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In breaking news, authorities say police have arrested 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is a suspect in the bombing in Chelsea on Saturday and another bombing this weekend in New Jersey. According to police, Rahami was arrested after a shootout in Linden, New Jersey, on Monday morning. Rahami was reportedly injured during the shootout. Police say they identified Rahami in surveillance video seen Saturday planting two bombs in Manhattan—one 23rd Street, which did explode, and four blocks away on 27th Street, which did not explode. Police described this device as a pressure cooker bomb connected to a flip phone, packed with shrapnel and wired to detonate with Christmas lights. Authorities say Rahami may also be linked to a pipe bomb that exploded in a garbage can early Saturday morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey. Authorities say Rahami is originally from Afghanistan and a naturalized American living in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Authorities are searching for 28-year-old man named Ahmad Khan Rahami after a string of improvised bombs targeted parts of New York and New Jersey, including a blast Saturday night in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood which wounded 29 people. Authorities say Rahami is originally from Afghanistan and a naturalized American living in Elizabeth, New Jersey. His whereabouts are unknown. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on CNN the investigation was moving very quickly.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “The fact that they have now, in just the last moments, put out a photo shows real confidence on the part of law enforcement that this is someone that was likely involved in one way or another. But we shouldn’t speculate yet how many people, or what role each person played. What we do know is, we need to get this guy in right away. Now, again, my experience with the NYPD and the FBI is, once they zero in on someone, they will get them.”
Rahami was identified after the FBI detained five men Sunday night in Brooklyn. The agency said it was questioning the men without charge in connection with the Chelsea bombing. Police also say they identified a suspect in surveillance video seen planting two bombs in Manhattan—one 23rd Street, which did explode, and four blocks away on 27th Street, which did not explode. Police described this device as a pressure cooker bomb connected to a flip phone, packed with shrapnel and wired to detonate with Christmas lights. Police told CNN videos showed the same person near both devices. Elsewhere, a pipe bomb left in a garbage can exploded Saturday morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey. No one was injured in the blast, which appeared to target a charity run hosted by the U.S. Marines. Cell phones were used in the Seaside and New York devices. And in Elizabeth, New Jersey, early this morning, police discovered a bomb in a backpack at a commuter rail station. Part of the device exploded when a police robot attempted to disarm it. It’s not known whether the three bombing attempts are related. They came just before world leaders began converging on New York for this week’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The NYPD says it will beef up security, with more bag checks in train and subway stations, and heavy weapons teams deployed in transit centers. Governor Andrew Cuomo has called up 1,000 members of the National Guard and police.
In St. Cloud, Minnesota, a man in a security guard’s uniform stabbed and injured nine shoppers at a mall on Saturday before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. The Minneapolis Star Tribune identified the man as Ahmed Adan, a 22-year-old born in Kenya of Somali descent who grew up in the U.S. An ISIS website claimed responsibility, calling the assailant a “soldier of the Islamic State.” FBI Special Agent Richard Thornton said the agency was looking into possible links to terrorism.
Richard Thornton: “We do not at this point in time know whether the subject was—it was in contact with, had connections with, was inspired by a foreign terrorist organization. That’s what the investigation is attempting to ascertain at this point in time.”
In Syria, a ceasefire continues to unravel after U.S.-led bombers attacked a Syrian military position, killing scores of government soldiers and allowing ISIS fighters to overrun the survivors. U.S. military officials acknowledged Saturday’s attack near Deir ez-Zor, which killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers, saying they mistakenly believed they were targeting ISIS units. The attack came less than a week into a ceasefire brokered by the U.S. and Russia meant to separate warring factions and to allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged cities. It prompted Russia to call an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, where Ambassador Vitaly Churkin questioned whether the attack was timed to derail the ceasefire.
Vitaly Churkin: “It is quite significant and, frankly, suspicious that the United States chose to conduct this particular airstrike at this time. Why would all of a sudden the United States choose to help the Syrian armed forces defending Deir ez-Zor? After all, they did nothing when ISIL was advancing on Palmyra. ISIL made a hundred-mile march without being attacked by the coalition.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the White House of defending ISIS, and Syria’s government said the attack proved the U.S. was aiding the group in a bid to topple the Assad regime. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power denounced such claims, and blasted Russia for calling a meeting of the Security Council.
Samantha Power: “If we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention. And we, of course, regret the loss of life. This said, even by Russia’s standards, tonight’s stunt, a stunt replete with moralism and grandstanding, is uniquely cynical and hypocritical.”
Following the U.S. bombing, there were reports of other ceasefire violations across Syria, including at least four airstrikes in Aleppo.
India’s government is accusing Pakistan of involvement in an attack that left 17 of its soldiers dead at an army base in Kashmir. Sunday morning’s attack came near the highly militarized “line of control” between Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. It was one of the deadliest attacks since the start of an armed insurgency began in 1989. Top Indian officials accused Pakistan of backing the attack and supporting terrorism in Kashmir—a claim Pakistan denied. Ram Madhav, the general secretary of India’s ruling BJP party, said the attacks would be heavily punished, writing on Facebook, “For one tooth, the complete jaw. Days of so-called strategic restraint are over.”
