its Western allies and the international community.
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Washington being Washington, the expectation is that books born in this city should focus on matters of high policy. On that front, Prudence Bushnell’s account of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya—and that of its counterpart in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania—on Aug. 7, 1998, does not disappoint. Indeed, her book, Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings, raises important questions about how the Washington policy establishment missed the clues that might have allowed it to foresee, and possibly prevent, those twin tragedies and asks whether a serious inquiry into those events might have avoided an even greater horror—that of 9/11.
But, Washington being Washington, many times books about policy are dry, academic treatises, as often written to showcase an author’s intellectual and analytical prowess as they are to advance an idea. The books in this category are often bloodless. To the extent actual people are featured, they mostly fall into that elite category of policymakers. If other people are discussed at all, it is often not as individuals but as nameless and faceless collectivities—the Afghans, the Europeans, the Africans. To her credit, this is not the book Bushnell, who was U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time of the bombings, chose to write, a story about an incident that changed her life and should have changed U.S. foreign policy.
Indeed, Bushnell’s account is, first and foremost, about people. Part I begins, appropriately, not with the policymakers at all but with those whose lives were impacted by their decisions and lack of foresight. Principal among this group were the employees, American and Kenyan, who staffed the Nairobi embassy the day a truck bomb drove up alongside it and set off its deadly cargo. This piece of Bushnell’s book is a moving story of individual suffering and loss but also of small and large acts of courage, heroism, and, as the title denotes, resilience. It describes how a community torn apart by a vicious act of terrorism pulled itself back together to grieve for the colleagues who were killed and to help heal the physical and psychological wounds of the many more who had suffered. Further, it documents their efforts to tend to the enormous losses suffered by the larger Kenyan community—more than 200 people killed and an estimated 5,000 injured—all the while pursuing their official duties. This part of Bushnell’s tale is a story about dedicated public servants based far from America’s borders who rarely receive the attention or appreciation they deserve and whose sacrifices on behalf of the country are rarely explained or understood.
What makes this book compelling and unusual is how Bushnell’s modest and restrained writing reveals the example she herself set of leadership and courage. Interwoven with the larger narrative is her personal story, beginning with her growing up in a foreign service family. (Her father, as typical of the era, was the foreign service officer, her mother, a homemaker.) That family bred in her a commitment to public service, Bushnell writes, and nurtured the principles and values, as well as the personal strength that came from them, that led me to ask her to work with me in the years prior to her ambassadorship, first as the deputy chief of mission in Dakar, Senegal, and later as my principal deputy in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. They also formed the foundations of Bushnell’s adult ethical leadership. Those principles and values are on full display in the description of Bushnell’s steady stewardship of her embassy community, both before and after the bombing. They are most evident in her determined efforts, in the months leading up to the bombings, to call Washington’s attention to her embassy’s extreme vulnerability to just such an attack, efforts that earned her admonishments from senior State Department officials for “overloading circuits” and asking for what seemed to Washington not just impossible but unnecessary. Still, she persisted. That same principled leadership was again in evidence in the horrible aftermath of the bombing, when, putting aside her own physical and psychological injuries, she summoned the strength to give both comfort and direction to her shaken embassy team while firmly asserting control over the legions of responders from Washington, whose sudden arrival often brought more distress than help.
Lest this sound like more memoir than policy narrative, the book always brings readers back to policy. In Part II of her book, Bushnell describes the many people—among them, Michael Scheuer, the director of the CIA’s Alec Station, charged with gathering intelligence on Osama bin Laden; his counterpart at the FBI, John O’Neill; and Richard Clarke, who directed counterterrorism efforts at the National Security Council—who, however well-intentioned, had opportunities to foresee and prevent what happened on that fateful August day but who failed. Bushnell documents that history with meticulous and relentless detail: She describes how in the 1980s, U.S. support for jihadi insurgents fighting a Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan sowed the seeds of al Qaeda and radical Islamist groups like it and explains how the failure to analyze and understand the roots of Islamist extremism led the United States to act in ways that spawned further radicalization, as well as how, once the Soviets had been forced out of Afghanistan, these radical groups turned their ire against the United States.
