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California massacre shooter may be linked to Islamic State

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WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD One of two people accused of killing 14 in California apparently pledged allegiance to a leader of Islamic State militant group, two U.S. government sources said on Friday, as intelligence officials in her native Pakistan pressed the investigation overseas.

Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the Wednesday massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting the United States has experienced in three years.

U.S. investigators are evaluating evidence that Malik, a Pakistani native who had been living in Saudi Arabia when she married Farook, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, two U.S. officials told Reuters. They said the finding, if confirmed, could be a “game changer” in the investigation.

Pakistani intelligence officials have contacted Malik’s family in her homeland as part of the investigation, a family member said.

“I only found out about this tragedy today when some intelligence officials contacted me to ask me about my links with Tashfeen,” Malik’s uncle, Javed Rabbani, said in an interview. “I had heard in the news that this tragedy had taken place but I could never even imagine that it would be someone from my family. Of course, we are in shock.”

He said his brother, Malik’s father, had become considerably more conservative since moving with his family to Saudi Arabia a quarter century ago.

Tashfeen Malik had moved back to Pakistan five or six years ago to study pharmacy, Pakistani officials said.

Before going on their rampage on Wednesday, Malik and Farook had destroyed computer hard drives and other electronics, a U.S. government source said.

Investigators are looking into a report that Farook had engaged in an argument with a co-worker who denounced the “inherent dangers of Islam,” a U.S. government source said.

CNN reported on Friday that one U.S. official said Malik had pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi in a posting on Facebook made on Wednesday, the day of the attack, under an account that used a different name. The attack appeared to be inspired by, but not necessarily directed by Islamic State, CNN reported, citing unnamed sources.

Reuters

 

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Iran Mourns: Helicopter Crash Claims Lives of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian

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Ebrahim Raisi

A tragic helicopter crash has claimed the lives of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, sending shockwaves across the nation and plunging the country into mourning.

The fatal incident occurred in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, where the helicopter carrying the two senior officials and several other passengers crashed, resulting in the loss of all on board.

The crash site, now a scene of charred wreckage, stands as a somber reminder of the untimely demise of these key figures in Iranian politics.

President Raisi, who assumed office in August 2021, was widely regarded for his commitment to serving the Iranian people and advancing the nation’s interests on the global stage.

His tenure as president was marked by efforts to strengthen Iran’s position in regional affairs and enhance diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.

Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian played a pivotal role in shaping Iran’s foreign policy, particularly in fostering closer ties with neighboring nations in the Middle East, including Arab countries across the Gulf.

His diplomatic acumen and dedication to advancing Iran’s interests earned him respect both domestically and internationally.

The news of their tragic deaths has elicited an outpouring of grief and condolences from leaders and citizens alike, both within Iran and abroad.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed his deep sadness over the loss, highlighting President Raisi’s commitment to justice, peace, and the upliftment of the Muslim world.

Similarly, the European Union extended its sincere condolences to the families of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, acknowledging the profound impact of their untimely passing on the Iranian nation.

The helicopter crash not only robbed Iran of two of its most prominent leaders but also left a void in the country’s political landscape.

As the nation grapples with this immense loss, tributes pour in from all corners, commemorating the contributions of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian to the advancement of Iran’s interests and the well-being of its people.

The legacy of these esteemed leaders will endure in the hearts and minds of Iranians, serving as a guiding light for future generations as they navigate the complexities of governance and diplomacy in an ever-changing world.

Iran mourns the loss of two of its finest sons, whose dedication and service will be remembered for years to come.

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DR Congo Thwarts Coup Attempt: Leader Killed, Several Arrested

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Vital Kamerhe

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) found itself on the brink of chaos as an attempted coup unfolded in its capital, Kinshasa.

The government swiftly acted to quell the insurgency, resulting in the death of the coup leader and the arrest of several others involved.

The assault, which occurred on Sunday morning, sent shockwaves through the mineral-rich central African nation, already grappling with political instability and external pressures.

The target of the attack was the residence of Vital Kamerhe, a prominent political figure in Congo’s landscape and a candidate for the head of the National Assembly.

Led by Christian Malanga, the self-exiled leader of the New Zaire movement, the attackers descended upon Kinshasa in two groups, initiating their assault on Kamerhe’s residence.

Despite the initial skirmish that claimed the lives of two police officers, the attempted coup lacked the military support necessary to pose a significant threat to the government’s stability.

After the failed attempt to seize power, Malanga and his cohorts proceeded to the office of President Tshisekedi, where they brazenly defaced Congolese flags and hoisted the banner of the former Zaire.

However, their actions were swiftly met with resistance from the Republican Guard, resulting in a fatal confrontation that claimed the lives of multiple attackers, including Malanga himself.

The involvement of three American citizens among the assailants adds a layer of complexity to the unfolding situation.

While details surrounding their participation remain murky, the revelation has drawn the attention of both Congolese authorities and the U.S. government, signaling potential diplomatic ramifications.

Vital Kamerhe, the intended target of the coup, emerged unscathed from the ambush on his residence. However, his absence from public discourse following the incident leaves many questions unanswered regarding his stance and potential involvement in the foiled insurgency.

The failed coup underscores the fragile political landscape of the DRC, where power struggles and external interests converge amid the backdrop of immense mineral wealth.

As the nation navigates the aftermath of this brazen attempt to destabilize its government, concerns over internal cohesion and foreign intervention loom large on the horizon.

In the wake of the thwarted coup, Congolese authorities are expected to intensify efforts to maintain stability and root out any remnants of dissent.

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Netanyahu Stands Firm as US Halts Bomb Shipment Over Rafah Invasion Warning

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Amidst escalating tensions between Israel and the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted a defiant stance following the US decision to halt a shipment of bombs and warned against Israel’s potential invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

In a bold statement, Netanyahu declared, “If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone,” emphasizing Israel’s resolve to pursue its objectives despite opposition.

The Prime Minister’s comments, delivered via social media and a subsequent interview with American talk show host Dr. Phil, underscore Israel’s determination to address security threats posed by the Gaza Strip, particularly by Hamas militants operating in Rafah.

Netanyahu reiterated the necessity of military action in Rafah to eliminate the remaining Hamas battalions, condemned Hamas’s history of violence and reiterated Israel’s commitment to achieving victory and ensuring the safety of its citizens.

The US administration, led by President Joe Biden, expressed concerns over the potential humanitarian impact of an Israeli invasion of Rafah, prompting the decision to withhold additional offensive weapons shipments to Israel.

Biden’s statement echoed broader international apprehensions about the escalation of violence and civilian casualties in the conflict-stricken region.

However, Netanyahu remained resolute in Israel’s approach, asserting the country’s right to defend itself against security threats. He emphasized Israel’s efforts to minimize civilian casualties and facilitate the evacuation of civilians from Rafah before any military action.

Despite the US’s decision to pause the bomb shipment, Netanyahu affirmed Israel’s commitment to its longstanding alliance with the US. He acknowledged past disagreements between the two nations but expressed optimism about resolving current tensions through dialogue and cooperation.

In response, White House officials reiterated the US’s support for Israel’s security while urging restraint and emphasizing the need to avoid actions that could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The administration clarified that the decision to halt the bomb shipment was aimed at preventing potential civilian casualties in Rafah.

The confrontation between Israel and the US underscores the complexity of navigating regional conflicts and balancing strategic interests. As tensions persist, both nations face the challenge of reconciling their respective security imperatives with broader humanitarian concerns, seeking to avert further escalation while addressing the root causes of the conflict in the Middle East.

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