Amnesty International says a U.S.-made bomb was used in an attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen last month. The August 15 airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition killed 11 and injured 19 others. Amnesty International today distributed photos it says show a U.S.-made precision-guided Paveway-series aerial bomb. The U.N. says at least 10,000 civilians have died or been wounded in the 18-month conflict. The U.S. continues to supply Saudi Arabia with weapons, including banned cluster bombs.
Meanwhile, activists with the antiwar group CodePink will gather outside Senate offices in Washington, D.C., today to protest U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. They’re supporting a bill by Senators Chris Murphy, Mike Lee, Al Franken and Rand Paul, which would block the U.S. from supplying the kingdom with more than a billion dollars’ worth of tanks and other military hardware.
Governors in six states have declared states of emergency after nearly 340,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in central Alabama from one of the region’s major pipelines, prompting gas prices to rise across the region. The Colonial pipeline carries 1.3 million barrels of gasoline a day down to refineries in Texas and Louisiana, accounting for a full 40 percent of the region’s gasoline. EPA officials say the massive spill narrowly avoided reaching the Cahaba River, home to endangered species.
In news from the ongoing standoff at Standing Rock in North Dakota, a federal appeals court has officially halted construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline within 20 miles on either side of Lake Oahe along the Missouri River. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals says this ruling will give the court more time to rule on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an emergency injunction against construction over concerns it could destroy sacred sites and burial grounds. The emergency injunction was filed by the tribe after a lower court rejected a request for an injunction the previous Friday. This latest ruling now makes mandatory the Obama administration’s request that Dakota Access voluntarily cease construction along that same 40-mile stretch. In a separate legal development, a federal judge in Bismarck has dropped temporary restraining orders against Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II and other tribal leaders. The restraining orders were part of a SLAPP suit—a strategic lawsuit against public participation—filed by Dakota Access against leaders of the tribe in August over their participation in protests. Meanwhile, a citizen journalist was arrested and jailed Sunday and charged with criminal trespass after she filmed portions of the pipeline under construction. A live video posted to Facebook shows Sara Long being asked by private security guards to leave a field near a public highway. She complies and returns to her vehicle, where she’s met by police.
Sara Long: “Unless I’m being detained, I don’t actually want to answer any questions.”
Police officer: “OK. You’re under arrest for criminal trespassing.”
Sara Long: “OK. Hear that, everybody? I am under arrest for criminal
Police officer: “It’s time to end the phone call.”
In more news on the Dakota Access pipeline, police arrested more than 40 people in southeastern Iowa as they crossed onto a Dakota Access pipeline construction site near where the company plans to bore beneath the Mississippi River. The activists were arrested with plastic handcuffs and were charged with trespassing. This comes less than three weeks after 30 others were arrested in Iowa blocking the pipeline’s construction. A group of Iowa landowners have also sued the Dakota Access pipeline company over its use of eminent domain.
In Germany, the party of Angela Merkel lost ground in regional elections that saw the largest vote share for a far-right party in Berlin since World War II. The anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party will gain its first-ever seats in Parliament after winning 14 percent of the vote.
In France, a 14-year-old Afghan War refugee died in a hit-and-run incident as he attempted to board a moving truck bound for Great Britain. Charity workers at the Calais refugee camp near the English Channel say the boy had a legal right to travel to Britain, but months of delay in processing his paperwork led him to attempt to stow away on a trip through Channel Tunnel. The boy, whose name is not being released, was at least the 13th person to die near the port this year and the third child. Click here to see our full report from France’s largest refugee camp, the Calais “Jungle.”“:http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/9/i_dont_want_to_die_this.
Hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. have reached their highest level since just after the 9/11 attacks. New data from researchers at California State University, San Bernardino, shows a 78 percent rise in attacks, including arson, murder, assault and violent threats.
For the first time, Donald Trump has admitted that President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Trump’s comments on Friday came more than five years after he became a leader of the so-called birther movement. Trump falsely accused Hillary Clinton of questioning Obama’s citizenship.
Donald Trump: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”
President Obama laughed off Trump’s admission, telling a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner, “In other breaking news, the world is round, not flat.”
President Barack Obama: “I am so relieved that the whole birther thing is over. I mean, ISIL, North Korea, poverty, climate change—none of those things weighed on my mind like the validity of my birth certificate.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has once again alluded to violence against Hillary Clinton. At a campaign rally in Miami on Friday, Trump claimed Clinton would “destroy” Second Amendment rights, and said her bodyguards should disarm.
Donald Trump: “I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm, immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes, yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Take their—let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. OK? It’ll be very dangerous.”
And The Washington Post’s editorial board is calling for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to face criminal charges. In an editorial published on Saturday, the Post called on Snowden to return to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act, or to bargain for “a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses.” A team of Washington Post reporters won a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for covering NSA spying revealed in documents leaked to the Post by Edward Snowden. Two other news outlets to publish large numbers of the documents—The Guardian and The Intercept—have called on President Obama administration to pardon Snowden. The New York Times has called on the administration to grant Snowden clemency or a highly reduced sentence.