Drawing on official and journalistic reports, Bushnell recounts how affiliates of those groups found their way to the United States itself and how—despite surveillance from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies—they went on to plot and execute a series of fatal attacks against U.S. interests: the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, the October 1993 attack on U.S. forces in Somalia, and eventually the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. To help us understand how this was possible, she ably describes how officials in Washington, mired in bureaucratic turf battles and trapped in organizational stovepipes, failed to share the information that might have allowed them to connect the dots. That same dysfunction prevented essential information from being shared with Bushnell and her team in Nairobi, which may have enabled them to prepare for, and if possible avoid, the disaster. Only later, and largely through the mainstream press, did Bushnell learn that the CIA and the FBI had been amassing information about potential threats to the Nairobi embassy. “I had no idea that the FBI had known about al-Qaeda and had been tracking bin Laden ever since the investigation into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,” she writes.
In effect, in Part II of her book, Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.
Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.
In so doing, she has raised some tough questions: How was it possible for bin Laden’s associates to plan and execute terrorist acts against the United States, even as they were known to and under the surveillance of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies? Why, in the aftermath of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, did Washington not convene a full-scale inquiry into the events leading up to the bombings? And, had it done so, would the information uncovered—both about the enemies confronted and the weaknesses in its own institutions—have enabled it to avert the tragedy of 9/11?
Here, Bushnell quotes from the 9/11 Commission Report itself: “The tragedy of the embassy bombings provided an opportunity for a full examination, across the government, of the national security threat that Bin Ladin posed. Such an examination could have made clear to all that issues were at stake that was much larger than the domestic politics of the moment.”
“A gripping diplomatic thriller that tells the harrowing saga of the 1998 bombing of Embassy Nairobi. Ambassador Bushnell’s first-person account provides lessons of leadership, crisis management, and policy acumen. The tale dramatically illustrates the terrorism danger diplomats confront daily.”—Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.)
(Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.) 2018-03-02)
“Ambassador Prudence Bushnell is a true professional with the toughness, grit, courage, and compassion that marks the kind of superb leader you want in charge during a crisis. I witnessed her remarkable composure, even when personally injured, and her take-command leadership style. This book is important for many reasons. It vividly presents a profile in courage; an understanding rarely appreciated about our foreign service men and women working in difficult assignments; a set of valuable lessons learned; and a case study in leadership during crisis. Every American should read this book.”—Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
(Anthony C. Zinni 2018-03-01)
“With heroes and villains aplenty, this riveting cold tale of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya has startling relevance. As today’s State Department struggles to survive a gutting by its own government, Prudence Bushnell reminds us just how important and dangerous the job of diplomacy can be.”—Rheta Grimsley Johnson, syndicated columnist and author of Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana
(Rheta Grimsley Johnson 2018-03-01)
“Prudence Bushnell’s name is not household familiar—but it should be. She was at the center of one of the most infamous terrorist attacks on American people and property in history. And she was a woman in the highest ranks of the State Department when such a thing was rare. She tells her story with integrity and intelligence—and gives lessons on leadership based on life experience.”—Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
(Barbara Kellerman 2018-07-30)
“For all readers, Ambassador Bushnell’s searing account of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings provides profound lessons in leadership. She demonstrates time and again her deep commitment to the safety and mission of the people she led. Her willingness to battle paralyzing bureaucracy, both before and after the bombings, exhibits her decency and humanity in the midst of the chaos and evil that the Embassy experienced. She devoted much of her career to improving leadership at the Department of State. She is a role model for future leaders.”—Chris Kojm, director of the Leadership, Ethics, & Practice Initiative, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Prudence Bushnell is an American diplomat who has held a series of leadership positions with the U.S. Department of State, including deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs, ambassador to the republics of Kenya and Guatemala, and dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. She is retired from the Foreign Service and founder of the Levitt Leadership Institute at Hamilton College in New York. She has earned numerous awards for her leadership and diplomacy, including three honorary doctoral degrees. For more information on the author visit prudencebushnell.com.
Prudence Bushnell was serving as United States Ambassador to Kenya in 1998 when al-Qaeda detonated a car bomb outside the embassy, killing over 200 people. In this memoir, Bushnell examines her actions during and after the attack. She also looks at the history leading up to the attacks, weaving in her own experiences in the State Department, as she attempts to piece together how they happened and how little the U.S. has grown form the experience. The same cannot be said for Bushnell, who candidly includes passages on her own emotional growth following the bombing. This book covers a lot of ground, but Bushnell is a more than capable guide, bouncing easily between the personal and policy sections.
One of the great strengths of this book resides in the fact that Prudence Bushnell is a diplomat, not a politician. Her recollections are sharp, insightful, and, most interestingly, critical. She has no problem examining the failures of the Clinton administration in funding embassy security, nor future administrations’ similar issues. Her frustrations with airing these concerns only to be met with silence is palpable. Similar sections also highlight the problems in Washington surrounding its continued approach to terrorism
In a lesser work, these moments might feel self-serving, but Bushnell carefully backs up her analysis with facts and experience. After all, her security vulnerability predictions proved correct after the bombing attack. Moreover, many of the grievances discussed later in the book about current State Department action, particularly funding, are still evolving, making this a troubling (though necessary) read.
While the bombing always remains at least in the periphery throughout this book, it’s not always the sole focus. Bushnell had a long career with the State Department, and it’s fascinating reading about her experiences maneuvering in such a male-dominated environment, and there’s a lot to be noted here about leadership. It’s insightful and provides a glimpse of how her worldview has developed and how it served her in her career. As well, the sections on serving in Rwanda and her post-retirement private sector careers are standouts.
Bushnell highlights a lot of problems the U.S. has navigating on the world stage. Much of this is disheartening and concerning. However, without spoiler, she ends this book with one of the most inspiring and optimistic passages I’ve ever read and is the real essence of this entire work.
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The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington’s diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that “Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq” and was “to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad,” adding that his department’s “intelligence in this regard is solid.” Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited “repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias” against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.
Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that “the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others”
As unrest once again grips Iraq, the ripples of a long-standing dispute between the U.S. and Iran has again highlighted a history of both countries targeting one another’s diplomats.
Poisoned relations between the U.S. and Iran began in 1979. Prior to that, Iran was under the rule of the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the U.S. stepped in to protect British oil interests when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh challenged the monarch’s absolute power and tried to nationalize the energy sector. With Mossadegh deposed and imprisoned in a 1953 CIA-sponsored coup, Pahlavi went on to rule for another quarter of a century before he himself was forced to flee the Islamic Revolution, which brought the current revolutionary Shiite Muslim government into power.
Upset over Western meddling in Iranian affairs and demanding that an ill Pahlavi be extradited to face justice at home, supporters of the new clerical administration overran the U.S. Embassy and held 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage. A U.S. Army attempt to rescue the detainees by force ended in failure when a helicopter crashed into a transport aircraft, killing eight soldiers. An Iranian civilian was also killed when U.S. forces bombed the truck he was riding in.
The hostages were ultimately released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 following extensive negotiations. Although the U.S. would go on to secretly sell arms to Iran while also supporting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, relations between Washington and Tehran were effectively squashed. Their relationship further deteriorated with growing Iranian support for foreign Shiite Muslim movements such as the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of whom have been blamed for the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut—an attack that killed up to 63 people, including 17 U.S. officials and soldiers.
The U.S. officially embargoed Iranian trade in 1995 and these sanctions expanded as Iran embarked on a nuclear program, which Tehran always maintained was solely for peaceful purposes. Though Iran was a bitter opponent of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it also backed Shiite Muslim insurgents targeting U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion that toppled him as it expanded ties with the new majority-Shiite Muslim administration in Baghdad. In January 2007, the U.S. raided the Iranian Liaison Office in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region, accusing five staff members of being agents of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and detaining them.
The local Kurdish government, which had ties to both the U.S. and Iran, vouched for the individuals and prevented the U.S. from detaining other individuals at Erbil’s airport. The five liaison office employees were ultimately released two and a half years later in 2009 as part of the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which sought to establish a framework for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran remained largely frozen until President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began negotiations to lift international sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to considerably restrict its nuclear activities. A multinational accord endorsed by both parties, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., was announced in June 2015.
President Donald Trump, however, has accused Iran of using unfrozen funds to further destabilize the region via support for paramilitary movements and the development of ballistic missiles. Capitalizing on conservative outrage toward the nuclear deal, he demanded that the terms be renegotiated, something that Iran has refused to consider. Even as both the U.S. and Iran devoted assets toward battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), relations again declined rapidly and Trump announced that he would leave the nuclear agreement in May.
The Trump administration has continued to press the international community to isolate Iran, even without the support of European allies and major powers China and Russia. The U.S. has increasingly aligned its position with that of longtime Iranian foes Israel and Saudi Arabia, which itself severed ties with the Islamic Republic after protestors responded to the kingdom’s execution of an influential Shiite Muslim cleric by torching Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran in early 2016.